Imagine your son or daughter spending the day outdoors with friends. They might be canoeing or hiking or camping. But–and this is the biggie–without any electronic devices in hand. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly the kind of experiences youths get with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

“Nature deficit disorder is a growing problem facing todays’ youth,” notes Brad Murray, director of outdoor programs for BSA’s Michigan Crossroads Council. “At our Michigan camps, our kids experience so many ‘firsts.’ First time trying new activities. First time facing independence and true character-building opportunities. First chance to develop real leadership skills. Scouts quickly overcome their need for constant parental dependency.”

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Michigan boasts eight camps throughout the state and the activities and camps offered are endless. Scouts might be found camping in Adirondacks (three-sided shelters) or taking part in farm-to-table projects. Others might try muzzle loading, paintball or throwing primitive spears and tomahawks. There’s also swimming, horseback riding and canoeing (some trips span four days and cover 75 miles!).

But most of all: Scouts form friendships.

“Scouts at camp are given the opportunity to develop skills, make true friendships and build lasting memories,” Murray says.

There are different Scout programs from kindergarten all the way up to age 20. For the first time in its 100+ year history, the BSA is open to both young men and women. Donations fund resources for youth camps, recruitment, professional staff, training for volunteers and more.

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