Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Boy Scouts raise a flag during a ceremony in Pima.
Column By Andy Price/CEO Boy Scouts of America’s Grand Canyon Council
The Boy Scouts of America’s Grand Canyon Council turned 100 last year. Much has changed over the past century but there is one thing that hasn’t changed and that is the Scout motto – “Be Prepared”.
The Grand Canyon Council (GCC) delivers Scouting programs throughout most of Arizona, a small part of southern Utah, and a small part of southwestern New Mexico. GCC has learned to adapt and evolve through the years and prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive. All youth, regardless of gender, are welcome in Scouting.
“What and how we teach kids in Scouts is changing,” said GCC Director of Field Services Davis Fox. “The tradition of teaching skills to help kids build strong values so they can go on to lead successful lives, discover and build character in fun and engaging ways hasn’t changed. What has been enhanced is the blend of recreational and educational activities that allow members of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders to explore the outdoors, try new hobbies, learn new skills, serve their community, and build relationships with families and friends.”
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) continues to make great strides to be an organization inclusive of everyone and representative of a diversified group of young people searching for meaning and purpose beyond screen time, video games, and pandemic isolation. To reach kids today, GCC offers many new, exciting projects that are rooted in S.T.E.M. like coding and robotics, as well as the first-of-its-kind Drone Camp. And, as they have since 1910, Scouting is focused on environmental conservation teaching Scouts how to respect and protect our land and natural resources.
While many families are struggling to keep their children unplugged, active, and engaged, the choices seem to fall under sports or hobbies. Scouting is unique in that it offers both. Depending on your child’s age and interests there are many different options.
Cub Scouting is a family-centered program for children who are in kindergarten through fifth grade. Scouts BSA is a single-gender program with separate troops for boys and girls ages 11-18 and offers fun outdoor opportunities and peer group leadership. In these the Scout Motto, “Be Prepared” is taught, and recognized worldwide.
Venturing is a co-ed program of Scouting that focuses on outdoor and hobby activities as well as a relaxed peer leadership program for kids who are less interested in badges and rank advancement. Exploring is another co-ed program, for those ages 14-20, that provides jobsite-based school to career opportunities to explore career and vocational opportunities.
And Scouting is a family activity! Families looking for an opportunity to connect with their kids and help them on their journey toward building leadership skills and developing character should consider Scouting. One of the main components that make Scouting meaningful, safe, and fun is family participation and inclusion. Cub Scouting is designed as a family-first program and research shows that family relationships are strengthened through Scouting.
Even though Scouting offers many new and exciting S.T.E.M.-focused activities, it is still firmly rooted in outdoor adventure. “Scouts is different from many other extracurricular activities,” said Fox. “It allows kids to experience the vast outdoors by offering activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing. We live in one of the most amazing states in the U.S. and in Scouting, we explore as much of it as we can.”
In addition to outdoor activities, Scout’s kids participate in many community outreach programs that help them with communication skills and teach them empathy. Whether it’s collecting food for local food banks to help feed those experiencing food insecurity or placing flags on the graves in the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery on Memorial Day, these lessons won’t be lost on Scouts.
Whether you are looking for a large or small neighborhood troop, GCC can help you find the perfect match for your child and your family. Please visit www.grandcanyonbsa.org for more information or visit https://BeAScout.org to join today. Members can join Scouting anytime during the year with many troops focused on bringing in new youth at the beginning of the new year.