Let’s start with definitions. Many districts in the Utah National Parks Council and throughout the country use the two names Webelos Day Camp and Webelos Woods interchangeably which only adds to the confusion. For some it’s tradition, “that’s what we’ve always called it.”
The Northern Star Council out of St. Paul, Minnesota defines Webelos Woods as an outdoor activity program designed to aid the Webelos Scout in their transition into Boy Scouts. The purpose of this outdoor experience is to create a genuine desire to know more about Boy Scouting and through fun events, give them a preview of Scout skills and camping. For those in the Utah National Parks Council, coming in September 2018 will be the first Webelos Woods held on a council level. It will be held at Camp Jeremiah Johnson, more details coming soon.
Webelos Day Camp should provide an opportunity for Webelos and their leaders to have fun and adventure in the outdoors. This is not to say that day camps can’t be held indoors. They certainly can but in an ideal situation they will be outdoors away from screens, giving boys new experiences, introducing them to new ideas and ways of doing things. Day camps vary widely depending on your council. They can be 1-5 days in length and have opportunities for camping overnight just one night or several. For those in the Utah National Parks Council, day camps can be found listed as Webelos Overnighter at Camp Jeremiah Johnson and Webelos Wilderness Adventure at Buck Hollow.
A question that is often on the mind of a new leader is what do we pass off at these camps? Just a reminder that advancement is just one aspect of the Scouting program. For both types of camps the main focus should NOT be passing of requirements but should help the boys to enjoy being outdoors learning new things. The exception to this for Webelos Woods might be Arrow of Light Adventure: Scouting Adventure which focuses on introducing Webelos to the Boy Scout program. Many of you might be wondering why you’d go to a camp if they didn’t pass of requirements. Keep reminding yourself that advancement is just one part of Scouting. I’ve never been to a camp or activity yet that didn’t pass of requirements but it shouldn’t be the main focus.
Now that you have a better idea of what each camp is how do you know which one to take your boys to? In my humble opinion, in a perfect setting you’d go to both. This way your boys can get the best of both worlds. They can pass off requirements to help them earn their Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks as well as get excited about the transition into Boy Scouts. If your unit’s budget will not allow attending both, as a leader you will need to choose what your boys will most benefit from or consider a fundraiser such as selling popcorn, Scout Expo cards or other things along this line.
So in a nutshell:
|Webelos Day Camp||Outdoor activities which may include completing Webelos and Arrow of Light adventure requirements||1-5 days depending on your council with the possibility of camping overnight all or part of the time|
|Webelos Woods||Outdoor activities which will introduce Webelos to the Boy Scout program and all the things they can look forward to.||Usually 1-2 days which will often include an overnight experience.|
No matter which camp you choose, the most important thing is to get the boys outdoors. Help them experience the beauty of nature and all it entails. Help them gain an appreciation for the world they live in, their Creator and many, many things waiting for them to be discovered.
Author: Ann Shumway | Day Camping, STEM and Learning for Life Director, Utah National Parks Council