One of the admittedly cooler scouting events of the year is the bi-annual Beach Jam event at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, NJ. This hugely popular event has been running for 16 years and attracts both boy and girl scouts from several states in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Indeed, it tends to be a popular family event with hundreds of scouting families present. This year a few adventurous girl scouts from Canada, that had traveled over 12 hours by bus, ventured into our campsite to visit as well as swap patches. The boys seemed impressed with the girl’s willingness to endure a 12 hour bus ride given that the drive from Westchester was only about 4 hours and they got some nifty Canadian girl scout polar bear patches too.
The afternoon and night are filled with a lot of unstructured free time, which can be a valued learning experience (believe it or not!). It gives the scouts time to be curious and creative and to explore their world, including the all the amusement park rides. This protocol also actually rigorously tests the buddy-system. As proof, one of the newer scouts ended up missing around the 10pm Saturday night curfew, because he and his buddy got separated and the errant scout independently decided to spend some extra time in the Arcade on the board walk. Until the boy was found, there was a bit of angst on the part of the scout buddies (and parents) and this proved to be a terrific lesson to learn how serious it is to stay together with your buddy at all times.
After our first trip to Wildwood a few years ago, the troop decided to skip the offered merit badges as the standards of learning were not as high as the adult leaders would like to see. As you can imagine, this strategic decision to skip merit badge class did not bother the scouts at all as it meant they had more time to play on the beach or ride the amusement rides, as these these pictures can attest!