In a few weeks I will be taking my wife & sons on our first real family vacation in years. We applied for passports for the kids, read up on all our options and decided to take our first ever cruise to the Western Caribbean!
I’m sure you’re thinking Boy Scouts should be the last thing on my mind, but a vacation is a GREAT time to put all of the things Scouting teaches our young men into practice. For example we will review all of our safety rules with our children regarding stranger danger, and obeying warning signs. We will go snorkeling! And we’re going to look at our impact through Leave No Trace.
But one of the things I am MOST excited about is that in our case, we will be visiting Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas! Hey, we had to make those passports count! And that is a great opportunity to talk about International Scouting!
If you haven’t noticed yet, up at the top there is a “Program & Committees” menu item. Choose it and you’ll find “International” on the list of information pages I’ve been compiling.
My Cubs first earned their International Activities Award in 2007 in celebration of the Centennial of Scouting, but never left the country to do it! In fact, there are lots of neat things that both Boy Scouts and Cubs can do right here at home in the spirit of Citizenship in the World to learn more about Scouting programs all around the world.
But you may find yourself with one of those rare opportunities where you really do get to travel. Maybe to Canada, maybe to Mexico – maybe somewhere even further away. If you do, make sure you apply for an International Letter of Introduction at least three weeks before you go! The International Division of the BSA will issue you a certificate suitable for framing identifying you as a member of the Boy Scouts of America, and will help you find Scouting resources where you are travelling.
I’ve already contacted the Scouting office in the Bahamas for our trip in May. A very nice representative replied to me giving me bus and taxi directions, and what hours they will be open on the day we are in port in Nassau. I’ve made a similar request to the Scout office in Belize City, hoping maybe we can find a few tee-shirts or shoulder patches to bring home. Not only will they become great souvenirs, I know it will help reinforce the great lessons that Scouting provides my son for his every day life.