After a successful and consistent couple of months, I’ll be taking what may be considered a “bye week” on my workouts. It likely won’t turn out to be much of a break in general, but I certainly will be breaking the routine I have developed. You see, this week its off to the woods with the Kilted Kid for a week of Boy Scout Summer camp. I doubt there will be any cycling, and if there is it won’t be on the roads where I have become accustomed to riding. I’ll have no control over my diet either (more about that later).

But there will be lots of activity, lots of sweating, and lots of other things. So what is a week of summer camp like?

 

Scouting Background

To kick things off, you need to know that I am no stranger to scout camps. I attended Boy Scout summer camp seven times myself as a Scout. A couple times at “Camp Kiva,” our troop committee chairman’s property in the UP, and a couple times at Camp Gerber. I earned a bunch of merit badges, became an Eagle Scout, and achieved the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow.

Three years after finishing college, I started a career as a professional with he Boy Scouts. I ran recruitment and fundraising campaigns. I recruited and trained leaders. I helped plan and organize programs for boys and for leaders. I worked for 10 years in Central Florida, and every one of those summers, if I had a troop at Camp LaNoChe and of the 8 weeks of summer camp, I visited them there. Sometimes, I made the trip each of the 8 weeks. And in my position as their executive, I heard about it if the had a complaint about camp. And I heard some good ones.

I then moved to a new position in South Carolina. It was a much smaller Boy Scout council, with a smaller camp. But that camp had a very passionate following. In my new position as the Chief Operating Officer, one of my responsibilities was managing the camp’s ranger and the summer camp staff and program. When the ranger position was vacant, I was personally responsible for visiting the camp and making sure that maintenance needs were handled. When summer camp came, every complaint came across my desk.

And yesterday, I arrived for the first time at a camp I have never visited before, in a new council where I have never worked. And even though you could say that I didn’t know what to expect, I knew exactly what to expect. What I’m trying to get at here, is that 20 years of summer camp experiences and the positions I have held professionally, give you a good idea of exactly what to expect. I mean that in both a good way and a bad way. I expect there to be aquatics, handicrafts, outdoors skills, and shooting ranges. I expect campfire programs with cheesy songs and skits you can’t hear because the performers aren’t loud enough, and the audience is too loud. And I expect the food…

 

Camp Food

Question:            What area of camp is the number one recipient of complaints?

Answer:               The dining hall.

You can’t please all of the people, all of the time, but when it comes to a camp dining hall, sometimes it seems that you can never please anyone. It seems like well over half of all the camp complaints I ever heard revolved around the dining hall and the food. Both quality and quantity were the culprits. Sometimes, we were guilty of the offense, but often it’s because kids are just too darn picky, or because we as Americans tend towards overeating. Here’s some examples:

The menu at a Boy Scout Camp is required to be approved by a dietician and the kitchen needs to meet all of the same inspections and regulations of any restaurant for the same state and municipality. At the last camp I ran, most of the meals offered doubled the quantity requirements of the local school systems’ lunches and breakfasts, and the dinners were proportionally larger. But you wouldn’t believe the number of complaints of “How is a growing boy supposed to live on this little food” or “This isn’t enough to support a grown man.”

But quantity wasn’t the real problem. First, there were almost always seconds available after everyone had been served through the line. Second, the kids weren’t really complaining all that much, and were often dumping trays full of food in the trash. The problem is that lots of kids are notoriously picky eaters. Just last night, the Kilted Kid went to bed hungry because he didn’t eat his entrée – a heaping scoop of chicken alfredo which he has decided he doesn’t like – and refused to even get the peaches and the strawberry shortcake on his tray. That means his dinner was broccoli and a garlic knot. He was hungry, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t served a sufficient meal, its because he chose not to eat most of what was available.

As a leader, I was given the same meal and portions as the boys. Well, they may have scooped a little more for me, a 280 pound man, than for a 90 pound Scout, but its essentially the same meal. And we all had the same option: take it or leave it. So if you’re picky, you could run into a problem. But as a veteran of Scout camp, I also know the other options. If you don’t like the dinner, you can make out like a bandit at the salad bar. There you can of course find salad fixings, but its also stocked with fruit (apples, oranges, and peaches), and the common fall back – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The only problem is when you run into someone like the Kilted Kid who also refuses to eat salad and doesn’t like peanut butter! (I know, what kid doesn’t like peanut butter?) So, while I had a good dinner last night, he had broccoli, a garlic knot, and an apple.

When all is said and done here, what I’m trying to get at is that I have very little control over the meal planning for this week. I’ll eat what is served, since I didn’t bring any kind of snacks, or I’ll go hungry. Maybe I’ll end up eating less and that will help continue the weight loss. But more than likely, I’ll get just as much this week as any other.

 

Staying Active at Camp

You can stay active at camp just by doing everything you’re supposed to do. Most camps are pretty big places and going to each meal and back to camp afterwards can be a 10-15 minute walk one way. So even though I won’t be cycling 20 miles each day this week, I’ll be doing a lot more walking than usual. I logged 9000 steps yesterday with a good part of the day spent on the drive and in some meetings. But I’m already at 4000 steps by 11:00 today as I write this paragraph.

But the ones who really get the workout here are the boys. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, and a whole host of other activities. Not everyone gets to do everything – that’s impossible with everything that goes on here. The Kilted Kid for example didn’t get to take any of the shooting sports or any of the activities at the waterfront this year. Part of that is by design and part of it is by his choice. Just like school, he has six periods to fill with activities, and we helped him select his merit badges this year to make sure they were smart choices. He’s taking two periods of rank skills which will complete about 80% of the requirements for his Second Class rank. He’ll also be taking First Aid, which is both good to get early and important for safety, and Swimming, which is the cornerstone of all future aquatics programs he wants to do. The he had free choice of the last two periods and will be taking Astronomy and Oceanography – both of which he is sure to enjoy.

But just getting around is enough to keep most everyone active and build up a great sweat. At 11:00 AM today (the time I was writing this paragraph) its 82 with 80% humidity and a heat index of 90. The temperature is supposed to get up a few more degrees and now it looks like there shouldn’t be much rain. I don’t know about you, but 80 is enough for me to get a good sweat going just from walking. The rough part though is that it only gets down to the mid-70s at night which means I wake up sweaty. With any luck, this will help the weight loss continue throughout the week.

What about activities? There aren’t a lot of programs for the adults that don’t involve Scout leadership training, including the much talked about Nap on Safely course which supposedly teaches leaders how to get away with napping at camp. No mountain biking, hikes, or anything like that. But I’ve stayed pretty active today checking up on the boys. It seems that last year before we were members of this troop, the boys who attended summer camp skipped most of their merit badge classes. I’ve spent the day going around at the beginning of each period to make sure that each of our boys were where they were supposed to be.

 

Optimistic Foreshadowing

So, will I remain as active this week and continue losing weight? Will I at least maintain? Or will I rebound a bit from relative inactivity and put some pounds back on?

From the looks of it, I’ll be keeping active this week. I wrote earlier about hitting 4000 steps. That’s a fair bit of walking. But now that it’s 4:51 PM, I’m at 10,615 steps (I’ve spent most of the afternoon so far checking up on the boys and writing what will become my next post). The boys may be getting more exercise, but I know I’ll be getting my fair share as well.

When I get back home, I’ll pick up right where I left off with the cycling. I hope I’ll be up to finally hitting that 50-miler I need to log soon.

I realize that I may have rambled a bit more than usual in this post, but it’s mostly my reflections after the first day of camp so far. I’ll have more thoughts on the week’s camping experience and on the BSA in general as the week progresses.

 

 

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