Three fourths of the word ‘Scouting’ is outing. That definition is a good tie-in, but it is not the underlying reason. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices in their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. You might look at the mission and say, where does that define why Scouts go camping? You have to look further at the methods of Scouting, which includes: ideals (Scout Oath and Law), patrols (small work groups), advancement (earning badges), associating with adults (working with adults outside of their parents and teachers), personal growth (providing community service and doing a good turn daily), leadership development (Scouts all get a chance to guide and support their fellow Scouts), uniform (create a sense of belonging to a team), and outdoor program (camping).
It is in the outdoor setting our Scouts share responsibilities and learn to work together. It is the outdoors where the skills and activities learned in Troop meetings come alive with a purpose. Being in nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for the wonder of the outdoors and humankind’s place in the universe. The outdoors is the laboratory for Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources. Scouting has always been a green organization, teaching conservation before it was popular. Scouts always leave our campsite better than the way we found it.
The outdoor experience is also important because it creates that challenge and adversity in a controlled environment where Scouts can overcome and bond as a team. You learn real fast how to build a campfire on a cold night! Put a tent or a tarp up on a rainy campout. You also learn how to improvise when a piece of equipment breaks when you are on a backpacking trip miles into the backcountry.
The outing in Scouting also has roots in the origination of Scouting when in 1907 Lord Baden-Powell used his book, “Scouting for Boys,” for his experiment where he took a handful of boys from London to Brownsea Island. From that first book and campout at the turn of the last century Scouting has exploded to be established in every free country in the world.
So the long and the short of it is yes, three-quarters of Scouting is outing. But it is there as one of the tools to teach character, citizenship, fitness, and leadership. Our local council is blessed with two great camps, Lakota in Defiance and Berry in Findlay. Back again this year is our Adventure Camp for all elementary youth at Camp Berry.
Scouting also has an amazing youth protection program for all youth and families, covering everything from online safety to peer pressure and helping to identify child abuse. Check out www.BlackSwampBSA.org for information about getting your child outside this Summer.