Re-Learning Lessons from Boy Scout Camp

By | July 17, 2018

[July 17, 2018]  As I write this from Boy Scout campsite Yawgoog, our boys are getting ready to trek to dinner and show their scout spirit. This is the end of day 2 at Boy Scout summer camp in rural southern New Jersey. So far, we’ve re-learned a few leader lessons worth sharing.

The Boy Scout Motto is “be prepared.”1  And that is the first lesson re-learned by our boys.  Most would say that “yes” they were prepared for this year’s summer camp.  They talked about it, had a senior scout give a hands-on presentation of what gear and clothing to bring, and the Scoutmaster spent time discussing common mistakes scouts make every year.  But they still were not as prepared as they would have liked.  Nearly everyone forgot to bring something they had planned to bring or were not mentally prepared for the hot and humid weather.

The last line of the Boy Scout Oath (or Promise) reads, “To keep myself physically strong …”  Boy Scout Camp is tough on boys who are physically weak.  Navigating all the fun challenges, merit badge requirements, and keeping our campsite clean is a daunting task.  It requires the scouts to walk along trails all day long under an intense sun often being wet and tired.  I would guess that each scout walks at least five or more miles a day.  Blisters on the feet and a few swollen ankles make this a bit more challenging.  Oh, there is no sleeping in; wake-up is at 6:00 am.

The Boy Scout Law has 12 values that each scout swears to each day.  The 5th one is “courteous” and the 8th one is “cheerful.”  After a few days of living outside in a wooded area with mosquitoes, wasps, and critters that bite, as well as walking around in humidity that feels like you just took a shower and a hot sun, all can together make young boys’ tempers flare up.  All of us can get a little testy sometimes and the conditions at scout camp are made for it.  Fortunately, none of our scouts have cried yet and begged for their mommies.

It is not surprising to those adult leaders who’ve been to scout camp for many years, that there are lessons each scout had to re-learn.  They intellectually know and understand what is required of them.  Executing those requirements, on the other hand, is challenging.  That is how scouting ultimately brings out the best in boys and why the adult leaders are present to guide them.

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  1. http://www.usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/bsoathlaw.asp
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

35 thoughts on “Re-Learning Lessons from Boy Scout Camp

  1. Nancy J

    Thank you General Satterfield for being part of Scouting. You not only touch the lives of boys but also their families.

  2. Nancy J

    This article brings back lots of fond memories. My father, brother, uncle and cousins were all part of scouting. I could remember watching them get ready for their camping trips and coming home with their merit badges. My brother was always ready to share with me all his experiences while he was away….I even got to learn how to tie some mean knots. I can’t tell you how many times I begged my dad to take me with them. My father had a gentle way about him. He just explained to me that in order to be a Boy Scout you had to be a boy. So instead I eagerly waited for the family gettogether that was done at the last day of Boy Scout camp. One of my prized possessions is my brother’s camping shirt that he gave me when he finished being a Boy Scout.

  3. Mr. T.J. Asper

    The education of our youth is the most important thing leaders can be involved with. Keep up the great articles for us to read daily and thanks for this one especially.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Spot on with your comment Mr. Asper. Our young boys are in need of men in their lives to show them the way.

    2. Gil Johnson

      Only good men can teach boys to be good men. That is why, I believe, the Boy Scouting program is so important. Too bad their senior leadership at BSA has taken on politically liberal causes. I do know, however, that at the troop level, the good work is still being done.

  4. Joe the Aussie

    It is a pleasure reading this leadership blog for exactly this type of article.

  5. José Luis Rodriguez

    Well said. Always good to hear from those with experience.

  6. Drew Dill

    Thank you for a wonderful article on leadership at the boy’s level. How entertaining for me to read this today and how wonderful that it brought back memories of my brother who was a boy scout and learned to be a man while he was there.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Well said and I second Drew’s comments. Thanks Gen. Satterfield.

  7. Kenny Foster

    Great works here. I couldn’t have written it better if I’d been there. I too remember much of my scouting days and the lessons that I learned then have stayed with me throughout my lifetime and have been given to those who now work for me in business.

  8. Martin Shiell

    More articles on this subject. Great work and wonderful to read it and jog those long-forgotten memories lose. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for today’s article.

  9. Bryan Lee

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for a great post of some key leadership lessons of the Boy Scouts. Love it all.

  10. Greg Heyman

    Loved the Boy Scouts since I was a kid and me and my friends joined as 11 year olds. We had the greatest times of our little lives and learned a great deal. You touched on much of those lessons and the memories came flooding back.

    1. Forrest Gump

      Yes, me too. A memory flashback of fond thoughts of great times.

    2. Wilson Cox

      I too love being in the Boy Scouts and while I didn’t make Eagle rank it still was the best time of my youth.

  11. Tony B. Custer

    I disagree that the Girl Scout program is not as successful as the Boy Scouts. Although I must write that I’m disappointed that the BSA leadership has chosen to allow girls into an all boys program. This dilutes the toughness of the program. I see it coming. Only a matter of time.

  12. Ronny Fisher

    Much appreciate what you wrote on this great Boy Scout program of summer camp. While I was never a scout, my kids were … both girls and boys. I found all their programs worthwhile and each of my kids gained both friends for life and gained an appreciation for how to treat others with respect.

  13. Watson Bell

    I find it not surprising that many girls want to be part of the program the Boy Scouts have established. The Girl Scouts are just another politically liberal group with very little to add to a girl’s character. The Boy Scouts provide them with challenges to overcome every day they are at camp. Good luck with your boys and I too look forward to the next article.

  14. Billy Kenningston

    Thank you again, Gen. Satterfield for a really good blog post on leadership in the Boy Scouts. Today, there is a trend of disrespecting the scouting program because they base their work on God’s word. If you aren’t religious, then perhaps the scouts are not for you.

  15. Andrew Dooley

    A satisfying life is based upon some simple rules that were developed over a long time. Those you mentioned here are a few of them. I predict you will see more leader lessons re-learned. I look forward to the follow-up article.

  16. Dennis Mathes

    Courteous and cheerful. These are two scout laws that should be impressed upon every young person in our country. Today, many forget about it and fail to respect those around them. Courteous and cheerful are two of the keys to making a scout successful and for making any person, regardless of who they are, more successful in life.

  17. Georgie M.

    Wow, another great post. Tell us more!

  18. Mark Evans

    Having been in the US Army I can attest to the fact that, yes, you must keep yourself physically strong in order to overcome the challenges that scout camp will put you through. It’s not all fun and games but challenges that test our character and our mental abilities.

  19. Yusaf from Texas

    Thank you Gen. Satterfield for a great post today. More like this is okay with me.

  20. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Loved the post today. I too was a Boy Scout and loved it all. At least that is what an old guy like me wants to think, anyway. Your lessons re-learned are a great way for me to start my day with those fond memories of yesteryear.

  21. Doug Smith

    I would say the Scout Master is the key to a successful scout camp. He is the one who helps them learn lessons that boys of the past have had to learn and shows them the way around, over, and through obstacles. Great posting today. Thanks General Satterfield for bringing back some wonderful memories of my boyhood.

  22. Joe Omerrod

    Please post a follow up to this article after you return from Boy Scout Camp. I’m sure there will be more lessons that are “re-learned” after spending time in the woods. The conditions are not ideal and that is what helps make those boys more mature. The Senior Patrol Leader is the key.

  23. Dale Paul Fox

    You made my day. I was a boy scout long ago and had similar experiences with scout camp. I remember being hot and sweaty but also having the best time of my life and some great memories too.

  24. Army Captain

    What a wonderful post today on a real adventure in leadership. Great read. Thanks for making my day.

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