Summer Camp

Troop 615 has attended Ockanickon Scout Reservation annually for a week of summer camp for the past 14 years.  The boys choose all of the outings that we attend, including summer camp, and they continue to choose OSR.  OSR has an incredible staff, terrific facilities, and a comprehensive program.  The boys have the opportunity to work on a wide range of merit badges, rank advancement, and have fun bonding with the rest of the troop.

Troop 615 will attend camp from July 22-28, 2018.  If you plan to use your scout account for all/part of the payment, please check with Mrs. Sheri Stevens for your current balance.

Health forms will be due in early June, so please get your physicals scheduled now.

Camp t-shirts and camp photos will be ordered at a future date for an additional (small) fee.

For new Scouts, attending that first summer camp is a critical component for continued success in Scouting.  It is this shared experience with other first year Scouts that helps create relationships and memories which guides them for the rest of their time in Scouting.

For boys that are attending OSR for the first time, OSR has a program specifically designed for first year Scouts called the Dan Beard program.  The Dan beard program gets boys through 3 – 4 merit badges that are important for success in Scouting.  By participating in this program, the first year boys do NOT have to plan their activities/merit badges.

Boys that are in their second year of Scouts can choose their own schedule of activities at summer camp.  To do so, they need to identify those merit badges that they would like to do, check the schedules for when the merit badges are offered (if there are two merit badges are scheduled at the same time, you can’t do both badges!), AND the boys need to make sure they complete their pre-requisites prior to attending summer camp.

Because of the broad number of merit badge opportunities at OSR, it’s a good idea to match the Scout’s age and abilities to the appropriate merit badge.  There are some merit badges that require background , training, or experience that younger Scouts may not have.

For new Scouts (and parents) to Troop 615, the older Scouts will work with the younger Scouts to ensure that they pack appropriately.  We generally have two to three “shakedown”  sessions before summer camp where the Scouts bring in their summer camp gear and get the gear reviewed.  Because the boys will be attending camp for a week, they need something to store their gear securely, ideally a container that will fit under a cot.  The Troop has had good success with light weight foot lockers like these from Sterilite or these from Contico.

Please label the tote (and everything else!) with the Scouts name.  You can decorate it to make it distinct…it’s their tote!  We just need to make sure that we can readily identify which tote belongs to which scout.

Since there will be times during the day when the boys won’t be in their tents/Adirondaks, it’s important to have a lock for the tote.  These locks are modestly priced and have combinations that are able to be set by the user.  They also have a flexible hasp that makes it pretty easy to lock the bins.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/MASTER-LOCK-4688DBLU-Combo-Padlock-TSA-3-Dial-Blue/41210071

If your son has not had to deal with a combination lock before, I’d suggest getting a lock in advance and practicing so that he’s comfortable with the lock prior to camp.

Now you’re probably wondering… how do we ensure that our Scout has everything he needs for the week prior to summer camp?  Excellent question!  To make sure Scouts are prepared, we conduct shake downs prior to camp.  Shake downs require the boys to pack their totes with all the gear they need to have with them for the week.  The packed tote will then be checked by an older Scout.  If there are things missing, then the scout will need to bring back the tote the following week for a re-check.  Here’s a link to the Troop website to show an example of what a packed tote looks like and how to pack for the week:

http://www.bsa615.com/outings/summer-camp/summer-camp-packing/

BTW:  PLEASE make sure that the Scout does NOT pack their full field dress uniform in their tote!  Scouts are required to travel in field dress.  We will not leave for camp until all Scouts are properly attired. If the uniform is packed in a tote and the tote is at the bottom of the pile of 40 totes in the trailer, it’s going to take a while to get to that tote and find his uniform.

Scouts will also need some money for camp.  Since OSR is ~ 3.5 hours from Ellicott City, we’ll be stopping along the way to and from camp for lunch.  They’ll need money for food along the way, both ways.

There will also be opportunities to purchase items from the OSR trading post.  If you would like to have money available for your boys for the week, but don’t want them to have all of it with them at one time, we set up a “bank” for the week.  We assign one of the Assistant Scoutmasters to serve as the “bank”.  The ASM holds onto money and provides times when the bank is open.  If the Scout wants to make withdrawals, they can see the bank when it’s open.  We ask that money be placed into an envelope with the Scouts name on the outside along with a starting balance.

What’s needed for summer camp?  Here’s a Summer Camp Packing Checklist specifically for summer camp.

NOTE:  For the past several years at summer camp, there were a number of Scouts from our Troop that ended up using hammocks.  As many of you know, I’m a big fan of hammocks… I sleep in my hammock for the full week of summer camp and at every camp out where there’s a place to hang. I even have hang points installed in my home!  I’m a bit of a hammock nerd.

Unfortunately, many low cost hammocks do not have appropriate suspensions.  Specifically, they used rope to tie the hammock to the trees.

Rope is inappropriate to use for hammock suspension on trees because it can damage the tree.  There are very large forces being generated on the hammock suspension…the result of that force when using rope is that the rope can actually cut into the tree.  Over time, this can eventually end up killing the tree…the process is known as girdling.

The national Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Training includes specific recommendations for hammock camping and suggests using tree straps… 1 – 1.5″ webbing that will help spread the load onto the larger area of the webbing to help prevent girdling.

https://lnt.org/blog/hammock-camping

Since BSA adheres to the principles of leave no trace, my requirement for Troop 615 for those that want to use hammocks:  you MUST use tree straps.  No tree straps, no hammock.  Doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging out at camp or if you are planning to sleep in your hammock.  The same rule applies:  no tree straps, no hammock.

Where can you get tree straps?

There are several commercial vendors available:

ENO:  http://www.rei.com/product/840700/eno-atlas-hammock-suspension-system

Kammock:  http://www.rei.com/product/863807/kammok-python-straps

There are also several “cottage” vendors…small scale, mom and pop operations that produce some very good quality gear.  I’ve personally ordered suspensions and gear from these vendors:

Arrowhead Equipment:

You can order a full replacement suspension or just order tree straps:

http://www.arrowhead-equipment.com/hammock-suspension.html

Dutchware Gear:

http://www.dutchwaregear.com/hammock-stuff/complete-hammock-suspensions/

BIAS:  Again, can purchase a whole suspension kit or just get the tree straps.

http://www.buttinasling.com/suspension.html

If there are any questions about hammocks or about how to get hammocks set up, please let me know.