A long time ago a Scouting mentor of mine told me that the secret to success in a Troop is PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM. When you have a strong program you have Scouts that stay in Scouting, you have good advancement, you have Trained leaders, you have active Scouts and Scout parents. PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM!
The outdoor program is Scouting’s classroom. It is why Scouts join and stay in Scouting. Without the outdoor experience it’s just another club.
Outdoor adventure is the promise that we make to these young men when they join Scouts.
Here is what the BSA’s website (Scouting.org) has to say about the outdoor program, I have highlighted a few key words in this excerpt from the site.
In the outdoors, boys have opportunities to acquire skills that make them more self-reliant. They can explore canoe and hiking trails and complete challenges they first thought were beyond their ability. Attributes of good character become part of a boy as he learns to cooperate to meet outdoor challenges that may include extreme weather, difficult trails and portages, and dealing with nature’s unexpected circumstances. Scouts plan and carry out activities with thoughtful guidance from their Scoutmaster and other adult leaders. Good youth leadership, communication, and teamwork enable them to achieve goals they have set for themselves, their patrol or squad, and their troop or team.
Learning by doing is a hallmark of outdoor education. Unit meetings offer information and knowledge used on outdoor adventures each month throughout the year. A leader may describe and demonstrate a Scouting skill at a meeting, but the way Scouts truly learn outdoor skills is to do them themselves on a troop outing.
Scouting uses the patrol method to teach skills and values. Scouts elect their own patrol leader and they learn quickly that by working together and sharing duties, the patrol can accomplish far more than any of its members could do alone. The patrol succeeds when every member of the patrol succeeds and Scouts learn that good teamwork is the key to success.
Exercise and fitness are part of the outdoor experience. As Scouts hike, paddle, climb, bike, or ride, their muscles become toned and their aerobic capacity increases. When they work as a patrol to plan menus for their outings, they learn to purchase cost-effective ingredients to prepare flavorful and nutritious meals.
Service to others and good citizenship is learned through such outdoor activities as conservation projects, collecting food, building trails and shelters, and conducting community service projects that promote healthy living. Through helping other people, Scouts learn to appreciate how they can share themselves and their blessings to those in need. By giving service to benefit others, Scouts gain a sense of personal satisfaction.
Your outdoor program is essential to the success of your unit. Getting the Scouts out side and active is the method in which it all comes together.
Lets talk a minute about types of activities… CAMPING! I don’t care how you camp… camp! Backpack, tail gate, sleep in cabins, whatever.. just get out and camp. And when you camp.. make it for more than 1 night. 1 night is not enough to excercise the important parts of the Patrol method. Camp! Place NO RESTRICTIONS on camping or activities in your unit. Sumer camps and National High Adventure bases place age and rank restrictions on certain activities. These are in place to reduce lines, give older Scouts incentives, and maintain certain levels or risk management. At the unit level as long as you have QUALIFIED and WELL TRAINED Leadership… the sky is the limit. Younger Scouts can do amazing things when you let them. So take them climbing, Kyaking, swimming, rafting, canoeing, backpacking… The sky is the limit.
Never say no to your PLC! Let them plan and carry out great outdoor adventures!
Last weekend our Troop did a 10 mile Backpack trip over 2 nights (2.5 days). The whole Troop did the event. We have 17 brand new Scouts in the Troop and for a few this was their first camp out. We trained them to pack their packs and reduce their loads. We did a shake down before we left to ensure they were all prepared.. then we went. On Saturday, we gave the first year Scouts the option to carry their packs or have them forwarded to the next camp location. Most of them carried their packs.. and after many adjustments.. they all did very well. The best part is they challenged themselves. They pushed themselves and did their best. I am proud of them.
This is the adventure that they joined the troop for. Remember.. They joined Scouts.. we did not join them! You have to deliver the promise!
PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM!
The outdoor program is an essential part of the Scouting movement. It is universal, it is the class room of Scouting, it is… The Promise of Scouting!
Pictured above are some of the Scouts that went on the backpack trip this last weekend. Most of the Scouts pictured are in the new Scout Patrol.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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