One of the highlights of our annual scouting program is our Troop week at summer camp. It’s an opportunity for the boys to spend some extended period of time together as a Troop along with scouts from all over the region, participating in a wide variety of outdoor activities and skill building. We are fortunate to have a number of very good scout camps to choose from in New England, however our Troop for the last several years has chosen to attend Hidden Valley in Gilmanton Iron Works, NH.
Hidden Valley is part of the Griswold Scout Reservation, which is run by the Daniel Webster Council. It is arguably the best scout camp in the region and ranks near the top on a national level. It is well managed, well funded and most importantly very well staffed. The camp director, Mark Callahan, is amazing. He has instituted a very selective recruitment process that results in an outstanding group of highly committed and caring summer staff. It’s one of the primary reasons Troop 1 continues to return year after year.
For our newest scouts in particular, Hidden Valley offers a great First Year Program that covers many of the advancement requirements up to the rank of First Class scout. For our older scouts there are a wide range of merit badge classes offered, as well as afternoon Troop activities for all.
2016 Camp Dates
Similar to the last two years, we have chosen to attend week 7, which runs from Sunday, August 7 through Saturday, August 13. We realize that this week may conflict with some family summer vacation plans however we’ve learned that there are conflicts every week throughout the summer. This specific week has proven to be the most manageable for us, especially in terms of available adult leaders willing to use a week of their vacation time to attend camp with the boys. For those boys wishing to attend summer camp but not able to go this week there is a provisional camper option that I will cover further below.
Scouts will need to be dropped off at camp Sunday, August 4 at 1:00PM. Pick up time is the following Saturday, August 10th starting with the 8:45AM closing ceremony (that parents should plan to arrive between 8:30-9:00AM) with a 9:30AM dismissal. If necessary scouts can leave earlier however it is not recommended (There is a Friday evening closing camp wide campfire that your scout will not be happy if they miss).
- Drop Off: Sun Aug 7 at 1:00PM Scouts should wear FULL class A uniform when arriving at camp, including Troop 1 neckerchief. We will get our group picture taken shortly after arrival. Have a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen readily available in a separate small backpack or duffel and keep this with you. Right after photos we will change into swimsuits for a swim test, and there won’t be an opportunity to go to our site to retrieve swimsuits.
- Pick-Up: Sat Aug 13 at 8:45AM Closing Ceremony for Scouts and Parents (9:30AM Dismissal)
To help avoid traffic gridlock, Hidden Valley specifies a tight arrival schedule, and carpooling is strongly encouraged. Please plan to arrive at camp as close to 1:00 PM on Sunday as possible. Scouts should have had lunch prior to arrival. There are several restaurants (McDonald’s, KFC, Applebee’s, Tilt’n Diner, etc.) in Tilton NH, which is about 30-40 minutes from Hidden Valley, so it is very convenient for lunch before camp. It is about 115 miles and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to camp. Directions are below. The Scoutmaster & SPL will meet everyone at the main camp parking lot near the administration building and help arrange for gear to be delivered to our campsite (Penacook).
This is a link to a custom Google Map with directions from Hopkinton to the camp with rest areas marked:
If you need to enter an address into your GPS, typing “Daniel Webster Way, Gilmanton, NH” seems to take you right to the camp entrance.
- Take Route I-93 to Exit 20 to Route 140 toward Belmont to Gilmanton.
- Traveling East on Rt. 140 After crossing Rt. 107 go 6.3 miles on Rt. 140 and turn left onto Crystal Lake Road.
- Soon after turning onto Crystal Lake Road, bear left at the fork, travel 3 miles and turn right onto Places Mill Road. Travel ½ mile and turn left into the Griswold Scout Reservation Entrance (Daniel Webster Way).
- Follow the internal camp signs for HIDDEN VALLEY.
Food & Shelter
The camp provides three meals per day in their central dining hall with all scouts and staff in attendance (~300-350). The food is generally pretty good and many songs, cheers and skits are performed by camp staff during mealtime, which is one of the most memorable parts of summer camp. Each day, the boys will take turns acting as waiters for their assigned tables, which include pre-meal set up, bringing food to the table, and post meal clean up. (If only this carried over to the rest of the year!).
We will be sleeping in platform tents as a Troop in an assigned campsite (Penacook). The tents are double occupancy and are equipped with two army-style cots. The campsites have a central pavilion with picnic tables as well as pit latrines and a running water wash basin. The camp also has a central bath house with showers (however most scouts generally consider their daily waterfront time as their “shower”). Nights are usually spent working on merit badge requirements under the lanterns or around our campsite campfire.
Adults attending this year are Bill Harrison, Domingo Lopez, Sean Kimball & Fran Regan. As with all our scouting activities, we will be strictly following the BSA two-deep Youth Protection Policy for adult supervision.
- The BSA has very specific requirements for Summer Camp health forms. All scouts (and adult leaders) must submit Parts A, B & C of the official BSA Annual Health and Media Record form. Part B must be completed and signed by a certified and licensed health-care provider and be dated within 13 months of August 13, 2016. We will need to submit these forms by mid July so if you need to schedule your scout’s annual school checks up exam, please do so now. Health forms are by far the most challenging thing for us to coordinate so please, please (please) take care of this requirement ahead of time.
Special Health and Food Allergy Needs
The camp has a finely honed procedure for dispensing required medications, and is fully versed in dealing with common food allergies. Prescription medications are dispensed, by the camp nurse, according to the schedule you provide. These medications are not allowed at the campsite. Parents should turn-in all medications to Assistant Scoutmaster Bill Harrison upon arrival, who will hand over all medication for Troop 1 as part of our check in procedure. They should be in a large, clear ziplock bag with the medication administration record form. IMPORTANT – MEDICATIONS MUST BE IN THE ORIGINAL PRESCRIPTION CONTAINER! One of the Assistant Scoutmasters will pick prescriptions up at the close of camp. Please remember to pick them up prior to leaving. Parents must fill out a Medication Administration Form with the scouts name, troop number and town (Troop 1 Hopkinton for those in doubt), Patrol Name (ask your son), Penacook campsite.
One of the big advantages of summer camp is the opportunity for scouts to earn merit badges. Hidden Valley offers a wide range of badges, many of which are on the Eagle Scout requirement list and many others that are only really attainable during summer months. Merit badge classes are held every morning in 1 or 2 hour blocks between 9am – 12PM. First year scouts can only select 1 badge in the 9am hour since they will be attending the first year program beginning at 10am. Older scouts can select up to 3 badges (or 2 since some require double time slots). See the Parent Guide and Packing List below for the Merit Badge Schedule.
In general, the boys will be living in their swim shorts and T-shirts most of the day. Scouts will require their class A uniform for dinner (scout shirt, scout shorts, neckerchief). No need for more then one set. Scouts will need a camp footlocker (Wal-Mart has a decent camp footlocker for $35). The Rubbermaid footlockers are inexpensive and work very well. Footlockers should have a padlock, preferably a combination lock. The footlocker should be no taller than 14″ so that it will fit under the cots that the boys will be using in the tents furnished by the camp. Bring all gear in the truck/footlocker. Your gear will be delivered to our site. All clothes and camping items will ultimately end up as a jumbled mess on the tent floor so please write names on everything. Have a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen readily available in a separate small backpack or duffel and keep this with you. Right after photos we will change into swimsuits for a swim test, and there won’t be an opportunity to go to our site to retrieve swimsuits. The small duffel bag or day-pack will also be very useful for the boys to carry around personal gear for daily activities during the week.
SNACKS: The Hidden Valley chipmunk population eagerly anticipates mail arriving for Hopkinton scouts each year. Any food sent to camp must be in an airtight, critter-resistant container. Each campsite is equipped with a critter container. All snacks and food that the boys bring will be placed into this critter container which is accessible by all. The container is round and approximately 10″ in diameter. Please ensure that no containers are larger than this so it will fit into the campsite critter container.
SPENDING MONEY: There is a trading post available for scouts to purchase snacks and supplies.
MERIT BADGE SUPPLIES: We recommend purchase of any needed supplies for the various merit badges prior to coming to camp. I strongly encourage all scouts to bring a notebook and writing tools to contain their written work for merit badges. Please purchase the appropriate merit badge pamphlets from the Scout Shop prior to coming to camp, review the requirements/prerequisites and prepare as much as possible before arrival to avoid spending precious time on written requirements at camp.
FOOTWEAR: We strictly recommend wearing shoes or sneakers at all times to avoid foot injures. Open toed shoes, sandals or the like are not appropriate for camp. The only places where bare feet are permitted are: the waterfront, showers and in your tent. Take time to put shoes on when leaving the waterfronts or leaving your tent.
MOSQUITO NETTING: Perhaps the most important special piece of gear is mosquito netting. Scout should bring a mosquito net that covers the entire cot. Four 3ft-long dowels or equivalent are useful to support the netting over the cot. (Dowels are not needed, we will use twine instead.) This type of netting is available at the Southborough scout shop, REI or other sporting goods and outdoor gear stores.
DANIEL WEBSTER COUNCIL KNIFE POLICY: For youth and adult leaders, folding knives with a blade length not exceeding 4 ½” are appropriate for all legal and practical uses at Daniel Webster Council activities including summer camp. Therefore sheath knives (i.e. fixed blades of any length) including machetes, bayonets, swords, cleavers, death stars, stilettos, switchblades etc. are not allowed for youth or adult use at DWC functions. I would expect that all Scouts, most of whom have received their totin’ chip award, will demonstrate the proper use of small knives. I would remind scouts that totin’ rights can be revoked and the scouts knife can be held by the unit leaders until the end of camp.
Provisional Camp Dates
As mentioned above, any scout who is interested in attending summer camp but unable to go during our scheduled week can attend any other week as a provisional camper. Scouts from all over the region are formed together into a provisional Troop that is closely supervised by camp staff. Please consider this if week 7 doesn’t work in your family plans. Additionally, any Scout that wishes to attend more then one week of summer camp can also attend as a provisional camper. Two-week CIT options are also available. Contact Bill Harrison if you are interested in provisional camping: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Info and Revicitis
REVICITIS (Homesickness) – Sometimes this happens, especially with younger scouts. Please refrain from making arrangements BEFORE camp for an early departure from camp due to anticipated homesickness or equivalent. A scout leaving camp early for any reason, especially homesickness, can be “contagious” and is sometimes a very difficult situation. We will do everything we can to keep your son at camp. A completed week at camp is something that your son will and should be very proud to achieve. Leaving camp early may give your son a sense of failure, which is not the message that we are trying to send.
TELEPHONE: In the event of an emergency, the camp phone number is 603-364-2900. Please note, scouts are not permitted to use the phone without an adult leader present. Scouts are not permitted to have mobile phones, and there is little or no mobile phone reception at Hidden Valley. Scouts are not permitted to have any electronic devices at summer camp other than flashlights.
MAIL: Mail is strongly encouraged at camp, but should be sent the week before scouts leave for camp to assure it arrives on time. The address is:
Troop 1, Week 7, Penacook Campsite
Hidden Valley Scout Camp
2 Eileen Shore Road
Gilmanton Iron Works, NH 03837
EMAIL: To send an email to a Hidden Valley Camper: HVscoutEMAIL@gmail.com
- The email’s subject line should indicate: Camper’s Name, Troop # and Week # (nothing else)
- Emails are only printed once per day and placed into Troop mailboxes with snail mail
- GSR Management will screen all received email before distributing it
- No attachments will be opened nor distributed
- Unit leaders should withhold emails if the Scout (or another Scout) becomes homesick/distracted
- Family/Friends should limit the volume of emails sent to one Scout (one, total, per day is plenty)
- Family/Friends should not encourage campers to contact home, nor ask to go home
- Campers will not be able to respond to any emails