So far in my blogs, I have primarily addressed topics with a more direct focus and interest to the eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout leader. This blog is for stake and ward Primary presidents who want to host or sponsor an EYO Scout camporee during the summer. Now is a good time to plan, organize your program, and publish a leader’s guide. EYO camporees are relatively easy to put together and lots of fun for adults as well as Scouts. Camporees can greatly aid in the EYO Scout’s advancement (just like the merit badge program at a regular Scout camp) and provide an opportunity for new EYO Scout leaders to learn or refresh their First Class Scouting skills. With a little preplanning, an EYO camporee can also be a powerful spiritual experience.
In my area, three adjacent stakes pool their resources and annually sponsor an EYO camporee in late June or early July that includes one night of camping. Responsibility for sponsoring the EYO camporee rotates from stake to stake each year, although each stake is required to provide staffing and assist with logistics. An EYO camporee can easily be done on a ward or multi-ward basis.
The purpose of the EYO camporee is to provide an event where EYO Scouts can sign off many of their Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Scout requirements and have an overnight campout (one of three allowed for an EYO Scout) while sharing Scouting with other Latter-day Saints in a spiritual setting.
We organize and staff a themed camp with multiple skill stations where EYO Scouts and their adult leaders rotate from station to station learning, practicing, and signing off (with approval of the EYO Scout leader) Scoutcraft skills. They can pass requirements such as campsite selection and setup, menu planning, first aid, knots and lashings, tree and animal identification, map and compass, woods tools, cooking, the buddy system, safe swim defense, safety afloat, safe hiking, duty to God, and a campfire that includes an elected official as a special guest .
Each skill station is staffed by an adult Scouter or older Scout (generally holding the rank of Life or Eagle). I really like having older Scouts teach skill stations. It is good for the older Scout, and the EYO Scouts look up to and associate with these young men of the priesthood. If I need additional help, I recruit from among other skilled Scouters in the stakes. Do not forget to arrange for a qualified EMT to man your first aid station for the entire camporee.
Care should be taken to calendar your event early and correlate it with Scout camp and high adventures of the Aaronic Priesthood youth in your area so you are not holding your EYO camporee while all your older Scouts and Scout leaders are unavailable to assist. This makes staffing your EYO camporee much easier. Our council has an LDS week the first week of Scout camp right after school lets out for the summer, so it is easier to calendar the EYO camporee and access to youth/adult leadership, which makes it easier to calendar the EYO camporee and gain access to youth and adult leadership.
The buddy system, safe swim defense, safety afloat, and safe hiking are not done as rotation skill stations, but rather are discussed by the EYO Scout patrols individually during their mealtimes. At each meal, one of these topics is assigned to an EYO Scout to lead the discussion from the Official Boy Scout Handbook. As the EYO Scouts enjoy their meals prepared in the outdoors, these topics can easily be presented by an EYO Scout and discussed. The EYO Scout leader is there to oversee the discussion and ensure it is covered to his satisfaction for credit toward advancement. I have found over the years that assigning mealtime topics such as an element of the Scout Oath, Law, motto, or slogan aids in promoting Scout spirit and understanding.
To assist in starting the camp off right, I allow units to set up their patrol sites on Thursday afternoon, maybe take a five-mile hike, and visit the grocery store to finish menu planning, price their menus, and purchase their food. They do not stay overnight but return early in the morning in time for the opening ceremony. This makes registration easier for those units that choose this early opportunity.
The camp theme I like to use is: “We are as an Army of Helaman” from Janice Kapp Perry’s song, “We’ll Bring the World His Truth (Army of Helaman) .” To assist each EYO Scout in learning his duty to God, I use Donna Orme’s Helaman’s “Scouts” as a spiritual guide linking the character traits of Scouting to the Book of Mormon. I ask the station leaders to start each station with one of the comparisons of Scouts today with the sons of Helaman of 66 to 60 BC such as:
A Scout is trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promise. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can always depend on him. “. . . they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever things they were entrusted . . . they were men of truth . . .” (Alma 53:20-21).
The Friday evening campfire is conducted by the adults and the camporee staff. We do not have EYO Scouts perform skits as it is not in keeping with the serious nature of the special campfire presentation; they can do Scout skits next year at Scout camp. I invite an elected official to be our guest of honor. The purpose of having an elected official is to give Scouts an opportunity to ask an elected official about their duties and responsibilities as a citizen (new First Class requirement 9a, effective 1 Jan 2016). Each patrol is asked to develop and submit for approval (in advance) a question to ask our visitor. After making sure there are no duplicates, I return the questions to the units prior to the campfire. The campfire always has a patriotic theme, and includes an opening with patriotic songs and a visit from Captain Maroni and the title of liberty. We conclude the campfire by singing “We’ll Bring the World His Truth (Army of Helaman).”
The EYO camporee should be a reflection of the “Faith in God” program of the Primary using Scouting as the media of presentation. An EYO camporee can be a long remembered spiritual Scouting experience as these young men prepare for receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. I hope the above ideas lend themselves to Primary organizations sponsoring well-planned camporees for their EYO Scout programs.
-Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. His current position is that of district Cub Scout training chairman. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.