Part of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program is to have an annual big adventure. Older youth in the teachers and priests quorums plan and go on high adventures. The deacons quorums attend or conduct Scout summer camp. Cub Scouts also participate in day camps as part of a Cub Scout pack’s summertime program. The eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouts’ big adventure is the EYO Scout day camp. Now is the time to begin the process of planning the EYO Scout day camp to be their summer big adventure.
As part of an annual plan, Scouts participate in a big adventure that is the highlight of the Scouting year. The big adventures are to follow the age-appropriate guidelines of the BSA (Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities) as well as Church guidelines found in Handbook 2. For EYO Scouts, a day camp offers the age-appropriate adventures that should be the highlight of the Scouting year, and an opportunity to learn or demonstrate Scout skills.
The Church’s Day Camp Guide: Eleven-Year-Old Scouts provides Primary leaders with the requisite materials to conceive, design, and execute an exciting big adventure for EYO Scouts. The Day Camp Guide provides the following overarching guidance:
Stake Primary President—the stake Primary president should see that every boy in the stake has an opportunity to attend day camp. Day camps may be planned by the stake or by the ward. Stake day camps should be organized under the direction of the stake Primary president. She may enlist the help of specialists, ward Primary presidents, leaders of the eleven-year-old Scouts, and the BSA local council.
Ward Primary President—the ward Primary president is responsible for the participation of the boys in her ward in a day camp. Ward day camps should be organized by the ward Primary president and the leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts with the help of the troop committee.
Leader of the Eleven-Year-Old Scouts—the leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts should actively participate with the boys at day camp. The leader of the eleven-year-old Scouts works directly with the boys and their parents to see that the boys are fully equipped and prepared for the camp.
The Day Camp Guide is just that—guide to some of the things that could be done. For instance, it only covers a portion of the First Class Scout skill requirements. You may want to cover more of them. You might decide that a citizenship campfire would be appropriate, with a guest speaker that can answer EYO Scout questions on their duties and responsibilities as citizens. Your day camp might be a one-day program or cover several days (to include one of the three authorized overnights). You might consider making it part of a Cub Scout day camp and share resources. The program possibilities are limited only by your resources and imagination.
The EYO day camp experience provides an opportunity to prepare EYO Scouts for the adventure of Scout camp when they become deacons. The first-time experience of a weeklong Scout camp can be overwhelming to a 12-year-old, especially the first few days. Morning flag ceremonies, closing ceremonies, patrol sites to set up, understanding how to read daily schedules, meals to prepare, site organization, sanitation, and getting to places on time are just a few of the things the boys will do during the EYO day camp that are similar to activities at Scout camp.
To really make the EYO Scout day camp memorable, tie it to the Book of Mormon. Turn archery into Nephi’s Bow. At the lashings station, have them build a short tower and give portions of King Benjamin’s sermon. Begin each station with a key scripture. At your campfire program, have Captain Moroni arrive with the Title (flag) of Liberty and talk on a citizen’s duty in his time. Have a station manned by the missionaries or ward missionaries to share mission stories or tell great missionary tales at your campfire. Have a first aid station that is dedicated to healing wounds inflicted by Lamanites. Another theme would be to turn navigation into “following the Liahona”.
The EYO Scout day camp fulfills the purposes of the Primary by providing EYO Scouts the opportunity to participate in uplifting activities that provide instruction, encouragement, and support as they strive to live the ethics found in the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan. At EYO Scout day camp, boys will have days full of activity where they will work on advancement and experience success. They will enjoy the comradery of their fellow patrol members and meet other LDS Scouts. At EYO Scout day camp, boys learn to put what they are taught into action. They learn to share chores and follow a schedule. They learn to deal with and resolve conflicts, working as a team (patrol) to achieve success.
Summer is not that far away. Now is a good time for stake Primary presidents and ward Primary leaders to put together their plan for a great summer day camp experience for the EYO Scouts under their charge.
~Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake where he is an EYO Scout leader. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.