Last month I blogged on the topic of the eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout camporee that included an overnight. The purpose of that blog was to assist ward and stake Primary presidents in how to make an EYO camporee a spiritual experience as well as an opportunity to practice and learn Scout skills.
If an overnight camporee is not what works best in your area, the other option is to hold an EYO day camp much like day camps in the Cub Scout program. Organized day camping is a multi-level experience under the supervision of trained leadership, which usually takes place during the daytime, from 9 to 4 p.m., but occasionally extends into the twilight hours of 5 to 9 p.m. for such things as astronomy or a fun-filled campfire program. The program of activities provides fun and adventure in the outdoors at a site that provides seclusion and natural resources. Emphasis is placed on new experiences difficult to obtain in the usual Church building, EYO patrol atmosphere.
Other variations on organizing a day camp might be a twilight day camp, which just may be the answer when limited parental support is available, or if there is year-round school. Or how about a sunrise day camp for areas that experience high daytime temperatures? Both of these options allow parents to take half-days off from work rather than whole days.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publishes, Day Camp Guide for Eleven-Year-Old Scouts (https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/english/primary/31374_day-camp-guide-eng.pdf) and is an excellent resource for planning your stake or ward EYO day camp.
The stake Primary president should see that every boy in the stake has an opportunity to attend day camp. Day camps may be planned by the stake or by the ward, or may be multi-stake events. Stake or multi-stake day camps should be organized under the direction of the stake Primary president(s).
The ward Primary president is responsible for the participation of the boys in her ward in a day camp. Ward day camps should be organized by the ward Primary president and the leader of the EYO Scouts with the help of the troop committee.
With summer rapidly approaching, now is an ideal time to plan and finalize plans for the summer activities for EYO Scouts. A day camp can be planned as a one-day, a two-day, or a three-day camp, held on any day (or days) of the week except Sunday. It could be held on consecutive days or on consecutive Saturdays.
The Day Camp Guide is full of essential planning steps, as well as a complete program, making it fairly easy to organize. Some considerations in planning a day camp include camp site selection, transportation, safety, first aid, permission slips, fees and registration to cover costs, and food. Local areas may use their own day camp badge or obtain the Day Camp Patch (31375) from the Salt Lake Distribution Center. The badge is placed on the right pocket of the Scout shirt.
A day camp can prepare boys for their Scouting experiences at Scout camp and make it familiar when they attend as a deacon. Morning flag ceremonies, closing ceremonies, patrol sites to set up, understanding how to read daily schedules, meals to prepare, site organization, sanitation, and getting to places on time are just a few of the things the boys will do that are similar to activities at Scout camp.
One of my favorite ideas from the Day Camp Guide is on page 8 where at the conclusion of the day camp a tournament of Scouting is held. A tournament of Scouting brings the patrols together to prove their Scouting skills and provides an opportunity for sportsmanship. Hold the tournament during the hours before the closing activity of a one-day camp, or during the final afternoon of a two- or three-day camp.
The tournament activities could be structured in several ways, one of which is the adventure trail. This is a combination of various Scoutcraft skills. Each patrol is given a scorecard and directions. Each patrol begins at a different station and rotates among the stations of the tournament arena. At each station there is a problem to solve, a skill to demonstrate, or a task to perform. A judge at each station observes the patrol at work and awards points according to specifications and directions given in advance. The patrol with the greatest total of points wins the tournament (The Day Camp Guide, 8).
Announcing the tournament at opening assembly builds the excitement of competition and helps the EYO Scouts concentrate at their skill stations, because they know they will need to use the skills in the tournament.
The advantage of a multi-stake EYO day camp is that there are more resources to draw from, including a greater number of adults from several stakes, sound equipment, medical staff, and a trained camp director to assure all is well. Additionally, it is likely that the expenses of reserving a campsite and using campground facilities will be less per person if shared by a larger number of wards to help defray the cost of camping. Plus the program can be so much more comprehensive than might be able to be offered by two eleven-year-old Scout leaders assisted by one ward Primary organization.
Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.