Monday, February 23, 2009
With four children, I'm getting tons of experience with various organized groups which are focused on outdoor related activities. These groups include Boy Scouts, Indian Princess and Indian Guides. This is a great way to learn about camping, hiking and backpacking in a controlled setting.
If you are looking to get your children to spend quality time outdoors, these groups are fantastic for the outdoor newbies and those learning. Your children will enjoy spending time with friends on campouts and you will have the opportunity to learn from other adults who may have some valuable experience.
The Boy Scouts is probably the most structured of all the parent/child outdoor-related organizations, due to the longevity and the history of the BSA (Boy Scouts of America). This group focuses on teaching the boys to respect one another, respect the outdoors and obey the Boy Scout code. These are all excellent qualities. The campouts with the Boy Scouts are great for the scouts, but offer limited opportunities for the parents to spend quality time with their children. I know that is not the intent of the Boy Scout campouts, but it is a personal struggle for me. I attend about every campout with my son's troop, but I spend most of the time with the other adults and I get very little time hiking or exploring with my son. So, for those starting off, expect to learn from the other parents at Boy Scout campouts, but also expect to not see your son a whole lot over the weekend. That being said, the BSA is a great organization for maturing boys into young men. I highly recommend it for the boys.
The Indian Guides/Princesses is something I've been a part of for the past 3 years. There are typically two factions of IG/IP. One, is a part of the YMCA/YWCA and I believe, now, is called Adventure Guides or something like that. I'm part of an independent group, still referred to as Indian Guides and Princesses. Indian Guides is for the Dads and Sons and Indian Princesses is for the Dads and Daughters. These organizations are a lot less formal and structured than the BSA. However, the focus of these groups is more on the quality time with the Dads and children. I really like the opportunities for me to spend time with my children in the outdoors. The children still have plenty of chances to play with their friends, and do some group activities, but it is still about the Dads and the kids. When entering an IG/IP group, just ensure that the group you are joining has similar ethics as you and that the Dads will instill proper outdoor etiquette that you would like your sons or daughters to have, as your sons and daughters will be exposed to others behaviors.
I have mentioned only the groups that I've been a part of, however, there are other groups as well such as the Girl Scouts, which focus on Moms and Daughters. Since I'm not a Mom or a Daughter, I can't comment on those groups. As for the BSA and IG/IP, I enjoy both, my kids enjoy both, but just understand there are some distinct differences. They both have excellent learning opportunities for both the children and the parents. Use these opportunities to learn, but take the time to spend time outside these groups practicing what you've learned and experience the quality time with your kids outdoors.