McGrew's MiscellaneaCamporal

Scoring for Camporal Events

Small teams of youth compete against each other in an assortment of events that test their teamwork and outdoor skills. At the end of the day, awards are presented based on each team's overall performance.

This document describes scoring methods that work well as part of a Camporal. Information about events for a Camporal are in another document.

Basic Issues

Each team receives a score for each event, based on its performance in that event. Each team's event scores are then totaled, and this combined score is used to award the overall awards. It is a good idea to recognize the top performing teams in each individual event, before presenting the overall awards.

The significance of each event depends primarily on the variation in the scores received by different teams. The maximum number of points awarded for an event is less significant, although this is not obvious to many people.

As an example, the following events will have a similar effect on a team's overall score relative to the other teams in the competition:

All of these events create a 50-point spread in the overall point totals; the best teams will earn 50 points more than the worst teams, and 25 points more than an average team.

As another example, "all or nothing" events (where most teams receive either the full score or nothing) will become "make or break" events. Teams that fail to score in these events will have a very difficult time making up the difference elsewhere, assuming that most of the other events create point spreads similar to those in the previous example. I believe that such scoring systems should be avoided, especially when relatively large numbers of points are at stake.

In general, most of the events used for a given Camporal should have the same maximum score. It doesn't matter much what this maximum score is. Scoring systems based on maximums of 10 to 50 points seem to work well. Some events can use lower maximums (e.g., a pair of minor 25-point events in a Camporal that uses a 50-point maximum for most events). Some events can use higher maximums (e.g., a major 20-point event in a Camporal that uses a 10-point maximum for most events). But if the maximum scores vary wildly, everyone involved is likely to become confused. Unless there is a good reason for inconsistency, keep the scoring system consistent from one event to another.

Relative Performance vs. Objective Performance

The first decision will be to choose the nature of the awards. The two basic approaches are to award "relative performance" awards (i.e., first place, second place, third place, etc.), or to award "objective performance" awards (i.e., all teams with a given number of points receive the award that corresponds to that number of points). Furthermore, these two approaches can be combined by awarding first, second, and third place awards in addition to the objective performance awards everyone receives.

Likewise, the events themselves can be scored based on each team's performance relative to the other teams, or based on objective criteria. Different events can (and often should) use different kinds of scoring system. For example, relays and other races work best as timed events, with scores assigned based on each team's ranking in the tabulated results. On the other hand, campsite inspections work best using a list of objective criteria on an inspection checklist.

Furthermore, an "objective" system can use an absolute scale (e.g., more than 175 points = "excellent") or it can use a "curve" (e.g., more than 90% of the best score = "excellent"). It isn't very helpful to score most individual events on a curve, but a curve can be very useful for assigning the overall awards when some events use open-ended scoring systems, for which it is difficult to predict the top score.

Relative Performance Events

As mentioned earlier, relays and other races work best as timed events, with scores assigned based on each team's ranking in the tabulated results. In general, events with a single goal (with no opportunity for partial success) should be timed, and should be scored with a relative performance system based on each team's time. Otherwise, they become undesirable "all or nothing", "make or break" events.

One approach is to assign the top team the maximum score, to assign the last team 0 points, and to assign everyone else scores that are evenly distributed between the two extremes. However, this "ideal" distribution is usually impractical because the exact number of teams is often unknown until the morning the competition begins, and because the math doesn't work out well in most cases.

It is more practical to create a scoring system in advance. A balanced scoring system uses the same interval between each place (e.g., 50 points for the best time, 45 for 2nd, 40 for 3rd, . . . , 10 for 9th, and 5 for 10th). A scoring system doesn't have to be balanced, however. It is common to reward the top team or top two teams by increasing the difference between their scores (e.g., 50 points for the best time, 45 for 2nd, 40 for 3rd, 38 for 4th, 36 for 5th, . . . , 4 for 21st, and 2 for 22nd).

Objective Performance Events

As mentioned earlier, campsite inspections work best using a list of objective criteria on an inspection checklist. In general, events with multiple sub-goals (with plenty of opportunity for partial success) should be scored with an objective performance system.

When multiple sub-goals exist, a point value can be assigned to each sub-goal (e.g., 2 points for each correctly identified plant). When appropriate, you can also add a bonus for completing all sub-goals (e.g., 5 points if all 10 plants are correctly identified).

It is also possible to score timed single-goal events using objective scoring systems. Determine a standard time that should be within the capabilities of most teams. Then determine a nearly optimal time that only the best teams should be able to match. Divide the difference between the standard time and the optimal time by the maximum event score. For each such interval faster than the standard time a team completes the event, the team receives receives one point.

For example, if the standard time for the Widget Toss is 3 minutes, the nearly optimal time for the Widget Toss is 1 minute, and the Camporal's maximum event score is 20, then a team scores 1 point for each 6 seconds (3 minutes minus 1 minute, divided by 20) faster than 3 minutes in which they are able to complete the Widget Toss.


Competitive camping events like Camporals are a means to an end. Actually, everything that goes into a program like Christian Service Brigade is a means to an end. In the grand scheme of things, the ability to light a fire or the ability to tie a knot is irrelevant compared to the personal and spiritual development of the youth served by CSB. The following sections describe ways to consider some of these deeper character issues in the scoring of Camporal events.

Honest Effort

Many Camporal organizers like to award points for an event to any team that competes in that event. This recognizes the merit in attempting to compete in an event, regardless of one's success. It distinguishes between teams that make an honest (albeit unsuccessful) effort and teams that give up and simply move on to the next event.

I believe that any team that makes an honest attempt to compete in an event should receive a base score of 10 - 20% of the maximum score for that event. For events that use an objective scoring system, it is a simple matter to award 10 - 20% of the maximum score for participation, and to award the remaining points based on more and more complete satisfaction of the event's requirements. For events that use a relative scoring system, anyone below a certain place should receive 10 - 20% of the maximum score (e.g., 50 points for the best time, 45 for 2nd, . . . , 10 for 9th, 5 for 10th or below). In either case, teams that skip that event (or that don't make an honest effort) score nothing.


Some organizers like to award points based on the attitude displayed by the teams during the competition. (Scouting organizations usually use the term "Scout Spirit" to describe the desired attitude.) There are several ways to incorporate a team's attitude into their Camporal score.

One possibility is for each judge to award an attitude score in addition to the event score. The attitude score awarded by each judge is then combined into a single attitude score (either a sum or an average) for the team.

Another possibility is for each judge to award extra-credit points based on the attitude demonstrated by each team. These extra-credit points can compensate partially for a poor performance in the event itself. However, these extra-credit points cannot raise a team's event score above the maximum event score (otherwise it is essentially no different from an independent attitude score). Some scoring systems allow a team to score more than half the maximum event score based only on the honest effort points and the extra-credit points for attitude.

What should an attitude score be based on? Your organization probably has a credo of some sort that includes such personal character traits as integrity, helpfulness, and courtesy. That's a good place to start. Other possibilities include teamwork, leadership from the team leader, and team identity (e.g., a team cheer, a team banner).