There is a small window to make a meaningful impact on children and shape who they may become as adults. Part of making that impact is providing young people with a range of experiences so that they know all the world has to offer.
The importance of early exposure to all of life’s possibilities really struck me as I read the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) 2018 outdoor participation report. One of the key findings is that among adults who do not participate in any outdoor activities, only 17 percent of them had outdoor experiences as children. Conversely, around 38 percent of adults who were introduced to the outdoors during childhood grew up to regularly pursue outdoor activities as adults.
As an avid outdoorsman, I see these statistics as revealing a missed opportunity. It’s sad to think that the amazing world of outdoor activities is forgotten by or seems inaccessible to the majority of adults, in no small part because they just didn’t get to try these activities as kids. Not only could they be missing out on making memories, but they are also likely missing out on the benefits that outdoor experiences provide for our physical and mental health.
This reinforces the importance of what our programs offer: a foundation of experiences with nature that can build positive memories of adventure and good times with friends and family.
I hope our younger Scouts are getting their first experience fishing, hiking and camping through our programs. Childhood and young adulthood offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for personal development, not just in terms of interests, but also character and leadership skills. I’m proud that our programs offers ways to make the most of this vital time in order to prepare young people for their futures.
As a movement, we have great opportunity right now to create energy and excitement as we welcome a new generation of young men and young women to the Scouting adventure. I hope you all take this season as a chance to expand the horizons of our young people and instill in them a curiosity about the outdoors.
Onward to adventure!
Yours in Scouting,