History of Camp Stearns
by Aaron Nicklay
Current update on camp as posted in the October 2008 Alumni Newsletter.
On August 21st, the last Webelos from the last Outpost program packed their cars and rolled out the gate at Stearns Scout Camp. This group marked the end of the 2008 season for both the Cub Resident Camp and the Webelos Camp, and the beginning of a massive game of tent bingoJ.
Throughout the 2008 season, both the Cub and Webelos programs experienced some incredible success both in increased participation and in customer service. For the second year in a row, the number of Scouts registered for camp increased slightly, and continued to increase as the summer wore on. In total, we served just shy of 1,000 Scouts, parents, and leaders. More importantly, our OUTSTANDING staff led us to score either Very Good or Excellent on 80% of our Evaluations, with certain program areas scoring even higher! As most of you have seen before, however, the greatest compliments we received were smiling kids waving goodbye as they pulled out of their campsites, and little notes left by parents saying “we had the best time ever at camp” or “lifelong memories were made, thanks from a grateful Dad and son”.
There were a great many things that I, as a Camp Director, was grateful for in 2008 including the incredibly mild temperatures, the lack of really damaging storms, and the nearly total absence of any injuries to Scouts, leaders, parents, or staff. Most of all, though, I am grateful for the staff that I was privileged to serve with throughout the season. Each and every member of our 2008 camp staff were among the very best that I have ever worked with at any camp, anywhere. While we didn’t have the biggest staff ever, and two or three more would have lightened our load, none of the ’08 staff even blinked at the challenges ahead of them, and they never stopped improving their program, their methods, and their camp.
In fact, continuing a long tradition of Stearns Camp Staff, the 2008 staff kept even Ranger Jim busy with their enthusiasm to improve things around camp. During their free time, most of our staff took on projects that they had identified as improvements that would make camp, and the summer program, better. From new benches at the archery range, to a newly cleared area and fire ring at Swanson Beach, to a whole new climbing face on the Ahlberg Climbing Tower, the 2008 staff made improvements that will last long after they have moved on to other jobs and opportunities. Pictured here are Greg Byrnes, Climbing Director, and Scott Kelley, Assistant Climbing Director, climbing on a few of the rocks that they placed on the blank front face of the Ahlberg Climbing Tower.
Starting in 2009, we’ll be making the final few adjustments to the program and scheduling that should need to be made for the next several years. In preparation for the opening of the new dining hall, camper cabins, nature center, and more improvements, we’ll be working hard to make sure that the program is of the best quality and flexible as we move into our new facilities. Part of our focus has been, and will continue to be, mixing the old with the new. Stearns Camp traditions are important and long lived, and worth protecting for the sense of identity that those traditions give to the Stearns program, as well as for the quality of the program that they add. From the simple things like singing “Worms” at the campfire, to the return of the Grass Maze this year, our goal is to assure the success of the program as it evolves for the changing nature of Scouting, while staying true to the foundations of Stearns Cub and Webelos Camp tradition.
Thanks to everyone from years past who helped us to have a great season, from the alumni who attended the staff week training and setup weekend, the alumni who were able to help us run a great Soccer In Scouting program mid-season for Scouts from the El Sol Scoutreach District, to the alumni who came out to help tear down camp at the end. We couldn’t have done it without all of your help.