Scouter Spotlight: Getting the most out of your Scouting experience!
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What Would You Do to Ensure Your Child’s Future Mental Health?
By John Hovanesian, M.D.

 
Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America, Dr. John Hovanesian, is a seasoned Scouter and blogger who shares tips and tricks to help your family get the most out of your Scouting experience. Follow him @DrHovanesian.

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The old saying goes, “You are only as happy as your least happy child.” How true that we parents share both the joys and the anguish of our children. We take every effort to prepare them for a happy future life, and among our greatest fears is that we can’t protect them from circumstances that might derail that happiness.

But according to a new study performed at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, there is one thing that you can do today that will significantly reduce the whole-life risk of your child developing anxiety and mood disorders.  

Furthermore, doing this one thing will develop his or her sense of self-reliance. It will boost his or her teamwork skills, and it will encourage him or her to be active outdoors.

What is this one thing? What secret will protect your child’s future mental health? You may have guessed already, it’s enrolling your child in Scouting! The “longitudinal” study (that means they followed the children into adulthood) involved 10,000 “kids” born in the UK in November, 1958 and followed them until age 50. They examined activities the group was involved in, family situations, and the later development of health issues. Those involved in Scouting, which was about a quarter of the study group, had a 15% less likelihood of future mood disorders. Interestingly, other volunteer activities and church involvement did not render this protective effect.

The scientists who published the study felt that Scouting’s structured childhood experiences teach resilience (“You mean I didn’t win the Pinewood Derby?!”), problem-solving (“How do I tie this knot?”), flexibility (“But there was no lightning in the forecast!”), and an openness to unfamiliar circumstances (“What’s the sound outside the tent?”). All of these teach the mind to cope with life’s challenges constructively. 

Doesn’t this sound like news worth spreading? Why not share this blog with friends whose kids might be interested in Scouting? Post it on Facebook, Twitter, or just forward this email.

And the next time you find yourself with squishy toes during a campout in the rain, eating charred biscuits from an overheated Dutch oven, or washing your son’s oh-so-stinky socks after summer camp, know that you are imparting mental health benefits to your child that just might give protection for life!

 
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