I maintain, the MAJORITY of today’s Scouts love the kind of woodsy activities that provide old-fashioned, outdoor fun that’s involving and challenging. I further maintain MOST members of our organization feel camping and backpacking in the great outdoors are Scouting’s MAIN attraction. Even today, with all the appeal of the internet and advances in technology, Scouting is still outing—the kind of outing done primarily in wooded areas surrounded by nature. There’s simply no app for the experiences and memories born in that setting.
Of course, the BSA has to be concerned with keeping up with changing times. This makes sense. Creating interest and attracting new members is contingent on the assurance that what Scouting provides is YOUTH-RELEVANT! But, amidst the wide spectrum of diverse, new offerings available in today’s Scouting program, I even further maintain there’s always an irresistible fascination with what can be termed, “Old School Scouting,” i.e. the magical way things were done in the woods before the advent of all the mesmerizing, modern technology in the forefront of today’s society.
As evidenced in the present BSA literature and advancement program, there is a pronounced de-emphasis in traditional camping approaches—both in the front and backwoods. It is undeniable, and it appears we are straying further and further away from the traditions provided by BSA’s founders: Ernest Thompson Seton and Daniel Carter Beard. I wrinkle my brow and ask, “Where’s all that great information and those inspiring descriptions illustrated by photos of real Scouts lighting a fire with a bow and drill or flint and steel, cooking a meal without utensils over a wood fire, or building a bridge using only ropes and poles over a creek?” It’s both irrelevant and a copout to simply dismiss or try to explain away this “dumbing down” of timeless campcraft skills by pointing to the principles of Leave No Trace. There is no correlation!
Once again, I maintain these and NUMEROUS other useful and fun techniques and activities can and still do contribute to the real appeal of even modern-day Scouting. It’s apparent, hand in hand with the world-class skateboard park at the Summit, the exciting addition of the STEM/Nova program, and all the “high adventure for the mind” merit badges like space exploration, digital technology, and robotics, a large population of today’s Scouts are STILL greatly enamored with acquiring the skill sets revolving around wilderness survival, the building of an impressive pioneering structure, and the creation of an awesome campsite. (See “Ideal Camp According to Baden-Powell” ) When it comes to hearing the “Voice of the Scout,” let’s make sure our youth are given the opportunity to choose that special outdoor voice that always has been and still is at the very heart of the experiences our movement has offered since our beginnings—the kind of rewarding, basic and challenging experiences that can only be found in Scouting!
NOTE: Nothing is being proposed that would even remotely affect or conflict with low impact camping and the principles of Leave No Trace!