Boy Scouts of America
As the story goes, Chicago publisher William D. Boyce was lost in a dense London fog when a young boy offered to help him find his way. After reaching his destination, Boyce offered the boy a tip, but the boy refused the money, saying that he was just doing a “Good Turn” as a Scout.
Impressed by the boy and his fine manners, Boyce sought a meeting with the British founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell. The next year (1910), Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America. Nearly 100 years later, the organization now has nearly 3 million youth members in its Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting and Venturing programs.
Conservation has always been a foundation of the Boy Scouting program. In addition to their wellknown motto of “Be Prepared,” Boy Scouts have an outdoor code that says, “As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, be considerate in the outdoors, and be conservation minded.”
From the very first edition, published in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America handbook has emphasized woodcraft. As part of their development, Boy Scouts learn about nature, develop outdoor skills and gain an appreciation for our natural resources. The program uses hiking, camping and canoeing among its many character-building activities.
Of the 121 different merit badges that Boy Scouts can earn, many have strong conservation connections. These include Environmental Science, Fish and Wildlife Management, Forestry, Soil and Water Conservation, Insect Study, Bird Study and Reptile and Amphibian Study, as well as Hiking, Camping, Shotgun Shooting and Fishing.
Scouts and the Conservation Department
The Department of Conservation’s The Next Generation of Conservation strategic plan has a goal of supporting community conservation efforts and organizations such as the Boy Scouts.
An important aspect of the Scouting program is giving something back to the local community in the form of community service hours. These service projects often involve conservation.
For example, 78 Boy Scouts of America groups have enrolled as Missouri Stream Teams. Their activities include stream litter pick-ups, water quality monitoring and streamside tree planting.
Scouts or Scout troops are involved in many other conservation projects, including tree planting, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, bird house or bird feeder construction and placement, prairie restoration projects and nature trail construction and maintenance.
Eagle Scouts for Conservation
All Scouts are required to complete community service hours to advance in rank, but a special community service project is required of a