Scouting & Outing Clubs for Everyone
October 26, 2009
Here are a bunch of data-points.
Where do they lead?
*Scouting teaches boys lots of neat life/outdoor skills and teamwork, in a win-win way.
*Outing Clubs get the young people outdoors on quite a few campuses.
*4H is "head, heart, hands, health" for rural kids.
*Outward Bound and NOLS are for well-supported twenty-somethings.
*Guided outdoor fun is for rich folk and gray-hairs.
*Conservation Clubs nationwide support folks of all ages and types in learning and doing the shooting sports (marksmanship, shotgun, archery).
*Community Ed. and YMCA offer outdoor classes galore.
Is this enough? Is it the right approach?
Then there are the famous Outdoor Centers throughout the land.
Such as: the Boulder Outdoor Center, Maine Winter Sports Center, Nantahala Outdoor Center, and New England Outdoor Center are all famous, popular resources in their states. (http://www.mainewsc.org, http://boc123.com, http://www.noc.com, http://www.neoc.com)
There is no Michigan Outdoor Center.
What changed my life the most was when in 5th grade our school did a winter campout at Yankee Springs and the head supervisor for the Okemos Outdoor Rec Program taught all us kids about XC skiing, snowshoeing, ice-fishing, animal-tracking, live-trapping of mice, and regular trapping. He supervised the first Okemos rec-ed sports programs -- including all the intense ball-sport teams -- and always insisted that outdoor skills classes be part of the curriculum. They even taught hunter-safety after school via this program. I think he was even behind the archery and marksmanship classes that were taught in middle school gym (and wrestling, judo and fencing). All these subjects are now segregated from the school system.
What if there was a national all-ages Outing Club?
What if it promoted all outdoor activity -- outdoor sports, primitive skills, hook'n'bullet. ?
Sure, there'd be some segregation where suitable (of boys, of subjects).
For some reason I think there needs to be a wholeness. I'm concerned that our current set-up has a "divided we fall" air to it.
For instance, the Conservation Clubs tend to be blue-collar and the Outdoor Sports are white-collar. Is such a divide helpful to the social and environmental cause?
Most people drive a car AND ride a bike (at least from time to time), but our culture separates motors and human-power into conflicting interest groups. Is that best practice?
It seems like age-groups are overly segregated today. I recall hanging out with and learning from outdoor people of ALL ages as I was growing up. Today, our kids, hipsters and bluehairs don't see each other so much.
Then again, it seems like the activities themselves are often segregated and specialized today. Whereas a seasonal and general approach, at least in terms of awareness and basic skills, seems like a needed foundation for both community and individual wholesomeness.
As a side-note, I've noticed that our local university Outing Club emphasizes activities that are optimumly done 500+ miles away from campus. Thus they're infrequently done and expensive. (Oddly, the only local outdoor sport shop promotes the same unrealistic activities.) For instance, mid-Michigan offers worldclass biking, canoeing, and xc skiing within a few minutes of any campus and even ON many campuses. These are thrifty, local activities that college students can easily enjoy on a daily basis with their friends. Yet what I've seen pushed instead are: whitewater rafting, caving and rockclimbing. All are irrelevant for our region. They don't fit the "thrifty student who needs a study break and wants to meet people" profile. So I'd suggest that Outing / Skills Clubs of whatever type should remember to promote local activities for the most part.
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