Camp-in to Campout

Scouts never forget to take advantage of the warmer days that spring brings, and this year is no different. Scout Groups across the country have been camping in their individual backyards as part of virtual events. 4th Spruce Grove, 32nd Richmond, 1st Fort Langley, and 1st North-Gower Kars are just a few Groups that can be noted for spiriting Scouting.

Over 60 Scouts and 20 Scouters participated in 4th Spruce Grove (Alberta)’s Bring Your Own Camp event.

“Camp can look different for everyone,” Group Commissioner, Heather Eyestone explained, “Some youth set up tents and others created elaborate forts in their homes. This way if you didn’t have a tent or a yard, you were still invited. All camp styles were welcome.”

4th Spruce Grove found that the event was important. Heather explains, “Scouting is something we have all chosen to do together, it was hard to have it change for us. We were able to come together as a community and share something we are all passionate about.”

Activities included a show-and-share of each youth and Scouter’s individual camp space, campfire songs, a Lego motion creation of the classic Scouting “Purple Gorilla” story, family skits,  “pie-in-the face for popcorn” awards, and their traditional camp review. Two Cub Scouts led a song for everyone to sing along with as well.

1st Fort Langley’s Troop in British Columbia also recently created a “camp-in to campout” for their Scouts. A Scout suggested the idea after a campout was cancelled. One Scouter noted that “the Troop’s enthusiasm gives me energy and we had a camp planned when COVID-19 broke out. When I heard of the national campout, I was determined to keep our camp going.”

It was a success: the Troop had 18 Scouts and 6 Scouters attend. Many of the Scouts’ siblings, as well as most Cubs and Ventures, also joined in.  With over 35 Scouting participants camped at home, this made for a great event.

The schedule for the event was flexible. Scouts participated in a variety of challenges and earned points. The challenges were captured by camera and sent to Scouters for judging after the weekend. Bonus points were given for creativity and tent decoration.

To guarantee that no one was left behind, families were asked by email what they needed to make the event a success. Participants without tents were lent one. One Scout, without access to tenting grounds, even made a shelter in his own room. By keeping the event simple, everyone was able to participate.

Open campfires are not allowed in Metro Vancouver, but this did not stop Fort Langley’s Troop. Outdoor cooking was done on gas fire pits, barbeques or personal outdoor stoves. Scouts were challenged to spend all of their time outside which provided plenty of opportunities to enjoy a book or to play games with their families. At the conclusion of the event, one Scout asked to put the pictures together to share at their next Zoom meeting.

Another Group in British Columbia that recently had had their spring campouts cancelled, also turned virtual. 32nd Richmond “in true Scouting spirit and wise in the use of our resources” challenged their youth to “get their tents and sleeping bags out for a great camp-in.” (Emily Wan, Group Commissioner)

The great camp-in was youth-led with 40 youth, from Beavers to Venturers, participating along with 10 Scouters. Venturers led the planning and initiation of a virtual campfire. Beavers chose and practiced their song contributions beforehand.

The campfire also featured everyone shining their flashlights toward their cameras at the same time while the fire was lit and “Campfire’s Burning” was sung. At the closing of the fire, visuals of the great Canadian outdoors were shown and the Group observed silence in appreciation of essential front-line workers. Afterwards, Scouts were given the opportunity to grab a hot chocolate and chat.

On the other side of the country, 1st North Gower-Kars’ Troop in Ontario was also challenging Scouts to focus on getting outside for a camp-out. The challenge: make an outdoor meal and sleep outside.

According to 1st Gower-Kars’ “After six weeks of isolation and 4 weeks of online meetings, having an outdoor activity really raised the Scouting spirit of the Troop as we headed into what would normally be one of our busiest times of the year for various outdoor activities,” said Group Commissioner, Martin Burtt.

Regardless of your Section, Scouts can benefit from finding ways to bring Scouting back outdoors while staying mindful of Scouts Canada’s pandemic safety Standard. Camping-in to campout is just one possibility. What is your Section doing?

Tips for Hosting a Virtual Group Event

For 4th Spruce Grove, a few key strategies helped in the Bring Your Own Camp event’s success.

Prepare. Promoting the adventure beforehand on both ScoutsTracker and the Group’s Facebook Page was a great way to engage participation ahead of the event. The Group posted  a photo showcasing campfire blankets, campfire song videos (so that everyone could practice), and delicious treats to make during the event.

Technology. The Group upgraded Zoom for the month of May to ensure time and user limits were not an issue. They also made sure that the video host had high speed internet and knew how to mute and unmute microphones. By testing out the program, software issues were more easily mitigated.

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