A new type of scout for a new age

First Posted: 11/30/2009

This year, Boy Scouts across the country are celebrating a pretty big birthday.
On Feb. 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was officially incorporated and so to mark the 100th anniversary of the program, area scouting organizations are coming together to create a series of events lasting from this past July through the national jamboree in August 2010.
Why is this important? It is important because of everything BSA has to offer to young people, not just boys, and how such an organization can shape who they become. For 100 years the Boy Scouts of America has turned out young people who go on to be leaders in society and in the business community as well as good global citizens.
While there are plenty of people who are great leaders and great global citizens who are not a part of scouting, there does seem to be a plethora who are. What people may not realize is that BSA encompasses so much more than just the Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. There are also Venture Scouts and Explorers through the Learning for Life programs.
The traditional image of the Boy Scouts being strictly a male society is long gone. Both boys and girls can participate in Venture Scouts and be a member of an Explorer Post.
Venturing is a year-round program designed for young men and women ages 14 to 20. This alternative provides a place for older scouts to continue their growth as well as for young women to take part in a scouting organization along side the young men. They can take part in a myriad of activities with the sky as the limit.
The Explorer program allows youth to learn different trades, usually in the public service field. These youth, who have to be 14 years of age, can work with police departments, fire departments and emergency medical services teams to learn the ins and outs of the field.
The Learning for Life program takes place in the classroom and is open to youth from kindergarten through 12th grade. It provides the opportunity for students to learn life lessons as well as developing character traits and self-confidence.
For the 100th anniversary, the organization as a whole is working to make this a memorable year. There are breakfasts and camp-outs as well as many other special programs planned.
It kind of makes me wish I could be a scout now. Growing up we did not have Venturing programs for Explorer Posts to be a part of. There were Boy Scouts and there were Girl Scouts. Thats it.
Nothing against the Girl Scouts, I love their cookies, but growing up, my area Girl Scout Troops were just not my thing. I was never into learning how to sew or spending hours working on arts and crafts projects. That seems to be the extent of the scouting programs for girls that I had access to. I went to a couple of meetings for Brownies and just was not impressed. I am not very artistic so when the core of the meeting was spent drawing, decorating and painting various items, I really did not care to return.
I always wanted to participate in the things the Boy Scouts did. I wanted to go camping, practice archery and shooting and learn how to survive in the wilderness. Learning to read a compass and start a campfire seemed a lot more helpful than learning how to glue buttons onto a picture frame.
Maybe Girl Scouts has changed in recent years, in fact I am sure it has, but when I was growing up, it seemed to be a rather sexist organization. Little girls were supposed to put on their skirts and decorate nice picture frames and keepsake boxes for the elderly while little boys were encouraged to learn to master fire and erect tents.
So hats off to the Boy Scout organization for choosing to expand and make some of the programs available to girls as well. The Girl Scouts still exist and are working towards teaching more useful skills to create a well-rounded experience. But in the meantime, check out a local scouting organization this year to see the many opportunities that can be available to you and your children.
Morgan Wall is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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