As a cubmaster I have pretty mixed feelings about the 2019 Harford District Fall Camporee. This event had a lot of potential as a capstone activity for Webelos/AOL scouts preparing to transition to Scouts BSA troops but it was held back by lack of participation from other units within Harford District. This camporee was attended by only two packs (802 and 777) and one troop (238). This attendance was only marginally worse than the 2018 Webelos Camporee where three packs and two troops attended. The low unit turnout detracted from the fun competition inherent in a camporee and also missed out on a key opportunity for Webelos scouts to see multiple scouts BSA troops in action. My personal opinion is this event would be very well suited as a recruiting opportunity for Scouts BSA troops if more local troops were willing to come and share information about their units with the Webelos scouts. I hope we are able to convince more units to commit to events like this in the future to improve the programming for all of our scouts.
Despite the limited participation from other units, this event was one of the most beneficial trips for my Webelos scouts to work on leadership development and multiple advancement opportunities. Weeks before this trip I prepared the scouts in both Webelos dens by talking with them about the patrol method and setting an expectation for the scouts to perform most of the camp chores during this event. This worked tremendously and not only did the scouts excel at everything they did over the weekend, they really stepped up by taking on a more challenging menu than what we typically can do with a larger group. Our cooking methods included using the camp chef griddle, a box oven, and multiple dutch ovens to prepare some of the best food I’ve ever had at a scout campout. The photos above don’t even do it justice. Additionally, my scouts were able to work on multiple requirements during this weekend spanning portions of Cast Iron Chef, Castaway, Scouting Adventure, Stronger-Faster-Higher, Into the Woods, Outdoor Adventurer, etc. It is so beneficial for Webelos scouts to camp as a patrol and the camporee environment does so much to enhance the patrol method over a traditional camping trip!
In addition to the great games and camp cooking we experience over the weekend, we also had some free time in the afternoon to explore. I was impressed with my scouts when I gave them the choice of taking a hike or just hanging out at the campsite (and bamboo forest), most voted to do the hike. We hiked for about two hours exploring the Eastern side of camp Oest with a destination to the old-growth Hemlock forest. The Hemlocks were worth the visit, although we were a bit disappointed to see some of these ancient trees had fallen within recent years. This hike was worthy of it’s own event and will be covered as a future trail review on the website.
Thank you once again to the Scouts and adult leadership of Troop 238 that helped to make this event possible! Your commitment to scouting in Harford District does not go unrecognized and is extremely appreciated. Thanks also to Pack 777 for attending the camporee. I hope that we can work together to drive up more interest for events like this in the future.