The high-flying sport of ultimate soars into Scouting with new alliance

Ultimate-at-2010-jamboreeTossing around a flying disc isn’t just for picnics or lazy days at the beach anymore.

That activity gets a shot of adrenaline in ultimate, a sport that combines the nonstop movement of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football.

Unlike some other sports, ultimate is non-contact, so it’s safe. Participants call their own fouls, so it helps build character and honesty. And the only equipment you need is probably already in your garage, so it’s inexpensive.

Safe, values-based, inexpensive and (most importantly) a ton of fun? Sounds like the perfect activity for your next pack meeting or troop or crew campout.

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America announced a new alliance with USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport of ultimate in the United States. (Read more on Scouting Newsroom.)

This alliance makes sense for both sides. USA Ultimate gets its fast-growing sport in front of millions of potential participants. The BSA gets access to resources for a sport that aligns perfectly with its SCOUTStrong Healthy Living Initiative.

There’s also this: USA Ultimate is offering a limited number of free Learn to Play kits to Scout units. Each kit consists of 10 discs, a clinic guide, cones, posters and stickers. 

Because these kits are in limited supply, there’s an application process to ensure that, for example, two units that live a mile apart don’t each receive kits. They would be asked to share one kit instead so there are more to go around.

Apply for a USA Ultimate Learn to Play kit at this link. If you don’t get a kit, you’ll still want to explore the resources at the USA Ultimate website to introduce this sport to your Scouts or Venturers.

Why ultimate?

Ultimate isn’t your typical sport, and Tom Crawford isn’t your typical executive.

The CEO of USA Ultimate uses phrases like “wicked fun” to describe the sport he says is perfect for Scouts and Venturers.

Sure, ultimate will help Scouts keep themselves physically fit in a way that makes them forget they’re getting exercise.

But it also helps Scouts keep themselves mentally awake and morally straight.

Any contact in ultimate is a foul, but there aren’t any zebra-striped officials patrolling the sidelines. Players in this sport call their own fouls, something Crawford says builds character.

“With built-in conflict resolution and values-building, the character-building elements of ultimate are incredibly powerful,” he says.

Yeah, sure. But the Scouts and Venturers I’ve seen playing ultimate — on the lush lawn of the Villa Philmonte, at national jamborees, at summer camp — are having too much fun to realize they’re getting their characters improved while playing.

That’s the real beauty of ultimate.

Going up

Lots of sports, including football, are losing participants. Ultimate is gaining them.

It’s easy to see why with a glance at the USA Ultimate YouTube channel. This sport is seriously awesome.

Today’s teens are seeing ultimate tournaments on ESPN and highlights from them on SportsCenter’s Top 10. You can understand why they’d want to give it a try themselves.

Ultimate has a “really good ‘cool factor,'” Crawford says. “It’s a nontraditional sport, which a lot of kids are looking for these days.”