A recent column in the Washington Post, “Why schools are failing our boys,” really resonated with me. As the author, Jennifer Fink, a mother of four boys, writes that the traditional school environment can be restrictive. She says, “The stress of school, of trying to fit into an environment that asks him to suppress the best parts of himself, recently had my son in tears.” Her 8-year-old son she writes about craves outdoor adventures where he has room to move.
Ms. Fink eloquently explains that, “Boys today aren’t fundamentally different than the boys of 150 years ago. Yet today, they’re confined to classrooms, expected to remain still for the majority of the day, and barely allowed to tackle meaningful labor or the real world until they reach the magical age of 18. Is it any wonder our boys are struggling?”
Ms. Fink’s experience is a reminder to all of us just how important Scouting is to today’s youth. While there is no question that structured school time is critically important to educating and developing our youth, there is also no question that many kids are eager for the kind of unique, real-world experiences that Scouting offers. And many parents, like Ms. Fink, feel the pressure to balance a solid education with fun, character-building adventures to give their kids a well-rounded childhood.
I know that Scouting can help parents achieve this balance. Making Scouting part of children’s lives gives them the chance to explore, discover and be who they are. Scouting offers a wide variety of fun activities that parents are unlikely to provide on their own for their children on a routine basis. Kids will catch fish, climb rocks, explore caves, help people, race cars, camp out, make friends and so much more.
The challenges and stresses that the author describes are not unique to her – parents across America struggle with the same thing. Let this piece by Ms. Fink serve as a reminder to you of the important role you play in giving young people what they need. They need Scouting and they need you.
I know our movement is here and has existed for more than 105 years for a reason. I know that we have the right people – some of the most dedicated volunteers in the world – who bring this movement to kids each and every day. And I also know we must continually challenge ourselves to be innovative and offer fresh thinking, bringing new solutions and creativity to everything we do to give America’s young people a top quality, high-energy Scouting experience.
Thanks to your daily efforts, we have the talent and knowledge to offer parents like Ms. Fink the chance for their kids to stretch their wings outside of school and enjoy those value-based, character-building experiences that will last a lifetime. We want them to have fun. These kids deserve our best, and we should all “Be Prepared” to deliver.
Yours in Scouting,