Scout Camp: Lessons from the 1st Day

By | July 15, 2019

[July 15, 2019] As a young boy, I had a lot of fun in the Boy Scouts of America. Along the way, I learned about the meaning of a person’s character, leadership skills, the importance of physical fitness, and that while most people are different, they still have similar needs and wants. I suspect these lessons are already being learned as we survived our first day in Scout Camp yesterday.

My intent this week is to write about Scout Camp; not so much about our activities but leadership lessons the boys obtained. Anyone who has camped with young boys knows that there will be stories told around the campfire each night that will be entertaining and meaningful. I hope to pass along a few. I will not write each day about Scout Camp, but we will be here nonetheless.

The motto of the Boy Scouts is Be Prepared. The founder of the scouts, Sir Robert Baden-Powell (in the notes below, I included Powell’s description of the scout’s motto). One question that comes to the mind of readers of this blog will certainly be whether our boy scouts were “prepared” upon arrival at camp. The most asked question will be, “Did they bring everything they needed?” The answer is yes; with only a few minor items forgotten.

What is important here is whether they were ready in mind and in body. This distinction is no trivial matter. Most folks think of being prepared as bringing the right stuff with them (tools, clothing, bug spray, etc.). It more properly means whether the scout is ready to face the challenges of his new environment.

“The uniform makes for brotherhood since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country.” – Robert Baden-Powell

Success at Scout Camp begins with every scout starting on the same playing field. A requirement for one is a requirement for all; there are no exceptions. Merit Badges are awarded for completing a very specific list of prerequisites. No one is awarded a badge for 90% completion; it must be total; 100%. Likewise, in competition with other scout troops, each troop must win a race, answer questions correctly, or show their skills (like starting a fire).

Were all our scouts ready in mind and body? I think all our adult leaders would say no, they were not. That is okay. Some had trouble passing the swim test; necessary for all water sports. One got a little too much sun and was burned but not too badly. Another physically struggled to complete the required number of laps in the pool; he was out of shape physically but finished.

At the end of the day yesterday, we were all a bit tired. That didn’t stop the boys from starting a campfire (the temperature was still in the high 80s and very humid) and staying up late talking with their friends. That’s part of the excitement of summer camp for boys. Tonight, I suspect the boys will be in bed by 10 am since we woke them at 6 am this morning for showers and personal hygiene.

Today is another day and our first day from sunup to sundown. I plan on writing about how these full days go and whether any of us were truly prepared in mind and in body. Look for this update on Wednesday. Several weeks ago I noted that there are questions that I will answer (see link here). More on that later.


Note: The scouts’ motto is founded on my initials; it is:

BE PREPARED, which means, you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY;

Be Prepared in Mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.

Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.

Lieut. Gen. Baden Powell C.B., Scouting for Boys (1908), “Camp Fire Yarn.—No. 4. Scout Law.” (Part I, p. 48)

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.

32 thoughts on “Scout Camp: Lessons from the 1st Day

  1. Eric Coda

    I’m looking forward to the next posting to give us an update.

  2. Billy Kenningston

    Good leaders don’t play a “wait and see attitude.” Jump in Gen. Satterfield and make sure the BSA standards are being upheld.

  3. Scotty Bush

    In the US, the Boy Scouts is one of the most respected organizations along with the US military. Both have seen a decline, albeit slight, in their popularity with the population. Changes in both scare me. Both are becoming more “politically correct.” This is a sad movement that will destroy the history and the usefulness of them.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      I was thinking the same thing.

  4. Albert Ayer

    Great article on scouting. I think you have nailed a number of the issues all local troops face. Good luck. Stay cool.

  5. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Good article on a great organization. I too, like others, worry about the scouting org in America. Too many morally weak senior leaders; not that they are criminals but that they are quick to compromise their ethics to make the org look like corporate America. All about the profits. How unfortunate.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Mr. TJ. I’m sure you’re seeing this too in the High School classes you are teaching. Too many leaders who are not up to saying “no”, I will not compromise our org for the latest societal trends (the same trends that destroy other organizations).

      1. Gil Johnson

        I agree with you Bryan. Uphold all standards. Walking past a problem only creates more problems.

  6. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I liked your comments about “being prepared” and how we only tend to think of it as being ready by having all your gear. There is the mental part of it that plays a greater role.

    1. Len Jakosky

      Right! Ready in mind and body. If you are not physically ready to tolerate the temps, the bugs, and the stress, you will not perform well. That shows how physical fitness fits into the leadership model. If the past is any indication of today and the future, you will find a number of ADULT LEADERS who are out of shape and ready to crash. Let’s wait for Gen Satterfield’s final report.

      1. Xerxes I

        I see you have some scouting experience.

  7. Wilson Cox

    I looked up the weather in southern New Jersey yesterday and saw it peaked at about 92 degrees. I’m sure your first night there was a little “warm.” Stay strong.

  8. Greg Heyman

    I wonder if there are any girl troops there and how that is working out. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for your courage to work with little boys to make them better men.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Greg, yes there is one girl scout troop (very small in number). I’m less concerned about them than most folks but their female adult leaders are what need educating about the ways of boy scouting. Only time will tell how this will work out.

      1. Georgie B.

        Thank you for your quick response, Gen. Satterfield. Best of luck. We all await your analysis of how the girls are working out this first official year of them in scouting.

      2. Drew Dill

        Agreed. The whole idea of leadership is working through problems. Let’s see how this works out.

      3. Lady Hawk

        The leadership is always what we have to keep in mind if problems are going to be resolved.

    2. The Kid 1945

      Good question, let’s see how this works out in the long run. Any short term problems will be resolved. I wonder if there are going to be any longer term systemic issues.

  9. Max Foster

    Lessons from your Day #1 should be posted on every workplace bulletin board for all to read and heed. The Boys Scouts have historically been a wonderful organization. Lately, with the easing of advancement requirements, they have declined in moral standing. That is not good news but I still think highly of the leaders at the local Troop level.

    1. Harry B. Donner

      Well said, Max. The idea of the decline of the BSA org is something I blame on their senior leaders. They are all about the numbers of scouts and the money. No other explanation matters.

    2. José Luis Rodriguez

      Max, I agree. Spot-on comment. Keep up the on-target analysis.

      1. JT Patterson

        Same here. I too agree with Max. That is why I go to his comments first.

      2. Anita S.

        …. and the reason I keep coming back to this leadership website.

  10. Army Captain

    Great news that your Summer Camp with the boys is working out so well. Keep up the great work.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Luck is with Gen Satterfield and his scouts so far.

    2. Tony B. Custer

      We’re behind you, Gen. Satterfield, 100%.

    3. Roger Yellowmule

      Yes, keep up the great work. I see too many young men who are terrible in their appearance, attitude, and understanding of the real world. They expect everything to be given to them.

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