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Guest Opinion: Scouting can help parents make an impact on their children

Another year has come and gone and you get the feeling it went by faster than the year before. It feels as though your life gets busier and busier with each passing year. To make matters worse it's not just your life that is racing away and movin...

Another year has come and gone and you get the feeling it went by faster than the year before. It feels as though your life gets busier and busier with each passing year. To make matters worse it's not just your life that is racing away and moving at the speed of light. Today's young people are pulled in so many directions with ever increasing workloads in school, more and more sports offered to them and some of those sports becoming almost year-round commitments and let's not forget how much of their time is spent with some form of screen in front of them whether it be a phone, TV, iPad or a laptop.

With all of these things going on why would you want to add something else to the mix? Why would you want to add Scouting to the mix?

Scouting is a program with a long history going back even further than its 1910 founding here in the United States.

The tale of the U.S. founding of Scouting begins in London actually where W.D. Boyce was visiting. He had become lost in the fog and a young boy came to his aid and explained he was a Scout and could not accept payment for his help because as a Scout it was his duty to do a good turn daily. This core ideal still holds true with Scouts today and we teach the boys to do a good turn daily.

When a boy joins Cub Scouts the leader, parents and the program begin immediately to instill in the boys the values of Scouting and start to develop their character.

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A Cub Scout learns the motto "Do Your Best" and that motto becomes part of everything they do. That motto is put into practice as the boy does projects, as he goes through the program earning new ranks and while trying new adventures with Scouting and even when he is not in the Scout uniform. Research conducted by Louis Harris and Associates shows that 95 percent of parents agree Scouting teaches their boy moral and ethical values and also respect for others.

Another big part of the fundamentals of Scouting are the Scout Oath and Scout Law. It's often said the Scouting program changes with the times and the people who are in it but the values stay the same.

Throughout a boy's Scouting experience as he grows from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout or if a boy joins Boy Scouts without having gone through Cub Scouts he will learn new skills, make new friends and he will learn to live by the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared."

One of Scouting's greatest gifts to the boys, who take part in the program, are the many things it introduces them to. There are more than 100 merit badges a Boy Scout can earn and each of them introduces the scout to a subject and in earning that badge and others the learns where their interests lie. According to research conducted by the Boy Scouts of America many boys pick their college major or their career path based on a merit badge they earned.

Probably the most important thing a Scout learns during their time with the program is the motto, which is a collaboration of all the program including the oath and law, and that is a scout needs to "Be Prepared." According to Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting's founder, it means the Scout is always in a state of readiness in mind and body, to do their duty.

Lord Baden-Powell said in his book "Scouting for Boys" - "Be prepared in the mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.

"Be prepared in body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it."

In addition to all the things a boy learns and experiences through Scouting it's not just the boy who ends up learning and gaining experiences through Scouting. Scouting is an organization built around volunteers therefore it gives families the opportunity to connect around activities and shared interests.Scouting time is family time.

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You and your family are busy and it seems as though you are getting busier with each passing year, before you know it your children will be graduating and leaving the nest. What are you doing now to connect with them? Between the ages of 7 and 18 years is the time when you have the greatest chance to make an impact on their life and form them into the men you want them to become. Remember this is a small fraction of the life they will live. Scouting can give you the chance to connect with your child in a meaningful way, have an impact on their life that will stay with them long into their future and will give you a chance to share memorable moments that you can reminisce with them about when you are both older and perhaps they have children of their own.

"What do most people say on their deathbed?" David Rubenstein asked. "They don't say I wish I'd made more money. What they say is, I wish I'd spent more time with my family and done more for society or my community."

Scouting can give you that chance so it won't be you saying those things on your deathbed. Instead you will be saying "Look at the man my son has become or look at the impact I made in the lives of the boys who are now leaders in my community.

You can go to www.BeAScout.org to find a pack or troop near you.

KENNETH R. TOOLE is the Pine Tree District Executive of Boy Scouts of America. He is an Eagle Scout, which is Scouting's highest award for a youth.

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