We all know just how beneficial the great outdoors can be for children. Whether it’s learning the skills they need to survive in the wilderness or just enjoying some fun away from computer screens and TVs, there’s no end to the benefits they can gain.
Scouting is one of the most common ways for kids to learn these practices, and the Boy Scouts is one of the oldest established organizations in the US. The scouts aim to teach young children and teenagers about outdoor skills, respecting the environment, and other important lessons that will help them in the wilderness and through life.
Scouting USA has gone through many changes since its creation in 1910, but it still remains a great tool for youth to learn about the world. The organization features different divisions for different purposes, but overall it’s goal is to help kids grow character, learn life skills, and understand about citizen responsibility.
What Is Scouting?
Scouting is done with an organization, like the Boy Scouts of America or Girl Scouts of America, and is aimed at young children all the way through to older teens. The main goal of the Boy Scouts of America is to teach young boys and girls a range of outdoor activities and programs that educate them on life skills.
The purpose of these teachings is to give kids a sense of character and help them understand how to be a responsible citizen. Mixed with fun elements that get them out into the wilderness, they aim to teach children about values like trustworthiness and responsibility. With everything from hiking and camping to mountaineering and orienteering, there’s a wide range of activities to offers.
Scouts usually meet once a week at a dedicated scout hall and the programs are run by volunteers. In the US, there are over a million adult volunteers dedicated to teaching the scouts and over 2.4 million youth involved in these activities. In addition to the weekly meetings, there are camps, programs, and events that take place throughout the year.
The History Of Scouting
Long before the Scouts were established in 1910, there were movements occurring in the country that would lead to its beginnings. In the early 20th century, there was a huge concern about men moving from the country to the city losing their sense of patriotism and individualism. Other predecessors like Sons of Daniel Boone and Woodcraft Indians which would predate the Scouts and eventually became part of them.
In 1909, W.D Boyce was in London and found himself lost on a street. A boy, later known as the Unknown Scout, came to help him and showed him the right way to go. After Boyce offered him money, the boy refused and claimed he was only doing his duty as a Boy Scout.
When Boyce returned to America, he incorporated the Boy Scouts of America and by 1910 it was an established organization. The program was turned over to the YMCA later that year so it could be further established and in 1911, it was again turned over to James E West who would become the first Chief Scout Executive. From there, the organization expanded and grew quite quickly in the US.
Boy Scouts In The US
As America and its leaders were heavily focused on the decline in manhood in the US, it didn’t take long for the movement to catch on. With an original purpose to “teach [boys] patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred values”, this differs somewhat to the current mission which is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and law.”
The acceptance of girls into some programs offered by the Boy Scouts is only a recent trend, however, the Girl Scouts as a separate organization began in 1912. Juliette Gordon Low met with Baden-Powell about his program and decide to make her own that would center on girls instead.
These days, girls are also allowed to join the Cub Scouts as well as other programs like Sea Scouting and Venturing. Women are also encouraged to volunteer in the organization and there are plans for other programs becoming available for older girls and teens as well.
Different Types Of Scouts
Within the Boy Scouts, there are many different types of programs available. These are usually categorized by age, starting from the youngest and working your way up to becoming an Eagle Scout.
This program is for K-5-year-olds and includes both boys and girls. The very first introduction to scouting includes a lot of hands-on activities and fun that makes it interesting for kids. These children belong to a den and work together learning about personal fitness, leadership, citizenship, and character.
Currently only available to boys, this program is for ages 11 – 17. With many of the activities that focus that cub scouting has, but a wider look at society and community engagement, this enables youth to work up to the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
This is a coeducational program that allows both boys and girls aged 14 – 20 years old. This program is more focused on the outdoors and learning skills like camping, hiking, kayaking, volunteering at shelters, or exploring your faith. Teaching leadership skills and responsibility, this is aimed at older teens and young adults.
This program focuses on all things to do with the sea and is a great opportunity for kids with this interest to develop their skills further. Sailing, submarines, communications, and anything to do with the water is covered here.
A program for older teens looking to explore a career path further, there are two options here. First is the posts for 14-20-year-olds giving real job experience, and second is the clubs for 10 - 14-year-olds where they can try out specific skills.
The most revered title that a Scout can earn is the Eagle Scout honor, which is a display of their performance and high achievements within the organization. In order to receive the honor, they must work their way through the ranks of the Boy Scout program and earn the required badges. This is not only looked upon highly within the organization, but also with higher education facilities and potential employers, so it’s well regarded.
Benefits Of Boy Scouts
It’s obvious when you look at the number of Boy Scouts today and in the past, that this is a program that delivers so many benefits. Not only for the children who attend but for their families and community as well. Here are some benefits your child can expect from enrolling in the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts programs.
Learning how to do many different activities and improving skills, as well as giving them a social circle to communicate with, can greatly improve a child’s confidence level and help to boost their self-esteem.
Specific Knowledge In An Area Of Interest
Attending Scouts can help guide your child towards a specific area that interests them in life and possibly even with a career. It can help children find direction or other avenues that they might not have thought of before.
There are many skills taught in the Scouts programs that teach children about being responsible for themselves, as well as on a greater level within the community. These lessons aren’t taught in school, and make a great supplement to the standard curriculum.
The Scouts give your child a chance to meet people outside of their regular circles, and in many cases form lifelong friendships with others who are likeminded.
Attending weekly Scout meetings or the many activities that are planned during the program means your child will be doing something purposeful with their spare time rather than watching TV or playing video games.
Develop Respect For Nature
This, in addition to camping and hiking trips, is the best way to teach your child about the importance of nature. Many outdoor skills are taught that makes them the perfect supplement to regular camping trips.
A Great Learning Experience For Children
Whatever age your child starts Scouts or whichever program they’re enrolled in, there’s no doubt there are plenty of benefits to be found. Whether you just want to get them away from the screens for a while or help them to build their self-confidence and skill set so they can adapt to any situation, Scouts is a great way to do it.
With over 100 years of history in the organization and a future that is far more accommodating to all kids, there’s no doubt that the popularity of the Scouts isn’t going anywhere soon. For the outdoor-loving kids, this could be a great way to help them realize their passion even more and teach great life skills along the way.