When I worked in the Cub Scout division in the early 90s I had to read a lot of research about the developmental needs of boys as part of my job. I still keep an eye on it, and every once and a while some research really catches my attention. A few years ago I read about a new body of study that showed the importance of getting out in nature to the healthy development of youth.
While I have always loved Scouting’s outdoor program, have understood that it was a major part of the attraction of Scouting, and thought that our outdoor program was important, I often made the mistake of discounting it as the “fun part” in favor of our leadership and service training.
I thought that funders and the community were more interested in leadership and service. I would say that we were not a hiking and camping club and that the outdoor program we offer was how we attracted boys – and their dads – to Scouting so that we could develop their character.
But I was wrong. Those things are important, but getting young men outdoors is source at least as important as the other things that Scouting teaches.
In retrospect, considering my outdoor program background, all I have read about youth development, and my admiration of men like Waite Phillips – who gave us Philmont because of his belief that outdoor education was vital and that the BSA was the best at providing that education – I am surprised that I have not had a better understanding of something so obvious earlier. I guess that sometimes we really are too close to something to really see it until it kicks us in the teeth.
That research, and the publication of the related book, go site Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv really elevated the value of our outdoor program in my mind.
I urge you to read the book, and of the sequel The Nature Principle. On the back cover of Last Child it says: (The author) “directly links the absence of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: obesity, attention disorders, and depression. This is the first book to bring together a body of research indication that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.”
I have always been convinced that there is no program, properly run, that is as comprehensive in the development of a young person as Scouting. After reading cheap orlistat singapore Last Child in the Woods I am even more convinced, and even less surprised that so many of our alumni are the leaders of our community and nation.
I will have more on this in future posts.