scouts in canoe
While there are many organizations in our nation reaching out to our youth, few have done so with such positive outcomes, rapid growth and lasting effects as the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA. These scouting organizations have played a key role in the development of American youth for almost a century. With over 4 million Boy Scout and Girl Scout members in the United States alone, the success of the youth scouting movement is unmistakable. With a bold vision to reach out across the nation and influence the next generation, the strength of their vision lies in their ability to effectively reach out to the community one boy and girl at a time.
Although some may be unfamiliar with these youth outreach programs, the scouting movement deserves a proper recognition and understanding. The concept of scouting was birthed in England in the late 1800’s and by 1910, many other countries, including America, were joining the highly acclaimed scouting movement.
Central to the scouting movement is the Scout method. As defined by the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the goal of Scouting is “to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities.” While national and international success of the scouting programs are certainly impressive, it is their local presence in our community that speaks volumes to the residents of Collier County.
The Southwest Florida Council is one of about 300 councils under the leadership of the BSA (Boy Scouts of America). The council serves over 30,000 youth in seven counties, including Collier County. The SW Florida Council has recently been awarded four national awards for outstanding service. Council Marketing Director of Southwest Florida Council, Margie Byers, says that “all members of the council and the community should be proud to be a part of the SW Florida Council.” According to Byers, the mission of the BSA is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The BSA defines the Scout Oath and Law as a code of conduct that help instill the values of good conduct, respect for others and honesty.
The Boy Scouts of America has something to offer for the whole family and organization of the BSA is as follows: Tiger Cubs (first graders), Cub Scouts (second and third graders), Webelos Scouts (fourth and fifth graders), Boy Scouts (11-18 year olds) and Venturers (14 to 21 year olds-coed).
While scouting is a year-round program and youth can join any time, the fall is when new members are actively recruited. Cub Scout packs will host School Nights for Scouting in the cafeteria of all Collier County public elementary schools. This is a chance for boys ages 7-10 to become a part of America’s foremost youth program for boys. Parents who are interested should make plans to attend an informational meeting. Families can choose from many different scouting units to find one that’s best suited for their family’s needs. To get more information about BSA, you can contact the Southwest Florida Council at 239-936-8072 or visit www.swflcouncilbsa.org.
Girl Scouts of the USA are considered the largest educational organization for girls in the world and more than 50 million American women have participated in the program during their youth. From Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee to child actress Dakota Fanning, the Girl Scouts have reached across generational, cultural, and societal boundaries to unite both girls and women with a common mission. According to the Girl Scouts of the USA, that mission is to “build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”
“Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. currently has more than 3,200 volunteers committed to helping girls develop strong values, social conscience and conviction about their own potential and self worth,” states Kathy Carol, Director of Public Relations at Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. Carol indicates that in addition to continuing time honored traditions; the Girl Scouts are expanding to include topics such as financial literacy, technology, health, fitness and more. She says that the “topics and issues covered are also designed to meet the current issues that today’s girls are encountering in their every day lives.”
The Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida has something to offer for girls between the ages of 5-17. According to Carol, the “activities are designed to meet the specific needs of each age level, as well as a girl’s interests and skill level,” and the scouts are grouped as follows: Daisy Girl Scouts (ages 5-6), Brownie Girl Scouts (ages 6-8), Junior Girl Scouts (ages 8-11), Cadette Girl Scouts (ages 11-14), and Senior Girl Scouts (ages 14-17). Some of the activities that the girls have enjoyed during the past year include SCUBA certification, diving and snorkeling, horseback riding programs, photography, scrap booking, drama and much more!
You may get more information about joining the Girl Scouts by calling the Collier Scout House at 239-262-5236, by calling Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Service Center in Ft. Myers at 1-800-586-3186 (ask to speak to a membership specialist), or e-mail email@example.com.