The National Park Service and the Boy Scouts of America today celebrated the renewal of their longstanding partnership during a ceremony at the Boy Scout Commemorative Tribute Memorial in Washington, DC.
A centerpiece of the partnership is the Resource Stewardship Scout Ranger Program. The program provides the framework for parks and local councils to work together to provide experiences for Scouts on public lands. It encourages Scouts to participate in educational and volunteer service projects in national parks to earn certificates and badges.
Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds and Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh emphasized a shared goal to engage youth in the great outdoors.
“The National Park Service and the Boy Scouts of America have had a natural friendship for 100 years,” said Reynolds. “Scouts hike, camp, and participate in other adventures in national parks where they learn not only outdoor skills but also life skills, respect for the environment, and the ethical use of natural resources. This partnership has created generations of conservation stewards and today we renew the commitment to carry this partnership into the future.”
“Some of the best Scouting adventures and moments take place at National Park Service parks, monuments and sites,” said Surbaugh. “These special places inspire youth with the wonder of nature and build an appreciation for the outdoors and our nation’s history. That’s why it’s important that the Boy Scouts of America support and partner with the National Park Service as they work to protect and preserve our nation’s natural spaces, a service that is of great value to me, Scouts and volunteers nationwide.”
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the country, with more than 2.3 million youth members and nearly one million adult leaders. Their mission is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance. The National Park Service maintains more than 400 sites of natural, cultural, and recreational significance that host multiple scout-related activities each year.
Each year, Scouts spend more than 60,000 hours on volunteer projects to restore or enhance national parks throughout the country. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia is the site of a substantial National Park Service/Boy Scouts of America partnership. The park surrounds on three sides the 10,600-acre Summit Bechtel Reserve, home to the National Scout Jamboree and the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base. Boy Scouts have conducted maintenance on dozens of trails and built more than 14 miles of trail in the park, including the much acclaimed Arrowhead Mountain Bike Trail. Scouts pick up an average of five tons of trash and debris from the river every year, have painted six buildings, improved campground accessibility and performed landscaping at visitor use areas. In 2017, Scouts plan to complete the Camp Creek trail and another major accessibility project at Grandview Sandbar Campground.