From the Chief: Get our Scouts outside!

AS WE LOOK AHEAD to our second century, our outdoor programs are more vital than ever. Last Child in the Woods author Richard Louv writes about the huge gap between children and the outdoors and how that leads to higher rates of obesity, attention disorders, and depression. At the Boy Scouts of America, we can’t stand by and let that trend continue. Our heritage and passion for the outdoors won’t allow it.

The leadership skills our young people learn while hiking, camping, and being stewards to the outdoors are lessons that last for a lifetime. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep the outdoor adventures that have been the foundation of our movement vibrant and exciting.

We’ve witnessed great momentum in our outdoor programs during 2011. All three of our high-adventure bases—Philmont, Northern Tier, and the Florida Sea Base—saw record attendance last year. Our high-adventure numbers were well ahead of the 40,000 we recorded for 2010.

And we are doing all we can to build on that excitement. This summer, we’ll celebrate our one-millionth trail hiker at the Philmont Scout Ranch. In July, 2,000 Scouts will test-drive our new high-adventure camp and national Scout reserve, the Summit. And the Summit’s opening will follow a year later.

Whether it’s a summer journey to a high-adventure camp, a weekend overnight trip to a local camp, or a hike through the woods at a state park, the mission is all the same. These terrific outdoor experiences bring wonder, joy, confidence, camaraderie, and a strong sense of independence to each and every Scout who has the opportunity to take part. It’s our job to bring that quality Scouting experience to as many young people in as many communities where we can rally support.

We have seen millions of young people grow into strong adults thanks to the skills Scouting provides through its outdoor classroom. As we anticipate our next 100 years, we need to continue to bring outdoor adventures to our Scouts in new and exciting ways. America’s future relies on these young people, and our work in the outdoors helps inspire the great leaders our country needs.


  1. How can I find a group with a leader I can believe will be a reliable role model for my son. We are in Madrid Spain.

  2. Unfortunately, I think the time for BSA has come and gone.

    And BSA has become such a business that they’ve become more interested in protecting themselves than they are the boys.

    • To B: Wow. Seriously? We’ve been with Scouts less than a decade, so I can’t speak to how the red tape has changed beyond that, but clearly in a sue-happy society everyone has to protect themselves. But I’m really surprised you think the BSA is somehow not relevant.

      Perhaps you should survey the kids who aren’t in Scouts and ask them if they’ve ever biked a hundred miles, spent a week backpacking, shot an arrow, recovered a canoe, performed first aid, cooked in the wilderness, kayaked, whitewater rafted, survived outdoors in freezing weather, rappelled, camped, climbed the tallest peak, know the principals of Leave no Trace, slept out under the stars, built something with wood, tied a knot, shot a rifle, planted a tree, put up a tent, built a campfire, caught a fish, or used a compass to figure out their location on a map. Chances are the average American boy today would be hard pressed to say they’ve tried any of these things. Then ask your average Eagle Scout and see what they say.

      If troops aren’t getting out, it probably has less to do with BSA red tape than it does with leaders fearing the outdoors, or not being physically fit enough to handle it.

      Last Child in the Woods is a great book by the way, available at, and I give it 5 stars! ☺

  3. Bob, You are where I thought you would be lo those many years ago when we worked together. Thanks for always caring for the Youth of America.

  4. I’d like to less emphasis on the national facilities – that scouts may get to use once in their lifetime (only 40,000 per year) – and more help from national in maintaining the hundreds of local facilities that are used by millions of kids every year. It’s hard to recruit new scouts or introduce young people to the outdoors when you have one overbooked under-maintained facility serving people from thousands of square miles (in populated coastal areas).

    If you want to encourage getting outdoors and truly affect the health and fitness of youth and adults, you need to have great LOCAL, convenient, safe, well-maintained facilities.

    PS. Has anyone looked at how they national facilities separate the “haves” fro the “have nots” and how that may affect troop dynamics and goals of “uniform” inclusion? We have several kids and families that cannot afford to go on these big trips. Does national have a plan to answer: “Want to go to Philmont? Here’s what you need to do raise and save enough money over the next xxxx years…” I don’t think popcorn will cover it.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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