BSA Leadership Kosher Camp

BSA Leadership Kosher Camp

Diversity is our
Super Power

I recently served as a trainer for an adult leadership program called Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills which is a training program offered by the Boy Scouts of America.

By Jim Donovan

I have overcome a lot of challenges in my camping and scouting experiences, equipment failure, illness and injury, unpredictable weather conditions.  Snow, sleet, rain, wind, you name it I have navigated through it!  So at a recent Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills program which I helped lead, i wasn’t expecting a curveball.  

During Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS) participants learn about first aid, campsite set-up, cooking, wood tools, knots and lashings, campfire programs and other necessary Scouting skills. The adult participants are exposed to how the youth led troop and the Patrol Method work in the outdoor program. It is a great program that the exposes the adult participants to the skills a Scout will need to advance through First Class rank.

A few of the reasons I volunteer for this leadership program include: to help train other adult leaders to better serve our youth, to sharpen my basic outdoor skills, and to enjoy the fellowship and community of scouting. Two weeks prior to the training weekend the participants assembled for an introduction and planning meeting. At this meeting the participants were divided into small groups (patrols) of six to eight, then got busy making introductions, electing a patrol leader and devising a patrol name. We were now the Ninja Bacon Badger Patrol!

We next got down to planning the upcoming camping weekend. The patrol had several new campers so we reviewed everything in great detail starting with the personal gear that each participant needs to bring to be successful: daypacks, sunscreen, flashlight, mess kit for meals, weather appropriate clothing and rain gear, tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. We even plan to bring and use our toothbrushes and toothpaste.  

We also reviewed important patrol gear which is the mandatory shared equipment for the group. This includes items like a patrol box, rain fly tarps to protect us from sun or rain, cooking equipment, camp stoves, water jugs, coffee maker and coffee, to name a few.

Having successfully delegated responsibility for bringing the gear we moved on to menu planning. The first step in menu planning is to determine if there are any food allergies or restrictions. It isn’t unusual to have a participant with some form of food restriction, but this is where the curveball comes in.

One of the participants spoke up and said “Passover ends Saturday night, so I have some dietary restrictions on Friday and Saturday until sunset”.  Two more patrol members were quick to chime in that they are in the same boat.

Apparently, Passover is kind of a big deal. Though technically not in the “High Holiday” sphere of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the fall, this spring holiday trumps those in participation among Jews around the world. Passover is the most celebrated holiday among Jews of every persuasion. The themes are appealing, freedom and redemption, and there is a big focus on food and mostly prohibitions on certain basics.  

Prohibited foods for these 9 days and 8 nights of Passover, I learned are five grains: wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye. There goes breakfast. Pancakes and oatmeal are campout staples.  The grubmaster said we will make matzah brie for breakfast, a kind of french toast but made with matzah instead of bread.  Does it taste the same?  No, but use enough maple syrup and you can eat almost anything.  What about the bacon, I asked?  No way was the answer.  But our patrol name is the Ninja Bacon Badgers!  That was a joke, and besides it’s fun to say Ninja Bacon Badgers.

When the leadership camping weekend arrived, one of the Ninja Bacon Badgers brought matzah toffee.  This is the matzah cracker covered in butter, brown sugar, chocolate, and nuts.  And it was pretty good.  We called it Matzah crack and we couldn’t get enough of it!  Better than the matzah brie but even that was fine. 

It was a great weekend.  I learned a lot too.  Usually food restrictions are limited to the person with allergies.  On this trip, the whole patrol went all-in.  It was my first Kosher for Passover camping trip.  And it demonstrated one of the most important elements of Scouting, the Patrol Method.  We worked together as a team for the patrol’s success.

“A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room.”

– Lord Baden-Powell 

Although I spent most of this post talking about planning and preparing for the camping trip, the objective of the Boy Scouts of America is not to  turn the Scout into an exceptional camper. While we want our Scouts to be comfortable and prepared for the outdoors, the Aims of Scouting include: Character Development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.

The outdoors is our classroom. I went as a teacher and became the student.  It was an adventure for us all.

Camp Method is dedicated to motivating people to get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors.

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