Camp Horseshoe is the summer camp Paoli 1 visits each year. It is a major event for the Troop and all the boys involved in the program. It is arguably the highlight of the entire scouting year and is one of the greatest opportunities for the boys to bond with one another, to advance in Scouting, and to grow as individuals.
What is Horseshoe?Edit
Horseshoe is Chester County Council's summer camp located on the Pennsylvania/Maryland border (Mason-Dixon Line) along the "Horseshoe Bend" of the Octoraro. Horseshoe is a 24 hour day, week long Scouting experience that includes merit badge classes, camp-wide games and competitions, troop and patrol level activities, swimming, hiking, and general outdoors camping.
Horseshoe is the ideal setting for new scouts to acclimate to the program and get a small taste of everything Scouting has to offer. A new scout can swim under the safety and supervision of the pool staff; he can learn to kayak on the shallow and gentle Octoraro; he can camp outdoors but under the firm and sturdy cover of Lisle's pavilions; he can cook a meal on Outpost with the rest of the Troop while surviving the rest of the week on meals from the Mess Hall; he can hike a short trail with only need for a day-pack; and he can learn from senior scouts, adult leaders, and camp staff and earn the various merit badges Scouting has to offer.
Horseshoe is also a great bonding experience between the boys and builds friendships that will last a lifetime. It is a leadership test for the youth being put into the various command roles throughout the Troop (Paoli 1's leadership positions start and end at the Birthday only a week or two before camp starts). Finally, and most importantly, this one week away from home will greatly help your son grow into a young man who has learned in a fun and safe environment to manage his own time and workload, to make friends and have fun, to survive on something other than mom's cooking or restaurant ordered food, to learn the value of hard work and appreciate what he has accomplished, to survive one week without mom and dad looking after his needs, and in the end to return home grateful for those conveniences and that love that awaits him.
What will my son be doing?Edit
Having fun! First and foremost, Horseshoe is all about having fun. The boys would not come down year after year if they didn't love the program. After fun, he'll be learning and growing as an individual as mentioned above.
More specifically, Horseshoe has a fairly regimented schedule and a myriad of activities going on. The camp eats meals together "family style", the Troop marches off to an early morning Polar Bear Swim, and scouts will choose a class schedule of merit badges as well as potentially a SIP and then do the required work to earn those badges and patches. Various scouts might compete in minor activities (e.g. archery shoot or track meet ) or the major end-of-week competition (Paul Bunyan Field Day or Water Carnival) or they might find a special instruction or qualification class such as CPR training. The boys will also participate in the camp-wide games and work for their Standard Patrol Award .
In his remaining time, your son will be in Lisle, Paoli 1's campsite and without a doubt the finest campsite in all of Horseshoe. Here he'll sleep, "hang out" with his fellow scouts, do merit badge homework if he has any, play games and cards, learn from senior scouts, and generally have a good time. He'll also do the sorts of things you would have never expected like cook meals, do the dishes, make his bed, put his clothes out to dry, sweep the floor of his pavilion, and pick up trash. He'll also practice marching, form up and honor the Flag, join in the fun of Troop games and movie night, and finally get to see you!
When can I see my son?Edit
On Saturday, parents are invited down to camp to see their boys. Starting at 2:30 is the camp-wide competition (either Paul Bunyan or Water Carnival) that parents are invited to observe. Then comes the nightly Retreat Ceremony on the Parade Field where the scouts march and pass in review. This is followed by dinner and then there is a camp-wide campfire at 8:30.
In some years there is a coordinated effort by the parents to organize a large picnic dinner for the Troop. However, this picnic does not happen every year. Unless you have received communications that confirm that there is indeed a picnic, assume that there is no picnic. However, even if there is no picnic, parents are still invited to come down. Keep in mind that should you visit camp you are responsible for your own meals as parents, siblings, other relatives, and friends can not eat in the dinning hall. You may also bring dinner down for your own son or make other arrangements if you please.
As a Boy Scout camp, there are little to no bathroom accomodations for women at Horseshoe. Also, mostly all bathrooms are latrines rather than flush toilets. Aside from observing your child and also perhaps getting a little time in personally with him at dinner there is also very little for a parent to do, and your son will still have a lot that he has to do as part of the program. There are also no additional chairs in camp, so it would be prudent to bring your own portable camp chair should you wish to sit and not crowd into and displace the boys. This is all not to discourage parents from visiting, but merely to warn of the realities of camp. Parents are advised not to come too early on Saturday but to instead show up only shortly before the camp-wide games at 2:30. Arriving early will likely lead to an interuption to the scouts and boredom for the family.
Drop off/Pick upEdit
Keep in mind that Horseshoe is a Sunday to Sunday event. You're going to get down to camp on Saturday, see your son, and come Saturday night you're going to want to take him with you back home. Sorry. All boys will come down on Sunday and begin camp and then they all close camp together. If you like, you can personally drive your boy down to Horseshoe and arrive the next Sunday to pick him up, but starting camp late or ending early is not permitted (except in very rare circumstances of which "I missed him" and "but I'm already here and don't want to make another trip" are unfortunately not included). The program is an entire week. We go down as a Troop and we come back as a Troop.
You can send letters and care packages to your son while he is in camp (it actually might be better to mail it early in the week so it arrives on time) and now even emails can be sent and delivered to the boys. However, as much happiness as it will bring him to know his parents are thinking about him, there is also no greater cause of homesickness than mail. There is also, unfortunately, no easy cure for homesickness and it might be better to refrain from writing entirely especially for a first year camper.
What do we need to pack?Edit
Horseshoe is a week-long program that requires quite a bit of clothing, equipment, and gear on the part of the individual scout. Care should be taken that one has double checked and hasn't forgotten to pack a crucial item from the list. Scouts are to pack their belongings in a trunk, keep their uniform in a garment bag, and carry the few remaining odds and ends down loose.
A full packing list can be found here.