This 1930 summer camp flier shows how much has changed, how much hasn’t

Summer camp season may be over (sadly), but we can still have a little fun looking back.

And I mean way, way back — to 1930 and summer camp in the Kansas City Council.

Michael Dulle, membership coordinator of Overland Park, Kan., Troop 0459, sent me the flier below from the “Kansas City Scout Camp” in Osceola, Mo., now called the H Roe Bartle Scout Reservation.

I found it interesting how much has changed in summer camping in the 83 years since this charming document was printed. Equally fascinating: how much has stayed the same.

Take this sentence directed at a Scout’s mom and dad as a perfect example: “Let your boy acquire that healthy tan, the sparkle in the eye, and that enthusiasm for the worth-while which Scouts attending camp bring home with them.”

Hold on. A healthy tan? Most experts consider that phrase an oxymoron these days. Today’s parents send their kids to camp with a fresh bottle of sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. But the part about a boy returning from camp with a “sparkle in the eye” and “enthusiasm for the worth-while”? That’s still true today. So is an earlier phrase about summer camp offering “fun not found in cities.”

I found it intriguing that summer camp was a two-week affair in 1930. Summer camp these days is just a week, of course.

But this was my favorite part. Guess how much it cost to attend summer camp for two weeks, including food, lodging and transportation in 1930? A whopping $16.

Check out the flier after the jump… 


17 thoughts on “This 1930 summer camp flier shows how much has changed, how much hasn’t

  1. The big difference of course is the emphasis and availability of Merit Badges. Earn Advancement Procedures books speak to Advancement in Camp but only to the extent of Rank advancement for the scout to acquire scouting knowledge and techniques.

  2. A $16.00 camp fee in 1930 equates to about $210 today, adjusted for inflation etc. Most week-long Scout camps run a bit more than that today, but even in 1930, Scouting was a relatively good value.

  3. Some boys do one week of summer camp + another of National Youth Leadership Training. On 2013 some did National Scout Jamboree + NYLT. A greater value for young leaders.

  4. Back in the 1930’s the mean wage was $1,368. The summer camp fee amounted to 0.0117% of their wages. 2012 mean wage was $45,790. Indiana summer camps average cost was around $215 a week. If you double it, the cost would be 0.0094% of the mean. I know the cost of transportation and other factors are not taken into account but overall, the cost of summer camp is less of a percentage today compared to 80 years ago. Not bad…

  5. I’ve been camping at Bartle for 20+ years and went there for years on visitors’ days before that to visit my brothers. It’s still a 10 day camp and, if I’m not mistaken, one of only a few in the country with sessions that long. It’s an amazing camp with an amazing honor program, Mic-O-Say.

  6. This summer I came across B-P’s “Aids to Scoutmastership” online and read it. It was published in 1920. It is remarkable and fascinating how much boys have NOT changed in 90+ years!

  7. Hi Bryan —

    H. Roe Bartle–fondly and respectfully nicknamed “The Chief”–spearheaded the founding and development of The Tribe of Mic-O-Say, a summer camp-based honor camper program akin to the Order of the Arrow!  He has a pretty amazing history and legacy that you may want to dig further into.

    In Scouting friendship —



  8. In about 1971 or 1972, the cost to attend camp for a week at Quivira Scout Ranch in Kansas was $26. If it had been 2 weeks long & $52, I don’t know if I could have gone. I know because I paid for it myself out of the money I earned from my newspaper route. I also had to pay the person that filled in for me on my route $1 per day and bought some gear to go also.

    • Congratulations on making your own way. That is one of the things Scouting is supposed to instil in a young man.

  9. The buying power of $16 in 1930 was $279 in 2013 money when you calculate inflation’s effects on the value of the dollar. Summer Camp cost then what it does now.

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