August may seem too early to start thinking about BSA Summer Camp to some, here at the Alamo Area Council, this is when we start gearing up for it! It makes sense though. Most Troops are planning their yearly schedules and fundraising with Popcorn to help pay for it. In case you didn’t know, there are some exciting things happening at Bear Creek Scout Camp for 2022 including a well-known camp personality taking the reigns as the Summer Camp Director! If you’ve not met Johnny 5, you’ve certainly heard his name, and I had the privilege to interview him last week:
Jenn: Ok, I just have to ask…how did you get the nickname “Johnny 5?”
Johnny 5: The nickname comes from my very first years on staff. My first name is John and my last initial is “V” (Roman numeral for 5). My area director at the time used to call me “Short Circuit” because the robot from the Movie was named Johnny 5. It has stuck ever since.
Jenn: Ah, I remember that movie! “Johnny Five is alive!” That’s clever, so I guess I should probably change that going forward in this interview now that I’m talking to a celebrity! We sure are grateful to have you with us. Tell us about the journey that led you to the AAC and how long you’ve been here.
Johnny V: It is very kind to hear you say that. I have been in the council since I was a cub scout (1999), and have been coming to Bear Creek in some capacity since then. My home troop/pack is 393 from Floresville. I first served on the BCSR staff when I was 16 in 2007. I am a Life Scout and just concluded my 15th summer on staff for Bear Creek.
Jenn: Wow! That’s an impressive history. What keeps you coming back?
Johnny V: The hope is that we are actually making some small difference in the growth and character of the Scouts we get to see each summer. Coming to Bear Creek and eventually being on staff, was easily the most transformative experience of my formative years. I aspire to provide that same opportunity to anyone fortunate enough to experience our program.
Jenn: How do you expect your role as Camp Director to differ from your previous ones here?
Johnny V: I think it’s mostly just another opportunity to serve at my favorite place on Earth. There will surely be a learning curve as I assume more of an administrative role. The shoes of Mr. Ken Lamb are not easy ones to fill. That all being said, I look at it as another chance to empower our staff to provide the best program to our Scouts and Scouters.
Jenn: If my math is correct, you and Ken have been working together for 15 years now? That’s amazing! What cool new things do you expect campers to experience at Bear Creek Summer Camp in 2022?
Johnny V: Without revealing too much, there are plans already in the works for this next summer. Though, if there is anything I have learned from Mr. Lamb, it is that people come to our camp because of our commitment to provide a consistently excellent set of programs for their units to benefit from.
Jenn: I know my daughter is looking forward to it this year, and to be honest, I’m kinda hoping to go too! I mean, everyone knows Summer Camp is an enriching, can’t-miss event for Scouts, but what impact have you seen in the lives of the adult volunteers that attend with them?
Johnny V: As with any large organization, we are only as good as our adherence to our ideals. I would like to believe from what I’ve seen over the years that our camp has contributed to reminding us why we practice the Scout Oath and Law. As we become better leaders, our Scouts become better Scouts.
Jenn: I agree! However, like you, I’ve spent a lot of time with Scouts and there is one thing that the Oath and Law doesn’t seem to address. As an established Scouter such as yourself, maybe you can settle the most debated campfire topic of all time: How does one cook the perfect marshmallow? Certainly not to a charcoal state, right?
Johnny V: You would be correct there. For me, patience is key: Hold the marshmallow right above the fire (or close but not in it) and rotate it slowly to lightly toast the outside. Once you’ve gotten a nice golden brown all around, bon appetit!
Well, there you have it, folks! Now it’s your turn to think forward about Bear Creek Summer Camp and reserve your unit’s spot for the upcoming 2022 summer sessions. There’s an Earlybird opportunity available until September 30, so don’t wait and plant your flag! You don’t have to know exactly how many Scouts will be coming at the very moment, but just that your troop is coming for which week. Making a deposit of $150 now will save your Scouts on their individual registration fees when they come due later in the year. Visit https://www.alamoareabsa.org/camping/scouts-bsa-summer-camp/ to pick your week.