The latest in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works,
and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

Scouting Around

The latest in a series designed to help Scout units, families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works, and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

A Camping We Will Go . . .

Thankfully, Scouting provides ample opportunity to camp at all levels, whether spending a weekend at one of our Bay Lakes camps in a tent or cabin, or experiencing the full richness of a summer camp program. The benefits are many; experiencing nature, the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze, the filtered light coming through the trees and dancing on the ground, the warm glow of a campfire, seeing animals in their natural environment, following the trail to adventures only imagined. Our youth in particular need the camping experience to be part of their Scouting experience. The pandemic drove too many people into isolation, working and going to school remotely at times, avoiding contact in group settings. The shift to online activity and the significant increase in electronic gaming and social media as a way to connect with friends simply cannot substitute for personal, face to face interaction, yet it continues to consume our youth much of the time. The social skills garnered by in-person interaction are so important for learning, maturation and personal development. An unplugged weekend or summer camp experience is available through Scouting in ways not always available through other activities outside of school.

Sadly, too many of our Cub Scout units and even some Scouts BSA units did not attend a summer camp program last year and do not regularly go on weekend outings through the year. There is hope, however, and you can play a role in providing the camping experience to our youth. This is the time of year when plans should be developed to attend summer camp.

The Camp Rokilio experience for Cub Scouts provides a well-developed program led by trained youth and adults with adventure at its core. Themed cabins transport Scouts to the days of the pioneer in a frontier fort, sailing the ocean on a Viking ship, recalling the days of rail transportation in the train station, or climbing the walls of a castle to defend the realm. For those who prefer to camp in a tent, space is available both by the cabins and in beautiful campsites. Food is no problem as it is provided in the dining hall. The camp offers a safe and fully equipped waterfront for boating, swimming and fishing. The range offers shooting sports opportunities and activity areas teach Scouting skills, and of course the Trading Post, newly renovated, offers treats and necessities and the ever-popular slushie. The camp boasts one of the few natural bogs in the state with boardwalks and trails to explore this special habitat.

Webelos can attend Camp Rokilio with their Packs, but Gardner Dam Scout Camp offers a summer program designed with them in mind. They will experience a full range of activity areas, camp in tents, and discover what Scouting is like when they cross over into a Scouts BSA troop. A climbing tower, shooting range, outdoor skills area, arts and crafts workshop, waterfront and beautiful campsites highlight the experience. The camp straddles the Wolf River and features a Trading Post, outdoor games, and a state-of-the-art dining hall.

Camp Hiawatha offers summer programming on a shorter schedule for Scouts of all levels. Set in the pristine Northwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it features all of the attributes of a camp, a beautiful waterfront, cabins and program areas, outstanding campsites with flush toilets (something you rarely find at a camp), and easy access to Lake Superior, waterfalls along accessible trails, and the famed Pictured Rocks national lakeshore.

Scouts BSA units should check out Bear Paw Scout Camp, one of the finest and most highly rated camps in Wisconsin. Summer programming offers a range of campsites, an outstanding shooting sports area, a well-equipped Nature Lodge and an excellent STEM building, a fully functioning waterfront, natural rock climbing, mountain biking, Scouting skills instruction and crafts area, a Trading Post, outdoor games and activity areas, and access to high adventure.

If your unit is not attending a summer camp program, individual youth may sign up for provisional troop experiences at Bear Paw or contact the Center for Scouting to be connected to another unit that is attending Cub Scout, Webelos or Scouts BSA camp. Many Scouts attend summer camp as individuals, some as lone Scouts, others because their unit isn’t camping or they couldn’t attend during the time when their unit was, and still others because they cannot get enough of summer camp and want to attend again!

Cost should never prevent a unit from camping. Camperships are available to assist those families in need so their youth can attend. The product sales program is designed to raise funds for units and their members, so selling popcorn or other things sponsored by the Council can supplement and even fully cover the cost of summer camp or weekend adventures. When compared to other summer camp programs in the region, attending a Bay Lakes camp is a bargain and you will find it much less expensive than camps offered by other organizations. We strive to set fees that are fully inclusive and only charge for additional supplies or programs when absolutely necessary.

Camping lies at the heart of Scouting. So many of the life-long skills, friendships, self-awareness and confidence that develop through summer camp and/or camping with fellow Scouts distinguish the Scouting experience and lay the groundwork for a life of integrity, leadership and service to the community. We are truly fortunate in the Bay Lakes Council to make camping facilities available throughout the year in our resident camps as outlined above and our wilderness camp, Jax Camp. Units may reserve campsites and cabins year-round and staff are on hand to provide access to facilities and program areas, equipment, and even staff support with sufficient notice.

So, as the old song goes, a camping we will go, but only if you act now to make plans for this summer.

Thank you once again for entrusting your youth to Scouting and sharing your time, talent and treasure.  As the Scouting year continues and in all that we do, let us not forget that Scouting is really for our youth, for their life-shaping, life-changing Scouting experience. Let’s act now to “Be Prepared”!

Paul Shrode