Skating the Lake

As much as there are some paddlers who will seek and find whatever liquid surface remains on the lake through the winter, there is the flip side.... people who relish the frozen surface, maybe hiking to alpine ponds in search of skateable ice in October.

We just had a few days of cold weather, one morning clocking in at minus 20 to 30 F depending on where in the state.  I asked Phelps to let me know when there was some skateable ice in the islands, and the answer was now.

On the way I saw that there were already some ice fishing shacks out.

I was picturing putting on the hockey skates and whizzing around some area on the scale of an ice rink, or maybe a football field.  Things were mostly a little rough for that, plus why confine yourself?  We ended up using nordic skates, which are essentially speed skates with XC ski bindings and a bevel on the front to go over bumps.  They were the inspiration for the clapper skates now popular in long track speed skating.  I've used them once before, but only on a groomed oval.  I recall in that setting one good stride could take you a hundred yards.

It seemed like I was just here for a barbecue and it was 80 degrees.

First thing is getting down to lake level, then walking out to where the surface is a little smoother.

The horizontal dowel hanging from his neck is really 2 nested ice picks, which you use to haul yourself back on the ice in case you fall through a thin spot.

Much of the ice looked like this.  A couple of days ago these were loose floating chunks of ice, now encased in new clear ice.  I saw a fish swim by one of these "holes."

From Other2011

You  need to occasionally whack the clear sections with a pole to check the thickness.  Those familiar with the local tectonics know where the plates of ice are pulling apart (causing thin ice or open water) due to wind and the configuration of shore line.

The temperature is in the teens, but with the wind it feels like I'll be at that distant island (2.5 miles)  in about 5 minutes.  Seriously, just standing there the wind will blow you to some real speed, and we used a lot of the space visible here.

Unlike ski poles, these poles have no baskets, and have hard conical points that reliably grip the ice.

Final Words

When we train new staff members at Camp Parsons about their effect on scouts and on the camp, we use an analogy; this is something that is not unique to Camp Parsons as I have seen it in other venues, but it gets the point across.  You take a large rock and drop it off the end of the pier.  When it hits the water, it makes a big splash, and depending on how big the rock was (and how high the tide is), you may get some water back up on the pier.  As the water settles and the displacement of the water resolves, many ripples/waves begin extending out from the point of impact.  The analogy to the staff is that they make a big impact when they are here, in front of scouts and being on stage.  That impact is as large as one's talent whether it is being an outstanding instructor, hard worker, actor, singer, etc......or some or maybe all of the above.  For that brief shining moment you are the center of the world to those scouts and staff around you.  When you move on though and the seasons pass, your effect is no longer there in the present day.  However the ripples you created will continue to spread in the memories of those who experienced you.  We all have encountered this; almost all scouts, young and old, can remember that one or two staff members that mean so much to them even if the staff member never knew that scout existed.

When you read some of the comments that have been sent to me, or phone calls to camp, or reading numerous posts on Facebook, you can see the ripple effect from Pat's presence.  Although future staff members and scouts will never know him, many from the past will always recall him.  A memory is not a bad legacy.

Life does not stop for these tragic events and we need to keep moving forward, perhaps glancing back every now and then.  Camp Brinkley has many Cub Scouts scheduled to attend camp this summer, none of whom know who Pat was, but they do know they are looking forward to an experience (which they probably cannot even imagine).  We need to make sure these young cubs have the time of their lives and I hope the Brinkley staff will honor Pat by putting on an outstanding program for those boys.

The family has posted that they are having a memorial service for Pat on Saturday, June 9th in Bremerton to be held at Miller-Woodlawn (I do not have the address) at 2:00 PM.  I have no doubt many of Pat's family and friends will be there.  As for many of us in the Camp Parsons world, we will be remembering Pat on the job that day as we have our last major AWP to finish up key projects for summer; the beginning of National Camp School which many of us are teaching at and finally, several staff members are graduating High School that day.  So, for those of you (and us) who will not be able to make it to the family memorial, we will have a celebration of Pat's life here at Camp Parsons sometime this summer for anyone who wishes to attend.  For almost eight years Pat called this home and we want rejoice on his time here on the Hood Canal.

More information in the future. 

The Journey's End

"Cowards die many times before their deaths
The Valiant never taste of death but once"

It has been said many times in the past that the day we are born is the day we start dying.  Cynical as that may be it is true; the question is how long the journey will be and what will we do on our way.  I don't think anyone has uttered "I wish I could have worked more" as their last words before they pass but many I believe feel that there was so much left for them to do.

As we reported, Pat Lundemo passed away yesterday afternoon due to complications of a Carcinoid tumor that had metastasized to his liver and affected other organs, particular the valves of his heart.  Pat was diagnosed with this disease many years ago and had undergone many therapeutic interventions through the years, but kept working as that is what he wanted to do.  Many of you may have known that Pat underwent surgery recently in an attempt to have these valvular abnormalities repaired mainly for symptomatic improvement of his remaining life.  By all accounts, the surgery went well but his disease was too advanced for it to have much benefit.  Pat spent his last few days at his daughter's home and from what I understand he was surrounded by members of his family when he passed.  I was told that he appeared to be at peace.

I first met Pat when he was an adult leader bringing scouts up to camp from Bremerton where he lived and owned a plumbing business.  As the years passed, Pat would come up to our adult work parties and bring along not only his van, but some of his employees as well.  They were a great help in some of the construction projects we had at the time.  During the summer months if we had a plumbing issue, Pat would hop into his van and come right over and help out.  When Bob Enzler retired as Camp Director and Ken took over that position, Pat was Ken's first choice to be Ranger.  However that position was given to another individual.  Two years later however, the position opened up once again and Pat began working as the full time Ranger in 2003.  He continued in that position until 2010 when he was promoted to oversee the Camp Brinkley property and help with its renovation as well as eventually taking on the responsibility to run the Cub Scout program.  Unfortunately as Pat's disease progressed it ultimately affected his ability to work as he was constantly tired and drained of energy.  I give credit to his professional supervisors who did everything in their power to get Pat the help he needed but as many of you know, Pat can be stubborn.  The last time I saw Pat was just a little less than a month ago at the downtown breakfast when I sat and talked to him.....I should have just put him in my car and taken him to the hospital that day as his disease was obviously taking a toll on his body.

I was never close to Pat but we worked together for many years.  He had a love for Scouting that was quite obvious and he was a friend to all.  Many staff members have looked upon him as a mentor and have a deep respect for him as he treated all of them like equals.  This is one of the reasons the staff selected him as Staff Member of the Year a few years ago.  He cared about his community and participated in many activities including being a volunteer firefighter and EMT.  When Pat received his promotion, he was reluctant to leave Camp Parsons as he had such a love for the property, the people and the program.

For the camp and the program, the journey will continue on.  Over the past year we have lost many camp icons from the old days; Loody Christoferro, Bob Lamm, Jim Nussbaum to name a few.  We are coming up on the second anniversary of the tragic death of Ed Dayton whose life ended unexpected and unfairly.  Today, we mourn Pat, who brought joy and happiness to many scouts and staff members who came to Camp Parsons during the years he was there and will live forever in their hearts and memories.

...softly falls the light of day, until our campfire fades away.......  Goodnight and good bye Pat Lundemo, may you rest in peace. 

We will post any information regarding services in Bremerton or at camp here as well as the website.

Farewell Pat Lundemo...The Camp Is A Little Quiter Tonight Without You

We learned this afternoon that Patrick Lundemo succumbed to his battle with carcinoid that began in his colon.  Pat had been diagnosed with this disease some time ago but underwent therapy as well as surgeries to battle this illness and still keep working as Camp Ranger at Camp Parsons.  For a period of time, it appeared that he had the upper hand on this disease but over the past year it raised it's ugly head and affected not only his liver but his heart as well.  Pat fought hard but was unable to beat this insidious disease and finally came to peace today.

Pat has been involved in Scouting for most of his life.  He had been a Scoutmaster and Venture Crew leader in Bremerton long before he came to Camp Parsons.  He owned his own plumbing business for years and donated countless hours of his time (and equipment) to Camp Parsons to keep our facilities running.  In 2003 he (what I believe was his goal) became the full time Ranger at Camp Parsons.  During his time at Camp Parsons he was selected as Staff Member of the Year and was promoted to Marmot in the OSM.  He served in this position until 2010 when he received a promotion to run Camp Brinkley.  Pat was often referred to as the "Program Ranger" as he had his hand in program as much as the camp facilities.  Indeed, during one National Camp School that we attended together in California he showed more program enthusiasm than some of the program directors in the course.....much to the chagrin of his fellow rangers.  Pat was a community man, serving an active role as a volunteer firefighter in Brinnon.  His humor, his hard work and his love for scouting will be missed.

Rest in peace Pat will never be forgotten.

Long In The Tooth

I was talking to an old time scouter the other day about summer camp and other scouting programs.  He made a remark in passing that started me thinking about this subject.  He said that most of his contemporaries do not know much more about Boy Scout summer camping other than Camp Parsons as they have never gone to any other camp for a comparison.  He went on to mention the differences in other camps up and down the west coast as well as the differences in program styles found at each site.  That got me thinking about whether or not we have become somewhat "tunnel visioned"; in other words have we become ordinary, natural and comfortable?  Is this good, bad or does it really matter?

I have been to numerous camps throughout the years and also have trained numerous directors of a wide variety of camps these past four years.  The camps I have been to have been Back Mountain and Fire Mountain of the Mt. Baker Council; Merriwether, Baldwin and Pioneer of the CP Council;  Camp Cowles and Easton of the Inland NW council; Fife and Bonaparte of Grand Columbia and numerous more in Utah and California, of course I also worked at Philmont for a season as well.  Now granted, most of these camps I visited was during the off season so I really didn't see all the programs in action, but I did see the facilities, the pictures of the scouts enjoying those facilities and of course the descriptions that their staff give of the various camps.  There were many of these facilities that were beautiful and had outstanding locations; Merriwether and Easton to name a few.  Not only that but many camps were situated to be a "theme" type of camp.  Camp Baldwin has a huge emphasis on horses and if you have been to that camp, it fits well.  Other camps have emphasis on shooting sports others on camping and hiking.  There is a wide a variety amongst many of the camps I have seen and they are limited only by their location (can only be used in the summer) or maintenance.  I have listened to some of the program offerings that people who are from those camps and attend camp school tell me.  Interactive archery ranges, aquatics gear such as inflatable slides and trampolines, COPE courses, extensive climbing facilities, state of the art dining halls; it goes on and on.

So is sticking with one thing good or bad?  I suppose it is different from a troop's perspective as opposed to those of us who run the program from year to year at one camp.  Many Scoutmasters tell me that although they love coming to Camp Parsons they wish to rotate around to different camps  "so that the boys get a different experience".  Although I agree with the sentiment, I am not sure if I agree with the reality.  Young scouts have an attention span that can be measured in seconds.  A scout can come to the same camp over and over again (regardless of which one) and will be amused again and again, just like it was the first time they went to camp.  As they grow older (14 and up) they may begin to appreciate the differences in activities but really, I think it is the adults who want more of the variety than the scouts.  "No Mike, seriously, the troop leadership council chooses where we go to camp."  Yeah, forget, I was a Scoutmaster once as well, I know how the "choosing" goes.  Give the three options that you like so it doesn't matter which one they pick as any one would be OK.  The main purpose of summer camp is making sure that the troop and the scouts get out of it what is important.....making the troop stronger AND having a good time.  Where you do it is secondary.

Don't get me wrong.....I encourage troops to travel around, particularly to more "themed" camps such as patrol cooking as opposed to dining halls and programs that we will never offer such as horses.  There is also an element of ego in there as well as I think when you compare us to other camps, for the most part people appreciate our continuity of program.  You know what you are going to get and you kow the quality (I believe) remains high.  For other camps, not so much.  Through my experiences most camps cycle through senior leadership on a yearly basis....hard to develop continuity doing that.  Most camps are run by professional boy scouts, many of which look upon it as a rite-of-passage for their career and something to get done quickly and move on.  Yes, I am being harsh, but why would a camp be great one year then two years later be termed as one of the "worst" camps, speaks mainly to poor and inconsistant leadership.

So being comfortable and predictable as far as our leadership goes is not a bad thing as long as it doesn't spill into the enthusiasm of our staff or our commitment to provide the best week of a troops scouting year and the quality of the product we deliver.  I remember one Scoutmaster in a meeting said that he liked Camp Parsons for many reasons but the main reason was that you knew what you were going to get when it came to customer service as well as the caliber of the staff.  If that is true, then I don't mind being long in the tooth for that.

May Ruminations

It was beautiful on the Hood Canal this past weekend with temperatures hitting over 80 degrees.  We had a fine turnout of staff members who will be working the 2012 season; most of the twenty or so that showed up were returning staff but we had several new staff members that rolled up their sleeves and went to work helping get camp ready for the summer.  The boys did some tent platform work, spread gravel in front of the new TP and SMG, built a burn pile with scrap wood from the year's projects and helped clean up some of the program areas by removing downed limbs, etc.  It was nice having them show up and nice to know that they understand what loyalty to their camp means.  We got them all out early the next morning so that they could enjoy their Mother's day with their moms.  Perhaps the only draw back for the staff this weekend was when we lit the burn pile for a big campfire, none of the boys wanted to sing.  I think that is the first time that has ever happened.  Perhaps they will find their voices come this June.

The Eagle Scout Banquet held a few days ago was enjoyable as well.  The two scouts I sponsored were quiet but I think they found the whole program a little overwhelming.  The guest speaker was a gentleman who has circumnavigated the globe twice, single handily.  He also led a crew that sailed all the way around the Americas.  That means through the Northwest Passage as well as the southern cape.  Although his talk was more like a lecture, I found it very interesting but it may have been too long for the boys.  I noticed two of the guys at my table falling asleep during the presentation (luckily they weren't my guys).  This past weekend, Roland was awarded his Eagle Scout award by the Jefferson County Sheriff, Tony Hernandez.  The ceremony was held at the campfire point and well attended.

As far as summer camp goes, we are five weeks away from staff report day.  We have had a few of the selected staff decline their contracts for whatever reason.  It is a shame as some of them were excellent staff members.  However, we have also had some new ones join us as well and it just goes to show that we can usually fill in the positions that we are lacking as we make our way towards the season.  The facility looks great but then having all that sun this weekend helped quite a bit.  The SMG field is beginning to fill in nicely and already needs to be mowed, and once we get the new TP painted in CP Brown it will look like nothing has changed. of those pesky methods we use.

How Many?

Recently I received an e-mail with numerous questions regarding camp operations, programs, etc from a troop that is from out of council.  One of the questions asked was how many adults they could bring up.  Apparently they have many "engaged" parents who want to see Camp Parsons and the troop was inquiring about the ability to add them to their current number and how that would work with the dining hall and their campsite.  The question was worded as "what would you recommend as the maximum number of adults" and I had to chuckle as the first thing that came to mind was "Two".

We are very happy that we have so many engaged adult leaders and parents and of course we are always proud to show off our facility and program, particular to those troops who travel from far distances to attend summer camp.  However there is a fine line between "engagement" and "interference".  During our back and forth e-mails, this particular adult leader was quite sensitive to our concerns about the number of adults (pretty much at parity with the number of scouts) and assured me that the parents from their troop will be way in the background.  I have no doubt that would be their intention, but much like young scouts, adults can be categorized into the saying....."Idle hands are the Devil's workshop."  This usually manifests itself by adults being overly critical about certain merit badges or programs.

All adult leaders and parents want the best for their charges and that is expected.  They want their children or their scouts to have the best possible experience they can as well as participate with their son or scouts in that experience.  However what is lost sight of is the fact that is a Boy Scout program is run by older Boy Scouts; not educators with teaching certificates (although the vast majority of our staff go to college).  Teaching plans and programs are built around the fact that the scout has an attention span of about 3 seconds.  The point behind most of our activities is trying to keep the scouts engaged and moving....somewhat difficult when there is some "lecture" aspects as part of the teaching plan or safety instructions.  There is another rule to my expanding theory of scout physics; the number of "constructive" comments I receive from adults is directly proportional to the number of adults present.  We do our best to provide an outstanding experience for scouts and yes, occasionally we will have a bad instructor or something will not "gel" right with a class and we do our best to fix those deficiencies.  However, the scouts always seem to have a good time regardless of the concerns of their parents.  I had one parent who followed his son around to every merit badge class he took and that parent told me he was concerned that his son was getting the merit badge without completing all of the requirements.  I was glad he told me that as then we could take a look and see if something was amiss (which it really wasn't.  What the issue was is that the parent wanted to add more to the requirements so that the parent could feel that his son really knew his stuff....that is not the way it works).  However as I told that parent, as I have many Scoutmasters, if you don't think a scout completed the requirements, you don't have to give him the merit badge until it meets those requirements to your satisfaction.  At the end of the week we give you the blue cards, we do not give them to the scouts.  So you always have the final say.

Finally, the food........jeez, if I could go one summer without the usual comments.  There are many good suggestions that Scoutmasters and parents have given us and many of those constructive suggestions have been implemented............but c'mon folks; can we do without the sarcastic, derogatory, back-handed comments?  Again, the amount of complaints we receive is directly proportional to the number of adults we have attending.  Yes, we serve a lot of processed foods; Yes, the food could be hotter; Yes, we could have more selections for vegetarians; Yes, the dining hall is cramped/tight/warm........benches that seat four scouts can seat only two adults, but four are there regardless.  Yes.....we have heard this over and over and over again.  This is the reason for the new dining hall which would be built now if I received $5 for each complaint I had to listen to over the past five years.  You may be surprised to hear this; not one scout has ever....ever died of starvation or malnutrition during their week at Camp Parsons.  You would be surprised how many fruits and vegetables we throw away each day.  Bottom line, most adults are complaining because the food is not what they would want and I understand.......but the camp is designed for Boy Scouts, not adult leaders.  That being said, salad bars are planned in the new dining hall as are more meals from scratch and we always have fruit available at each meal if you want to encourage your scouts to eat them.  We want the kids to have nutritious meals (and that is a big definition), be happy and full without having to jack up the cost of camp fees only to find that most of it heads towards the dumpsters.

I don't mean to be too harsh as we depend on adult volunteers to power this program.  If adult leaders did not take vacation time to be with their troops then there would be no Camp Parsons.....just a bunch of us old cynical folks sitting on the shores of Jackson Cove (hey, wait a minute....).  However, when I am asked how many adults should a troop come will always be "two" as my first thought.

Ramping Up

We are a little over four weeks from NCS and five weeks until the 94th seasonal staff reports to Camp Parsons for the summer program.  It seems like we dismissed them just last week.  Preparations continue as summer camp grows near; as mentioned before the SMG parade field and parking lot are graded and look good; the TP is coming along and the SMG fireplace has a new medallion hanging over the fireplace as you can see here.  I think it looks good.  We have a few work parties between now and opening, but most of the "heavy" lifting has been done and we really don't have a major project we are trying to finish.  The MBC renovation is moving along and I suspect it will be complete the week before the staff arrive.

Our contracts for the staff have gone out and I know there are a number of you who are interested in who is doing what.  Andy Hoyle is moving into Anthony Johnson's previous position as Asst. Program Director with Matt Swanson as our Head Commissioner.  Derek Hayes did a great job of stepping up last season to fill in some of the Business Manager responsibilities and although coming into his second year of staff, he has been selected as the CIT Director.  Curtiss Lyman will be Aquatics Director and at the time of this writing will have one of the biggest Aquatics Crew that CP has seen in decades (if ever).  No worries.....the time of this writing will pass and so will the number of aquatic crew members.  Nick Pickard returns to camp staff after being gone for awhile to become the Climbing Director.  Sean Mobley is taking over the Head Cook position and is excited to take on this new challenge; I have no doubt it will be computerized by the end of staff week.  Jake Dahlberg will be the Scoutcraft Director and Ian Engelbeck has been tapped as Eco/Con Director.  Unfortunately we have lost David Ritzenthaller as Shooting Sports Director but we have some potential replacements for that position.  Those are some of the positions folks ask about the most......there are other key positions as well, but I am not going on to list every ones name here.  Come to camp and see.

Each summer is unique and that uniqueness is brought by the current summer staff.  Whether it is a slight change in an old program, a new activity, a new song, a new skit......whatever, camp will be strong as a reflection to the talent we have.  The job does not make the person (though may influence them as the summer goes by) the person makes the job.  There are defined duties to be undertaken but the individual brings their personality to the performance of their duty.  Many veteran staff members falsely believe that there are prerequisites to being selected for a leadership position and although there are certain talents, skills and experience that we desire for certain positions, the only prerequisite is that Ken and I think they can do the job because at the end of the day, we pay the price (well Ken more than me.......but I take it personally).  I have never settled for anything and if I have a concern, I will have that concern shadowed by someone I know will never let the quality or customer service of our camp fail.  Yes, I may be vague on my thoughts but I don't like making specific examples that will do nothing more than embarrass some people.  I have hired staff leaders in the past that gave me some concern  but then go on and shine in the performance of their job.  Then,  I have had staff members with unbelievable talent take on leadership roles and fail.  There is no true formula but one thing is will go on.

I am looking forward to our upcoming season; I am happy that we have many returning staff and I am happy that we have so many older first year staff as well.  We still have much to do in these next four to five weeks but the summer will be here before you know it.

Feet On The Ground

Since the US Government has released some of the documents seized during the raid on Usama Bin Laden, I have been reading a fair amount of the analysis that the intelligence agencies have come up with.  It was interesting (and satifsyfing) to see that his ruminations dealt with his perception of a crumbling terrorist network as well as having grandiose schemes of attacking Americans that were far from reality, or at least what could be done with a decimated organization.  It was also interesting to note that all the analysts agree; Bin Laden was out of touch with the realities of his organization as he was so removed from the day to day activities of that group.

Given his circumstances, it is easy to see why this would happen; he was so insulated that his only communications came through a small number of channels (individuals).  If you have ever been in charge of anything, you will find quickly that if you limit the flow of incoming information you also limit the depth of that information.  An example would be if you were a CEO and you depend on a small number of assistants to keep you "up to date" on the happenings of the company.  You have just limited your information to a level of what your assistants think you should know and may leave out something that you may have found important had you known.  You see this on an individual basis when a Scoutmaster would come to me and make an accusation about an event or an individual based on what a 11 year/old scout would tell him/her.  The information passed to the Scoutmaster was formed on the scout's perception and not reality.  Once the flow of information was opened and the facts come to light, then the reality comes out and the Scoutmaster has that "aha" moment (though seldom to I ever hear an apology for the false accusation that was made....perhaps that is because the Scoutmaster felt duped as well).

I find this issue with my work as well as with the Boy Scouts.  At work, there are many departments that have control over various services.  Unfortunately some of the managers or directors of those departments depend on a small group of people to "keep them informed".  If an issue develops that is not important to any one of that small group; the manager or director will never hear it as it was nothing to be "kept informed" of.  Once it becomes a major issue it becomes apparent to the manager or director that they are not in control of something they are supposed to be in control of.  This is how military officers or government officials lose their job.  They may not have been the cause of an issue, but they are held responsible as they should know what is going on.  At work, small things become big things and then blow up.  In the aftermath the powers that be find out that it could have all been easily taken care of if the ones in charge just paid attention to what was in their control and utilized the resources that were easily available to them.

For the BSA the same is true.  I have lamented many times about changes in uniforms, rules, NCS requirements and the such.  It is my opinion that the decisions made affecting certain aspects of the national scouting program are made by individuals that do not have "feet on the ground".  I think if you got a large group of current Scoutmasters (and by Scoutmasters I mean people aged 30-50 with children currently in the program and have gone through adult leader training) from across the nation into a (very large) room and asked them what they needed in a scout would get a practical uniform.  If you put their spouses in another room, you would get a good idea of what that uniform should cost and how often it should be changed.  The same thing goes for summer camping program and regulations.  Put a large group of camp leaders (and by camp leaders I mean individuals who have had leadership roles in resident camps for over ten years AND they still are actively providing program AND living on the facility during operations) into a (very small) room and you will have a practical program outline, standards and requirements for certified leaders.  People on the ground know what they need and yes, they need to be tempered by federal/state/county regulations as well as the limitation of resources and finances.  None the less, it makes no sense for a bunch of "suits" who have memories of camp staff from years past to decide what should be done.  It is grandiose, somewhat unattainable and very much out of touch with reality.  Keep your feet on the ground and focus on substance.

Show Me The Money

Every year I receive an inquiry from either a parent or a new staff member " this seriously my salary?"  I usually respond by going through the reasons for our pay structure, the nature of partial volunteerism and the scouting program and of course the added benefits such as opportunities for merit badges, life skills, etc.  Of course this is usually countered with, "Well I (he) could make more money if just stayed and worked at home."  My response is (he) could, what were you expecting?  If pay was a key factor, why I am I hearing about it now?  We usually tell all our new, young, staff candidates during their interviews that the pay is not doesn't seem to be an issue with them.  Then again, most of them are so nervous it probably doesn't come up or if it does, they may have been too intimidated to say anything.

For those of you who have not worked at CP in the past, let me tell you how we roughly stage the pay schedule.  You become salaried if you are selected for the staff and are 16 years of age or older.  We have 15 year olds work for us, we do not pay them except, of course, room and board and maybe a few other things.  First year 16 y/o staff members are at the bottom of the pay scale and to be blunt, they will not break 3 figures by the end of the season; the same could be said for returning second year staff members although they will see a modest increase in their salary.  Outside of that, the decision for pay comes down to a) Age, b) Experience on staff, c) Position on staff, d) Professional qualifications for their positions and, e)  How much we really need or want a particular individual.  We try to be fair and uniform in our process and for the most part we are.  Still, it usually is far less than what one would desire and certainly less than if a staff member spent the summer bagging groceries at QFC.

I am very sensitive to this fact and we constantly look at ways we can increase our pay for our younger staff.  The council is slowly getting it as we have seen a slight upward tic with regards to our budgeted salaries.  However regardless what happens, everyone who works at Camp Parsons must realize that they are here for more than just the pay.  Ask most of our veteran staff members (seven years plus on staff) and they will tell you that it is the place where they love to work even despite the "crappy" pay.  Of course to be honest, we have been diligent to increase some of our senior staff pay to a point where it is substantial when you take several things into consideration.  Some of these considerations are also the hidden benefits that all staff members and their parents may share in.

There are many "hidden" benefits about working at camp other than being able to earn merit badges if you are still under 18.  The monetary benefits include less gas money as staff members seldom wander far during the week and spend less on personal items like going out with friends to a fast food joint, movies, etc.  If you do work at home and your parents are not subsidizing you, how much does a teenager spend during a week?  I can tell you it is lot less at camp than at home.  For parents; your car stays in the garage, safe and sound.  Your gas bills will go down and you will not be feeding your son's friends as much as you do the rest of the year.  One dad told me that the biggest shock was how little he and his wife would have to go to the store once their son starting working at camp.  Alluding to some of the above benefits....parents, if you do subsidize your teenage scout son (allowing him to use the car, gas, spending money, etc.) you need to subtract that from the money he would be pulling in from QFC to make a fair comparison to camp.  All these benefits are different from the obvious ones; learning of life skills, living independently, being held to a schedule where mom and dad aren't the ones keeping them on the schedule.  There are a lot of personal benefits which I have touted in numerous previous posts.

So yes, the pay is not great and I for one keep trying to do something about it.  However, don't toss minimum wage around......if that is the case, then I will toss room and board around, put electric meters on each cabin and charge for usage (and you really, really, really don't want to see what our staff uses.  Middle of the day; lights on, heater on, radio on, little refrigerator on....and no one is home).  We could charge for merit badges as we would have to supply the counselors just like we do for scouts who pay to come to camp.  I can nickel and dime this but I said before, scouts do not sign up to be on staff for the money.  I respect my staff and Ken and I as well others go out of our way to make sure that our staff have an enjoyable time at camp by having special meals, taking them water skiing or inner tubing, protecting their free time and will always be there to write a letter of recommendation or give a good word for other employers.  I could show you the money, but it won't be a lot.