By now you're probably thinking, "So what do adults do on camp outs?" Boy Scouting is a bit different from Cub Scouting. While parents are encouraged to accompany the Scouts on camp outs, your son will camp with his Patrol and not a parent. Scouts tent with their Patrol in a patrol site separate from the adults. The Patrols plan their own menus, and cook and eat together as a Patrol. Adults tent with the Adult Patrol. We too plan our own menu, and cook and eat together as a Patrol.
BSA youth protection policies forbid an adult and a boy to share the same tent. While that certainly does not apply to a father and son, it is disruptive to the integrity of the Patrol when it occurs and the Scout will lose out on opportunities to exercise his independence and make decisions on his own.
Generally, adults do not step in with counsel or assistance to the Patrol unless asked to do so by a youth leader. This applies even when you observe errors or mistakes being made (we all learn best from our mistakes). Step in only if it is a matter of safety or cost (time, energy, or resources). We try to discourage the young men from turning to a parents for help and to use the Patrol method and elevate the issue and question through the youth leadership. Seek to not do anything for a Scout that he or his Patrol mates can do for themselves. Boy Scout camping activities center on the Patrol, where boys develop teamwork and leadership skills, and learn independence and sound decision-making. It is important adults not be overly present in Patrol activities such as site selection and set up, meal preparation, and anything else where boys get to exercise decision-making.
By now too you should be beginning to grasp a key difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting programs; who leads. In Cub Scouting, the adult Den Leader runs the program. In Boy Scouting, the youth run the program. This isn't token leadership; a Patrol Leader, for example, has real authority and genuine responsibilities and much of the success, safety, and happiness of six to ten other boys in his Patrol depends directly on him. Boy Scouting teaches leadership and boys learn leadership through hands-on practice, not by being led by an adult.
So what do we adults do now that we've surrendered so much direct authority to boys? Enjoy good food and camaraderie (of course), provide an example the boy patrols can follow (without our telling them what to do), and enjoy watching your son take progressively more mature and significant responsibilities as he moves toward adulthood! We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from their mistakes. And while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters is whether or not they can live by a code that centers on honest, honorable, and ethical behavior and are able to offer leadership to others in tough, difficult situations.
It probably does not need to be mentioned, but adults who must smoke or chew, are asked to do so discretely and well out of sight of the Scouts. Drivers should not smoke while Scouts are in the car. Alcohol is never permitted under any circumstance.