National Camping School

“Because National Said So” – Not the only reason to send staff to National Camping School

As you prepare for the upcoming camping season you are already making plans to register the camp staff that you are required to send to National Camping School (NCS). 

But let’s look at why you should send staff members to National Camping School (other than because “national said so”) and how National Camping School trained staff will benefit your council year-round and not just in the summer months.

Resident National Camping School is a weeklong adult learning experience and training to teach staff how to properly operate a BSA local council camp or work at a National High Adventure Base. Training is offered for staff members who will serve as Camp Directors, Program Directors, Aquatics Directors, Climbing Directors, Project COPE Directors, Ecology Directors, Outdoor Skills Directors, First-Year Camper Directors, Trek Directors, and Shooting Sports Directors. There is also a school for administrators of Day Camps which teaches similar materials, but is over one weekend not a week, and it meant for staff who will administer the Day Camp program to Cub Scouts. Although the timing of the day camp school is shorter than the Resident School, the purpose of the schools, both Day Camp and Resident Schools are the same. 

National Camping School is definitely designed to do develop your camp staff, train them in the outdoor programs and protect the BSA brand when it comes to camps and program delivery… but let’s talk about a few other ways NCS can help you.

Show your staff they are important and valuable – When a council decides to send a staff member/volunteer to NCS, they are making a commitment to quality program delivery and are saying to this person – You are a valuable member of our team! NCS surveys show us how powerful this message can be for your staff who have the opportunity to attend NCS.

More than the hard skills – Our goal is to assure you that this is council money well spent. Your staff member will come home with not only the hard skills of their area (how to belay, how to lash, how to row or paddle etc.), but also skills related to areas like crisis management, welcoming new youth into camp, identifying youth protection concerns and harassment issues, understanding the National Camp Accreditation Process, how to work as a member of the entire camp team, and more. Each of these skills is woven into the fabric of NCS and are at the core of the experience.

Receive quality instruction to deliver quality instruction – The instructors for NCS are carefully selected from past NCS participants and staff who have exemplified the skills in their section. Many of the staff are recommended by the National Program committees who oversee these areas of the BSA program and some even serve as a member of these national committees. The staff are truly the best of the best.

Better short-term camps and better weekend programs – NCS is not just for summer camp. The most successful camps and councils have used the training presented at NCS to improve program delivery in the council by leveraging the NCS course to train weekend staff who will deliver programs at your camp, your district, or your council for any short-term camping opportunities. This is also a great way to train your local program committees in the most up to date information regarding the programs of the BSA and help them to be qualified to meet the safety standards of the BSA for these programs. As the NCAP definition for short term camping changes in 2021, these staff will be critical if your council or district plans to offer programs at a short-term camp.

Grow your bench – Councils who leverage the NCS training also use this as an opportunity for staff development and being able to “develop the bench” for future area directors for camp. Many successful camps have sent more than those required for NCAP certification, so that they have a bench of qualified individuals to run programs year-round.

Marketing your weekend opportunity – In a world where we go to the internet to find out if the plumber we want to use is certified and to read the reviews, imagine what it could be like if your weekend camp event marketing said “come to camp and learn Scouting skills from a Nationally Certified Instructor” or learn to swim from a Nationally Certified Aquatics Instructor.

Membership retention – we all know that a Scout who comes to camp stays in Scouting longer. If we can use that experience over a week and translate that through our quality staff year-round, just think how many more youth could we retain in Scouting.

There are many more ways that National Camping School can help you to deliver the best quality program experiences for the youth we serve, and we are here to help you in this process.

For more information about National Camping School email ncs@scouting.org. To register for National Camping School visit https://www.scouting.org/outdoor-programs/national-camping-school/ and look for the “Participant Registration” button.

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