The most satisfying part of Scouting is right there in the Oath: “I will do my best.” Because, really, that’s what it all comes down to.
Do your best to be a leader, to be competent in the outdoors, to stay physically fit and to continue to work toward the next rank.
Do your best to set a good example, to learn how to camp or hike or bike, to eat healthy and to finish that open merit badge you keep putting off.
Do your best, even if your unit can only meet online, and you can only be with your friends on a screen.
Do your best every time, all the time, and follow our tips to make this the best Scouting year ever.
BECOME A BETTER LEADER
No matter how old you are, your Scout unit needs you to work on becoming a leader.
If you’re a Cub Scout, being a leader might mean paying attention during meetings, even when your friends aren’t. This applies to online meetings, too! If your friends see you sitting up straight and paying attention as your leader talks on the screen, they will be more likely to do the same thing.
Being a leader also might mean standing up for a friend when someone else is making fun of them.
A requirement for the ranks of Star, Life and Eagle in a Scouts BSA troop is to serve in a position of responsibility (POR). There are two categories of POR: You’re either working in a position of service to your troop or working in a position of leadership of your troop. Choose the one you’re most comfortable with, and tackle that first. Then test your limits by trying the other.
Venturing crews have presidents, vice presidents and other youth leaders. Sea Scout ships have youth leadership positions such as boatswains and boatswain’s mates. If you already hold one of these positions, think about what it would take to move up in the ranks.
If you aren’t currently in a position of responsibility, that’s totally cool. Just talk to your current leader about the position that’s right for you.
EXPAND YOUR OUTDOOR SKILLS
Not everybody is comfortable spending the night — or multiple nights — outdoors right off the bat.
Participating in your Cub Scout pack’s campouts is a great way to get used to spending the night outside. Try to make it to as many as you can. If you’re already a comfortable camper, try this: Pack for a campout all by yourself. Then have a trusted adult check to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
Scouts BSA troops rely on their members to plan upcoming outdoors activities. Join your patrol leaders’ council, and weigh in on future plans. If your troop is full of experienced campers, bring up the idea of a more challenging adventure like a multiday trek or a trip to a high-adventure base.
Being outdoors is the specialty of most Venturing crews. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have room to grow. Mountain biking, cycling treks and outdoor rock climbing are just a few of the Scouting-approved activities that can really test your limits. Sea Scouts can go beyond sailing and try kayaking and rafting, or even join the landlubbers for a backcountry backpacking trek.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to participate in a virtual campout, either. You might not be with your buddies, but you can still learn a lot, especially if you can set up a tent in your yard and spend the night inside it. Make sure your device is charged so you can check in with the rest of the group when you need to!
ADVANCE MORE EFFICIENTLY
No matter how old you are, no matter which program you belong to, the key to advancing is pretty simple: Show up and participate.
A Cub Scout who does their best to show up to every meeting and participate in as many activities as possible is going to do great.
As you get older, you’re going to be more responsible for your own advancement. Think about what you already enjoy, and focus on merit badges and rank requirements that incorporate those activities. Then expand your horizons by trying something new.
Scouts BSA members should pay attention to their troop’s communications, whether it’s via email, social media or something else. There are often opportunities for advancement — special merit badge classes, for example — just waiting for you. This is especially true if your unit is restricted to online activities only. The opportunities to advance are still there. Without in-person meetings, it’s more important than ever that you pay attention to your unit’s communications so you know what’s going on.
Your troop probably has an advancement coordinator whose job is to help you. Take advantage of that, and initiate a meeting to see where you are.
Sea Scouts can strive for the rank of Quartermaster, the highest award for that program. Venturers can aim for the Summit Award. Take some time to read your handbook and make sure you’re right where you need to be in terms of advancement.
BALANCE SCOUTING WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
The Scouting program is designed so you can still succeed in other areas of life, such as school, sports, band or whatever else you enjoy.
While a life full of activities can be satisfying, it can also be stressful. Our advice: Break it down into a list of what you need to do next, and focus only on those things.
It’s great to have long-term goals like becoming an Eagle Scout or qualifying for the all-state band.
But the least stressful way to reach those goals is to make a list of what you want to accomplish on that day or during that week.
When your teacher gives you an assignment, write it down. If you practice your instrument or your debate skills every day, write that down. If you have an open merit badge, write down one thing you can do to make progress on it that week.
As you go through your days, it’ll feel good to check things off the list. It’s healthy (and important!) to look at the big picture every once in a while, but it can consume you if you obsess over it. Breaking your goals into bite-sized pieces makes it much less stressful.
KEEP YOURSELF PHYSICALLY STRONG AND MENTALLY AWAKE
Scouting’s idea of fitness includes fitness of your body, fitness of your mind and fitness in making moral choices.
If you aren’t as physically fit as you need to be, it’s OK. Scouting — along with a healthy diet and plenty of sleep — gives you the opportunity to get there.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a decision that you make each and every day. Am I going to walk the dog for 30 minutes today? Am I going to do those pushups and pullups?
If I had a doughnut or candy bar yesterday, do I need another one today? (Spoiler: The answer is no.)
Fitness of the mind means taking care to stay sharp and alert. Training yourself to learn, lead and solve problems is a large part of building mental strength. The ways in which you treat other people and the world around you are choices to think about seriously.
Being an active Scout can help with that. Now what are you going to do?
SCOUTING CONTINUES … NO MATTER WHAT
Sometimes in life, we face challenges. Scouting is no different. Just remember, Scouting is not a single event, meeting or campout.
Being a Scout is living the values of the Scout Oath and Law every day. It is what’s in our hearts and minds as we interact with others, either in person or virtually.