One of the most exciting parts of the Webelos (4th Grade) year is INDEPENDENCE.  As Webelos, we get to camp without the rest of the Pack and practice being independent by doing everything a scout in Scouts BSA would do.  In fact, in talking with troops, the number one thing I was told to do, to get ready for Scouts BSA was to do a Webelos Campout and to let the scouts do everything that a Scout would do on the campout.

Our Webelos did just this in March when they camped at LBJ State Park.  Even before we went camping the scouts took charge.  They planned the food that we ate (Sandwiches, Pizza, Ice Cream Cone Smores, and Pancakes) and then did all the shopping themselves.  They set the schedule for when we’d arrive, what we’d do, and when it was time for lights out.  Although the planning took several weeks with the scouts in charge, this is critical in getting them ready for Scouts BSA.

Upon arriving at camp, the Webelos set up camp themselves.  The adults were there to advise, but the scouts set up their own tents and then elected a Patrol leader.  They were then provided a map for our 3 mile hike and given the goal of hiking to the working farm at the other end of the Park.  It took the scouts a while to get started on the hike, but they figured out where they needed to go and got there quickly.  There were some squabbles along the way, but to the delight of their den leader, the elected patrol leader worked through them and kept his patrol going.  Hanging back and giving the patrol leader time to work through things helped the scout blossom as a leader!  In fact, throughout the hike the parents gave the scouts about a 100 yard buffer to foster the independence that the scouts crave.  Honestly, it was harder on the parents to hang back than for the scouts to do things on their own.

Once the scouts had completed their hike back from the farm, it was time to cook dinner.  The scouts chose to make Pizzas on the grill.  They prepped the pizzas for everyone including the parents.  Cooking the pizza on the grill was a challenge for them, but some experimenting with foil hats over the pizzas solved the problem of cooking the tops.  The pizzas came out a bit charred but even the scout that does not like pizza happily ate a slice.

S.T.E.M. Fact
Did you know that humans may not be the fastest animals on land in a sprint, but we are one of the fastest over long distances?
Marathon Times:
5. Horses – 10.5 MPH ( 2 hours 30 minutes ), 4. Humans – 12.7 MPH ( 2 hours 4 minutes ), 3. Sled Dogs – 15 MHP ( 1 hour 19 minutes ), 2. Camels – 25 MPH ( 1 hour 2 minutes ), 1. Antelop – 30 MPH ( 45 minutes )

While some of the scouts managed the pizzas, other scouts prepared and lit the campfire, a skill they learned earlier in the year during our Cast Iron Chef adventure.  Dinner was eaten around the fire and then the scouts quickly disappeared to make their smores in an ice cream cone.  Once dinner was cleaned up, we proceeded with our campfire program.  First the scouts did a skit for the adults and somehow the adults escaped without having to do a skit too.  Then the scouts did a formal flag retirement ceremony of the CC Mason School flags.  Finally, when the campfire had burned down the scouts put the fire out until it was cool to the touch.  We then looked up and the sky was clear and filled with stars.  A perfect end to a wonderful day.

The next morning, rather than having to make breakfast for the kids, all we had to do was ask when it was.  Scouts gathered everything they needed for eggs, bacon, and pancakes, they even put water on for hot chocolate.  They cooked everything on their own and there were no leftovers, but no one went hungry.  The only thing they forgot to buy was syrup for the pancakes, which was great as those little misses are how the scouts learn.  In the end, the scouts gained confidence and experience that they are ready for Scouts BSA when it is time to transition out of the Pack.  In fact one scout said “I didn’t think I was ready to go to a Troop, but after the campout I know I am.”  It may be hard letting them grow up, but it is a lot of fun seeing them grow.