I wanted to provide an update on the camping program in our council, including recent decisions made for Boy Scout and Webelos Resident Camps. First, I’d like to extend an abundance of gratitude to the volunteers of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council (GTBAC) Camping Committee along with the Summer Camp Committee for their tireless efforts over the past year in attempting to revive what has been years of declining attendance in our Boy Scout Summer Camp programs at Flaming Arrow Scout Reservation and Sand Hill Scout Reservation. As a result of their work, using feedback from scouts and leaders throughout the council, four distinct programs were offered for the summer of 2017: Two weeks of traditional summer camp at Sand Hill, a new aquatics-themed Summer Camp at Flaming Arrow, a 4-Day “Express” Summer Camp at Flaming Arrow, and a Webelos Resident Camp at Sand Hill.
As of the registration deadline on May 1st, our traditional Boy Scout Summer Camp program had only 69 scouts registered over two weeks, and the newly-created Aquatics Adventure program had no registrations. A volunteer-led committee explored several options in an effort to ensure we provide the best scouting experience possible for our youth and adult leaders, and in the end we determined that proceeding with a scaled-down version of Summer Camp would be doing a disservice to those we serve. The committee therefore recommended to the Scout Executive that we cancel our in-council summer camp program for 2017 and instead, thanks to our friends in Central Florida Council, all scouts & scouters registered for Summer Camp were given the opportunity to attend Camp La-No-Che at no additional cost to them. Camp La-No-Che is a world-class Summer Camp program that will host over 600 scouts from across the country over these same two weeks and we are confident that this decision serves our primary purpose to ensure that GTBAC scouts receive best Scouting experience we can offer.
Summer Camp Express, the unique 4-day summer camp experience, will remain at Flaming Arrow July 6-9 and Webelos Resident camp will be moved from Sand Hill to Flaming Arrow on its regularly scheduled dates of July 5-8. Registration is still open for both Summer Camp Express and Webelos Resident Camp until June 20 and these programs are not at risk of being cancelled this summer, so we encourage Scouts and leaders to take advantage of them. Summer Camp Express was created in response to feedback asking for a Summer Camp experience at a lower cost and less of a time-commitment, so this camp is half the price of our traditional summer camp program and occurs over a long weekend (Thursday-Sunday), and this year our Webelos will get an early glimpse at Boy Scout camping since our Webelos Resident Camp runs in concert with Summer Camp Express. Register for Webelos Resident Camp here or Register for Summer Camp Express here.
While it was a difficult decision to cancel our traditional Boy Scout Summer Camp this year, the great news is that overall Scout camping is alive and well in the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council. All of our primary camps are being used nearly every weekend and are often packed with scouts for unit camp-outs and Council events. The volunteers and staff of the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council are more engaged than ever and are committed to providing unique and innovative programs to meet the needs of parents, leaders, and scouts throughout the council. This is an exciting time to be a Scout and our best days are ahead of us! We thank you for your support of Scouting and our camps and we’ll always do our best to use outdoor program as a vehicle to instill the values of the Scout Oath and Law in every youth we serve.
Yours in Scouting,
Vice President of Program
Greater Tampa Bay Area Council