Scouting, since its creation by Baden-Powell, has improved and changed lives of youth and volunteers all around the world. It has done this by helping individuals have new opportunities and experiences like camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures. These experiences allow youth to open their minds and hearts to nature. In doing this, Scouting makes people more considerate of the planet and develop confidence in themselves.
Many of my schoolmates either believe that Scouting is only for boys, or that you only learn how to do survival things. For example, I have had people ask me if I know how to start a fire, if I know how to cook food over the fire, or if I know how to swing like Tarzan (Yes, someone actually asked me that!). Scouting is about acquiring necessary life skills such as shopping on a budget, experiments, crafts, first aid, organizational skills, making friends and more!
I would never have thought that a task as simple as packing my bags for camp could have an impact on my life, but thanks to Scouting it helped me become more organized and prepared for my adventures as a Scout and all other aspects of my life.
As a Beaver, I had my very first sleepover when I officially became a member of the Scouting movement. It was a two-night stay in a community centre. My parents and I went shopping on the weekend before the camp and I bought my first sleeping bag, backpack, mat, and raincoat. I usually packed my luggage about one or two days before the camp, and honestly, I would not recommend that to anyone. I remember the hurry I was in, the anxiety and panic I was feeling. I did not have that much to pack, just a few pairs of socks, my pyjamas, a few shirts, my mess kit, and the necessary stuff for an overnight stay. I started packing them and I got distracted quickly (I credit my ADHD for that). I remember going to sleep panicked just to find my bags made by my parents who had to stay up until midnight to finish. I made it through the sleepover smoothly, and I was excited to be a member of this fascinating organization, but I did manage to lose some belongings. Fortunately, it was not hard to find the misplaced items. I also somehow forgot a towel and my mess kit. The next time I went camping it was a winter camp at Awacamenj Mino Scouts site in Quebec, where I managed to lose my brand-new Scouts Canada water bottle in the snow. Legend says you can still find a glow-in-the-dark water bottle there. I also forgot to bring warm wool socks, so I had to go through the freezing winter with one pair. I am still grateful to my Scouter who had a spare pair. This would be my first experience truly understanding the Scouting motto of “Being Prepared”.
Next year, as a Cub, I had my first camp during the fall. My bags were prepared one week in advance and checked by the Scouters. My parents helped me, but I had to control myself, focus, and get things done. This time the packing list was longer, as I had more camping gear, my survival and first aid pack, more clothes, and two different types of boots, which are things I did not have with me during my Beaver years. At almost midnight, my bags were finally ready, after many frustrating moments.
A few years later, I had a fantastic opportunity to be part of the Campanoe Challenge program, a ten day canoeing camp for members of Scouts Canada from all over Saskatchewan. The differences between a ten-day camping trip and a two-day camping trip are not only in the duration of the trip, but in your bags because it depends on what activities you will be joining. Before my camping trip, I used to pack everything! The camp taught me what to do with your wet clothes when you are on a camping trip, what to bring with you on an overnight hike outside the camping area, and what food to bring. Let us say I broke my own “do your bags one day before the camp” rule. This camp, I, with the help of my parents, started packing; I put everything in order, and about two hours and many distractions later, I was all set. This time my gear was even more organized than prior trips. We went to the store and bought my tent, and then prepared to go to Yorkton the day after. During the camp, I applied learned lessons as I managed to keep my tent relatively clean and organized. Fortunately, I was lucky to have a three-person tent to myself so I did not lose anything nor have anything missing during that camp, and I still cannot believe it!
My most recent camp was my fall camp, and it was my first camp as a second-year Scout. It was also the first trip in which I packed by myself. It was more straightforward than last year, as I was more experienced, and I was more organized. I packed all my things efficiently using plastic Ziplock bags, I put all of my Scouting items in one place, and I was happy to realize that I did not miss anything. I was also delighted to see that I did not forget anything either. I enjoyed myself during this camp; canoeing, making fires, and just having fun.
After six years, I find myself more responsible, I have developed organizational skills and started advanced planning. Enjoying the outdoors, cooking my meals, being more accountable for myself, and having greater safety awareness is now part of all aspects of my life. This is how Scouting improved my life, and I am looking forward to more and more adventures. Now, I ask you “How has Scouting changed your life?”