NATURE NOTE – Number 65                                                       March 28, 2023


To many scouts summer camp is the highlight of the scouting year.  Not only is it a week of fun, but an excellent opportunity to earn several merit badges toward advancement and learn about things they may not experience during non-camp times.  This certainly includes nature merit badges and experiencing nature around camp.

Our current topic:  Get “Nature Ready” for Summer Camp                                            

Here are some nature thoughts to consider before going to camp:

  • Familiarize yourself with the nature merit badges being offered at camp and encourage each scout to sign up for at least one nature badge. Many scouts have no idea what some of the subjects are, such as geology, or forestry, or wildlife management, so a brief explanation may be needed to open the door. Some past NATURE NOTES (Numbers 8, 11, 14 and 18) might help you with that explanation. 
  • Encourage scouts to attend any nature shows, or frog hikes, or other nature specific events in the evening hours at camp.
  • Offer to sit-in on nature merit badge classes. This is a big help to the staff member teaching the class. Discipline problems seem to disappear when an adult is sitting on the back row, and the instructor might just be a little more focused on a better presentation knowing that an adult is there as well. 
  • If you have any adult in camp that has experience in some nature subject (a geologist, a forester, a wildlife biologist, a science teacher, a soil scientist, a Master Naturalist, etc.) encourage that adult to contact the staff instructor for the appropriate merit badge and offer to help with the instruction. Use caution here, as you don’t want for the adult to take over the class and eat up all the allocated time. Often the staff member will be glad to have some extra help.
  • Challenge scouts to start a list of “nature things” seen at camp, such as birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, types of trees, etc. Maybe recognize the winner at the end of camp. This list can also be used as a requirement for several nature merit badges.  Attached is a bird list I developed several years ago for Camp Ottari, but it should useful at Camp Powhatan as well.  This makes it much easier to list birds than just starting with a blank sheet of paper. 
  • Have the adults in your troop do the same. Have them show the list, or the item, to the scouts and discuss what it is. Use caution on collecting things.  Tree leaves are fine, but avoid picking wild flowers, catching animals, etc.  Collecting with a photo from your cell phone works well.
  • Take along some nature field guides for your scouts to use.
  • If you have older scouts that have an interest in nature, have them talk to the camp director about a nature staff job next summer. It’s often hard to find staff with an interest and knowledge in nature. It might also be an entry point for pursuing an education and career in some nature field.  Many conservation and natural resource professionals I have met in the past mention how scouting was their first exposure to the world of nature that led them into a profession. 
  • Have scouts talk to other scouts during the evening or at meals about the merit badges they are taking. What are they learning? What are they seeing? Does it relate to things being taught in school? It might be too late at camp to sign for a nature merit badge, but there is always next year or the opportunity to pursue it after camp.
  • And last but not least: do a review of the two venomous snakes found at camp. Pull up photos of the Timber Rattler and the Copperhead on the Internet and have your scouts take a good look at the color pattern and triangular shaped head of these species.  This is not to scare the scouts, but just make them cautious if they encounter a snake on the reservation.  These two snakes are not uncommon at camp but many scouts have never seen either, so BE PREPARED.


Don’t let this opportunity escape.  Take advantage of summer camp.  The BRSR is full of nature waiting to be seen and explored.  Encourage your scouts to take advantage of that opportunity.  Good luck!!!!

Comments are always welcome at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bob Garst

Click here for the BRSR Summer Bird List...