At first, the general comments included, “I thought Scout camps were just for merit badge work!” and “But Scout camps are just for 12-13 aged boys!” but as we explored with LDS stakes and wards the core objectives church groups were trying to accomplish, the opportunities became endless!
Every church group has different ideas of what they would like to accomplish with their youth by bringing them into the outdoors. So far, we have had church groups come to camp for:
- Aaronic Priesthood Encampments
- Girls Camps
- Father and Son campouts
- High Adventure activities with both young men and young women
- Leadership Training Academy, including priesthood-led Wood Badge and NYLT Timberline
- Helaman Camps
- Traditional merit badge-focused summer camps (bringing the entire LDS stake’s young men)
- Activity Day events
- and more…
We have found that these church groups have the same goals in mind – all centered on the Six Pillars of Being Prepared. With stake/ward leadership designing and leading the program, they are in full control of the outcomes and can provide the best impact on their youth. This is what has really had church leaders excited.
Church groups are still discovering the opportunities that Scout camps present. For example, on the last day of a stake’s high adventure experience, an LDS stake president told the camp director that the experience had met all of his desires and expectations with one exception—his young women could not also attend. The camp director then pointed across the meadow to another stake’s encampment that included girls and said that young women are more than welcome and many stakes do bring their young women. The stake president lamented, “Why didn’t someone tell me?”
Another stake filled an entire camp property by holding their 350+ girls camp at Scout camp. At the end of the week, both leaders and girls were so happy with the outcomes and experiences that they told their friends. Within two weeks, two more LDS stake girls camps had been booked to hold similar camps—all based on the first group’s raving reviews. That same stake quickly turned around and reserved a week the next year to hold a stake Aaronic Priesthood Encampment.
Large Group Focus
In order to better support the demand from church groups, the Utah National Parks Council has implemented three key initiatives.
- Providing early signup by large groups, allowing them to schedule a camp property far in advance and even allowing exclusive use of the property based on the size of the group! We already have multiple reservations for two years out.
- Implementing a discount program that favors large groups coming to camp, even during the core summer months.
- Implementing an Adventure Track system that is focused on youth ages 11-18, including young women. Stakes and wards can then choose between many offerings, or build their own.
Discounts Available to Large Church Groups
The council has customized its discount structure to entice large church groups to attend together. Such groups may take advantage of multiple discounts at council camps. This includes:
- Groups over 20 receive a $5/person discount
- Groups over 100 receive a $10/person discount
- Groups that pay in full by April 1 receive an additional $10/person discount
- Larger groups that can fill an entire camp may receive even higher discounts
I’m Interested, What Next?
If your church group is interested in taking advantage of the council properties and camps, simply fill out the survey at www.utahscouts.org/stakecamps and a member of the council camping team will contact you. They can provide assistance and background on the properties, programs, and past successes from other church groups that you can use to customize your outdoor experience.
Author: John Gailey | Director of Support Services, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.