The Boy Scout Lessons You Still Need Today

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Since scouting began in 1910, more than 110 million Americans have participated in the Boy Scouts of America. Scouting.org reports that in 2013 alone, Scouts earned over 2 million merit badges, and nearly 57,000 Scouts earned the coveted Eagle Scout rank. Former Scouts include 18 governors, 191 members of Congress, 36.4 percent of West Point cadets and 181 astronauts. Scouts go on to become leaders in other areas of life because the lessons scouting teaches are valuable life lessons.

If you’re a former Scout, you learned many lessons you probably apply to many areas of your life without necessarily realizing it. Pausing periodically to refresh your memory on what scouting teaches can help you be better prepared for many situations that come up in everyday life, in outdoor adventures, and in emergencies.

Preparation for Survival

“Be prepared” sums up a fundamental lesson in scouting which applies to many adult situations. Scouts learn to apply it when camping, where it comes in handy for tasks such as packing a backpack, pitching a tent, building a fire and cooking food. A mindset of preparation also puts you in a position of strength when tackling challenges such as studying for school, job hunting, financial planning, starting a business or building a house. Being prepared also makes you better equipped to handle unexpected emergencies such as first-aid situations, auto accidents and financial crises.

To prepare for emergencies, remember the STOP strategy: Stop, Think, Observe, Plan. Stopping to take a deep breath reminds you not to panic. Think and use your brain instead, remembering the survival strategies you’ve learned. Observing enables you to size up your situation, whether it involves handling outdoor variables such as terrain and weather or other situations such as health or financial emergencies. Planning then empowers you to prioritize your needs and develop a strategy to handle the situation intelligently.

Getting in the habit of planning can also help you avoid getting into emergencies in the first place. For instance, Boy Scouts know that safety comes first when handling firearms. A Boy Scout knows instinctively that guns should be stored safely in a proper gun safe. This makes a home owned by a former Boy Scout less likely to become the scene of a home shooting accident tragedy.

Do Your Duty

The Scout Oath teaches to do your duty to God, country, other people, and your own physical, mental and moral well-being. Taking this oath seriously and putting it into practice entails a huge range of applications, from keeping your body in good shape to becoming a leader in your civil and religious community.

It can even save lives, as former scout Wes Siler recalls. Siler recounts how his Scout training enabled him to save a choking victim in a pub by using the Heimlich maneuver. He’s also helped drowning victims and car accident victims by applying what he learned in Scouts. Some might regard such actions as heroic, but to an Eagle Scout, these are just examples of doing your duty. In nonemergency situations, the same commitment to duty comes in handy, whether it involves doing your fair share of work at your job or taking charge of organizing a family camping trip.

Live up to Scouting Values

The Scout Law teaches the 12 points of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. As with the Scout Oath, applying this has many practical applications in adult life, from being a trustworthy employee at work to respecting the natural environment out of reverence towards God. The Scout subsidiaryLearning for Life puts these principles into practice with programs that hone these character traits along with confidence and social skills to prepare youth for career decisions and leadership roles. Another way you can hone these skills and apply them outdoors is by volunteering to assist with your local BSA council.

Practicing the Outdoor Code

The Outdoor Code teaches Scouts to respect the outdoors by being clean outside, careful with fire, considerate and conservation-minded. One application of this that applies for both scouting and adult camping is leaving a campsite the way you found it after you’re done camping. Extending this principle into other areas of life implies being conscientious of how your lifestyle affects the environment around you. Whether this means conserving energy, cleaning up your campsite, or picking up around your house, the Outdoor Code represents a set of principles that Scouts of any age can put into practice.