Polaris (First-Year Camper Program) The Polaris area is tucked into the woods along the road to the waterfront. Polaris is setup as a model campsite. Our First Year Program is designed to help new scouts develop basic camping skills as well as earn various requirements for Tenderfoot, Second and First Class ranks. Our Polaris staff has designed a program that fits the needs of our younger scouts, combining games, hands on activities, and demonstrations to peak their interest and provide them with opportunities to practice skills they can then bring back to their Troop.
Shooting Sports Complex
We are very proud of our Shooting Sports program at Camp Merz. Over the years we have been upgrading all of our ranges in order to better serve scouts interested in shooting sports. An additional change we have made to all our shooting sports merit badges is to require interested scouts to complete sections of the merit badges before camp, which frees them up for more Range time during each session.
Rifle / Shotgun: The Rifle/Shotgun Range is located farther up the hill above Scoutcraft, tucked into the woods by the road leading up to East Hill. We have upgraded our classroom pavilion by adding solar powered electricity, making it easier to use through the summer season.
Archery: At the end of the nature trail you can find our Archery Range. In addition to our camp ranger creating new easier to move targets, we have created a separate classroom building near the range, which allows our archery staff to safely conduct two activities during a given session.
Bow Trap: We have added a brand new shooting activity area, thanks to a recent grant. To understand bow trapping, think of skeet shooting combined with archery, which equals fun! Leaders and scouts will be able to use their archery skills to shoot at flying reusable targets.
Trail to Eagle Center
Our Trail to Eagle program was established to offer scouts (ranked Star or higher) a chance to earn several Eagle required merit badges. While we will continue to reserve some merit badges for scouts who have earned at least Star rank, we are expanding our program to offer more merit badges for all scouts.
Nature / Ecology
Located near Jamboree Field the Nature/Ecology Lodge offers a wide variety of nature related badges from Insect Study to Environmental Science. Scouts who want to learn more about the natural world will find plenty to do at our Nature Lodge. During merit badge sessions the lodge itself often looks empty, since our nature staff rarely teaches inside! Again this year we will be offering Woods Walk. This program is geared for both Leaders and scouts who are interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna of Camp Merz. Each day staff will offer a walk and talk based on a different topic, no prior knowledge needed.
Up the hill from main camp is Scoutcraft. Scoutcraft is all things outdoors- from merit badges that offer practical skills scouts will need throughout their lives both in and out of scouting, such as First Aid & Camping, to badges that introduce additional outdoor related activities, Backpacking & Pioneering. Our staff will also introduce scouts to easy leave no trace practices that will help them responsibly use outdoor recreational areas.
Our Handicraft Lodge is also located in the middle of main camp. Scouts wishing to be creative can take Wood Carving, Leatherworking and other hand crafting merit badges. Last year our creative staff even offered a theme related “outpost” alternative for scouts not interested in an overnight outpost adventure.
These programs allow Scouts to take an overnight excursion to remote areas of the camp property or even off camp property! Some are required for Merit Badges and they are all fun and open to every Scout. These outposts are the highlight of the week at camp, providing some of the most exciting experiences that a could dream of. Outposts will be required for Wilderness Survival MB, Camping MB, Canoeing MB (must be 14 or older), Astronomy MB and suggested for the Polaris First-Year Program. We will also be offering Kayaking (must be 15 or older) and Skills which are open to all scouts. The Older Scout Program, for scouts 15 years or older, will also have their own outpost. Wilderness Survival is also offered. Please see the Camp Merz Guide for a list of materials to bring for outpost, ALL SCOUTS MUST COME PREPARED! As part of our Green Initiative each scout is required to bring a mess kit for Outpost.
Right near the Handicraft Lodge sits the Technology Center. Our Technology lodge also serves as a computer lab, allowing scouts to work on research for their merit badge requirements. Merit Badge offerings include Electronics and Electricity to Chess and Game Design. scouts interested in exploring various forms of technology will find that our tech merit badges will peak their interest.
Being on the beautiful shore of Chautauqua Lake, our waterfront can offer a wide variety of water related merit badges. Again this year we will offer our popular water craft merit badges along with Swimming and Lifesaving. New this year our waterfront staff plans on offering additional programming for Leaders and older scouts (15 years and up) who are looking to expand their outdoor skills. This programming will include Swimming Safety, Water Rescue and Paddle Craft Safety. Scouts interested in Paddle Craft Safety must have earned either Canoeing or Kayaking merit badge.
The Brennan Chapel, named after Franciscan Friar Father Brennan who drowned in the Allegheny before his time, was a great scouter in our council who led by example, and missed by those who knew him. He helped build the chapel and it is a wonderful quiet spot in camp to sit and reflect, and be with our maker, as we practice the 12th point of the Scout Law.