Category Archives: Boy Scouts

Why Do We Camp?

To experience the wilderness? To be with friends? To challenge our skills? To explore?

All of this, and something even more. Camping is pure. It’s an opportunity to strip away the pressure of the day and focus on more important things. As the Scoutmaster, you can leave the stress of work behind and focus on helping others.

For the Scouts, they leave behind their school and part-time job concerns, desire for academic achievements, athletic competition, and social pressures. They are free to roam at camp like nowhere else (Obviously, we know where they are at all times, and they are in a safe environment). Within that wilderness space they can let go and explore. As a Council, we spend enormous time, effort and resources scheduling merit badges, building ropes courses, improving facilities, launching boats, and dozens of other activities that add up to “the program.” However, when the Scout comes home after the week at camp and his mom asks him what was the best part about camp, he says “I caught a frog!” Or “Billy laughed so hard milk came out his nose.” Two things he could’ve done on any given Saturday in the backyard.

If that’s the highlight, why do we camp?

We are grateful that he has fun memories when he’s 11 years old. But those memories change and evolve over time. As he grows he learns to articulate different memories from his camp experience. When you ask a 17-year-old about camp he references camaraderie. Ask a 25-year-old to reflect on his youthful camp experience and he talks about independence. When you ask 40 year-old he talks about learning responsibility in camp. Responsibility he never would’ve learned anywhere else. The place that prepared him to to be a father. Ask a 55 year old and he’ll reflect on learning leadership that, in retrospect, has guided him ever since. Ask a 70 year old and he’ll reminisce about the milk coming out of Billy’s nose 😉

So, why do we camp?

It provides life changing opportunities and builds life-long bonds. Deeper than they first appear, and they fill our personal memory reservoir. Camp is a wonderful mixture of authentic challenges, metaphorical lessons, and unparalleled fun. The scouting community (Scoutmasters, Scouts, camp staff and the physical property) all work together – like a recipe to make the experience work.

Building and developing the Northern Nexus and the Spirit of Adventure is an authentic challenge. It’s the challenge that makes the victory taste so sweet. We are glad to announce all the registrations for the much anticipated inaugural summer at Northern Nexus (Wah-Tut-Ca, Storer and Parker) can be found HERE.

Here We Go!

Submitted by Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive and CEO

Two New Convenient Scout Shops
Starting later this winter two local stores in the Northern portion of the Council will start providing limited Scout supplies, books and uniforms.

Ben’s Uniforms Inc.                                                                                        All Sports Heroes
http://www.bensuniformsonline.com/                                                      http://www.allsportsheroes.com/
20 Main St, Amesbury, MA 01913                                                               18 1st St, Lowell, MA 01850
Phone: 978-388-0471                                                                                    Phone: 978-452-1976
Fax: 978-388-7878                                                                                         Fax: 978-452-2707

Other Administrative and Physical Changes
The North Andover Scout Shop will be closing on February 19th
The Haverhill Office will be closing on or before March 1st
The Scout Office aspect of the Egan Center will close on or before March 1st (Scout Shop will remain, of course!)
The Woburn Office will open for Business on or before March 1st

How this will workThe Woburn location is considered to be the most central location – both geographically and based on traffic patterns for the council footprint. The location will now serve as a primary Scout Shop (600 Cummings Park suite 1250) and the business operations headquarters (600 Cummings Park suite 2750 – just upstairs) for Spirit of Adventure. Over time we will look to expand the sales floor for the Woburn Scout Shop to accommodate for the additional traffic.

Council Service Center – who really uses the Scout Service Center?
The new business format for Spirit of Adventure will minimize trips to the council office by all volunteers. Through use of technology, conference calls, video conferencing and a highly mobile staff we want every ounce of volunteer energy to go toward the Scouts – not spent in your car driving to an office. Our office staff will be all together in one building and they will serve as the nerve center for operations. A phone call to that location will provide quick and courteous answers about camp registrations, advancement concerns, membership questions, donations or training information etc. The Commissioned Staff will be out in the field – ready willing and able to meet with unit committees, community leaders, and others. Their responsibilities are to roll up their sleeves and dig into more detailed and complex situations that ultimately make SCOUTING THRIVE.

Therefore during the day the space in Woburn will serve as a “hotelling” location for those commissioned staff in between meetings in the field. This provides maximum flexibility of the space (and a smaller footprint) so during the evening that same “office space” will be used for council and district meetings.

What about the space at the Egan center? #letsPLAY
The Egan Center and the New England Base Camp are the program delivery hub for Scouting across Eastern MA and soon New England. While we will maintain a small administrative staff in that location the majority of that highly valuable indoor space will be used for program delivery. Likely an improved STEM Center, Birthday party rooms, Handicrafts and other program features that’ll enhance the quality of the program.

Winter is Coming!

It may not feel like it, but soon the temperature will drop, the snow will fall and the water will freeze.  There is not much one can do about it, we are in New England after all.  Now is not the time to start to think about the ice damns on your house or the amount of snow that you shoveled last winter.  It is time to think about what you are going to do to get those kids that will be stuck indoors outside! WinterCamping

Winter is not the time to plan for only indoor activities for your family or Scout group.  It is the best time to get outside and enjoy what Mother Nature has given us.  Soon February vacation will be here and nothing is worse than being stuck inside with kids that are ready to be outside.  The Spirit of Adventure Council has opportunities for all ages of Scouts and for families to enjoy.

February Vacation Camp

With two different camps, both running out of New England Base Camp in Milton, your opportunities are almost limitless.

SnowProgramThe “traditional” winter camp is anything but traditional.  Cub Scouts will go on hikes through the Blue Hills using snow shoes,  go ice skating on our ice rink, learn how to cook in the snow and so much more.  Boy Scouts will have the opportunity to earn Wilderness Survival Merit Badge with their overnight be done in a quincy or the Eagle required Cooking Merit Badge with the meal done on a hike be done while hiking with snow shoes.  Everyone will be able to enjoy sledding, snurfing, our indoor nerf shooting range and the swimming pool. Sign up HERE

Need a little more adventure for your vacation camp?  Join us on our Mountaineering/Ice Climbing expedition week.  Scouts will spend the first two days at New England Base Camp learning how to Ice Climbing.  On Wednesday morning they will head up to New Hampshire to climbing on some of the best ice in New England.  You will return Thursday night and spend the last day at Base Camp showing the participants what you have learned and taking advantage of the water adventure course. Sign up HERE

IceClimbing

Weekend Program

Every weekend starting January 9th through the last weekend in February, New England Base Camp runs our Saturday winter program.  Come for the day and learn how to build a quincy, go ice skating, spend the afternoon at the pool and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate around a camp fire as the sun is setting.  If you are looking for more adventure, check out the ice climbing (as featured in this month’s Boy’s Life).  Call 617.615.0004 today, as limited space is available.

www.newenglandbasecamp.org

So let’s PLAY outside!  Grab those kids and join us at Base Camp to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Website Preview: Boy Scouts

When we listen to Boy Scout leaders it’s clear that for 10 months a year they take pride in their outdoor self sufficiency. An average Troop simply needs a few acres of wooded green space and the SPL and the SM will develop the program from there. Most commonly we hear about “Iron Chef” competitions, building snow shelters, hikes, and other outdoor activities to prepare for camp-o-rees or Klondikes derbies.

Our camps in Scouting reflect that need and that service. Camp Sayre, Lone Tree, Wah Tut Ca, Storer and Parker Mountain all provide basic weekend camping opportunities between September and June. Campsites and cabins are inexpensive and the program development and services at these camps are minimal. Troops also like to branch out and explore other Scout camps and often find unique exciting features.

Through all that self sufficiency and all the outdoor skills that our Scout Masters and leaders exhibit month in and month out, we also recognize more and more troops don’t go much beyond “car camping” and high adventure is something we often “outsource.” Older Scouts often express mild frustration in their troops ability to expand their outdoor horizons beyond typical weekend camping trip. Troops sometimes add a white water adventure, or a trip to Rock Spot to help expand those horizons.

Expanding your Troop Horizons
This is where the collective resources of the council can provide additional value.
Summer Camp and the Northern NeXus! 
By connecting all three of our Northern NH properties we have created up 30,000 acres of adventure than none of the individual properties could attain on their own. Now Scouts can enjoy everything from mountain top experiences, to vertical caving, to water park style activities and unique boating, horseback riding, and back packing!
Patrol Leaders Council and Leadership Opportunities
It’s clear that every troop wants to expand and empower their youth leaders. We provide a suite of programs throughout the year to help youth leaders expand their skills and send them back to the troop enthusiastic and motivated.
Every Weekend at the New England Base Camp, ScoutMasters enjoy the added support and patience required to help patrol leaders expand their skills and practice leadership. For the very adventurous older Scout or Venturer there are Specialty Programs for extreme activities like Ice climbing, rock climbing, weekend COPE, staff opportunities and much more.
Every Summer through NYLT, Brownsea and Summer camp staff opportunities older Scouts can expand and develop their skills to better serve in leadership roles for the coming year.

Contact Us
Our Scout Representatives are happy to meet with Your Patrol Leaders Council or your Troop Committee to help develop your annual plan and get the most out of the council resources. Click HERE to set up a meeting!

The Value of Camp Staff

Submitted by Darrin Johnson, General Manager New England Base Camp

One of my fondest memories within Scouting was when we arrived at Worth Ranch in Palo Pinto, Texas, in the summer of ’87.  It was not my first summer camp experience, it would be the most influential though.  It was Father’s Day, it was about 100 degrees out and the parking lot was next to the swimming pool.  We got out of the van and ran to look at the pool.  The water was green and not just a little green.  Every one of us looked from the water to each other with two thoughts going through our heads: “That water looks absolutely disgusting” and “When can we get into that water”.

I really do not remember too many specifics of that week.  I remember walking up Hernia Hill about 100 times that week.  I remember going tubing down the Brazos River.  What I remember most though was the staff, and one staff member specifically-John Briggs.  He taught Swimming Merit Badge and was my favorite staff member that summer.  At the end of that week, I had a goal in Scouting.  It was not to get my Eagle and it was not to go to Philmont.  It was to work the swimming pool at Worth Ranch.

For the next several years, I went to camp every summer and every summer I knew that my goal was still to work the swimming pool.  In the summer of ’91, I finally started to work staff.  I did not know a single person on staff that summer.  No one from my Troop had ever worked at camp before, so I really did not know what to expect when I arrived.  I moved my stuff into my tent and went to the first meeting as a Worth Ranch Staff Member (just not at the pool).  We played a bunch of games to get to know each other better and spent the week getting the camp ready for campers.

That summer, I spent 8 weeks working at camp.  It would not be for several years before I finally reached my goal of working at the swimming pool, but that did not matter.  Along the way, I discovered something very important about working at summer camps.  You get to know people better then you ever would have if you were not living together at camp.  After a couple of days I got to know Mike, Jason, Chris, Travis and Daniel.  That was over 25 years ago and I still talk to them on a regular basis.  Even though we are spread across the world, we make sure to meet up once a year to reminisce about the “good ole days”.

Working staff at a camp is more than just  teaching pioneering or fishing.  It is about discovering who you are and about making friends.  I am forever grateful to John for being the type of staff member that made sure that kid wanting to take Swimming Merit Badge had a great time while he was at the pool and always said hi when hiking down the trail.  Working staff taught me how to talk to adults and kids. It taught me Scouting skills and life skills.  It gave me friends that I call family.  And it allowed me to learn and to grow.

New England Base Camp has multiple staffing opportunities.  Every weekend, our staff is ensuring that our guests have the opportunity to be out in nature learning new skills.  Each summer, you can chose between any one of the seven different locations to apply and work.  Working camp will be the best decisions you have ever made.

Community and Council: Local becomes Legendary

Like any new entity, The Spirit of Adventure Council experiences new milestones each day as it matures and adapts. CSP-Family (1)The release of the council shoulder patch (CSP) is the most recent of these! Way back in the summer, we asked Scouts to draw and submit patch ideas, the marketing committee reviewed the designs and ultimately choose the patch that is now available in stores.

Much of the dialogue throughout the patch design process focused on our identity. In contrast the name of that was chosen does NOT showcase any type of geographical or historical significance, but instead seeks to embody the aspirational intent of Scouting itself. (please read the blog about the decision about the significance of the name) The patch however is FULL of geographical and historical references. While we couldn’t fit every single reference to our heritage in one small patch – the committee certainly has many unique references without making the patch too busy.

One critical sentiment the group wanted to reflect in the patch is our focus on community. The focus of the new council is “helping Scouting thrive in your community” unique council patch can reflect that mission (it’s also a pretty cool throw back to the old school town and state patches)

The best reason to buy these limited time patches: A Scout is friendly, and Scouting teaches citizenship. It’s a great opportunity for Scouts to recognize that Scouting has no boundaries; a Scout at camp can meet new friends and learn instantly about their community.

LimitedCSPFor a limited time only, this CSP will be available to order with your unit’s local town name placed at the bottom of the patch. Coordinate your order with your Unit leader and/or other units in your city/town.

Click here for the order form – the order forms will also be available at December Roundtables

Allagash or Bust!

Submitted by Nicole Conte, Crew 345 President, Lone Tree Staff Member

Only days after all but two of our members graduated from high school, we set out for Allagash Maine, or as we like to call it, “Almost Canada.”  TheAllagash2 trip began early Sunday morning.  We gathered together, clad in traffic-cone orange Crew 345 T-shirts and brimming with a surprising amount of energy for teenagers that early in the morning.  We packed up quickly then painted decorated the van; “Crew 345,” “Allagash or bust!” and venturing symbols covered all sides of the van in vibrant red, white, and blue letters.  With group pictures taken, and goodbyes to parents said, it was time to begin our journey.

The road trip up to Maine was full of excitement.  We talked, laughed, had a couple dance parties and even listened to old folk tales about the Allagash River and mountains.  After reaching the outfitters, we pitched camp.  We cooked up spectacular diner and shared our eagerness to get on the river the next day.  In the morning, we packed up headed for the Allagash and then, the rain began.

We decided not to let a bit of rain deter us from adventuring down the class three rapids which began our river run.  The rapids went very well at first, it felt epic and thrilling racing down the river dodging rocks and aiming for the most treacherous sections of rapids, just for the fun of it.  Then, the first canoe tipped, then the second, and the third.  Thankfully, we had dropped our gear at the bottom of the rapids so nothing was lost.  The journey down the rapids quickly turned into a series of rescue missions in which one canoe would sink in the process of turning another one upright.  Eventually, this vicious cycle was righted and we made it to the bottom of the rapids drenched through every layer of clothing, but thrilled to have survived the river.       The weather was frigid and we still had miles to go before reaching our next campsite.  After a rugged two mile paddle, we reached camp in not the highest of spirits.  However, the chance to dry out by the fire and devour an impressively delicious steak dinner replenished our moral.

The next couple days brought icy rain, a major test of willpower and a peculiar conversation with a park ranger about his crusade to find the best sushi in Canada.  The days were cold and despite our best water proofing efforts, everything was wet.  Every time the rain let up for a moment we were quick to hang things up to dry.  But then, the rain would start again and it was back to square one.  Though this leg of the trip proved difficult, it may have been the most important for us.  We powered through by depending on each other for encouragement and with excessive joking about our own misfortunes.  As tough as the first few days may have been, Wednesday made it all worth it.

AllagashEarly in the afternoon on our third day on the river day the clouds broke and we saw blue sky for the first time in what felt at like ages.  With clear skies came a warm sun and lifted spirits.  This change could not have come at a better time because that was the night we stayed at Allagash Falls.  Camp
was completely set up by late afternoon.  Now, we had a chance to go exploring.  After a short venture through the woods the trees parted to reveal a beautiful forty foot waterfall shimmering in the afternoon sun and rushing down the rocks with awe inspiring natural power.   Hours past exploring the falls, climbing the rocks, taking pictures and swimming in the slower waters.  In one section of the falls we found a massive snow pile tucked in a curve of the rock formation.  So there we were, in the middle of June, next to a waterfall, having a snowball fight!  Our time at Allagash Falls was probably the greatest part of our entire trip.

We stayed at the falls late into the next morning.  Nobody wanted to leave, but we needed to press on.  Leaving the falls was sad, but the weather continued to be beautiful. We had covered so much ground during the rainy days that the last couple days were enjoyable and relaxing.  Sometimes we paddled and raced and other times we held on to the gunnels of each other’s canoes and just floated down the river as one big raft while singing camp songs and          Josh’s favorite Taylor Swift hits.  We even encountered more rapids toward the end.  But this time, we were ready.  Not a single canoe was tipped!

As we reached our final reach our landing space on our final morning, a sense of triumph flooded over us.  We had accomplished something significant.  We had made it together as a team and as closer friends than we had ever been before.  It felt like if we could make it sixty-two miles down the Allagash River in four and a half days, we could do anything.Allagash3

Months later, I asked my fellow crew members to reflect and tell me what their favorite canoe trip memory was.  For some it was the chance to go explore something new every day.  For others it was the conversations we had around the dinner table or late into the night by the fire.  Our trip down the Allagash really had something to offer everyone.

Since the Allagash, our crew has changed.  Some of our crew members have moved on as they began college and new members have joined, bright eyed and ready to learn.  This is the life cycle of a Venture Crew.  While things change and we move on to new adventures, our good times, and bad times on the Allagash will always be a part of crew 345 history.  In our future we will be hiking Mt. Chocorua.  This coming winter we hope to do some ice climbing, and the springtime may bring zip lining in the White Mountains.  And after that, who knows?

Ivy League Learning: Boy Scout Style

Submitted by Paul Gendreau, West Wind Senior District Executive

The hallowed halls of Harvard University will once again provide the setting for the 2016  Merit Badge University. The program, a community service project of the Harvard College Friends of Scouting, will be offered for the 16th time this spring. Here, scouts will have the opportunity to earn up to three merit badges over two Saturdays. Some of the offerings will include labs or field trips that will occur between to two formal dates. Participants will receive the current printing of the pamphlet for each merit badge he is attempting on the first  morning and a commemorative patch for the University on the second afternoon.  This year, the event will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 and Saturday, April 9, 2016. Registration will open on January 23, 2016 and will close on February 5, 2016.

When a Scout seeks to earn a particular merit badge, he is participating in one of the nation’s original mentoring programs for youth. The merit badge program is one of the earliest features of Boy Scouting and it serves to connect a Scout with an adult who has expertise in that field.  It is a frequent occurrence that a Scout begins a lifelong journey in a field that becomes a vocation or avocation. Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that Stephen Spielberg developed his interest in movies by earning the Photography Merit Badge? His family’s camera was broken and his counselor allowed him to make a movie. The rest is history. Will you be the next Spielberg? How about the next Bill Gates or the 2026 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry? You never know!

Who are the professors for the university? Affiliates of Harvard, usually Harvard students, team up with the best qualified merit badge counselors that we can find. In some cases these are individuals who helped “write the book” for the badge being offered. Others are equally well versed in their respective fields and they most often have spent their careers in that area. Make sure your scouts register promptly as many of these small-group sessions sell out quickly. Visit the council website when registration first opens to check out this year’s offerings and register for this program. Whenever you draw on knowledge gained at the university, you’ll be able to say, “I learned this at Harvard!”

For more information about MBU-16 @ Harvard, go to:  http://scoutspirit.doubleknot.com/event/1717938

 

Adaptation: Changing a Culture

Submitted by Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive

It has been an enlightening Fall as we rolled through the first typical six weeks of Scouting in the Spirit of Adventure Council. During the summer we had the benefit of simply running a few Scout camps: the highlight of our program. However, they are in many ways separate from the day-to-day, week-to-week operation of running a Pack, Troop or Crew. Once we hit September, all the units started up and the committees returned to their work, cultural differences started to emerge. Those differences are both our biggest challenge and greatest opportunity: crafting something new, adaptable, and flexible, to help us play better in the 21st Century marketplace of youth activity and family culture.

In this blog, I’ll lay out a few of the early changes and indications of what and how we are working together to help Scouting thrive in every community.

  • Customer Service 
    • Popcorn delivery – we had some great positive feedback from the improvements in the popcorn delivery system this year. The Council spent significant portion of the popcorn profits to increase the customer service.
      • “I just want to pass along a very appreciative THANK YOU to the two gentlemen that delivered our popcorn for Rowley Pack 15 to me yesterday.  I had every intention of having them drop the cases in my driveway and incrementally getting them down into the basement.  The guys helped me bring ALL 128 cases down to the basement, it was awesome. They were great!”
    • Council Open six days a week – as a somewhat unintended consequence of “open to the public” we re-organized our support staff to have a receptionist at the Egan Center on Saturdays. When we started doing that and the phone rang for other non-camp related questions, Scout leaders were happily greeted by an actual person on Saturday who often answered their question and solved their concern.
  • Project Based Giving 
    • Last week the properties committee held our first ever “Volunteer Auction” with over 20 people in attendance. Each of these skilled workers committed to donate time and expertise to various projects at our camps. Over 100 projects were “up for auction” and about 25 of those were selected. Spirit of Adventure will pay for the materials and the workers will make a contribution of time and talent to complete the project.
  • Governance “How we make Decisions” 
    • From the very beginning (May 28, 2015) we talked about the strategic direction of Camp Sayre and the camps that now make up the “Northern Network.” As part of that process we talked about Lone Tree as a camp that we would, over time, develop a specific direction designed to help Scouting thrive. But, until that time the direction was developed, it would be “on hold” with some basic alterations designed to maximize efficiency to its program and facility.  Now we are ready to start developing that direction. To develop that direction we will hold listening sessions specifically for how Lone Tree fits into the strategic plan.
      • Monday, October 26th, 7:00 PM @ First Presbyterian Church, 346 Broadway, Haverhill
      • Sunday, November 1st, 2:30 PM @ Flint Public Library, 1 S Main St, Middleton
      • Monday, November 2nd 7:00 PM @ EDCO 36 Middlesex Turnpike, Bedford
  • Merit Badge Counselor List
    • One of the greatest customer service concerns that came out of the initial listening sessions was the unnecessary and bureaucratic difficulty caused when trying to register and secure an accurate list of merit badge counselors.
    • After two focus groups at summer camp, and meetings with the VP of Program, District Advancement Chairs, and the full Advancement Committee, we enacted a plan that would eliminate the problems and streamline the system.
      • This procedural change impacts a very small percentage of merit badges (less than 10%) and a much smaller percentage of our total membership (less than 3%). The entire design was to make the process simpler. Sadly, many folks were taken back by the speed of the change and the perceived burden it put on unit leaders.
      • To be clear – it does not put any additional or new burdens on unit leaders, quite the opposite. The concern over the change speaks more to the decades long struggle with customer service and a disappointingly well-earned lack of faith in “The Council.” I find that to be heart breaking.
    • One unit leader recommended some opportunities to enhance the new procedure:
      • a Google doc for all unit leaders to help find the counselor for the hard-to-find merit badge.
      • GREAT IDEA, Instituted now! By adding this simple, self-managed list any scout leader can update the list in real time.
      • For a unit leader to contact the merit badge counselor, they should reach out to Marian McQuaid at the customer service center. She will confirm Scouter’s registration status (if they are registered – they are cleared for YPT) and she’ll provide the contact information.

Things will change – that’s why we merged 🙂

They will change for the better and if there is a problem with the change, we’ll adapt and tweak the new system. Before the merger, one council leader said of the two cultures “one culture is concerned with doing it right, while the other is concerned with doing the right thing.” This is very insightful, and neither perspective is better than the other; in fact, the reason we have such high hopes for this merger is because these two perspectives are inherently compatible.

Not that it’s always easy 🙂

I hope to see everyone at the listening sessions or some of the Roundtables in the coming weeks and months to discuss these and other changes as we work together to help Scouting thrive.

The Spirit of Adventure Needs YOU!

Remember that Boston Globe article about ice climbing at New England Base Camp?

We want your comments about this article and New England Base Camp in general! Head over to Facebook by clicking here, or on the image below.

Please help us to “engage youth and parents in physical fitness and the outdoors, as well as helping youth from all walks of life increase self-esteem, confidence, and strengthen character” by telling us how we can do that!

SoAC FB HeaderSoAC FB Header