It’s no secret that I’m an outdoor enthusiast. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the reasons why Scouting provides fun, life-changing outdoor experiences young people can’t get anywhere else.
I recently saw a news story about how kids and teens are spending time with friends through video chat on their smartphones rather than in person. It’s interesting to me because it shows how technology has changed the experience, but not the fundamentals of childhood. Young people want to build friendships and spend time with their peers in settings where they can have some independence. Some of that can happen on their phones now, but I’ve seen in Scouting that there is no better opportunity for kids to gain confidence than experiencing the great outdoors with their peers.
Activities like camping, rock climbing and sailing are all pathways to becoming a good leader and a person of good character. These experiences teach Scouts that they can overcome obstacles and challenges, work with others to achieve common goals and can take their own lead while they explore places they’ve never been. Experts agree that spending time outdoors builds self-confidence, improves physical fitness and enhances kids’ social interactions. It’s something we see in Cub Scouts all the way up to Scouts at the High Adventure Bases.
While we innovate to bring the benefit of Scouting to life through technology, through new merit badges or even new programs, like STEM Scouts, outdoor activities are still one of my favorite aspects of Scouting. I hope all Scouts get to experience the personal growth that comes with spending time experiencing adventures – big and small – in the outdoors.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are helping Scouts find a balance between using technology and experiencing adventures in the comments below or on Twitter @BSAChief.