With the start of a new summer camp season every year, Scouts nationwide gear up for an adventure of a lifetime. Summer camp is vital in a Scout’s life since it provides a chance to earn merit badges, learn new skills, and meet new people. While this is an excellent opportunity for participants to have fun, it is also a way for older Scouts and Arrowmen to gain experience as staff members. Staffing at a local camp or National High Adventure Base is a great way for Arrowmen to give back to their lodges and councils. While the transition from participant to staff member is a new adventure for all, this learning curve is vital for Arrowmen as they grow as community leaders.
The most common reason Arrowmen join camp staff is to provide campers the same unique opportunities they had as participants. To illustrate, Josh Richardson was a staff member at Philmont in 2023, spending his time in a backcountry camp called Urraca. His decision to join camp staff was inspired by his time in the OA, for he said, “The Order of the Arrow taught me to serve others first, and I wanted to give back to Scouting.” Josh’s time in the OA showed him the importance of servant leadership and selfless service, directly impacting his choice to staff at Philmont. He also credited the OA for his readiness to serve campers daily. During his time as lodge chief for Gila Lodge, Josh learned vital communication and organizational skills, which gave him the “tools to resolve conflict, create productive plans, and work efficiently with coworkers.” Thus, as Arrowmen spend more time in their lodges and assume roles of responsibility, they gain invaluable life skills that apply beyond their personal Scouting journeys.
Beyond improving Scouting and OA involvement, working on summer camp staff is a great way to form lifelong relationships with others. Whether an Arrowman is a returning or first-time staff member, the time spent together will bring everyone closer. For Josh Richardson, his dynamic with the other OA members on staff left a lasting impact on his life.
Josh stated that the staff could “bond and grow by comparing lodge information and talking about shared experiences in the OA.” Near the end of his time on Philmont staff, he was able to run a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (COPE) program with an Order of the Arrow Trail Crew (OATC). Josh and his coworkers quickly bonded with the OATC members, stating, “I got to be a significant part of many Scouts’ Philmont experience, which was amazing.” This opportunity benefited the Scouts and gave Josh and his colleagues a chance to grow as colleagues and friends. He credited that summer as “one of the best summers of my life.”
Josh’s connections made his time at Philmont more enjoyable, for he felt connected to people from all over the country. Bonds like these make Scouting worthwhile and inspire Arrowmen to continue serving others.
While joining summer camp staff helps local councils thrive, it also positively impacts OA involvement. To illustrate, Levi Adams has served the last three summers at Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan Scout Reservation. He worked in Scoutcraft for two years, then became the camp’s OA Coordinator, who is responsible for various lodge programs at summer camp.
Levi stated that prior to camp staff, “I wasn’t overly active in my lodge.” However, he joined the lodge ceremonies team at camp “and upon returning for the summer, was asked to be the lodge ceremonies chair, and things went from there.”
Now, Levi is the lodge chief and can credit his time as a staff member for his renewed involvement. Finding ways to involve older Arrowmen in the Scouting program is crucial, especially if they have already achieved the rank of Eagle and do not hold a leadership role in their home troops. Summer camp staff, therefore, is a fantastic way to inspire Scouts to serve others at camp and in their lodges. Being more experienced and skillful, these Arrowmen can use their knowledge to positively impact the program. They can also inspire other members of their units and lodges to become more active and take part in a rewarding experience.
Although the summer camp season has ended this year, there is always time to consider joining camp staff in the future. Camps nationwide are always seeking new talent and now is the perfect time to take advantage of staffing opportunities for next year. Summer camp staff is the best way to promote continued involvement in the Scouting program and highlight the ideals of the Order of the Arrow. As Arrowmen, we devote ourselves to improving the welfare of others, and we should be constantly looking for opportunities to do so. Also, as leaders and teachers, we can give back to the Scouting program overall and learn essential life skills in the process. Equally important, though, is the opportunity to meet new people and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood in our Order.