1. Check Your Registrations
The week before you go, look over your registration:
- Do you owe any money? If so, get a check from your ward to cover the difference.
- Do you have the proper number of boys and leaders registered? If not, adjust it. REMEMBER, if you are going to drop someone from your registration, you must do it prior to two weeks before coming to camp if you want a refund for that person’s registration fee.
- Did you register for classes/activities/tracks?
- Are your Scouts registered with the Boy Scouts of America? If not, then either:
- Fill out an application for them, or
- Print out a current MLS list showing the missing Scouts on it and have a member of the bishopric sign it, then drop it by the Scout Office or give it to your District Executive.
2. Check the Medical Forms
Anyone spending the night or anyone who wants to participate at a Scout camp needs to have a BSA Annual Medical/Health Form. Parts A and B of the form can be filled out by a parent for Scouts under 18 years old, and adult participants can fill out parts A and B themselves. If you are going to stay at camp for more than 72 hours or participate in high adventure activities, then you must also have a part C, which is the doctor’s annual examination sheet.
Most unit leaders are good about getting these documents for their Scouts, but what if you have a parent or guardian staying at camp too? Do they have their forms as well? Make sure that you are aware of any medical, mental or physical issues that might appear or limit a participant’s activities at camp.
3. Check for Fire Restrictions
It’s a bummer when you can’t have a campfire, but it’s something entirely worse when you can’t cook your food! Most of our camps have a fire restriction that requires you to have a fire barrel that is at least 18 inches off of the ground in order to have a wood or charcoal fire, but there are some camps, like High Uintah Scout Camp, where wood fires are prohibited. Contact your camp if you have any questions. Remember, campfires, while very aesthetically pleasing, are one of the least efficient ways to cook; propane/gas stoves are the most efficient way to cook a meal while camping.
4. Plan To Have a Spiritual Growth Opportunity
We have all heard that when we prepare ourselves spiritually before going to church, we get more out of it. What are your goals for your Scouts? What are the parents’ and church leaders’ goals? Here are some questions you might want to answer in your preparations:
- Have you invited your bishop, stake president, or other church leader to come one night and visit with your Scouts?
- Are you encouraging your Scouts to bring their scriptures so you can read them as a group?
- Is there a camp chaplain who can hold a campsite devotional with you?
- Will you be asking your camp commissioner to set up an Honor Trail?
- Are you near a temple or other special spiritual location that you can visit some evening during your week at camp?*
Share your goals with your camp chaplain or camp commissioner so they can help you with your plan to make this a special, memorable experience spiritually. Just ask one of the young women in your ward what the most memorable part of their girls’ camp experience is and they will always say, “testimony night when the bishop came and we shared our testimonies.” Those things don’t just happen—you need to plan to make them happen.
* If you plan on leaving camp before the time when you are returning home, you’ll need a parent’s release form allowing you to take their Scout out of camp. Also, make sure you checkout and check back in with the medical officer or whomever that camp designates.
5. Read the Camp’s Leader Program Guide
You will find that your questions about camp are not unique; they’ve all be asked a hundred times before over the years. Camp directors have taken those most common questions and created a Camp Leader’s Program Guide to answer them. One of the most helpful parts about the Leader’s Program Guide is that you’ll find answers to questions that you didn’t think to ask yet, which can really make your stay at camp a truly marvelous experience. You can find your camps Leader’s Guide on the camp website at utahscouts.org.
There is my top five list of things you’ll want to do before you go to camp! And let me share a bonus parting thought: catastrophes aside, “Nobody ever remembers a perfect campout,” so don’t feel bad if you end up stirring your pot of beans with a stick, so long as everyone has a safe, fun time and you make progress on the goals your unit has set.
Author: David A. Johnson | Camping Director, Utah National Parks Council