My father-in-law, who grew up in New Zealand, was a Queen’s Scout. This is the highest award you can get in the Scouting world across the Commonwealth, and to say he’s proud of this achievement would be an understatement. So imagine his disappointment when not one of his three boys joined Scouts here in Canada.
Thank goodness for grandchildren.
And before you stop reading because you think Scouts is still a “boy thing,” just hold on a minute. Girls can be Scouts now too!
Back in the ‘80s, my only option was Girl Guides. But I know my daughter; she’s a tomboy who loves the outdoors and thrives in environments with both girls and boys, so that’s one reason we opted to go with Scouts Canada this year.
Another is that I can get both of my kids into an extracurricular activity at the same time in the same location every week. And this is GOLD. I don’t always have a partner around to divide and conquer chauffeur duties, so I always need to be really conscious when signing my kids up for stuff that the times don’t conflict.
Even with their age differences — Miss Q being a Cub Scout and The K Man a Scout — we managed to find a group that shares a meeting time. So if you decide to sign up your kids for Scouts, keep in mind when you’re looking around for times and locations that shifting to a location even just five minutes farther away may mean you have the added benefit of being able to streamline your kids’ activities.
Now for the main reasons I want my kids to try Scouts this September:
1. Meet new friends.
It’s been easy for my kids to meet friends over the years because we live on a street full of kids. But I think a lot of the time, we — all of us, not just children — get comfortable with our “pack” and over time forget to keep making an effort. And we can lose the ability over time to stay on top of those important friend-making skills. None of my kids’ friends are Scouts, so it should expose them to a whole new friend group.
2. See more of a tech-free world.
Our house is no stranger to tech, and while I don’t think raising tech-savvy kids is a bad thing at all, I think there’s too much of it at home and school. And while Scouts Canada uses some technology in its programming — like for STEM activities such as robotics or GPS for geocaching (a treasure hunt) — kids won’t be sitting in front of the TV. Scouts will get them active and outdoors, reminiscent of a time before we had access to so many screens; and even if it’s just for that hour-long meeting once a week, they’ll be device-free and engaged with their fellow Scouts face-to-face.
3. Enjoy an outdoor classroom.
Miss Q is rough-and-tumble and comes home with at least four new bruises a day. Her brother, on the other hand, has never worn a hole in a single knee in his life. Both of them, though, need to get more into nature, get dirt under their fingernails and have some hands-on learning experiences in the great outdoors. And since Scouts is a youth-led program, the kids select and plan their own activities and adventures with guidance from Scouters. There won’t be any “I’m bored!” whining and because their path to adventure is self-created, it’ll be even more meaningful.
4. Learn new life skills.
Whether it’s how to build a fire or be a great leader, I believe Scouts will offer my kids many opportunities to learn both soft — listening, working as a team and getting along with others — and hard skills — tangible stuff like reading maps, emergency aid or paddling. The way my father-in-law talks about his experience with Scouts, I know they’ll have a blast and not even realize they’re doing any “learning” at all.
5. Face challenges and have to problem solve without Mom or Dad.
I admit it — we do too much for our kids. We probably step in when we should really let them figure out more on their own. But I’m fierce about protecting those bambinos of mine. They’ll be safe under the watchful eyes of their Scouters, and I trust that they’re trained to step in when they need to. Knowing that my kids will have to do some decision-making as they’re confronted with new challenges during this journey means they have a world of opportunity ahead of them.
6. Increase their self-confidence.
Even if you think your kids have got it all together, even if they’re the cockiest things on the planet, there’s usually an internal war waging when it comes to being truly confident. So few of us who appear confident on the surface really are, and I think anything we can do to foster more of it, the better. The program is designed to help guide them through every stage of life with the kinds of values and confidence that’ll take them far.
One of the things I like most about Scouts Canada is that they have done away with the sashes. The Canadian Path is all about developing well-rounded individuals by getting the kids to participate in a wide range of activities. Yes, there are still badges, but the focus is on a child’s personal journey — not about collecting badges. Instead, think of those badges as milestone markers.
Three cheers for personal introspection and exploration!
But here’s what I LOVE the most out of everything I’ve read and heard about Scouts: rooted in something called the “Scout law,” positivity and trustworthiness are embraced and reinforced, values like kindness and acceptance are cherished, and the kids are encouraged to create a better world.
At the end of the day, I might learn just as much as they do. And we’ll all be better for it.
How to register for Scouts Canada:
Your child’s age determines whether they’re a Beaver Scout, Cub Scout, Scout, Venturer Scout or Rover Scout. Check the Scouts Canada website for the breakdown.
Then, near the top of the Scouts Canada registration page, use the “Find A Group” section to see which groups are nearby and which nights and times they meet. You can even select specific weeknights at this stage if you already have blackout nights due to other commitments.
Finally, complete your registration and wait for the adventure to begin.
Win a one-year Scouts registration!
Your child can join mine on this exciting journey of self-discovery and adventure — because I’m giving away a Scouts Canada membership for the September 2019 to August 2020 Scouting year. The membership is good for any age for which there’s a Scout group. Enter on Instagram. Contest closes June 28/19 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Terms and conditions in the Instagram post. ARV $200.
DISCLAIMER: Scouts Canada compensated me for this post. My kids really are registered for Scouts in the fall and all of the opinions and expectations expressed here are my own.