Get Adventurous, Improve Health With Scouting
Oct. 19, 2023
Being a parent isn’t easy. Headlines report high rates of mental health concerns among children and teenagers. Children today spend less time outside than any other generation. With activities, homework and other obligations, it can be hard for parents to find time to spend with their kids.
Enter Scouting. Girl Scouts of the USA say that spending time outdoors can improve young girls’ mental well-being. And Boy Scouts of America can give families a chance to reconnect with one another and the state’s natural resources.
“Boy Scouts gave me time with my sons and the opportunity to be adventurous outdoors, teaching them tasks and trades,” says Mike Harris, president of the Indian Waters Council in the Midlands and vice president of major group sales and marketing at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.
Harris’ two sons went through Boy Scouts when they were young, and he got involved with them.
“Scouting was significant to me in the relationship with my boys. I want to make sure that other family members, other dads or moms, have that same opportunity. Scouting isn’t just for boys anymore. It is a family event now,” he says.
Studies show that family relationships play a central role in health and well-being throughout a person’s life. Getting involved with an organization like Boy Scouts not only creates quality time, but it has a range of other benefits.
“Scouting teaches kids values, to be accountable and trustworthy. It teaches you that you aren’t a lone wolf and how to work as a team,” Harris says.
Spending time outdoors also promotes health and well-being. Boy Scouts focus on learning how to be prepared outdoors and how to take care of the environment, Harris says. This can be important for children who spend more time using devices. That time can damage children’s mental health.
“The majority of kids don’t leave the perimeter of their yard. Kids just don’t get to go out and go adventure anymore. And parents are busy. They don’t have the time or resources for that. Scouting gives them the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, appreciate the outdoors and experience that with their family,” Harris says.
Joining a local troop also gets children to explore South Carolina’s natural resources.
“We have some beautiful wonders right here in our state, from the waterfalls in the Upstate to the barrier islands and salt marshes on the coast. You don’t have to travel far to see beautiful landscapes. It is right here in our backyard,” Harris says.
Scouting teaches kids conservation and self-sufficiency. It also teaches them survival skills, like first aid and CPR.
“What is exciting is that if the parents are engaged, the parents get to learn as well,” Harris says.
Harris encourages parents to not be intimidated if they haven’t spent a lot of time outdoors. This is where Boy Scouts can help.
“You pick what you feel like you can jump into. Scouting is there to help along the way, to answer questions and to provide supplies and materials,” he says. “Anybody and everybody is welcome, and signing up is easy.”
South Carolina has four Boy Scouts councils across the state. Many troops meet in local churches or schools. There is a troop near you no matter where you live, Harris says.
Learn more about Boy Scouts.
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