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.