Boy Scouts of America

Photo Group

I am sure a few of you looked at the group for this month and thought I had lost my head. The Boy Scouts are not a conservation organization! Or are they?

Through my lenses, they are clearly a conservation group. They were without a doubt, the most influential organization in my youth that provided me with the direction and inspiration for my lifelong career path.

Scouting taught me to treat all living things with respect, to clean up after myself and to “leave no trace” in the natural world after a camping or hiking trip. Working on merit badges like Environmental Science, Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Management and Oceanography opened my eyes to a whole new land ethic that is so important to all who work in the natural world.

Badges like Mammal Study and Reptile Study helped build a respect for the diversity of life that exists in our natural world. Camping on a bitter cold night or hiking on a blistering hot day helped to foster a new respect for what wild animal have to live with each and every day.

Did I grasp all this at the time it was happening? Not really. When you are 12, 13, 14 years old, you’re mind tends not to think that deep, but you are constantly learning. That is what scouting is all about. Building those foundations that help us to make good sound decisions when we are faced with them later in life.

For many young men, like myself, Scouting was my only true exposure to the natural world. I loved television shows about nature and I spent a lot of time in the wooded lots around my neighborhood, but it just isn’t the same as having guided instruction.

Do yourself a favor, get involved with scouting. I know you may not have a child or grandchild involved, but you can always buy a box of popcorn, or some trash bags and there are many volunteer opportunities available to help and possibly mold a young person’s life!

By Mark McKellar

FALL 2012