One good thing I like about the new Cub Scout program is its stronger push for outdoor activities, including camping. Only a couple years ago, Tigers were finally allowed to camp, now every rank except Tiger requires camping. This may mean a scramble for some Packs to offer the needed camping opportunities over the next few months.
The different kinds of camping available to Cub Scouts are:
- Cub Scout day camp is organized by the council, and is a one- to five-day program for Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webelos, and Arrow of Light Scouts. It is conducted under certified leadership, with the day camp director and program director trained at BSA National Camping School. Pack leaders often make up the nucleus of the day camp staff. Check with your council and district for day camp staffing and attendance opportunities in your council area.
- Cub Scout family camping events are often organized through the council or district. These are overnight events involving more than one pack, with the local council or district providing many of the elements to enhance the outdoor experience, such as staffing, food service, housing, and program. These are sometimes referred to as parent–pal, dad-and-lad, and mom-and-me activities, or adventure weekends.
- Pack overnighters are events involving more than one family from a single pack. They are focused on age-appropriate Cub Scout activities and conducted at council approved locations. If siblings participate, the event must be structured accordingly to accommodate them. Adults giving leadership to a pack overnighter must complete Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO, No. 34162) and must be present during the campout.
- Webelos and Arrow of Light den overnight camping introduces a boy and his parent to the basics of the Boy Scout camping program. These campouts are conducted under the leadership of a trained Webelos/Arrow of Light den leader and include two to six nights of camping. Webelos dens are encouraged to have several overnight campouts each year. These campouts should be parent–son events under the direction of the Webelos den leader. Webelos and Arrow of Light dens are encouraged to visit Boy Scout camporees, Klondike derbies, and other outdoor overnight Scout events. The purpose of these visits should be for the boys to look ahead with anticipation to their future as Boy Scouts. Webelos and Arrow of Light Scouts should not participate in activities designed for Boy Scouts and should not spend the night at events that are Boy Scout–based.
With this increased emphasis on camping for Cub Scouts at all ranks, I've noticed more talk about 'getting around' the BSA requirements for camping as Cub Scouts. Here are a couple examples:
- We're just going to get a few families from our den together and camp, but not as a den. We'll do a bunch of advancement requirements, but we're not camping as scouts.
- A couple families are going camping, but not filling out a tour plan, so it's not scouting.
- BALOO training is simple, and a waste for anyone with any camping experience, so you don't really need it. You also don't need Hazardous Weather or those water safety classes because they are just online wastes of time.
- Our council never even checks tour plans, so we just camp whenever and wherever we want without them.
- Just don't wear uniforms and there's nothing BSA can do about it.
- Don't sweat all the BSA rules - just call it family camping and do it.
- Just plan an all-day Den outing on Saturday and on Sunday at the same camping location. Families can camp there if they want, but it's not part of your scouting activity.
Age Guidelines for camping are spelled out on this GSS page. In order for Cub Scouts to camp, all the following are needed:
- Youth Protection, and Health and Safety, guidelines are followed. That means all adults in attendance need to know what these guidelines are.
- Under the direction of a BALOO TRAINED pack adult leader. That means a trained person is in attendance at the entire campout.
- Held at a council-approved location, typically a council-run camp but other sites can be approved based on Pack Overnighter Site Approval Form. That means camping doesn't take place at an unapproved, unsafe, inappropriate location.
- Every scout has a specific adult to whom the scout is responsible. This is typically a parent. It should not be a den leader being responsible for a handful of scouts.
- Only age-appropriate Cub Scout activities take place. That means Tigers do not build fires or use knives, for example.
- A completed Tour Plan. See video about online tour plans. A plan may not need to be submitted to council, but completing one for every outing ensures the proper planning is being done.
- Individual scouts and families are prepared to camp. Using a Pack Overnighter Checklist is a good idea.
At your next Pack Leader meeting, start the discussion about properly planning enough camping for the scouts to fulfill their requirements without being tempted to circumvent the correct BSA process. By following the process and doing what is required, you are modeling Trustworthy, Helpful, and Obedient.Scout On!
May 31, 2015 - Tim
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