So much is being said these days about the over all health and physical nature of our youth. National statistics tell us that 15% of Americas youth are obese. The problem is that this 15% will become obese adults. This is a serious health concern. Obesity is the number two cause of preventable death in America.
The Boy Scouts of America have an answer. In its Aims, the Boy Scouts want to attack this with physical fitness.
Which brings me to developing an appreciation for the outdoors. It is through the outdoor program that we really encourage physical fitness. This encompasses the bulk of the BSA program and flows into the daily lives of our Scouts.
We encourage our boys to be active in sports in school and other sport outlets (the YMCA, Pop Warner, Little league etc).
But it is through Scouting that we can tackle multiple issues.
Scouting gave me opportunities to get out and see the wonders of the woods. I remember my very first camp out as Boy Scout. We were camped at Manassas Virginia. It was a chilly fall weekend and we were camped in a wood stand next to a big meadow. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and watched the sun rise over the meadow. The dew and fog made for a quiet, soft feeling. I thought this is awesome.
Flash forward 30 years, last month we camped at Camp Cooper. We woke up to a fine dusting of the white stuff. A chilly November morning in Oregon. Looking westward into a beautiful draw filled with Old growth forest, I thought to myself… This is awesome!
My appreciation for the outdoors was sparked. fed, and encouraged to grow through Scouting… and it still is today.
Throwing a Backpack on and trekking into the wilderness, trying to find the path with least amount of footprints is the classroom for this development.
Challenging yourself and being with your friends when you reach an incredible vista can be life changing and the most memorable of experiences.
All of this and it allows the opportunity to breath clean fresh air, eat hearty meals without the guilt of laying around afterwards, exercising not only your body, but your mind as you challenge yourself and each other.
Self esteem and confidence and physical fitness are born out of the outdoor program. There is no better feeling than that of success. Success that you did your best, your met the challenge and completed it, you were part of a team, you were able to see something that most folks may never.
There is a waterfall on Camp Cooper. It is one of the most spectacular things you will ever see. To get to it you have to hike two miles down a switchback laden trail. At the bottom is a small bridge were you are cooled by the mist of the waterfall. To get back you have to climb the two mile trail up. It is a demanding hike, but for those that rise to the challenge the day is one that leaves an indelible mark in your memory. 95% of Oregonians will never see this waterfall. And for most of them it is only 2 hours away from home. Scouting will bring you to it and allow you to appreciate this wonderful part of our land.
Camping, hiking, and being in the outdoors opens those doors to new worlds. This is what sparks explorers and adventurers.
I was talking with my sons the other day while we were watching a show about Mt. Everest. I told them I have no desire to climb Mt. Everest, but I would love to climb to the base camp and hang out there for a week or two. I think the experience would be amazing. Those that have no appreciation for the outdoors would not understand.
Those of us that love the outdoors and consider ourselves outdoors men, campers, Scouts have that appreciation. The appreciation of being in pristine areas surrounded by trees and majestic peaks. Clean air and stillness. Quiet mornings and undisturbed meadows leaves a peaceful healthy calm. Blood pressure goes down, you can think better, your lungs clear and you can enjoy all that God has given us.
A help in the fight of obesity in youth, a way to see the majestic beauty of our world, and a way to stay healthy and fit. The outdoor program of the BSA. It makes us better all around. I can not imagine my life without Scouting and the deep appreciation it developed in me for the outdoors.
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways.
Be careful with fire.
I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only where they are appropriate. When I have finished using a fire, I will make sure it is cold out. I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
I will treat public and private property with respect. I will use low-impact methods of hiking and camping.
Be conservation minded.
I will learn how to practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.