The Boys and Girls Scouts of America are highly influential organizations for the American youth, with thousands of troupes nationwide, collectively including around 5 million members, not counting all of the parents and volunteers involved in the organizations. These two national organizations pride themselves on teaching their members positive values, community involvement, and encouraging physical fitness and personal growth. Although there are countless benefits of joining Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, this is our list of the top 10 health benefits of taking part in one of these groups:
- Independence – Away from the safety of their parents, young boys and girls will find their roles within their troupes and learn to become independent. In both programs, boys and girls are given various tasks, and through this activity they gain a sense of independence. They are responsible for their own actions and for doing their part for the troupe. Learning these skills at a young age set a strong foundation for a healthy, happy future in which these boys and girls are able to handle themselves.
- Nature appreciation – With all of the summer camps available for Girl Scouts and all of the camping trips the Boy Scouts take, a boy or girl scout is bound to be exposed to their fair share of the natural world. Out in the mountains or down by the lake, the air is much cleaner. A 2013 study found that exposure to clean air decreases the risk of respiratory health problems. Learning an appreciation for nature through the activities the scouts partake in on camping trips make you more likely to go out into nature more often and therefore reap these respiratory health benefits.
- Physical fitness – Hiking and trekking trips that Boy and Girl Scouts perform help their members to increase their physical fitness and gain an appreciation for moving their bodies. Hiking gets you moving and gets blood pumping through your whole body. Your heart beat rises as you exert yourself, strengthening your heart and increasing blood flow to your muscles. As you move up the mountain or across the field, your body spends the energy you have fed it in the form of calories. This helps you to maintain a healthy body weight and to become stronger and more agile.
- Mental fitness – Through many of the activities in Boy and Girl scouts, children learn valuable problem solving skills and are able to exercise them. When selling cookies, Girl Scouts may use quick mental math to figure out how much customers owe them. When on hiking trips, Boy Scouts may be required to use nothing but a compass to get back to base camp and have to rely on memory and observational skills. These practices build your mental strength, which will benefit you in all areas of life and reduce the stress you experience in school, work, and personal issues for years to come.
- Psychological health – Among your fellow members, faced with tasks of varying difficulties, as a scout you gain emotional stability in the form of courage, trust, empathy, and self confidence. These elements of psychological health allow you to see yourself and others in a healthy, clear way and allows for you to build fulfilling relationships.
- Support system – Participating in numerous activities and projects with the same troop year after year creates a strong bond between the members. The friends these children make in their scouts troupes will become a lifelong support system for them. Getting to know children that come from different backgrounds or schools (those who didn’t previously know them) allows kids to take on different roles and find themselves in the most honest way possible. In the end, their fellow scouts know them better than anyone else and love them for who they truly are.
- Sparks ambition – Incorporated into many of the activities in the scouts’ programs is a little healthy competition. The children learn their strengths and how to play upon them, and gain a sense of ambition that will help them for years to come. Without ambition, the psyche is unhealthy and individuals may sink into depression and have a decreased sense of self-worth.
- Expands the mind – Befriending and learning about lots of different people exposes you to tons of alternative perspectives that may differ from your own. Learning to get past differences and to accept others’ opinions breaks open the walls of narrow minds and pushes people out of their comfort zones. Younger boys and girls may learn life lessons from older boys and girls that they test out in their own worlds. All of this new information helps scouts to approach the universe in a healthier, less aggressive, more accepting way.
- Conflict resolution – In a group consisting almost entirely of peers, Boy and Girl Scouts must solve problems between one another themselves. Allowing them to grow healthy, and develop understanding and friendships free of emotional dependency that will support their psychological health for years to come.
- Teamwork – In large groups of boys or girls of similar age acting toward a common goal, whether it be in a sports game or in a community service project, children must learn valuable teamwork skills. Initially, these children may struggle with the release of control that comes with working in groups, but in the end will find that leaning on others can actually be ultimately beneficial. Teamwork can be rather humbling, which contributes to a healthy self image.
Check out more of our top 10 articles here!