The Scout Camp That Changed My Life For Good
Ask any American what they think of when you say “Boy Scouts” and the vast majority will mention camping and hiking in the outdoors. It is as American as baseball, hotdogs, or apple pie. In fact, as I was growing up, it was a rite of passage for one out of every three boys in this nation.
I had just turned 12 when I went to my first camp–what an adventure. From a nearby stream, we hauled water in large, but new galvanized garbage cans. That was some work! But the reward was a mid-week bath.
We heated water in a 55 gallon drum that drained into an open air bath tub. It was the first time I ever had to use someone else’s water; I think I was third in line [yuck]. Did I mention open air; I had never in my life sat on an open-air box-latrine just after rain. Now that’s an eye opener in the early morning hours.
That aside I watched in wonder as 16 year old Explorer earned the Paul Bunyan Award, chopping down a tree, splitting and cutting the entire thing into usable 18” lengths. Just adjacent to this exciting activity was a monkey bridge. I asked the Explorer’s father about it. This opened an 18 month relationship between the two of us as I learned knots, splices, lashings and made my own rope. I went on to build many monkey bridges. In fact, by 16, I was on staff at this camp teaching pioneering to other Scouts.
It was that single activity and relationship that would propel me into the mission field and home again to become a Scoutmaster. (Did I mention my mission toilet—thank goodness I had already had that trauma when I was twelve.)
Camp is an experience every youth deserves. And there’s nothing quite like watching a Scout’s face light up with the joy of discovering new friends, the pride of accomplishment, and the wonder that nature offers.
While the association of Boy Scouts and the fun of outdoor adventure is a natural one, it is perhaps more important to understand that camping experiences provide more than just fun.
Unplugged from the constant buzz of computers, television, video games, and cell phones, youth find themselves at camp — making genuine connections with other Scouts, rediscovering the fun in physical undertakings, finding their own strengths, and becoming aware of their own voice.
BSA is committed to providing a program that systematically addresses the important elements of healthy youth development and camp is the best place to do it. Camp offers Scouts the opportunity to participate in physically and intellectually challenging activities, introduces them to new and rewarding experiences, and provides them with supportive and caring relationships, just like the ones I found at my first camp.
The long-term goal is to prepare young people to achieve their full potential for happy and productive lives. Consider joining us at one of twelve camps we offer our youth.
Author: Darryl Alder | Director of Support Services, Utah National Parks Council