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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means



The programme of any International Camp is probably the single most important aspect in the eyes of the young participants. Staffing the programme, ensuring the safety of participants and utilising the opportunities to create a real feeling of achievement for both providers and those taking part will be the largest task for any camp organisers and plans should be started as early as possible. There are many approaches to the provision of programme and the main controlling factor may well be the cost of the camp. At the time of writing, camp fees have ranged from about £90 to almost £225 and this difference is reflected in the extent to which programme costs and food costs were incorporated into the camp fee.

  • Generally, a lower camp fee reflected less provision of a central programme
  • Larger camp fees incorporated many specialist activities
  • Most camps made provision for additional activities, and reflected this in additional charges at point of participation
  • The larger the camp, the greater the degree of organisation. A major feature of most camps is the selection of a theme to link all aspects of the camp, programme and organisation together. From past experience, it is advisable to steer clear of Disney themes due to problems over copyright and potential expenses from the purchase of licences.

The programme can be divided into four aspects:

  • Large, camp-wide activities for universal participation
  • Sub-camp activities, usually evening based
  • Ticketed/organised daily programme
  • Drop in activities, non-ticketed

Taking each of these areas in turn, some pointers on maximising the potential are:

  • Balance the number of set piece events, such as the opening and closing, to ensure that they meet a real need and are not simply a PR event which is boring for young people
  • Ensure that loud events, like concerts, do not unduly disturb the neighbours, who must be informed well in advance
  • Simple, participative, symbolic gestures can be very effective, for example subcamps raising their scarves en masse creates a dramatic corporate identity if all are seated together and each subcamp has a different colour
  • Take care over the length and number of speeches, as many overseas guests will not understand a word!
  • A camp wide activity on the last day helps to release time for dismantling some activities
  • Have a good energetic team with adequate budget and equipment
  • Have a recognised rest period at meal times
  • Challenges in international patrols break down barriers
  • Have some co-operative games, just for the fun of it
  • Use a sub-camp Patrol Leaders Council for feedback and for spreading messages
  • Have a few board games available for quieter moments
  • If you need a ticket allocation scheme, establish an efficient method of distribution, including a swap shop for the exchange of activity tickets
  • Take care that sufficient space is available and, if necessary, prepare to bus participants off-site
  • Balance the adventurous with the less physically demanding
  • Ensure that all activity providers are authorised to run their activity
  • Activities should reflect the range of ages of participants
  • Badge swapping should be restricted to youth participants
  • Involve overseas leaders in providing their own activities
  • Involve commercial operators such as leather craft
  • Encourage exchanges of addresses for pen pals and group links
  • Establish ‘Camp Time’ by advancing clocks and watches, say two hours, ensuring there is no noise after 2300 hrs instead of 0100, which saves a lot of problems with local inhabitants
  • Shopping trips or visits to places of historical or national interest gives the programme staff a break
  • Establish satellite camps for short-term visitors or families
  • Offer a day of rest to avoid over exposure or exhaustion and allow normal patrol and troop activities to take place
  • Encourage troops to host their Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts by providing sub-camp based activities
  • Use a passport or identify card system for people control
  • Use a suitable computer programme for organising activities, scheduling and
  • Advertising high profile activities, but only making these available to a small number of participants
  • Inadequate supervision, often due to not involving leaders from the participating
  • Lack of a clear understanding on the proficiency of leaders from other countries
  • Visitors wishing to take part in activities, for which they are not covered for

At the end of the camp

  • Review the success of each activity by consulting the programme staff for future
  • Ask the young people for their thoughts on the activities