Scouting began in 1917 as an experiment with 20 boys on Brownsea Island in Dorset, England. From there scouting grew into an international activity, spreading to over 200 countries with 28 million members, according to the Scouting Association in the United Kingdom. Scouting imparts a number of values and provides lifelong learning in a number of areas for children of all ages. This adds up to a number of activities scout leaders can plan for their troops, but some program ideas are central to scouting.
Fostering a sense of adventure and instilling curiosity in a young child prepares the child for life in a number of ways. Scientists, inventors and engineers are just some of the occupations that rely on a keen sense of curiosity and adventure. When preparing scout programs, it is important to make sure you include some adventure activities to nurture the troop member's natural curiosity. Such activities include exploring caves, hiking, rock climbing, camping and visiting a local private airport to learn what it takes fly small planes.
Fostering a sense of citizenship in troop members will help a child gain a sense of community and social responsibility. There are a variety of activities scout leaders can put together to impart such important values. Those activities include learning how to handle the flag correctly; visiting the nation's capital, learning about the history of the nation, holding mock court sessions to learn how the legal system works and planning charity events to help the needy or elderly are just a few options.
Teaching troop members how to handle emergencies helps to instil a sense of confidence in each individual child, while giving them all a skill they can carry into adulthood. Activities to include are teaching how to administer first aid, how to respond at an accident scene, how to recognise symptoms of stroke and heart attack, and how to respond to various natural disasters in the community.
Above all else, leadership is the one characteristic a scout program must impart to troop members. Leadership abilities help children in all aspects of life such as assuming responsibility, performing well academically or being a role model for younger children. Aside from the leadership courses that are part of most scouting programs, you can also implement your own leadership activities for all troop members. Such activities can include having children take turns teaching a class on a subject they are experts in rather than just having the designated patrol leader always lead the patrol; rotate the position to let other members get a sense of what a leader faces; and have each troop member take turns individually or in pairs to plan activities with your guidance. Almost every activity provides an opportunity to foster leadership and adds another dimension to the scouting program.