Pack Organized Campouts are fun, affordable and unforgettable
This article was written by David Peters, member of the Council Communications Committee
Council run weekend camp opportunities like Spook-A-Ree are well-oiled machines but they’re not the only way to take your Pack camping. With just a little bit of training and planning you can provide fantastic, advancement-packed camping experiences for your unit at a fraction of the cost. And as an added bonus, your den leaders will love having more time the rest of the year for fun and bonding because so much got accomplished at your Pack organized campout.
Gear is not a problem.
The camps have gear you can use for free to make your weekend a success. Dutch ovens, coffee pots, orienteering materials, binoculars, rope and more can be checked out with the Camp Master. And if you need more, just talk to your area Troops. They want to see your cub scouts eventually join a Troop and know the value of a weekend camp has toward that end.
Fall is the Goldilocks camping season.
Mid to late fall is arguably the best time to take new families camping. The weather is not too hot and it’s also not too cold, the bug season has past its peak, and the warmth of an evening campfire under an autumn sky is something memories are made of.
Plus, a fall Pack organized camp is a great way to jump start the scouting year. Here are just some of the requirements by rank requirements you can plan on each den completing at a fall Pack organized camp:
Lion: the 6 hike essentials as this material could be addressed during the one mile hike.
Tiger: Play two team building games, Plant and Animal I.D., Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace. And Bobcat badge requirements with the Pack!
Wolf: Attend a camp, participate in a flag ceremony, Plant and Animal I.D., Campfire song/skit, one mile hike, Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace.
Bear: Animal evidence, play a game with the den, help pitch a tent, camp overnight in the tent, plan a meal & cook it, participate in a campfire song/skit, learn pocket knife safety, Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace.
Webelos: Cast Iron Chef - plan, shop and cook, Maestro - teach a repeat after me song at campfire to the pack. Naturalist - Character & Eco System req's, Scholar - Character, ask 5 adults, all other req's., also tie a joining knot
Besides rank requirements, there are alternative awards such as the rank specific shooting sports awards detailed here:
TRAININGS - BALOO, Range Master and ServSafe (optional)
The first step is for a parent (or better yet two) to take BALOO training. BALOO is short for Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation, a requirement to use a council camp for a Pack’s own overnight program. This in-person training goes over the basics of camping and also program planning for families of all ages. BALOO training never expires so consider asking parents with younger kids to get the greatest value.
BB and Archery Range Master
As I write this, it’s deer season in our Council. This is pertinent to this article because your parents attending deer camp now are great candidates to ask to take Range Master training.
BSA Range Master trained scouters can open the BB and Archery ranges at council camps for their unit. This also includes free time during summer camp when there may not be a council provided Range Safety Officer (RSO). https://www.northernstar.org/news/enavigator/participate-in-shooting-sports-programs
This training is typically offered once in the fall and once in the spring and is good for two years. You can also ask your hunting enthusiasts if they’re USA Archery or NRA Range Safety Officers - both which will meet the needs to run their corresponding BSA BB or Archery ranges. And these certifications don’t expire as frequently as BSA’s range master training.
For advancement purposes dens can cook all the meals outdoors without any extra training but if you want to use council cabin kitchens in Minnesota, you’ll need at least one adult to have current ServSafe training. As with any required training, I recommend more than one adult complete it - just in case one can’t make it.
Plan for day campers.
Families brand new to scouting may be hesitant to camp a whole weekend but visiting just for a day full of fun activities may be a great way to entice dipping some toes in the proverbial waters. I recommend requesting the meals your attendees will be at in your RSVP.
Plan for new campers
Families not geared for all weather conditions are more likely to attend if there’s a shelter with amenities like electricity and flushing toilets. All council cabins have electricity and heat and indoor cookstoves. There are a handful with running water (flush) bathrooms, showers and full kitchens with ovens and refrigeration. To remove all barriers for adults to attend camp, I recommend at least splurging on bathrooms that flush. Once the fun of scout camp is experienced, the idea of pit latrines will no longer be an obstacle to subsequent camping.
The bottom line
My Pack charges a flat $10 per person no matter if you’re staying for the weekend or for the day. Obviously at this price this is a loss leader for our Pack but it has so much return on its investment that it has become a marquee event since it was introduced. The actual cost to our program was on par with what we spent on a Blue & Gold Banquet or Pinewood Derby. The fee basically means everyone has “some skin in the game” and coveres camp fees, the shooting range rentals and some of the consumables. For just $10 for three to seven meals plus all the fun activities - well it’s just too good to pass up. We call it Fall Pack Family Camp because the entire family is welcome.
Your first step is to take BALOO training. https://www.northernstar.org/news/enavigator/about-baloo-basic-adult-leader-outdoor-orientation