Today we celebrate the institution and conservation based collective known to the world as The Boy Scouts.
Many of you may know the pledge: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. This is Scout Law.” Then lifting his three middle fingers of his right hand in the Scout sign, he recites,”On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law, and to help people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
There is also another code, the Outdoor Code, “As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manner, to be careful with fire, to be considerate outdoors, and to be conservation-minded.” This is where we come in.
The Boy Scouts Of America, is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 2.7 million youth members, and over 1 million adult volunteers, has a fascinating start. Based on the writings of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, and influenced by the work and Woodcraft Indians of Ernest Thompson Seton, a Chicago publisher by the name of W.D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts from a world Scout Movement, after receiving the aid of a Scout on the streets of London. Lost on a foggy night, the Scout helped Boyce find his destination, and refused Boyce’s tip, putting it down to, “Doing his Daily Scout Good Turn.”
Boyce immediately brought it to America, and after some false starts, it was finally incorporated on February 8th, 1910, since then known as National Boy Scouts Of America Day. President Theodore Roosevelt was an ardent supporter and a conservationist himself.
But what Boy Scouts are known for, besides the camping, and iconic outfits, are their merit badges. While there are a few hundred, it takes only 21 to advance in ranks and approach the apex of Eagle Scout. After interviewing an Order Of The Arrow Eagle Scout, I discovered that merit badges are handed out at an Awards ceremony, where the Scouts shake the Scout Master’s hand, and receive their hard-earned price. Merit badges for crafts and other disciplines demonstrate proficiency in a spectrum of skills, from first aid to Citizenship in the Community, the Nation, and the World. Everything from a cooking merit, to sailing, to even a Nuclear Energy Merit.
But one of the most important merits, and skill sets is Land Management, and it’s tie-ins with Conservation. The Eagle Scout interviewed discussed a hike and lesson in forestry by building a fire wall through cutting down certain scrub trees. Recycling, ecology, and even taxonomy are stressed in the cavalcade of Conservationist esthetics key to the Boy Scout heuristic, with a large emphasis on walking on trails in the woods.
We at Seedlings Gardening embrace many of these same environmental approaches when dealing with out properties and partnerships. Cutting back old growth for the health of the whole, recycling our waste and creating ecosystems are fundamental cores to how we design and maintain the gardens and landscapes we create.
We are even expanding our community outreach to classes on foraging and utilizing the wild world around us. While we may not be Boy Scouts, ourselves, we appreciate any program that encourages the appreciation of the world around us and a respect for nature.
So if you are, or know a fellow between the ages of 11-18, and have an ethos of conservation, much like us here at Seedlings Gardening, perhaps The Boy Scouts of America is for you.
Good luck, Gardeners!