With the start of the school year comes a constant bombardment of recruitment and advertising for extracurricular activities, clubs, bands and sports teams. With such an overwhelming number of choices it can be tough for a boy and his parents to decide what to do. Families find themselves either doing too much (putting undue financial and scheduling stress on everyone) or nothing at all (feeling unable to satisfy their desire to better their sons).
Scouting – the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts -- is a one-stop source that can alleviate all that stress and worry. It combines the best of everything else into an all-encompassing program, one guaranteed to keep a boy’s attention and interest and make him a better man. For today’s busy parents, it’s a convenient option for those who feel spread thin: It’s one meeting a week, one campout a month, and one week-long trip a year. That’s it.
That small investment of time can create a lifetime of memories and, more importantly, a lifetime of success. Scouting accounts for better students, better citizens, and a better America by instilling timeless values and character into young men.
Think about American icons like Gerald Ford, Neil Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, and William DeVries. All of them were members of the Boy Scouts of America who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and went on to do great things.
Would they have contributed to society as much as they did were they not scouts? Would they have led our nation, walked on the moon, spoke to a people, or transplanted hearts? Maybe. Maybe not.
What can be said with some certainty, though, is that Scouting had a significant impact on their lives and is partially responsible for what drove them to greatness. It taught them the values of community, work ethic and leadership which cannot be found elsewhere. It has done the same for millions of young men since its inception in 1910, inspiring, if not creating, yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.
The Scouting program is just as important today as it was over a century ago. It could even be argued that it might have greater significance now. It’s the perfect outlet for today’s youth and it can help them overcome some of the obstacles in their paths. There’s a lot missing in their lives: Their outdoor pursuits have taken a back seat to electronics, they don’t share the same bond with their real-world communities that they do with their trivial Internet communities, schools have lost sight of civic education, and they struggle to find continuity in broken homes which, sadly, have become the norm.
Scouting addresses all those issues and then some. Camping and other outdoor activities are the cornerstone of the Scouting program, using the struggles and successes of pastoral adventure as a source of experiential learning, teaching the boys a wide variety of skills accompanied by a powerful mix of leadership, teamwork, self-reliance and self-confidence. Scouting also gets them out and about in their towns and villages, fostering a sense of civic pride and a desire to help make better the world around them. It is all of this - in combination with the guidance provided by peers and scoutmasters - that can give today’s youth the support needed to survive a broken home or beat a broken community.
Take it from someone who was a Boy Scout and achieved the rank of Eagle. I know I would not be the man I am now had it not been for Scouting. I never would have been a columnist or activist without its inspiring ways. Secondary schools and colleges spend such little time on civic and community responsibility that to most folks it’s an afterthought. Scouting’s lessons more than made up for that and created the drive behind these columns, not to mention the values that I apply in my day-to-day decisions. Scouting was so important to me that I place its importance on my upbringing and foundation second behind my family and far ahead of schooling at a distant third. It’s that significant.
It can have that same effect on your son, too. I strongly suggest that he give it a try. Visit www.scouting.org and click on “join scouting” to find a pack, troop, or scout council near you. Becoming a Scout is a decision your son – and you - won’t regret.
From the 28 September 2015 Greater Niagara Newspapers