By Mark Peters
In the hills above Monrovia, California, nestled in the Monrovia Canyon Park is a camp unlike any other, Camp Trask Scout Reservation, only minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. A brief drive up a meandering road camp and you are suddenly in a calming wilderness setting. The silence in the camp is broken only by the sound of the year-round stream which flows through camp. There are no city lights, so you can see the stars at night. There are lots of reasons to come to Trask: The new dining hall, great swimming pool, Fort Rotary (an actual fort), outdoor amphitheater for campfire programs, miles of hiking trails, tomahawk range, a lagoon for canoeing and a BSA shooting range.
Oct. 10, marked a momentous precedent that was set and will be mirrored throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area County. A day where 90 parents and leaders participated in Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO), the one-day training event, presented by the council, introduced Cub Scout leaders and parents to the skills needed to plan and conduct pack outdoor activities, particularly pack camping. This training immerses the parents and new leaders in the adventure of scouting through the training contained in the BALOO curriculum. By letting them see, first hand, how the program works, they become good resources in their units and are motivated to help their scout succeed.
Next is to get new Cub Scouts, at every level, the opportunity to get off on the right foot with advancement as well as deliver the promise as it was presented at recruitment. At the end of this event, each Cub Scout will receive their Bobcat rank. Tiger Cubs complete the Tigers in the Wild belt loop; Wolves complete the Paws on the Path belt loop; Bears complete the Fur, Feathers, and Ferns belt loop and WeBelos complete Walk About and Camper Core adventures.
According to camp director Matthew Halsig, “The other great win is the three council camps within an hour of anyone we serve as well as surrounding councils. Our “Triangle of Influence” is complete with the combined support from Trask Scout Reservation in Monrovia, Firestone Scout Reservation in Brea and Cabrillo Aquatics Youth Facility in San Pedro. Each facility is dedicated to delivering the promise of scouting. Not only by providing localized program for youth, but in support of our awesome summer facilities, like the Forest Lawn Scout Reservation in Lake Arrowhead, Holcomb Valley Scout Reservation in Big Bear, Cherry Valley out in Catalina, and Our High Adventure Outpost in Yosemite, Log Cabin Wilderness Camp. All dedicated to delivering every promise Scouting makes.”
We believe in our camps as the source for scouting. As the district program director, Roberta Villaescusa says, “seven camps, one mission!”
First, of all the boys who join scouting as a Cub, 46 percent never make it to Bobcat. This means we lose them before they even make the first step. Further, of all the Boy Scouts who join, 96 percent had positive Cub Scout experience. It was the board’s commitment to affect change on those stats. We set out to help achieve it.
This led Roberta Villaescusa and Matthew Halsig to the conclusion that if they could develop a turnkey activity that the district executives could use as a recruitment tool, this can be an opportunity to deliver on the promise within days, if not weeks of signing up. The other side of this was the need to encourage parents to take training. The idea is that a pack is always in need for a BALOO so that the Cubs can go camping. We felt that if a parent could be exposed to this training program without the expectation of leadership that perhaps, it would spark enthusiasm and thus more leaders.