“Be prepared by learning too do hard things. A young man will gain confidence, learn leadership skills and prepare for the future as a son of God.” – Pillar 4 of the Six Pillars of Being Prepared
Scouting’s laboratory for growth is the outdoors; we are a camping organization. When you stop to think about it, a year of Scouting at mutual activities is about 50 hours. If your unit camps regularly (BSA suggests 10 days and nights a year) you can add another 150 hours to a boy’s time in Scouting—time to learn, grow, explore, gain confidence, and try hard things (if you don’t think camping in the snow is hard, just try a night in a sleeping bag in the deep winter woods).
There are many benefits from camp, but here are ten ways we build confidence in boys outdoors.
1. At camp, boys make new friends.
Being away from home has its adjustments, but separation from family, school, and social expectations lets kids relax and make friends easily. This is a lifetime skill that fosters confidence that when a child is on his own he can build his own connections.
2. All the fun at camp draws everyone as a quorum together
Singing, laughing, talking, playing, cooking, cleaning, competing against other Scout quorums, and doing almost everything together strengthen a boy’s self-assurance. Camp is a close-knit community where everyone must agree to cooperate and respect each other, share chores, resolve disagreements, and see firsthand the importance of sincere communication. Camp builds teamwork and quorums.
3. Camping connects a boy with nature
He lives in its expanse, escaping the narrow experience of modern indoor life. Outdoor experiences enrich a boy’s perception of the world and support healthy child development.
4. Camping shows a boy he can face danger even if he is afraid
Scouting teaches boys to be brave and to have self-confidence so they are able to remain calm in any situation. They learn the darkness of night and expanse of nature will not hurt them. They return home more sure of their abilities without a parent to protect them.
Solving problems and working together at Buck Hollow on their first overnighter away from home, helps new Scouts grow in a big way
5. Youth gain confidence when they have meaningful work
Swimming a mile is always a victory, but in the cold waters of Scofield Reservoir, boys emerge confident men.
Boys gain a positive sense of self-worth and usefulness through serving others at camp as they clean up campsites, clean up after meals, and serve food. Camps are structured to encourage boys to spend time working and playing socially in ways that seldom happen outside of camp. Scouts collaborate with other youth, participate in group decision making and activities and help resolve interpersonal conflicts. Many parents are surprised by the can-do attitude their boy comes home with.
6. Camp promotes physical fitness
Children spend a lot of time indoors these day, mostly sitting down, but camp provides a great opportunity to move. Running, swimming, jumping, hiking, climbing! Something about action stimulates a boldness and inner-strength in boys.
7. Success at camp builds confidence
Earning badges, hitting a bulls-eye, swimming a mile, doing hard things like climbing a wall or scaling a pole to the high ropes course, all strengthen a young man’s self-esteem by removing the kind of academic, athletic and social competition that shapes their lives at school. Camp life is a real boost for young people. There’s accomplishment every day.
8. Camp is the perfect place for kids to practice making decisions for themselves without parents and teachers guiding every move.
Managing their daily choices in the safe, caring environment of camp helps kids develop who they are. The kind of encouragement Scouts receive at camp makes it a great environment to endure setbacks, try new (and thereby maybe a little frightening) things, and see that improvement comes when you give something another try. Camp helps conquer fears.
Climbing “The Wall” at Entrada
9. When kids take a break from TV, cell phones, and the Internet, they rediscover their creative powers and engage the real world—real people, real activities, and real emotions
They realize there’s always plenty to do, even without electronic devices. Camps provide the right instruction, equipment and facilities for kids to enhance their sports abilities, their artistic talents, and their adventure skills. The sheer variety of activities offered at camp makes it easy for kids to discover and develop what they like to do. Camp expands every teen’s abilities.
10. Camp builds relationships with adults, which in turn give great confidence in the work-a-day world or mission field
At camp, your teenager is likely to receive positive feedback from both peers and adults. As well as receiving praise from you as a parent, when they return to report their accomplishments, they will long remember staff and adults who said “Good job!”
For our own daughter, who has worked at camps for six years, we can see the effect on her work ethic and service orientation (Read what another mom thinks about camp staff here). But most important, she is confident being in front of groups, talking and interacting. Solving problems with other camp staff has given her self-confidence in other group settings. Adults and young adults show youth participants a high level of respect, and this will add to their confidence. Camp offers this setting over and over.
When men look back at their time in Scouting, they say that Scouting built their confidence; that they gained the courage to overcome problems and adversity throughout their lives. Most Scouts, especially those with five or more years tenure in Scouting programs, rate themselves as having excellent self-confidence. In fact, Scouts rate their self-confidence significantly higher than do boys who have never been Scouts.1
There is still some room at our camps for individual boys, quorums, whole wards and stakes. Register soon; not only will you get a great summer Scouting adventure, you’ll find your self-confidence skyrocketing. Go to www.utahscouts.org/camps to find more information and to get registered. If your son or daughter is older than 15 years and you want them to serve on camp staff, click here: Camp Staff Summer Employment
1Summer Camp Outcomes Study, Harris Interactive.
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA served on camp staff beginning at age 16, learned to love the outdoors there and how teach others. As an adult he directed camps and high adventure bases for BSA for 15 years throughout the Western Region.