Balanced Scouting Activities


What are balanced Scouting activities? This time of year I get colorful brochures in my actual mailbox (if you look outside your house there’s probably a little tin container that people put paper documents called ‘mail’ in periodically, it’s a quaint custom) and my email inbox  from amusement parks, sporting venues, whitewater rafting companies and all manner of similar entertainments. I get advertisements for merit badge fairs, specialty camps and other ‘canned’ activities too.

They’d like me to bring my Troop to their venue for a day or weekend of fun and ‘adventure’. Sometimes there’s even a snapshot of smiling Scouts having the time of their lives, looks like a great idea at first.

Ski trips, tours, lock-ins, amusement parks, sports games, and the like aren’t (in and of themselves) bad things for Scouts to do. But how, precisely, do they achieve the aim of Scouting? Do they offer something that Scouts do for themselves or something that is presented to them?

What our patrols are doing throughout the year ought to look like a well-balanced meal; good nutritional value that provides the elements a growing mind and body need. A handful of cookies or a piece of cake? Sure, every once in a while, but not instead of a balanced meal.

Should Scouts do purely fun, entertaining things? Of course they should! But fun isn’t limited to entertainment or excitement. There’s a lot of fun in challenge, hard work, and service to others.

Should Scouts earn merit badges at fairs and museums and the like? Sure they should!  There’s also a lot to be gained from the process of finding a counselor, setting up meetings and  completing a badge.

It’s not just whether the activity is difficult or easy. Ask this question of any activity; Is this something they are doing for themselves of something being done for them? The answer will usually tell you whether or not they are getting all the ‘nutritional’ value Scouting has to offer.



  1. Deaf Scouter & Eagle Mom says

    You really had me cracking up over your first paragraph on the ‘tin’ box. Mine sometimes can go three weeks before I check since everything important is emailed.

    One of the things I like is those ‘Scouting’ Rally events is they can become a family vacation trip while practicing Scouting values while also giving a discounted price yet a Scouting program event that takes a load of leaders. We do so much camping that doing a couple of these kind of Scouting Rally event is a nice twist, yet a learning experience for youth leaders.

  2. says

    Boys do want to have fun, and Scouting gives them the opportunity to do things they could not otherwise do. These packaged “tours” and other special events like Scout sleepovers at the ballpark are a good way to provide it, but it’s important to “keep the main aim in view” (which has become my mantra). Most of a troop’s outings should be Scouting-related, where boys can practice leadership in the outdoors. Just as it’s fine to have a piece of cake as long as you’ve eaten your veggies, occasional museum trips, skiing, etc., are fine, as long as the rest of the program is being conducted as intended.

  3. NorCalJen says

    I do believe this also applies to Cub Scout program planning. It is hard for the boys (or more truthfully, their parents) to narrow it down to just a couple of “treats”, but aquarium, zoo, and submarine overnights are much more meaningful and less a drain on resources when one or two are carefully selected and placed on the calendar among more simple and less costly outdoor activities like hiking or sports day at a local park.