Planning Skills Weekend, Part 1

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Our Troop’s “skills weekend” campout is coming up, and I volunteered to run it again. I wanted to try some new and different activities from what we’ve done in the past to make a fun trip.

For our Troop, skills weekend has traditionally been a chance for younger Scouts to work on some basic Scout skills for rank, while older Scouts get a refresher. While the skills weekend is an enjoyable time, older Scouts don’t get as much out of it and it became routine for them. This traditional skills weekend model needs some refinement to make it into a better trip.

I volunteered to run the skills weekend last year and turned it into the Skills Showdown. Skills Showdown focused on mixing a variety of Scout skills, teamwork, and competition, and turned into a weekend that everyone really enjoyed!

I wanted to run the skills weekend this year, but wanted to do something a little different again. Keeping it fresh is an important part to making the trip enjoyable and memorable. While at an adult leader meeting we discussed what the weekend should be. The big thing we came away with is that there needs to be more opportunity for younger Scouts to learn Scout skills than the Skills Showdown offered, and that older Scouts need a chance to learn, too, by way of merit badges. The Scouts wanted a repeat of the Skills Showdown, so I made sure to pick up some of the elements they really liked from that, too.

Here are the things I identified that would make up the 2008 skills weekend:

  • Camping at a new location kicked off Skills Showdown just right, so this year we’re camping at a new spot, too: Devil’s Hopyard State Park.
  • The smorgasbord dinner at the Skills Showdown went really well, so we wanted to do that again. (Basically, each Patrol is responsible for making dishes that they share with the rest of the Troop. The twist: the food they cook they can never have made on a campout before.)
  • Scouts voted to also have the stone soup again, so of course we’ll do that.
  • Offer younger Scouts the chance to earn rank requirements, and older Scouts a few different merit badges to earn.
  • Since the Troop would be separated much of the day to work on rank requirements and merit badges, we needed some group activities, too: a competition in the morning and a fun game in the afternoon.
  • I also wanted to introduce a new activity. My Dad is helping with this by running a fox hunt.

One of the merit badges we’re offering is Pioneering, which I’m running. Of course, running the days events and a merit badge is a lot to bite off, so I’ve asked the Senior Patrol Leader if he would like to run the day’s events. He accepted, so I’ve been trying to keep him involved with the planning and details of the trip. He’s also been doing the hype for the trip at the Troop meeting opening and closing by announcing the skills weekend, sharing some of the details of what we’re doing, and trying to get others excited about the trip.

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