Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

February 25, 2014

CONFER: The importance of Boy Scouts in America

Niagara Gazette — What do Gerald Ford, Neil Armstrong, and William DeVries have in common?

All of them were members of the Boy Scouts of America who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and went on to do great things.

That begs the question: Would they have contributed to society as much as they did were they not scouts? Would they have led our nation, walked on the moon, or transplanted hearts? Maybe. Maybe not.

What can be said with some certainty, though, is that the BSA had a significant impact on their lives and is partially responsible for what drove them to greatness. It taught them lessons on the values of community, work ethic and leadership which cannot be found in schools, sports or in many homes. It has done so for millions of young men since its inception in 1910, inspiring, if not creating, yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.

The Scouting program is just as important now as it was at it dawning 104 years ago -- and it could even be argued that it might have greater significance today. It’s the perfect outlet for youth and it can help them overcome some of the obstacles in their paths.

There’s a lot missing in boy’s lives nowadays: Their outdoor pursuits have taken a back seat to new-fangled electronics, they don’t share the same bond with their real-world communities that they do with their trivial Internet communities, their schools have totally lost sight of civic education, and they struggle to find continuity in broken homes which, sadly, have become too commonplace.

The BSA addresses all those issues and then some. Camping and other outdoor activities are the cornerstone of the Scouting program, using the struggles and successes of pastoral adventure as a source of experiential learning, teaching the boys a wide variety of skills accompanied by a powerful mix of leadership, teamwork, self-reliance and self-confidence.

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