Planning Your Spring Cycle
CAMPING IN PATROLS
By Scouter Alan Clapp – 8th Orleans, ON
In these strange times, we are being asked to camp in Patrols, (or Lairs, or Expedition Teams) instead of the large groups of the Pack, Troop or Company that many of us have done in the past. If camping by Patrols is new to you, I’m here to tell you to embrace it - you will only want to camp by small units in the future!
There are so many benefits to the youth when camping in small groups. When you camp as a Patrol, there is more opportunity for each youth member to experience leadership, cooking, fire lighting, dish washing etc. Picture a larger group, how many cooks do you need, two maybe three? What are the other youth doing? Free time and playing are worthwhile activities, but imagine instead of two youth cooking, you had two youth per patrol cooking, and the rest contributing to the success of the camp in other ways. The youth feel more involved, more connected and more part of the success of the camp. Each youth gets more chances to develop all of the skills required to camp, and yes this includes the “not fun ones” like dishes and garbage too. Everyone contributes and everyone feels a part of their Patrol.
So how do we pull this off successfully? Plan – Do – Review
Plan: Each Patrol (or Lair or Expedition Team) develops their own menu, which can vary from Patrol to Patrol. As Scouters, we monitor this process to make sure the menus follow the Canada Food Guide and as long as they do, we let them run with it. We offer guidance as to what might take too long to cook, or be really hard to clean up afterward, but they can choose to ignore our suggestions. It’s called learning, and it is a great opportunity to fail safely.
After the menu is drawn up, move to equipment. What will they need for the weekend? How many tents, tarps, ropes? What cooking equipment will they need. If this is the first time they have done this, they will need guidance (and maybe a lot of guidance), but that’s OK, that is what we are here for.
Then we draw up a Duty Roster. What jobs need to be done each day and who will do them? This ensures one youth doesn’t do all the fun stuff while another gets stuck with the less fun tasks. It also ensures that everyone gets the experience of cooking, or bear proofing the food and garbage. Typical jobs might be cooking, dishes, fire and fire wood, stoves and lanterns, (surprising to many youth, stoves and lanterns don’t refill themselves), food and garbage storage, water etc. Make sure these rotate on a fair schedule (daily, if possible). You may also need to make sure at the next camp that fairness is applied. If a youth doesn’t get to cook at this camp, they do at the next one, for example.
Just a note; failure is a great teacher, as long as it is not degrading, or makes the whole weekend miserable. If during the equipment planning part, they forget to pick a frying pan, what do you do? You can remind them then and get them to add it to the list; you can bring an extra one to camp, and when they realize they don’t have it you can “loan” them one; or you can say “well you forgot it, you are stuck without one”. All three of these options might be appropriate depending on the level of experience of the Patrol and the level of consequence. Remember, our role as Scouters is to help them learn in a safe manner.
Do: When you set up at camp, make sure there is some separation between the Patrols. The more separation there is, the more they stay in their Patrols and work together.
Encourage the Patrols to work as a team. You want to make sure each member of the Patrol is contributing and not hiding when there is work to do. Remember the 80-20 rule, where 80% of the work gets done by 20% of the people? You want to make sure this does not happen and everyone contributes equally according to their ability. Make sure the Patrol Leader is getting everyone to do their jobs as per the Duty Roster.
Also, make sure the whole group gets together for some activities too, if it’s safe to do so. It’s great to work as a Patrol, but it’s also great to see the others. Wide games, camp fires, Scouts Owns are excellent opportunities for this.
Review: When you do your post camp review, simply do it in your Lairs, Patrols or Expedition teams. What did they do well? What did they learn and how will they make it better next time? Encourage notes to be taken at this stage, so they can apply the lessons to the next camp. “Those that don’t learn from History are doomed to repeat it”, like not bringing the butter again for the grilled cheese sandwiches.
Enjoy camping in your Patrols!