By Mat Greenfield
Sep 13, 2013

It’s Not Scouting Without the ‘Outing’!

It’s been said that Scouting is 90% ‘outing’. There’s a reason why that is especially true for LDS Scout units. There’s something magical about the outdoors. There’s something inherently spiritual about being in nature. It has a special effect on young men.

camp-signDavid Pack, current Utah National Parks Council Scout Executive and former head of LDS BSA Relations from 2007-2012, made an eloquent argument for camping in the 2012 Ensign, when he said:

“By the second night around the campfire, you have the most teachable, ready-to-learn, ready-to-listen-to-the-Spirit young men you will ever see. You won’t see them that way in priesthood meeting or at home or at school or on activity night.As a result, there will be an opportunity around that campfire for testimony bearing and teaching that will sink deep into their hearts and that they will remember for a lifetime.” ~ David C. Pack, Why I Love 50 Mile Hikes, Ensign, June 2012

Aside from the spiritual effect of being outdoors, there’s another reason that Scouts are “outdoor animals”.

We know that Scouting is only effective when it’s youth led, and the outdoors provides the perfect environment for practicing youth leadership.

Let me take the monthly campout as an example, and describe some ways that it fulfills the need perfectly:

  • Campouts are similar enLeadershiphikingough from month-to-month for boys to learn and apply lessons from their previous experiences, but different enough that they always present a new challenge.
  • The outdoors provides immediate consequences, but typically not long term ones. As a result, mistakes become effective teaching moments, without any permanent impact.
  • A weekend campout requires just the right amount of planning for boys to handle.
  • A campout has enough moving parts that a youth leader can learn when and how to delegate, but not too many that they are overwhelmed.
  • Weekend camps are generally inexpensive enough one per month is achievable with a modest budget.
  • A weekend camp requires minimal adult supervision, so the youth can really run the show.
  • Weekend camps provide ample opportunity for activities that build confidence and help youth to accomplish hard things.
Like most parts of Scouting, the outdoors only helps us to fulfill our goals when we allow planning and execution to be youth led. Adults play a key role in maintaining safety, as well as in coaching and mentoring, but boys should do as much as they can do. As Baden Powell put it “When you want a thing done, ‘Don’t do it yourself’ is a good motto for Scoutmasters.”

 

Author: Mat Greenfield l Council Trainer, Utah National Parks Council

This post was made public on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at Scouting Liahona under the title, “It’s not Scouting without the ‘outing’.”

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