Our Troop is currently in the process of planning a unique little adventure. It’s called a “Silent Camp Out” and it is basically my son Nick’s idea.
A few weeks ago, we were driving up to Point Reyes and back, and Nick was looking through one of my books (Footsteps of the Founder, a book that is filled with quotes and comments from Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting in the United Kingdom. One of the quotes that Nick commented on was Baden-Powell’s idea of holding a silent camp out, and how we should do something like it.
The idea of the silent camp out is that the Troop goes somewhere that is not too difficult to get to or set up in, and there are two camp areas set, both in sight of each other and close proximity. One camping area is for the adult leaders, and the other camping area is for the scouts. Both camps must be wholly self sufficient; cooking utensils, food, tents, sleeping bags, fire rings, etc, all need to be maintained in their separate areas. What’s more, the adult leaders are officially not allowed to talk to or make comments about what the boys in the Patrol are doing. They can intervene when safety is at issue, or it is absolutely necessary to do so, but otherwise they are to take a “bee seen and not heard” role.
The purpose for this type of outing is to show the boys what their teamwork and skill level really is if they were totally left to their own devices; no adult help would be forthcoming unless it was absolutely necessary. If the kids didn’t pack something and it wasn’t dangerous, they would do with out it. That went for food, sleeping bags, tents, clothes, what have you. The adults are free to hang with themselves and talk amongst themselves, but they are not free to comment directly to the boys. If there is any feedback about the event, it is to be handled after the camp out and then only at the next Troop meeting.
My hope with this is that we will have the ability to see the boys step up and really lead each other. More so, it’s my hope that I will have the will power to actually keep my mouth shut for the entire campout (at least as pertains to the boys and what they are doing :) ). This could be an awesome experience, or it could be a nightmare. It just might be both (LOL!). Anyway, we are going to be embarking on this grand experiment on June 26, 2009. I’ll definitely let y’all know how it turns out ;).