It's The Program

I was forwarded the new Garrigan/Lyman promo video which focuses on the summer camping program at Camp Parsons.  As usual, it was well done though I probably would have picked some different scenes than the ones that are shown.  I initially thought that Tim Garrigan put this together because of my mini-rant about how Camp Parsons was seemingly down played in the council camp video that was shown at the downtown breakfast about a month ago.  Then again, I think he is doing promos for all the camps, so it couldn't be due to that.  As I watched the video something stood adults.  Well, not completely true; they had a shot of the Scoutmaster belly-flop where adults knowingly injure themselves for the scouts amusement and another shot where a bunch of adult leaders jumped in to help their respective troops in a tug-of-war.  That was it though, only our staff members and scouts running and participating in the program and having fun doing it.

This stood out to me as adults seem to dominate most other scout videos that I have seen.  Through our interactions with other camps and spending a lot of time at NCS, I have seen numerous promo videos of other camps both at the council and national levels.  Sure it shows scouts (always in they really participate in mountain biking, fifty milers, etc in full class "A" uniforms) having fun, but it also shows the staff leader of a particularly area being a 40, 50 or 60 year old man.  There is nothing wrong with us old folks directing programs but I think there is something really wrong when we inject ourselves into the program.  In these videos the "old" guys are telling scouts what they will be doing in the program area and being their teacher/instructor/educator for the particular area while the younger staff seem to stand back.  Wrong!  That is not the program folks.  Baden-Powell was right "Scouting is a game for boys under the leadership of boys under the direction of a man."  Direction does not mean "hands-on".  Baden-Powell made this clear; "When you want a thing done, 'Don't do it yourself' is a good motto for Scoutmasters.  If you have ever been to Camp Parsons, you will see Ken and I scramble to get away from the program and observe it from afar.  When I talk, I talk to adult leaders, parents; I never talk to the scouts unless it something like "How are you Scout"...."How's it going sport" as I quickly pass them.  That is why I hire a young staff, they are the face of the program in action.......and I direct the staff.  Now I understand the challenges.  Many camps cannot recruit people who are 21 to be Aquatic Directors or Shooting Sports Directors or any other position that mandates an adult and so they have to rely on volunteers who are usually retired folks who love scouting.  Sometimes this is necessary and we have been in that position at various times in the past.  However what we try to do is minimize the interaction with the adult and focus the presentation and education of the scouts by our younger staff.  They don't need an old guy to be a role model; the scout needs to see someone several years older than they are and want to be like them.

The vast majority of adult leaders get this as the vast majority of adult leaders are part of the overall program because their son is in the program.  Once the son moves on, so do they.  However there are a number of us who stick around because we believe in the program and want to continue to give back to the program what we got from it.  I think that is great, but we must never forget that the focus is on the scout, not our desires or wants.  We have no business being in front of scouts other than to give direction then stand back and let the young leaders do their jobs.  Scouting is a game with a purpose; one that builds character in a boy that will help him make moral decisions for the rest of his life.  Let's stand back and let the program work, and if you need me......I will be in my cabin.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome......

As usual (and expected) there is increasing chatter amongst the veteran staff about camp operations as we ramp up to our 94th continuous season.  I am not involved in these discussions, I just hear about them through second, third and fourth hand accounts.  They usually center around a change in the way we run camp or the processes and procedures that we normally do that are done as a result of a lack of personnel resources.  In other words, at times we are forced to improvise.  As a result, many veteran staff members don't understand the reasoning behind a decision as in their minds...."We have never done that before..."

"We have never done that before....."  I think most veteran staff who have been around for some time know how I would react to that statement.  Seriously?  You don't think in 94 seasons we haven't "shook it up" a little?  We have had one campwide campfire, two campfires even three campfires each week during different season; we have used all three beaches for active program and we have used only one at various times through the decades.  We have had a staff of 65 and a staff of 45; we have had three rangers and we have had no ranger.......I can go on an on.  We have done most things before in some shape or form.  What drives changes is either society, technology or the BSA program emphasis (tent or cabin, etc.).  How we do things is not as important as getting it done.  Decades ago we had our Aquatics Director resign do to personal issues during the last week of May.  Have you ever tried to recruit a qualified Aquatics Director in that short of a time?  An old college friend of mine had signed up to work for that summer and although he was a Boy Scout that was raised in the mid-west, he had no experience as an Aquatics Director.  I moved him in to that slot because I had no other choice and he was an intelligent young man that could adapt to that challenge.  "You can't do that" I heard from some of my colleagues; "He has no experience on that beach" said another; "We never have had a rookie Aquatics Director before" was another response (sound familiar).  For those of you who remember, it was Jim Gotch and he has been one of the best Aquatics Director that I have had the pleasure to work with and we had a great crew of experienced staff and a great program that summer.  I have no intention of hiring a rookie Aquatics Director now or in the future but if I had to, I would........what would be the alternative?  Shut the beach down?  Regardless, I am sure if I did I would hear...."well, that's never been done before".

I have had Head Cooks walk out on me more than once in the middle of the summer.  We don't shut the doors, we adapt and we overcome........we complete the mission.  I may have to replace someone with another who may not know exactly what they are doing, but they have the talents to make it work.  It may be painful for myself (and Ken) but luckily the scouts can't really tell.  Oh sure, the Scoutmasters might pick up that we may be piece mealing something together but at the end of the day, it serves our purpose.  I have created jobs just to bring back talented people or to keep talented people at camp and I have combined jobs and responsibilities as I am not going to hire someone to "fill a slot".......we hire to fit and we hire quality.  We have several key positions at camp to make the program a success and at times we are flush with more qualified and talented individuals than there are slots; then we have seasons where we have more slots than experienced staff members.  We have and we will always make it work.  Even if Ken and I were suddenly removed from the camp.......the 94th season would still be on.

I have the perfect staff all selected in my head, but they are not from the same season, they span many.  If I had that available to me every season then camp life would be easy and we would have a six year waiting list.  We have never done that before........

Is It Safe?

Perhaps it is the sign of the times or perhaps it is because of the publicised lawsuits that the BSA have gone through (and probably will go through) but I have received more than ten e-mails this past month asking questions about the safety of the camp and its program.  One person wrote us and said that she was considering sending her sons to Camp Parsons with their troop and wanted to know what background checks we did with our staff.  Another person inquired about whether we have had any youth protection "issues" in the past.  Several wanted to be assured of our kayak treks and hiking treks....did our staff know what they are doing.

I must admit that I was taken aback a little by some of these questions as they are ones we really have never had asked before.  Then again, I can understand in this day and age about a parent's concern about leaving their child at a "foreign" place for a period of time that they cannot readily get to.  I also understand a leader's concern about the training of a trek leader as well.  Although the canal or the Olympic Mountains are a tranquil place, given the right weather conditions they can be down right nasty and dangerous.  Although our trek leaders or staff are experienced, there have been times I have questioned some of their judgement.  This does not take away from the overall safety, it just adds more to what I have to remind our trek leaders what to do and what not to do.  One of the hardest things to get into a twenty-two year old's head is that they level of activity must be at the level of the weakest member of the group.....frustrating at times but necessary.   However, it is the question about the background checks that got me thinking.

Currently, if you are an adult (which is defined as eighteen or older) you must first pass youth protection training prior to applying to be a registered adult leader.  When you register, you must supply a social security number so that a criminal background check can be done.  Are these absolute protective measures?  No, but it is a good start.  The key element in assuring the safety of the scout is the adult leader that the parent's trust to manage their children.....the Scoutmaster.  As an extension of that, the Scoutmaster must approve of the adult leaders that help with the management of the troop and of course is overseen by the Troop Committee.  This is why we defer to the Scoutmaster when it comes down to individual scout behavior.  If a scout cannot follow the rules or is a danger to camp property, we can deny the scout the use of that program area or equipment, but we cannot punish the scout for what he did, that is the role of the Scoutmaster in conjunction with the parents (whom he/she should know well).  The youth protection guidelines are not suggestions....they are the rule and if followed should assure the personal safety of any scouting minor.  It is when the guidelines are not followed that you have the unfortunate circumstances that occurred in the 60's and 70's and if they are occurring now, then it is my personal opinion that the troop adult leadership and parents be held responsible.  It is each registered adults duty to assure that they and other adults adhere to the guidelines....we do.

How do you do a background check on a sixteen year old?  For me I usually listen to their parents, adult leaders and their young colleagues that may know of that individual outside of camp.  I answered the question that the inquiring parent put forward much like my discussion above.  Our adult staff go through the same process and are held strictly to the youth protection guidelines.  We have released several staff members through the years for violations (albeit stupid but innocent actions on their part) of the guidelines.  We had a seventeen year old staff member jokingly demonstrate a strangle hold on a young scout.  Unacceptable....and the staff member was extremely apologetic but that may not mean anything to the scout he was joking around with (and possibly ones in the future).  I can go on and on about different examples, but luckily each one was not a malicious event, just stupid decision making by teenagers (please refer to the Guide to Scout Physics)....gee, have we seen this before?  I feel bad for the staff members that I have had to let go for these things, but we never waver away from those guidelines and as a result, we do not have any "issues."

Is it safe? is very, very safe.

A Green Future?

The picture you see here is one that I "stole" from Andy Briggs as I have not taken a picture of the new TP, SMG parade field and parking lot for some time.  As I mentioned in my previous posts there are changes afoot.  One of the biggest ones that will be noticeable perhaps more so for veteran Scoutmasters than scouts is the re-modeling of the parking lot and the SMG parade field.  Due to years and years of mole attacks, the field is uneven as untreated wood left to the elements.  The field looked like it was subject to mortar attacks but by the end of the summer season, everything is usually pounded into submission....the moles, the mole hills and what little grass we have.  As the Trading Post neared completion, the parade field was graded in order for us to move the parking lot further east.  It is difficult to see in this picture, but the far eastern concrete bumpers are pretty much where the old "hill" that led up to the old Program Office was.  This will not offer us much more parking, but it will make the parking far more efficient as there will be an actual lane going down the lot so you are not worried about taking your sideview mirrors off or taking out a scout that you couldn't see as he was smaller than the truck that was hiding him as you drove down the lane.  One tree has been removed (gasp) which now allows  us to keep a straight line for we probably will gain some more space to fit vehicles.  This will help with the flow of vehicles into and out of camp during the summer months.

If you look closely at the field, you will see tape going around it so as to keep people off the main part of the parade field.  We are attempting to re-seed this area so that we have grass by the time summer comes about.  A little ambitious, but it is a start and if it takes, it will look great.  Regardless, in a year or two, this will be the norm.  Gravel has been placed around the new TP as well as the SMG.  There is a path of gravel extending from the parking lot to the base of the Burma Road (where the staff kybos are).  This is done not for aesthetics, it is done as it will keep the dust down during the summer with over 300 scouts tramping on it each week.  The question now is, how further do we go with landscaping?

We hear as many suggestions from about as many different people regarding this.  It usually falls in somewhere between two extremes; one side being that we should take out everything except trees of a certain height to the other side where we should not touch anything....let it be natural.  Of course there are a lot of things in between and of course there are some pros and cons with each school of thought but the bottom line is that we are already interfering with what is going on just by our presence.  We tramp three thousand people through our facility each season and although we try to keep them on the trails, it is always a challenge.  My goal is that we rid ourselves of the "weed-like" plants that we have around camp (Scottish Broom comes to mind) and plant indigenous species to the peninsula/state in choosen areas; areas that will be aesthetic and will also serve a purpose for program (plant identification) or for camp operations (giving campsites and areas some privacy).  When we thinned a few trees last year it was interesting to see how much it opened up the camp, yet still made it feel part of the forest.  There is some art to domesticating a wild setting but still keep it "wild".  Indeed, looking at the parade field and out to the parking lot or down to the boat house seemed to be natural.  It gave both the feeling of an expansive property but still retain the natural and "home-like" feeling. 

This regrade of the parade field is a good start and I look forward to see how it turns out, both aesthetically and practically as we move into our 94th season.


It was a beautiful weekend at Camp Parsons with a mild north wind (making the cove very still) and scattered clouds with temperatures in the low to mid 60's.  We had several activities at camp this weekend; the first of course being our monthly work party and the second being the Pre-Camp Adult Leaders meeting.  We had a good turn out for both the work party and the meeting.  I would say we had about 25-30 folks show up for the leader's meeting, most of which were from outside councils that had not been to camp before.  We went over the usual preparation items and had some of our staff who attended the work party take them on a tour.  A tour that apparently lasted close to two hours but the leaders all seemed engaged.  After all, it was a great day to walk around camp.  The meeting to me however, was the first "shot across the bow" for the summer season.  We had the power point going with some of the key take home points for camp preparation, we had scout leaders listening intently and asking questions about specific points of information and of course we had the usual banter that only coffee-carrying, red coated scouters can have.  I even got a few jokes in as well though not as good as my summer material.  To me, the 2012 season has started.

One of the interesting things about being around the camp facility all year long is you see the steady transition from the end of a season into the projects that are undertaken throughout the winter months and then the "re-birth" of the facility as we get closer to the season.  When we did the SMG re-model we had things dismantled, torn up and wiring hanging from everywhere.  Each time you went in to work on something it looked like nothing was getting done.  You would stand back and wonder how are we going to get this all back together prior to the season......but we do.  The same thing happened this past year.  The trading post frame work had been complete by the beginning of last season, but the real work didn't take place until this past winter.  We burned down the old program office and cleared out a few trees that were in the way of expanding parts of the field and parking lot.  As you all know, we have had a cold and wet winter so the SMG parade field was nothing but one big mud swamp.  This was even further exacerbated by having heavy equipment, trucks and people moving all around it.  However, this past weekend as Ken was taking a large straight-edge and dragging it across the parade field to flatten and grade the entire area it was beginning to look good.  The TP is all but done and the material has been removed from around the building.  Meredith Daniels and her crew were in staining the concrete floor (and it looks good).  The staff moved all the concrete parking bumpers back into place (it is great to see young backs ruined at an early age), and the field tapered down to the parking lot.  It looks so natural and I know that by the time camp starts, it will have a very "lived in" feel.  We made the first attempt at seeding the field, but it is going to take much more than what we did, however it is a start.

We had folks working on the floats, anchors and other aquatics equipment and the re-model of  MBC is continuing on.  It will be nice to see a great cabin re-born.  The main kitchen has been re-opened in anticipation for our next AWP which will see the 2012 staff swing by for a day or two and the parade field was mowed.  Perhaps even more tangible for us is that we began finalizing some of our contracts for the 2012 staff in hopes that we will get them out next week.

So here we are on the figurative eve of the 2012 season.  Of course this eve will extend for the next month or so as we head towards ordering equipment, housing assignments, camp school invitations and the such.  We still may have a few key positions that need to be filled as well if some of my boys decide at the last minute not to return, but as I have mentioned in the past, that is part of the dance.  For now, I will be happy with the anticipation.

It's The Program, Stupid!

I will apologize in advance as I have a tendency to harp back to topics that I have brought up before, however I think it is important to constantly hammer into people the reason for a summer camp's existence.  It seems that some folks develop tunnel vision when looking at a pet project or a passion they have and then lose track of what we are about.  It really is about losing sight of the forest because the trees get in the way.

The basis of looking at the program is best spelled out by Lord Baden-Powell from his "Aids to Scouting" handbook:

The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.  An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works. Then, through emulation and competition between Patrols, you produce a Patrol spirit which is eminently satisfactory, since it raises the tone among the boys and develops a higher standard of efficiency all round. Each boy in the Patrol realises that he is in himself a responsible unit and that the honour of his group depends in some degree on his own ability in playing the game.

This is not what I think, this is what it is all about.  The patrol method sets Scouting apart from all other youth organizations.  Is it the only way, or the right way?  Who knows.....but it is our way and it seems to have worked quite well when you see the end product.  It is not just about meetings, it is not just about hiking/camping, it is not just about activities that are done during the winter season or summer season; it is the operation of the group within the larger group (the troop) that matters.  The activities are opportunities for experience and practical application of this prime method.  It is this method that forms the foundation of the summer camp program and experience.

Their are several goals of the summer camp program.  The first and foremost is to help the troop become stronger using the patrol method as this is the only time in the entire scouting year that everyone in the troop can participate.  The brand new scout, the "crusty" SPL and the adult leadership.....for an entire week.  You can implement the patrol method in everything you do; camping, cooking, participating in the area activities to name a few.  It is also a chance to exercise other aspects of the scouting methods; opportunities for advancement, wearing the uniform, being friendly and making new friends, learning to be courteous when sharing a meal with your patrol in the dining hall.  I could go on and on about all the opportunities to put this grand experiment to the test every day during your only week at scout camp.  Last but not least, we have the opportunity for scouts to try new experiences either by themselves, with a buddy or with the patrol.  These experiences may be ones that spark an idea for a career or a lifelong hobby.  These are found in our various areas; Aquatics, Shooting Sports, Climbing Tower, Scoutcraft, Eco/Con and Craft Lodge......again to name a few.  These experiences are meant to spark an interest or perhaps hone a specific skill........what the are not meant to do is usurp the purpose of the program.

Every scout who uses the Aquatics is not expected to be or want to be a BSA Lifeguard; every scout that shoots doesn't want to be a NRA qualified sharpshooter; not every scout who uses the climbing tower intends to scale Mt. Everest and so on.  Yet, that is the way some leaders of these various program believe, or at least that is the way I perceive this to be as I read what others want to do with these programs.  I guess what upsets me the most is that adults want to force their passion or love for a particular activity on these scouts.  "If a scout cannot hit a target when shooting a rifle then he has no business being on the rifle range"....yes, I actually heard someone say that and that someone is in a position of influence (not in our council luckily).  All of our area programs are designed to give scouts a "taste" of that activity and if the scout wants to do more, we gladly support and encourage his interest.  If a scout develops a passion, we want to do everything we can to foster that interest......but NEVER at the cost of the overall program which is far more encompassing than only one aspect.

Here is my goal when it comes down to the program activities at a summer camp.  The scout must have fun...period, end of story.  I want him to sample everything the program has to offer.  I want him to understand water safety, I want him to be comfortable in and about the water and if we can send a scout home as a swimmer when he wasn't one before that would be a job well done.  Being able to swim is a life skill that everyone may use at some point in their life.  I want a scout to learn how to act around a firearm and have respect for it and how to use it safely.  I want the scout to be able to shoot a rifle for the experience....if he hits the target once out of 100 tries, I would consider it to be a success.  I want a scout to try and overcome his fear of heights by rappelling down the climbing tower as facing a fear is one of the bravest thing a young scout can do.  I want a scout to be able to tie basic knots, another skill that is practical for life.  I want a scout to understand the environment we live in.  All of these plus many more are additive and not one is greater than the other within the scope of the scouting program.

Regardless, nothing is more important than what our mission is; to develop desirable characteristics in young men that will help them make ethical and moral decisions during their life and thereby be better citizens (a paraphrase).  It is our job (my job) to develop these characteristics in youth.  We are to find the good in each scout and try to develop that to the exclusion of the bad.  Lord Baden-Powell says that there is 5% good even in the worst character and it is the Scoutmaster job (or sport as he calls it) to develop that to be 80% of the man that youth is to become.  The activities we do are nothing more than to support the methods by which we use and the values which we support and found within the scout law.

I respect the work that other organizations do to help support our program; the NRA, the American Red Cross, the various climbing associations as well as many other professional organizations.  I have and will always welcome their support, their experience and their direct or indirect financial support.  However it is the needs and purpose of the Scouting program that will drive what we do; not personal or organizational mandates.  It is all about the program. 

As personal opinion. 

The Microcosm Of Camp

I have touched on this subject before but I was reading a staff member's personal blog the other day in which he was commenting on his personal experiences regarding friends and relationships that he has gathered during his time growing up and how they related to his experiences at camp.  What I found interesting was that his take on things is not much different than those who are decades older than him which just tells me that there is a very real "affect" that spending time at camp can have.  It is more than just a common community or the fact that you have a group living together engaged in a common goal; no, it is more than just that and I believe it has to do with the "type" of people who are there.

I have routinely extolled the values of scouting that the Boy Scout program promotes.  These are found in the Scout Oath and Law and as our current ad campaign states, these are words to live by.  Maybe not everyone does live by them due to personal frailty and weakness but most people would want to surround themselves with people do live by them.  That, I believe, is the basic attraction that brings people to the program, particularly parents.  When it comes to personalities which in many ways is governed by personal traits and values, people have the tendency to be drawn to others that share the same thing.  These values are not just words; former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told myself and others while sitting in the dining hall at Camp Parsons that he truly believes that the scouting program is one of the most valuable youth programs as it is based on the characteristics that we believe are necessary for good citizens.  Simply put, who wouldn't want a friend or a neighbor who wasn't a "Boy Scout"?

Camp is a microcosm of society, albeit a well controlled one.  It is a structured environment with rules and regulations; there are elements of citizenship as noted within the troops and a corporate element when looking at the staff.  There are elements of social services (medics, mentors), municipal services (garbage, water, etc.) and so on.  There is a social hierarchy (the "jocks" the "cool guys") and yes, although not allowed and dealt with severely, there is a degree of same age hazing that takes place as it does with most male teenagers.  All that being said, things run extremely smoothly.  So smoothly in fact that you wished this would be the way the rest of the world would work.  You have staff members become good if not close friends with other staff members who, if they had been living at home and met them socially, would not have given them the time of day due to social casting.  They are not forced to become friends at camp, it is the environment which they live in and the common value system by which they adhere to (or at least understand) that overcomes whatever social "caste" stands in the way in "real" life.  During my years on staff as a teenager I had friends in just about every other high school in Seattle which was neat as during the off season when we played sports, I knew someone on the opposing team to the point where my teammates were wondering if I was a "ringer".  As a freshman in high school there were staff members who were seniors and played varsity sports who would generally ignore other freshman but would always stop and chat with me or invite me over to their table during lunch.  That was a bit of a social boost in high school.

Being at camp is unique.  I come across many older people in downtown Seattle who may see a sweatshirt with the camp name on it and say "Is that Camp Parsons?" and go on to regale me with their experience as a scout in the 1950's, just like it was yesterday.  I have posted several times about other blogs and speeches I have heard talk about the life changing experiences a hike from Camp Parsons or summers spent at camp have made for some people.  As simple as this place matters.  For staff......well they are thrown into a nine week adventure; living with roommates, working side by side with peers, teaching, being a role model, staying clean, etc.  How many teenagers do that years before college?  No wonder the bond is great and lasting.....the values and experiences are the same.  Whether you were a staff member in the 1940's or of the 2011 season......the stories and experiences are remarkably similar.  Then again, the caliber of those individuals are remarkably similar.

I have camp "friends" who are thirty years older than me and thirty years younger than me.  Surprisingly there is not much difference other than the age and length of life experiences (and a little maturity).  I have a smattering of high school friends, more from college and some from the rest of my life.  It is not surprising that my non-scout friends all blend in with all my scout friends.  I have had several staff members comment to me after a weekend or a tailgate when one of my longtime friends from work or college have come by on how "great" they were.  My response is, "why would I spend my time with fools?"  Being a friend of mine is more than location, a job or an is the character of the individual that matters and anyone who has met my closest friends know that.

My Dad was right.  When I flew back to Seattle after my first quarter of my freshman year at college I told him of all the great friends I had made at school and how they will be lifelong.  He said to me that I would hardly know most of them by the time I graduated.  Except for one, he was absolutely right.  We all make acquaintances as we go through life, some last longer than others, but that is a far cry from being a close friend.  Then again, life is not the microcosm that camp is.

A former staff member got it right when he said to me sometime during his third year on staff, "When I am here at camp, I wonder what the rest of the world is doing because oddly enough, it just doesn't matter to me."  I want to go back.

Yours, Mine, Ours....

There is not a week that goes by without receiving a request about the use of the camp property for both season and off season use.  For the most part it is a Pack or a Troop or maybe even a Crew that requests a weekend so that they can come up, use a campsite and have a weekend together.  Then there are district events such as camporees that wish to use the entire facility for the district.  This is followed by council events such Woodbadge or training conferences.  Then we have a number of outside folks who wish to use the facilities for family reunions, weddings, work events (outdoor training) and things like that.  It is this latter group which is interesting because they usually find out about our facility through numerous listings on the Internet; none of which we actively participate in yet still are listed.  Many of these folks don't understand the concept of our "seasonal" work; in other words, they want to rent a part of the camp during summer camp.  That of course brings a chuckle from us, however it is understandable that people outside the program wouldn't know how this works.  We have been able to do some things though.  A school district contacted us and wanted to know if we could put on some challenges or leadership "games" that their teachers who were going to be on a training retreat could use.  We were able to accommodate that by sending our COPE/Tower folks to do team training at the arboretum.  The boys enjoyed it and the camp made a little extra cash for its effort.  Of course, we were dealing with another not-for-profit organization and we were able to align our schedules so that this did not interfere with the camp program.

However I am more interested in discussing the interactions we have with people within the program.  Although I amongst others feel the affinity and ownership of that facility on the Hood Canal, it is part of the Chief Seattle Council and has a purpose within the framework of the program presented by the council.  It has always been the goal to provide low cost, outdoor experiences for scouting youth and having several beautiful facilities within the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of opportunities for that.  You have Camp Parsons on the Hood Canal, you have Camp Brinkley and Camp Pigott at the foothills of the Cascades and you have Camp Sheppard on the side of Mt. Rainier.  All of these offer opportunities for great experiences for a great price.....and as far as Camp Parsons goes, if you do a planned work project, it is "free".  Well, not really free as we take your work in return for your stay.....but a good scout would do that anyway.

Then we have a group of people who think that the facilities come part and parcel with their registration fee.  If they are a registered scout in the council, then they can go and use any of the facilities at any time and at no cost.  By extension, they truly feel it belongs to them.  Although we go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome and part of the camp at any given time during the year; part of being a good citizen is contributing your share to the group, in this manner there is a nominal fee mainly as a token and realization that there are resources spent in the maintenance and operation of the facility.  The more you use it, the greater the fee as there is a greater burden on resources.  Membership in the Chief Seattle Council gives you opportunity...not full access.  Many people falsely believe that Camp Parsons operates on the income it brings in.  They don't understand that the net gain that we bring in each year goes to the council as income and from that, a budget is generated (of which Camp Parsons is a part of) that we must live by.  So we just can't charge for something you use.....what resource is used must be part of the yearly budget from which operate from.  That is one of the reasons why we don't let people use some of the equipment (boats, guns, etc.) or facilities (cabins, kitchens, etc.) unless this is already taken in as a consideration of our budget.  Then again, why should we?   The facility is there for outdoor experiences; if you want to canoe, go to a canoe outfitter that will rent you the boat based on their usage, supply training and supervision as well.  We had one group that wanted to use Ken's office; they wanted him to move everything out except for the computers and printers so that they could use it for a weekend.  What they didn't understand was that it is a year round working office, not part of the facility or other words, it is not theirs, it is ours.

Ownership in the boy scouting program is a fickle thing.  Many people become attached to a facility due to experiences, time, etc and truly believe it belongs to them.  I can closely relate to those sentiments, however they are misguided.  You can probably go to any council in the US and you will find that this is a basis of division between professional scouting and volunteers.  You will have a property that is no longer serving a purpose and costing money, yet it has been a part of the council (and those "vested" volunteers) since the beginning of time.  What many of these volunteers fail to see is that ownership in this setting really means having pride in your work to make that facility the best it can be; physically AND financially so that it can serve scouting youth for years to come.  You may have influence on certain things but ultimately it is not yours to have.  Too many people think that they are entitled to certain things or the facility belongs to them when in reality, they are really leasing "space" and not things (like offices, backhoes, boats, etc.).  It is simply yours when you are looking for a beautiful place to spend some scouting time at; it is mine when I think of the years I spent there and it is ours in the sense that we all benefit from a little piece of heaven at the feet of the Olympic Mountains.