The Nature of Camping
by Clay Capp, 2002 National OA Chief
The founders of both the
Scouting Movement and the Order of the Arrow valued camping as
a way to teach Scouting skills. But each Scout who has truly
experienced the outdoors while camping will value camping for
its own sake. True, it is in the outdoors that many Scouts learn
how to tie their knots and their bandages, and first use a
compass. But it is also true that the outdoors is where a
Scout's self-reliance is fostered.
Anyone who has spent time
in the outdoors, attuned to nature, will say that there is a
special connection to be felt with the natural world. From
that connection grows the skills needed to feel a confidence
that can start in the woods and extend to life in general.
Learning to cook cleanly in a camp, and how to "leave no
trace" are important skills, but the reason they exist is because
true campers are always looking for ways to maintain their
connection with the natural world.
We all have an inclination toward nature.
Whether it is expressed by watching
sunsets or the Discovery Channel, it is enhanced when someone
is immersed in a pristine outdoor place. Those that do not
believe such a connection exists have not camped in earnest.
Among campers it is commonly said during rough weather or a
setback, "Well, you never hear anybody say, 'Hey, remember that
time we went camping and everything was so easy and it was
sunny the whole time and nothing went wrong.'"
The reason we
value the challenges of a rainstorm, or a missed trail marker
(while those things are not preferable) is because overcoming
the difficulty they represent proves to us that we are capable
in the wilderness. It shows we are able to surmount obstacles with
our own self-reliance and the combined efforts of our campmates and
Outdoor camping promotion is part of the
Order of the Arrow's purpose because we try to instill in
Scouts the appreciation for the wilderness that leads to two
things. The first is the feeling of accomplishment
and teamwork resulting from successful time spent in camp. And
the second thing, realized by all who have had a truly wilderness
camping experience, is the value of our nation's - and
the world's - natural resources. It is our hope that Scouts
grow to become good stewards of our land, and encourage the
good management of our irreplaceable wild places.
The Order of the Arrow provides two high adventure camping programs
at the national level. Each provides the opportunity for Scouts
to spend meaningful time in the wilderness.
The Order of
the Arrow Wilderness Voyage at Northern Tier is Scouting's
premier experience for Arrowmen.
Besides working on conservation projects in a
partnership with the National Forest Service, Arrowmen have the
rare chance to immerse themselves in the pristine, untouched
wilderness that is our nation's northern boundary waters.
Scouts from around the country join together for this unique
experience, spending a couple of weeks in the wilderness with
fellow outdoors enthusiasts who become good friends.
The Order of the Arrow Trail Crew
provides a way for Arrowmen to spend time with fellow campers
in the backcountry of Philmont. In addition to working on trails
to benefit future campers, the Scouts also spend time with fellow
Arrowmen who also seek the wilderness experience.
I strongly recommend the OA Wilderness Voyage and Trail Crew
as a great way to
spend an extended period of time camping in an untouched wild place
with quality Arrowmen from around the country.