From the Chief: The outdoor classroom

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 this 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 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’re 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 Bechtel Reserve. 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. Where can I get more information about the National Outdoor Challenge Unit award? I understand it has replaced the National Camping Award. I haven’t been able to find much other than the application. It’s not even listed in the “Outdoor Awards” drop-down menu on this site.

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