The countdown to Christmas is on and the stores are packed with people trying to find the perfect gift for the loved ones in their lives. The toy aisles especially are clogged up as parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles all try to find the right gift for that special kiddo. The same with the electronics department- people staring at video games and wondering if it’s a good gift.
Lately, I’ve been embracing experience gifts. Instead of one more THING to clutter up my house, experience gifts like memberships and trips make longer lasting memories. It’s the gift of togetherness, quality time, and love over one more item in the toy bin.
Scouting with the BSA
Long time blog readers know how much I adore the BSA’s scouting program. The Cub Scout program (grades K-5) exposes kids to the great outdoors in a family setting. In this over scheduled world, it’s a carved out corner to spend quality time with your child while having new experiences together. Cub Scouts is learning about the great outdoors, about patriotism, and service to others. It’s field trips to museums, hiking, and fishing.
When your child goes to middle school, they cross over into the ScoutsBSA program where they foster independence and go on real adventures. They learn leadership and confidence in this scout-led program. This isn’t where the adults plan and set up tents and cook- the adults are there to make sure everyone is safe, and the kids are the ones to pitch the tents, build the fire, cook (and clean up) the meals. ScoutsBSA is camping and caving and kayaking. It’s learning navigation, mastering first aid and survival techniques, it’s giving back to the community and learning respect for all people. It’s saving money and learning to spend on a budget, it’s making smart choices and practicing compassion for all people. If the zombie apocalypse ever happens, I know I’ll be following my daughter because she will know how to handle herself.
Scouting Builds Character
But beyond just learning life skills and going on adventures, scouting is about character. The program focuses on learning kindness and respect, about service to others, and being thrifty. Every rank requirement all points back to these core values in scouting.
Scouting was put to the test over the course of three years, when a research team from Tufts University worked with the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council to measure the character attributes of both Scouts and
non-Scouts — all with a goal of better understanding the character development of youth as it was happening.
The project, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and led by Dr. Richard M. Lerner, surveyed nearly 1,800 Cub Scouts and nearly 400 non-Scouts under age 12 using both interviews and survey data. In the beginning, there were no signicant dierences in character attributes between the two groups. By the end, however, the differences were striking in several areas.
What about girls joining?
For those of you concerned about the girls joining, Cub Scouts is family-style. Many packs are co-ed, but each den (group of kids in the same grade) is not. Cub Scouts has always been a family program, however, so the sisters were always there- they just get to wear a uniform now. ScoutsBSA (6th grade through 18 years old) is NOT co-ed. Boy Troops and Girl Troops are independent, so you don’t have to worry about teenage girls and boys camping together in the woods. The girls are not taking away from your son’s safe space to be himself- your son’s troop hasn’t changed.
Give the Gift of Scouting
Scouting makes a wonderful gift for any birthday or holiday. A year’s membership to a Pack or a Troop, a uniform, or other gear from the Scout Shop will give that special child in your life skills, adventures, strong character development, confidence, and leadership. It’s a much longer-lasting gift than a plastic toy or video game- you’d be gifting that child a year’s worth of memories to last a lifetime.
Find a scouting unit near you with this website! Many units offer online applications and you can join immediately- just in time to have that uniform under the Christmas tree.
And if you have a scout already, the Scout Shop has some great gifts. (in fact, that link will take you to the Scouting Gift Guide for some great ideas)
I know my 12-year-old’s wish list this year includes the Rainbow pocket knife, a camping hammock, and a ton of other camping gear at the scout shop.
Current deals and sales
Thorlo Socks are buy 2 or more and get 25% off (These are basically the best hiking socks EVER)
For Tigers (First Graders), you get $3 off when you buy a Tiger Hat and a T-Shirt together
It’s pinewood derby season! The Scout Shop has your official derby kit and a TON of accessories to make your car looking the best. Speed and style is a winning combination.
By the way, this is NOT a sponsored post. The BSA did not ask me to write about this. I just love scouting and all it’s done for my children and wanted to share! It really is a fantastic gift idea, especially for those of you out there frustrated with the amount of clutter in your home.