After their Blue Gold banquets and cross-over ceremonies, many Webelos will be joining troops over the next month. A new adventure for young boys full of excitement and apprehension about camping without parents, cooking their own food, and hanging out with older guys. These Webelos have been top dog for the past year and they're now being thrown back to the bottom of the heap. Making this transition fun and accepting is a key first step for a long Boy Scout experience. Ensuring their first campout is successful and rewarding is a great way to start their time with your troop.
Joining in March gives new scouts a few camping opportunities with the troop before their big Summer Camp experience. Be sure your troop has planned campouts in April and May geared towards the new guys. As you can see in the photo, at least around here, a March campout can be just plain miserable with cold, wet weather and not a great first experience for new scouts - while an April campout is usually beautiful. I'd recommend having the new scouts spend March getting ready for camping by practicing camping skills and patrol teamwork at troop and patrol meetings, then take it to the field in April. Those tents and stoves that are old hat to you do take some practice to master.
These first campouts should provide an abundance of opportunity for scouts to learn, practice, and demonstrate skills for Tenderfoot rank. Scouts should be able to complete half the requirements on their first campout. The Patrol Leader Council members, when planning these spring campouts, have the perfect opportunity to introduce new scouts to their troop. It's a time to show how we camp, how we help each other, how we accept new people, how we live the Scout Law.
The first campout certainly doesn't need to be a big deal - just being out with the guys IS a big deal! Here are some things to consider in planning early campouts for new scouts:
- Hold the campout as close to home as you can, in case someone is just not ready for the challenge of being away from parents.
- Schedule lots of time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - cooking those first meals is a real challenge.
- Have a Troop Guide help each New Scout patrol - actually helping them the entire weekend, not just listed on paper.
- Raise the American flag Saturday morning and take it down in the evening. You could do this Friday evening and Sunday morning as well.
- Have time Saturday morning to fix some frayed rope and put up some clothes lines - to whip and fuse rope and practice two half-hitches and tautline hitch.
- Go on a hike in the afternoon and discuss hiking safety and buddy system along the way.
- Plan a short campfire program for Saturday night with 3 or 4 skits, a song or two, and a couple stories. Not too long, or too late, since the new guys will most likely be wiped out from the day.
By introducing new scouts to camping in a setting that's easy for your experienced scouts, and geared to the new guys, you begin a solid foundation of their sense of belonging in their troop.
Posted: 11:18 02-12-2013 946
Apr 05, 2013 - Bob McFarlin
In March we have our older boys do a primitive overnight on Friday night and have the new first years come out and see what they can do next year if they want. Then we take the whole group on a hike. In April we have Saturday night only camp-out for the whole troop. In May and June we return to camp-outs that run from Friday night to Sunday mornings. We try to have a fishing or other "fun" activity involved these months. Hopefully this helps the first years get ready for July Summer camp.
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