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I Went to the Woods: A Day with the Boy Scouts

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreau

Recently, my boys and I went into the woods with the Boy Scouts. Tucked into the middle of Cranston is a 100 acre wooded oasis that felt more like the White Mountains of New Hampshire than a spot just minutes outside of Providence. Heavily wooded, with a small lake, streams, winding trails and log cabins, the Narragansett Council Boy Scouts Champlain Scout Reservation is stunning. I was lucky enough to be invited to bring my children along to attend an event showcasing the property and all that the Boy Scouts has to offer. And they gave me coffee. So I love them.

Boy Scouts Narragansett Council Providence Moms Blog after school activities

Muffins = happy children. Coffee = happy adults.

The crew that came along with me was young; the oldest child I brought enters first grade this year, the age at which Cub Scouts begin, but the other three are not yet old enough for Scouts and I worried that the day would bore them, or that they would be too rowdy and immature for the activities planned. But my worry quickly dissipated as I watched the counselors (all current or former Scouts themselves) interact with the kids. Kind, patient and warm, but with an unmistakable authority, my boys hung on their every word all morning long. 
Boy Scouts providence Rhode Island after school activities

Admittedly, they might listen to me more often if I held a bow and arrow.

And I needn’t have been worried that the line up of activities would be boring; they made popsicle stick harmonicas, they hiked through the woods, they tried out an air cannon made out of a trash barrel (possibly the coolest STEM project I’ve ever seen) and, in what was obviously a fan favorite… they did archery! As the boys participated in the activities, played, and explored, I chatted with the staff and other parents about the camp (which is co-ed so that families can send all their kids to the same place) and drank my coffee in relative peace as the kids wandered up the path ahead of me. 

Boy Scouts providence moms blog Rhode Island after school activities
 
I was excited about spending the day with the Boy Scouts because my oldest recently started kindergarten, and as I think about the types of activities I will want to enroll him in, I do so carefully. He will spend long hours in a classroom five days a week, and if I am going to ask him to do even more, I feel strongly that the activity should nourish his soul and be of real value. The Boy Scouts have long boasted of the “Scouting Advantage” and claimed that Scouting builds character. And indeed, a recent study conducted by Tufts University backs up that claim. Over the course of this three year study, children enrolled in Cub Scouts showed positive change in the areas of cheerfulness, helpfulness, obedience, kindness, trustworthiness and hopefulness.
providence moms blog narragansett council boy scouts rhode island kids after school activities
None of this comes as a shock to me, perhaps because my husband is an Eagle Scout. He is also pretty much the best person I know. He is the first person friends call when they need help moving or a hand fixing their house. When we first met (in middle school no less), it was his kindness that first struck me. When we went backpacking (back in our carefree pre-kids days) he built a tripod out of sticks to place over the fire so we could boil a pot water (I still haven’t gotten over being impressed by that). And it’s more than the things he can do; he is a person of integrity, he is hard working, he almost never complains, and he makes life better for everyone around him. I have no doubt that there are many factors that played into my husband’s character development, but I suspect his lifelong involvement with the Boy Scouts played a large role. 
Boy Scouts providence Rhode Island after school activities“I remember climbing on that rock when I was a Scout,” one of the counselors reminisced, as the four boys began to scale a rock. “Should I tell them to get down?” I asked. The counselor’s bemused reply was everything I could have hoped for; “If children can’t run and climb with the Scouts, where can they run and climb?” This is the crux of what I loved about our day and what I love about the Boy Scouts: the children were at once treated as boys AND as men. Quite the opposite of what they normally face. As a whole, our society tends to treat children as incompetent mini adults; they are given very little responsibility and even less respect, but are expected to have the capacity to sit still, control their emotions, and remember all the rules. The Boy Scouts, on the contrary, treated my boys like competent children. They expected and allowed the kids to run and jump, to play and yell. But they also put a bow and arrow in the hands of a six year old. And in doing so in a way that was safe and age appropriate, they began to instill in him an understanding of safety and conveyed to him that he could be trusted with real things. This is a vital message to send children if we want them to grow up to be trustworthy and independent. As a mother and a therapist, I am constantly thinking about how the things I say to and do with my children will shape them. I ask myself if the experiences and activities that I am exposing them to contribute to their development and their character. Will they aid in helping my children to become good people, happy human beings? For me, involvement in the Boy Scouts is a worthy investment of our time in pursuit of that goal. 
 
To learn more about Scouting and find the program nearest you, visit www.BeAScout.org.
At Providence Moms Blog we love having the opportunity to check local places and activities for you. We are grateful to the Narragansett Council Boy Scouts for partnering with us on this sponsored post and assure you that these opinions are our own.

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One Response to I Went to the Woods: A Day with the Boy Scouts

  1. Neil Lupton September 13, 2017 at 7:14 am #

    Hello Ms. Slater,

    I’m so glad you and your boys had such a good experience at Cub Scout camp. It’s what we hope will happen.

    I particularly like your comment about incompetent mini-adults vs competent children. Again, that’s what we hope we do.

    I have the privilege of working as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts nationally. May I (we) have your permission to use the concept of incompetent mini-adult vs competent children in some of our materials?

    Thank you so much,

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