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The Boy Scouts of America – Character and Leadership
One of the first things that comes to mind when we think of a Boy Scout is a good boy, a boy with good values and morals or a boy who helps old ladies cross the street or a boy who can save someone’s life with his awesome first aid skills. This is not entirely an inaccurate impression. Service to others is a core value of BSA. A Boy Scout is much more than that. He’s an ordinary kid like any other kid, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. A Boy Scout goes through a wonderful experiential development that can only be acquired by being a member of the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA is an educational program approved by the United States Congress. The program will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010.
Being enrolled in a local troupe and participating in the program regularly gives boys the opportunity to grow and learn things that aren’t usually taught in school, church, on the playground, or even at home. . The program is unique. It’s gradual and the boys move up the ranks in terms of rank, skill and maturity. He develops the boy during his formative years when he is most impressionable. It teaches responsibility, leadership, autonomy, moral values, patriotism and respect for oneself, others and the environment. Leadership is learned by doing. The troops are led by boys and led by boys. Adult leaders are present only as supervisors. Scouts learn to lead by being patrol leaders and having roles within the troop. They make all the decisions about their program and what they want to do and where they want it to go. The program builds lasting character for boys. The BSA teaches the boys to do the right thing.
A boy must be at least 11 years old or in grade 5 or above to join Scouting. How does a boy get involved? It’s easy. He and his parents or guardians can locate a local troop and visit one of the weekly meetings and meet the boys and the scout leader. He may find that he already knows some of the children in the school or in the neighborhood. The troupes meet weekly at a church, school, or community location such as a library. They wear a uniform which signifies the unity of the organization.
What happens in a meeting? A lot ! The kids work on rank advancement, which involves learning and practicing all kinds of cool skills that the boys love to do anyway. They play games, plan menus for camps, work on merit badges, and more. The merit badge program allows young people to explore 120 different areas of skills and knowledge and is an important and fundamental character-building tool for the program. Scouts can learn a lot from environmental studies, astronomy, marine biology, swimming to communications and outdoor survival skills. Achievement badges build confidence and teach goal setting while introducing boys to activities that often lead to career choices
Scout troops enjoy monthly encampments, whether at a Scout reserve, state park or in the mountain wilderness. Being outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions is where most of the “development” takes place. Scouts learn that they can be self-reliant survivors and leaders no matter what nature throws at them. Pitching a tent or building a shelter from fallen tree branches or even improvising with a trash bag teaches a boy resilience and basic survival skills.
The motto of the BSA is: Be prepared. The boys learn to prepare for anything – a ten-mile hike, an emergency at home, a mighty storm and more. They learn to stay calm in the face of danger and use their leadership skills in any situation, even at age 11. It doesn’t come naturally. Scouts practice, learn and prepare. We have all seen and heard of the heroic efforts of the Boy Scouts and how their quick thinking and purposeful actions saved a life or even how the Scout himself survived being lost in the woods for several days. It really does happen and we are often impressed when it does. There have even been many young Cub Scouts in the news who have taken on a leadership role in an emergency as they are also taught some basic preparedness skills such as what to do if their friend falls through the ice or what do if there is a fire in their home. A recent story told of a Cub Scout saving his choking younger brother. Hero? Not to them. For a scout, it’s just the right thing to do.
The Boy Scouts of America has much to offer today’s youth. It is a family program where parents are always welcome and encouraged to get involved. It is a special place where a boy and his family feel they belong and often form lifelong friendships. Helping young boys become the respected leaders of tomorrow is and always has been BSA’s goal.
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#Boy #Scouts #America #Character #Leadership