Into the Woods

How a week at summer camp strengthens Scouts and Scouting.

Photograph by Dan Bryant

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT that first weeklong camp experience that can be difficult to put into words. It’s the midnight hush of the deep woods, the sweetness of the distant wood-smoke, and the warmth from the campfire as it glows orange against the thickening darkness.

For our Scouts, there’s always plenty of fun—honing skills as they sleep under the stars, cooking outdoors, hiking, fishing, canoeing, bicycling, reading a map and compass, learning about GPS and geocaching, and practicing first aid.

Summer camp represents a healthy alternative that not only builds strength and stamina but also brings our Scouts closer to nature and the environment we all share. It’s an important time of transition for many Scouts as they begin the journey into manhood and learn the importance of leadership, respect for others, and the core values we teach behind the Scout motto, slogan, Oath, and Law.

Our patrol method helps Scouts work through summer camping’s many challenges, such as keeping fed, warm, sheltered, and safe. Through this problem-solving, they grow, mature, and bond with one another.

Let’s also not forget that sharing the adventure of summer camp knows no boundaries. Many Scouts who attend summer camp—more than 60 percent—are there for the very first time. These new Scouts serve as our lifeline as we build growth for Scouting through the next century. And drawing Scouts to camp opens the door to recruit new adult leaders who are willing to join units so that they can spend time at camp with their son and his friends.

That’s why I’m challenging our volunteer leaders to have their troops geared up and ready to offer a wonderful summer camp experience to as many Scouts as possible in 2011 and beyond. It’s vital to our mission to get our Scouts into the outdoors, at whatever level they can participate.

So clean out the trailers, organize the chuck boxes, and mend the tents. Get your Scouts to summer camp!

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