By John Gailey
Jan 03, 2015

Why Summer Camp?

15047546255_95d2ba49b7_zTalk to any adult who was a Scout as a kid, and they’ll likely tell you that summer camp was one of the highlights of their Scouting experience. Why?

Their responses will vary, but will usually be centered around:

  • Outdoor adventures they have never experienced before;
  • Challenges they overcame, whether physical, emotional or spiritual;
  • Successes they achieved, whether completing a 50 mile hike, or accomplishing a new skill.

Ask a current church leader (Bishop, Stake President) what outcomes they want for their youth from camp, and their responses will be centered on the pillars we have written about before, including:

  • 14492445436_988678125b_zTestimony: Youth will become more prepared by developing a testimony of Christ and of the gospel while doing their duty to God and our country.
  • Service: Youth will become more prepared through personal growth and learning to serve others through charity and doing a good turn daily.
  • Mission Preparation: Youth will become more prepared to go on a mission and teach others.
  • Confidence: Youth will become more prepared by learning to do hard things and in so doing, gain confidence, learn leadership skills and prepare for the future as a son of God.
  • Life Skills: Youth will become more prepared to be good fathers and husbands by following the examples of men such as Scout leaders, bishoprics, prophets and the Savior.
  • Integrity: Youth will become more prepared by learning who they are as sons and daughters of God by keeping themselves physically strong, mentally aware and morally straight, understanding their true nature as a child of God.

So the two big questions are:

  • Is the Utah National Parks Council providing a summer camp environment that enables these highlights and outcomes to occur?
  • Are Scouting units focused on accomplishing these objectives in their planning for camp?

Providing a Summer Camp Environment

The Utah National Parks Council is dedicated to assisting our chartered partners in preparing your youth for missions, church and family leadership, and developing the testimony and maturity they will need to be successful.

Historically, summer camp is often thought of as a place to earn merit badges and focused on the younger Scout, ages 11-13. While this is important to those younger men who are working toward their Eagle rank, that is not core objective of summer camp. And it does not assist the older youth ages 14-18 in their preparation.

With this in mind, the council is expanding their summer camp programs and high adventure activities to:

  1. 14860864710_f0ed3931fa_zBetter serve young men ages 11-18,
  2. Provide packaged adventures that Scouting units can build their experiences around, and
  3. Focus on helping our chartered partners including LDS stakes and wards to focus on achieving the expected camp outcomes listed below while at summer camp.

The intent of our improvements is to allow our youth to combine adventure with learning… to have exciting and challenging learning experiences that will leave a positive, and extraordinary, imprint that they can carry with them throughout their lives. We want to light a fire in their hearts, that will motivate them to come back year after year for more great experiences as they continue to grow and mature; and, to bring others along with them.

These adventures will be offered at three different levels of difficulty, and expertise. They will progress from Beginner (Green) for the younger Scouts, to Intermediate (Blue) and Advanced (Black Diamond), similar to ratings for ski runs, for older or more experienced youth (e.g., Varsity and Venture).

ski symbolsGreen: Basic all-around experiences conducted both in and out of camp. A lot of interactive, hands-on, interpretive and outdoor activities that are integrated with fulfilling merit badge technical requirements.

Blue: designed for older youth… more advanced activities, to include overnight outpost camping, and higher adventure experiences (e.g., rappelling, mountain biking, backpacking, canoe camping).

Black: designed to provide greater levels of challenge, implementing dynamic Venturing and Ranger-type experiences. Challenging and exciting programs that push the adventure envelope (e.g., survival, multi-day backcountry treks, canyoneering, ultra-activity & endurance cross-country legs—hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing).

Further, units can customize their High Adventure week while at camp. These are Blue and Black Diamond programs designed for older Scouts/youth ages 14-18 who are looking for more than the typical Scout camp experience. You can put together several one or two day adventures, or plan out a week-long trek. Various prebuilt high adventure packages are also available that you can choose from, that will include: COPE, mountain biking, hiking, climbing and rappelling, canoe camping, geological exploration and trek camping in the beautiful forests and deserts around our camp properties.

Scouting Units Vision and Planning for Summer Camp Outcomes

The next step is for your Scouting unit to determine what outcomes you are seeking for your youth and then begin building and preparing to make those outcomes possible.

The council camps and high adventure bases (found at will provide the environment and programs where these outcomes can be accomplished. Led by your stake and/or ward leadership, young men will return from camp much better prepared for the challenges and rigors of mission life and adult responsibilities.

The council stands ready to help Scouting leaders design the summer camp experience to fit your needs. Please give us a call or send an email for customized assistance in making the 2015 summer camp experience something that your Scouts will talk about for the rest of their lives!

Key Contacts:

Bob Gowans

 Bob Gowans (Director of Camping) – bob,

Steve Sutherland

 Steve Sutherland –

Dave Johnson

David Johnson –

P.S. Remember that there is an Early Bird Discount for camp if you register your unit and youth by January 31, 2015!

John Gailey
Author: John Gailey | Director of Support Services, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. If you are interested in learning more, please contact him at or 801-437-6233.


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2 thoughts on “Why Summer Camp?

  1. Susan CheeverSusan Cheever

    I know in the past we have struggled to have sufficient leadership. Would it be possible to create a program where leaders could earn a significant discount for their troops by signing up to be volunteer leaders during the week of camp and attending a training in advance of camp season?


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