Perhaps your unit began thinking about summer camp just after the winter holidays. Never did we expect all the changes and challenges of those ensuing months.  But summer resident camp is finally here and underway.  We welcomed our first Scouts BSA units at Bear Paw last Sunday, July 5, and our Cub Scouts to Camp Rokilio and Webelos to Gardner Dam on Monday, July 6. Our friends are set for an exciting three weeks at Camp Hiawatha starting this Sunday, July 12.

We checked in with our camp directors, but they tend to be a bit busier these days. This week begins the National Camp Assessment Program visits. These are the national BSA camping standards by which we are measured. The assessors usually come in the night before to review all the paperwork, ranging from water tests to staff training credentials, and they spend the following morning (at least through lunch) observing the programs in action. You might notice a pennant displayed in the camp office that announces the camp “passed inspection.” Staff worked hard for that pennant and are rightly proud of the accomplishment; it means they have reached a higher level of camp professionalism. 

​​Meanwhile, read on below about what else is happening at Gardner Dam, Rokilio and Hiawatha!

From Jeremy, Program Director at Gardner Dam: Gardner Dam Scout Camp opened this week in a spectacular fashion. From the moment the first Webelos and leaders entered the aptly-named “Superhero Training Academy,” the energy and excitement surged through the staff. New this year along the lines with the SuperHero theme, we have renamed everything about camp, even the campers themselves are being called cadets.

Our story started the moment the campers entered the parking lot with the staff in full costume. Some dressed up in rather silly attire such as Dr. Evil, Captain Obvious, and the ever brightly colored Phil the Phlamingo (yes, with a Ph). After cadets have passed their health screening, the staff escorts the group on a tour of camp. All the while, Spike is chasing Dr. Evil around.

After check-in and while making my rounds, I came across a Scout sitting on the edge of his campsite. Had I not seen what happened next, I would have guaranteed that the camper was a little homesick or ready for the next activity. I watched an adult come over to invite the camper to play some games on his (the adult’s) phone. What shocked me, and best describes the importance of camp, and even more so during these troubling times, was the Scout’s answer: “No, Dad, I’m enjoying being outside and listening to nature.” This resonated with me. Not only was this Scout having an incredible time at camp, but this was the first time in potentially months that he is able to be outside and be active.

Gardner Dam Scout Camp offers an exciting opportunity to be outside and enjoy nature. Despite some of the challenges that COVID-19 has presented this year, the staff works hard to overcome every single one, to offer the full and complete Gardner Dam Scout Camp Experiences to every single person. Put best by our mission statement: “We teach, learn from, and support personal growth by providing experiences in the outdoors and giving access to opportunities for fun, development, and adventure to every person at Gardner Dam Scout Camp.”

While some modifications have to happen, it continues to be our main goal as a staff to raise the bar even higher, and make this summer the best summer ever…and safest.

From Gabe, Service Director at Rokilio: As the first session is coming to an end, we at Camp Rokilio are still having a blast with our superheroes in camp. Our staff is excited to bring you the classic camp experience, but with a new, more personal flair. Campers get to experience all the fun of camp while staying safe and healthy. In order to uphold our high standards for health and safety, we provide each camper with individually packaged meals. All the adventures at camp are still here and in full force. The adventure loops are fully integrated into the daily program. We make it easier to complete more advancements while having all the fun throughout. The staff is looking forward to having a fantastic summer with the Packs to come.

From Erick, Camp Director at Camp Hiawatha: I can’t wait for campers to arrive at Camp Hiawatha this Sunday. We have been working most of May and June to make improvements for you at camp. The Boat House is nearing completion along with a new boat dock. We have lots of new faces on camp staff this year, who spent this past week in training, and they are pumped to meet all of you that are coming to camp. We are mowing the grass this week, so you won’t have to tunnel into your campsite.

We have had lots of visitors this spring from the snapping turtles laying eggs on the beach to the three new baby deer that are running around camp. We have a pair of Loons and a couple of Sand Hill Cranes that are hanging out. We have been listening to the coyotes and whip-poor-wills at night. So, we have the sights and sounds of nature, and the skies have been filled with stars. The stage is set, we are ready; cue the Scouts to come and have an adventure at Camp Hiawatha.

Share with us: We know that you share your summer camp pictures with your unit. Consider sharing some of them with us. You see and experience differently than camp staff and those photographers. We will try to publish them as best we can, and may use them for our 2021 summer camp promotions. (SPOILER ALERT: We are working hard to get the 2021 guides in first draft form and ready for distribution yet this summer.)