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but the Cub Scouts and their parents, many of them novice campers, weren’t prepared for the elements. The next morning, they woke up cold. Breakfast was problematic, too. Though organizers offered eggs and ham, keeping the food warm for hun- dreds of people proved impossible. “With any program, the first year is always hit and miss,” acknowledges Linda Mehl, who handled registration and administration at the event and is a former member of the district’s activi- ties committee. “Every year, you have to change things to make it a better event.” At the planning committee’s review

meeting a few weeks after that 2005 event, Kies saw room for improvement. First, they decided to park all

vehicles in the field across from Shankweiler’s, enlist Troop 5 to lug the families’ camping gear into the theater, and ask the local fire depart- ment to handle traffic control at the intersection in front of the drive-in. And they cancelled breakfast, because, as Kies notes, “Most parents just want to get up and go the next morning.” Despite those first-year glitches,

Drive-In Cub Camping was a hit with packs and parents. As word about it spread through the local

Nathan Clelland (left) and Brandon Spencer, both age 9 of Pack 654, use a wagon to haul camping supplies to their pack’s camping spot at Shankweiler’s.

Cub Scouting community, it grew increasingly popular. Tickets now sell out in a matter of weeks. Most participants come from the

Minsi Trails Council, but the event also attracts packs from up to 60 miles away. And though this year’s Cub Camping event didn’t draw the 850 that organizers expected, it’s not because of a lack of preparation. Blame it on the rain.

JUST FIVE MINUTES UNTIL showtime, at 7:15 p.m., Steve Mehl surveys the scene from the center of the theater. It isn’t what he had in mind: Instead of a sea of tents and lawn chairs, he sees plenty of empty areas. Families open umbrellas and erect pop-up shelters where, for the next three hours, they will huddle together to stay dry while watching the movies. Steve Mehl admits he’s some-

what disappointed, but undaunted. “We think this is one of the premier events for Cub Scouting,” he says. “The bad weather definitely merited a rain date, but we couldn’t get one.” The organizers weighed their options—giving thought to the par- ticipants’ safety and comfort in the rain—and decided that forging ahead with the event was their best option. And what if the weather had been

postcard perfect? “This place would have been wall-to-wall tents,” Steve Mehl says, beaming at the image. “But for next time, we’ll cap the number at 750, so it won’t be overcrowded.” Drive-In Cub Camping has come

full circle. ¿

CYNTHIA HANSON is a Philadelphia- area writer. Her articles have appeared in dozens of national magazines, including Parents, Family Circle, and American Baby.

Find more tips on planning a successful Cub Scout campout at cubcampout.

activity calendars 12 months in advance, but last-minute planning doesn’t work because all safety issues must be resolved.


2 3

Be creative. Think out of the box when select-

ing a camping venue such as a zoo, wildlife sanctuary, small family amusement park, or museum.

Staff up. Recruit adult volunteers for the campout before you distribute sign-up flyers, and then plan activities based on the

number who commit, Huber advises. Schedule about 20 percent more volunteers than you think you’ll need.


Crew 120 in Allentown, Pa., to supervise the games. “Cub Scouts look up to them because they have an air of authority and because of the mature way they conduct themselves,” he says.

5 6

Cub Camping, he created patches in the form of a hot dog, a box of popcorn, and a family in a car watching a drive-in movie. “I try to design it so that when the kids pick up the patch in 20 years, they’ll remember what the event actually was and how much fun they had.”

7 January•February 2012 ¿ S COUTING 33

Don’t forget the patch. Mehl recom- mends that the patch’s design be linked to the event. For Shankweiler’s Drive-In

Promote early registration. Don’t wait until the last minute to publicize the event. The sooner you send registration information to

pack leaders, the better your chances of having a strong turnout. For an inaugural event, distribute the sign-up flier six months in advance, says Huber. Clearly state that you need a complete roster from each pack, with first and last names of all participants, not just family names.

Enlist help from Boy Scouts. Given their years in Scouting, says David Keis, Boy Scouts can share their knowledge

and experience with Cub Scouts during the campout.

Enlist help from local BSA Venturing Crews, says Steve Mehl, who tapped 10 young men and women from Venturing

Think ahead. It takes about a year to orga- nize a successful Scouting event, Ned Huber says. Not only do Cub Scout packs set their

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