Jumping feet first into adventure

With summer now upon us, many of us think back fondly on our summer escapades. We counted down the days until school let out for summer break, and we planned how we would spend our entire summer with our friends. Images of tree forts, lemonade stands, backyard camping, swimming pools, and sleepovers come to mind, but the crowning pinnacle of summer was always going to Scout Camp.

Times have changed for all of us here in Eastern Iowa. For starters, we don’t get a summer break any more, do we? Our kids and grandkids are all out of school now, but their summers look very different from what we remember. Virtually gone are the days of lemonade stands, with municipalities across the nation closing down stands because they lack vender permits. Why pitch a tent in the backyard when there is air-conditioning inside? Tree forts? That sounds like a liability issue. Sleepovers? Let’s not even go there.

What is the number one activity that kids today look forward to doing over the summer? Video games. After Christmas, late springtime is the most popular time for companies to release new video games. After all, now that school is out of session, kids have a lot of time on their hands, and video games are often their way of accomplishing the same things that we did as youths, socializing, occupying time, and finding adventure.

Even though video games are getting more advanced, and even though it seems like kids are developing more of an aversion to being outdoors, and even though lemonade stands and tree forts have gone the way of the dinosaurs, Scout Camp still continues to be the highlight of hundreds of kids’ summers in Clinton County.

How can this be? It’s pretty simple. The Scouts have to offer something more entertaining, more involving, and more thrilling than a video game. Scouting offers real-life adventure.

The United Way of Clinton County, Iowa believes that kids in our community need to stay physically active in order to have a healthy lifestyle, and summertime is an important time to reinforce these healthy habits, as they aren’t participating in PE at school. Thanks, in part, to funding from the Clinton County United Way, Iowa, boys and girls from kindergarten through 12th grade have the opportunities to discover their own adventure at Scout Camp this summer.

From June 18-21, over 100 Scouts gathered at the Ericksen Community Center in Clinton for the annual Mesquakie District Cub Scout Day Camp. Cub Scouts got to practice their marksmanship at the BB-gun, archery, and sling-shot ranges, exercise their mind and body power playing games like kickball, sharks and minnows, and capture the flag, lead the group in skits and songs, and of course, reel in big fish!

As a matter of fact, every Scout that went fishing was successful in catching a fish that week. Surely that’s a record. Cub Scout Day Camp is amazing every year, but what makes it truly special is the group of volunteer Scouters and older Scouts who give their time to put together camp for the kids. In a true example of the United Way of Clinton County, Iowa, the community really pulls together to make camp a possibility for kids in Clinton County.

As Scouts get older, we must step up our game to keep kids interested, which means we have to amp up the adventure. Scout Resident Camp is held at Loud Thunder Scout Reservation across the river near Andalusia, Illinois. At Loud Thunder, Scouts have the opportunity to graduate from BB guns to trap and skeet, black-powder, and cowboy-action shooting. Scout Troops can take part in the “Huck Finn” experience and canoe in the Mississippi River, where they overnight on an island in the middle of the river. Scouts have the opportunity to swim, boat, cook, climb, zipline, and of course, earn merit badges. While out at camp, Scouts are having the time of their lives, and even though they may not realize it, they are learning something, too.

Even though the world around us is changing at a rapid pace, why do kids still go to Scout Camp? Simply put, Scouting offers an adventure that just can’t be replicated on a television screen. How do you get your kids involved in Scouting? Here is a piece of advice given to me my first summer at camp as a Scout: “Jump in feet first!”

For more information on the Illowa Council, BSA, or how to join Scouting, please visit www.ILLOWABSA.org.

Ken Brooks,

Development director, Illowa Council, Boy Scouts of America