Scouts are heading into the woods this week at our summer camps and all across the country. There they will sit around the campfire and smell the “smoke at twilight.”
A great deal of advancement goes on at these summer camps, and it is important that you know that both the council advancement and camping committees work together to ensure that opportunities offered at camp enhance a Scout’s experience there. Advancement at camp might include not only merit badges, but also opportunities geared towards the newest Scout’s needs.
The Council’s advancement committee works with the camp each director to establish advancement procedures at camp (Guide To Advancement, [GTA] topic 188.8.131.52). In addition, the National Council’s resident camp standards require a letter from the council advancement committee approving the merit badge counselors used at camp(GTA, topic 184.108.40.206).
Months ago our advancement committee started the process of working with the camping committee by meeting with the camp directors and program directors. this all well before camp began. Discussion topics includes:
- What merit badges are being offered? (Some, like the citizenship merit badges, might better be offered in the troop setting.)
- Does the camp have adequate equipment and resources for each merit badge offered?
- Are all merit badge counselors qualified (age, registration, approval for that merit badge)?
- Can subject matter experts be scheduled to visit camp to enhance the learning experience?
At pre-camp leaders’ meetings. prerequisites for badges and how merit badge completions and partials—as well as Trail to First Class skills—were communicated to the units. There they encouraged units to hold boards of review and courts of honor while at camp.
Also the Council Committee made arrangements with camp directors for advancement committee members to go to camp during staff week to ensure everyone understands merit badge fundamentals: merit badge requirements cannot be changed, added, or subtracted, and each Scout must individually demonstrate that he understands the material or perform the requirement whichever is specified. They also made arrangements with the camp director to come back to camp during camping weeks to observe merit badge classes in operation. During those visits, committee members will review and discuss merit badge concerns that have been received from previous weeks’ camper evaluations. (See GTA topic 220.127.116.11, Reporting Merit Badge Counseling Concerns.)
The committee works with program directors to get weekly advancement reports. They review the record keeping and storage of merit badge records, including partial completions. This helps with answering the inevitable questions that come months later. Remember that partials don’t expire.
In summary, council and area committees go to camp to work with the camp staff to make sure that camp is a positive, wonderful, and fun experience. This helps keep Scouts coming back for more and give us a continuing chance to influence their character.