Things I Did Because I Was a Boy Scout: An impressive list

Those less familiar with Scouting know all about the camping and fishing and hiking that young men and young women enjoy in our program.

They know that Scouts and Venturers are kind and do good deeds.

“That’s a good start,” says longtime volunteer Ray Capp, “but there is so much more.”

So Capp asked some former Scouts — ages 30 to 80 — a simple question: What’s something you absolutely would never have done if you hadn’t been a Scout?

The result is an impressive list of “Things I Did Because I Was a Boy Scout.” It’s a powerful recruiting tool.

The list includes activities like using CPR, planting a tree, preparing a freshly caught fish, teaching a skill to someone else, camping in an ice cave and many more.

“As you think about the things you might want for your son,” Capp writes in an open letter to prospective Scout parents, “think of this list of possibilities.”

The list and letter are linked below. Both are suitable for printing and sharing far and wide.

Capp shared this with his Scouting family and agreed to let me include it here, because, as he writes, “we need to be sure every kid in America has the benefits of what we had as youngsters.”

Things I Did Because I Was a Boy Scout


Here’s a PDF of the poster seen above.

Ray Capp’s open letter

Here’s a PDF of Ray Capp’s open letter, in which he elaborates about this list.

Hat tip: Thanks to Russell Smart for sending me Ray’s letter.


  1. 2 things:

    1) Take a 64 mile canoe trip in the Canadian Wilderness.

    2) Spend 3 months working at a Scout camp in the UK as part of the European Camp Staff Program.

  2. this was our list…most troops cant match the example shown, but i guess you gotta walk before you can run…











  3. Was on the staff of the 1987/88 World Jamboree in Australia. An amazing experience that continues today as every Christmas an Australian staff member and I exchange t-shirts! Thanks BSA!

    • The first article I wrote as a staff member of Boys’ Life was on the overnight camping program at Cumberland Caverns, in 1973. The troop I covered was from Memphis, I believe.

    • Sitting back watching boys figure “it” out and them becoming fine young men! What an honor to be the mother of a scout and a Committee Member and Merit Badge Councilor.

  4. My son & his did a sailboat trip on the James River for summer camp one year and the 3 of us went on a 30 hour bus trip to Mount Rushmore another summer.

  5. Set and accomplished countless goals

    Learned how to swim

    Learned how to tie knots

    Used a compass for the first time

    Had my first blister 🙂

    Attended my first leadership training Academy (NYLT)

    Scouting gave me a social life

    Met a leader who made me want to become a database architect

    Learned how to speak in public

    Planned and executed countless events

    Learned how to sell myself

    Learned how to read a map

    Competed in my first triathlon

    Rowed my first canoe

    Learned how to teach

    Built my first camp gadget

    Tied my first lashing

    Learned how the government works

  6. When I was a County Commissioner I not only presented a Proclamation from the County, but as an Eagle Scout I had the privilege of administering the Eagle Scout Oath to three new Eagles.

  7. There are also a host of pranks an misadventures that I would never advise for any young man, but these experiences shaped who I became, and were generally harmless. Scouting has left me with so many valuable things!

  8. I’m barely younger than the surveyed group, but I think it’s important to show the variety of activities. While a scout, I:
    • Took a computer apart
    • Put a computer together
    • Learned basic sign language
    • Met my city’s mayor

    Because of scouting and its values, I’ve already seen myself be a part of things I don’t think I would have otherwise. As a grown scout, I:
    • Developed an interest in cyber security
    • Developed materials on account security for my undergraduate university
    • Met with someone who works at the NSA

  9. Worked at the best and biggest summer camp for a couple of months, Philmont scout ranch.

    Met my best friend

    Stopped letting people tell me I couldn’t do something because I was just a girl.

    Went scuba diving in the florida keys.

    Learned how stong I could be.

  10. a couple of my favorites: When Whitewater rafting, helped wrangle camels into the back of a trailer and went to sleep in a tent and could see the ground, woke up and had six inches of snow on the ground

  11. I continued serving my community, state and nation at many levels for over 30 years and counting.

    The oath and law work no matter how old you are.

  12. 1. Learned to be prepared… I still sit in meetings at work today and am amazed at how many adults in positions of responsibility come to meetings unprepared.

    2. Gained a lifetime love of sailing but still never got the merit badge. Found out that if you weren’t able to complete it at scout camp, you could sail the next summer. If you earned it, no more sailing. Thanks Camp Hi-Sierra.

    3. Learned to snow ski in scouts.

    4. Learned about Beekeeping and got the merit badge — oh wait, can’t do that in scouting now.

    5. Hiked from the Navajo reservation to Rainbow Bridge at the far end of Lake Powell.

    6. Hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasu Indian Reservation.

    7. Swam in Alpine Lakes in the Sierra Nevadas

    8. Hiked from Big Basin to the Sea near Santa Cruz CA.

    9. Realized that Scouting is cool.

    10. Had my Eagle Scout grandfather (1932) tear up as he pinned my Eagle on me in 1989.

  13. 1. Saw 4 Apollo moon shots launch on the old Saturn V rockets from the Cape.
    2. Canoed and camped in the Okefenokee Swamp.

  14. Hello brothers in Scouting, I was a scout of Rwanda Scout Association, now I am Assistant Leader Trainer(ALT). I like to share you some of Thing I did because I was a Scout, However I was not not a member of America boy Scout, but as You know we have One Promise and others similarly Values:
    1.Learned to be prepared
    2.Elected to a leadership position
    3.Developed a habit of cheerfully serving to others
    4.Traveled outside my home
    5.Gave a presentation
    6. Learned first Aid
    7.Gave service to others
    8.Made useful things from rope and logs
    9.Made friends I have kept up with for forty years
    10.Learned Orienteering
    11.Had Other people counting on Me
    12.Developed great respect for our service Men and Women

  15. Before I was a high school senior:
    Camped in the Adirondacks
    Camped in the Catskills
    Camped in New Mexico (Philmont)
    Camped in Idaho (National Jamboree)
    Camped at Mt Fuji (World Jamboree) where we were hit by a typhoon.
    Today, I still enjoy the outdoors. Did whitewater rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Camped near the beaches of Normandy in June, 2014.
    My council has their annual Gathering of Eagles at the academy at West Point. We have dinner at the Officers Club. This year, it will be held in the ballroom at Eisenhower Hall.

    • My Dad also camped at Mt Fuji for World Jamboree when the typhoon hit. He was chosen to hike Mt. Fuji but did not get the chance due to being evacuated because of typhoon. He has great memories of this experience.

  16. I’ve worn a duty belt for 16 years in the law enforcement field and still going strong. All because of the leadership skills, scout law and oath that I learned prior to achieving Eagle Scout. The wide variety of life saving skills has been very helpful at accident scenes and the hundreds of fire and rescue calls I have been too. I don’t know how many lives I have saved as a first responder, having done CPR over a dozen times. I may not be a hero, but I know I have made a difference in this world. My roots as a Boy Scout made me who I am today and I love my life. I am a father, a husband, a cop and a role model. Scouting sculpted my wonderful life. Thanks scouting!!!

  17. Developed the confidence to be a clown. Now I spend my time making people smile and teaching kids and adults how to be awesome. The full circle of a circus began as a scout

  18. Four Northern Tier treks
    300+ nights camping under the stars
    4 years as Scoutmaster to boys I am so proud of
    I owe it to my two Eagle Scout stepsons for taking me on this amazing journey!

  19. -Designed, organized and implemented a bicycle safety course for my elementary school.
    -Designed and built a knot tying visual aid and practice display board for my troop.
    -Volunteered at a World Scout Jamboree in Sweden as an adult Scouter.
    -Volunteered at a Scout Jamboree in Virginia as an adult Scouter.
    -Marched in a parade in Washington DC to celebrate the 100th anniversary of BSA.
    -Mentored a young man (who had lost his dad) through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
    -Danced in costume in a Native American dance presentation for an elementary school.
    -Participated in a Cub Scout canned food drive to help families in need in my community.
    -Donated money to support scouting in my community.
    -Sold household items door to door to raise money for my troop.
    -Brought newspapers to a collection center for recycling to help my troop.
    -Purchased needed household items from scouts fundraising in my community.
    -Competed in an orienteering meet using scout skills.
    -Canoed, portaged, camped and fished in a wilderness area of MN.
    -Hiked and camped at a high adventure wilderness area in the mountains of NM.
    -Celebrated Free Enterprise Day at the invitation of a local business as their guest.
    -Memorized and recited a Native American legend to other scouts in a dramatic setting.
    -Wrote a letter of recommendation to nominate a Scouter for an award.
    -Attended a Scout Skill Show in my community.
    -Assembled wooden, leather, pioneer and craft projects.
    -Carried groceries for an elderly lady upstairs to her apartment.
    -Placed small American flags on the graves of veterans at a federal cemetery.
    -Attended a dinner celebrating contributions of Eagle Scouts at a community organization.
    -Volunteered as a junior assistant scoutmaster to help an inner-city troop get to go to camp.

  20. Tent camping.
    Hike the Grand Canyon.
    Mile swim.
    Trained as a lifeguard.
    Got my first paying job as a lifeguard.
    Learned to start a fire in multiple low-tech fashions.
    Learned the basics of trail construction and maintenance.
    Met Japanese scouts.
    Met Mexican scouts.

    and on and on and on.

    The above list is off the top of my head from my years as a youth. I’ve been involved a few decades more than that, now. The list continues to grow.

  21. I served as one of the Governor’s Honor Guards on Mackinac Island in Michigan. I raised and lowered his flag daily for a week and even got to try one of the governor’s wife’s chocolate brownies.

  22. Started in Scouting in the mid-1950’s, made Eagle in the early 60’s, got to Philmont, was able to get an appointment to the AF Academy and become a pilot, was able to work as a volunteer (along with my wife) while our sons were in Scouts, got back active in my late 50’s, have been able to camp with our grandsons, and am teaching but still learning more in my early 70’s! Working with the Scouts reinforces my belief in the actions, spirit, and honor of both Scouts and Scouters; I will remain active however I can for as long as I can!

  23. 1) Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on primitive trails.

    2) Cooked French Toast in a Dutch Oven.

    3) Learned more than four knots.

    4) Saw the Liberty Bell during its Freedom Train tour of 1976.

  24. I was a Scout in Grays Harbor County, Washington State. Scouting taught me to “Be Prepared” and to “Do a Good Turn Daily”.
    I live in Florida now where suddenly on a beautiful afternoon there may be a sudden and torrential rain shower. In ten minutes the rain is over and the sun is shining again.
    I used to find umbrellas at the Dollar Store and buy a whole bag of them. Then when I was on my way into a store in the rain, I’d open one up and head in. There would most always be someone coming out who didn’t need an umbrella going into the store on a sunny day, but now needed one coming out of the store in the rain. I’d give them mine. I did that for as long as I could find umbrellas to buy for a dollar.
    “Be Prepared” and “Do a Good Turn Daily” meant give away my umbrella, give away a bag full of umbrellas one at a time. . . Something I would not have thought to do if I hadn’t been a Scout.

  25. Became best friends with Chikara Yasuda, an International Camp Staff Scouter from Japan, who was at our summer camp (Kishwaukee Scout Reservation) in 1975. Chikara died from a crash with a drunk driver just four months after returning home to Japan. He was so well liked and highly regarded, that a campership has been awarded in his name every year since. I am a better person for having known him.

  26. Built a tower using only logs and rope. Cut down a tree using only and ax and removed all the limbs (Paul Bunyan Axeman Award). Learned more about my religion (Youth and Adult religious awards). Rode a canoe through white water. Applied the Heimlich maneuver to a choking person. Met people I’d never have met otherwhise.

  27. I was just a little boy when I joined scouts in 1966, 51 years later, I’m still moderately active in it. I learned the 12 points, and Motto and still live by them daily. I learned First Aid. I saved a choking person and later I also saved me while choking. I learned to swim. I saved a little girl in a public pool. I went canoeing for a week straight. I slept under an aluminum canoe during a really nasty thunderstorm. I learned you can sleep while every thing you have is absolutely sopping wet. I learned how to use a compass. I got very lost but found my way with orienteering skills I was taught while learning how to use said compass. I learned that the clip on a clipboard messes up compass work!!! I learned that orienteering is plane geometry in action along with basic trigonometry at work. I learned to build a fire with wet wood. I can start a fire w/ flint and steel in under 30 seconds still today and Hot Sparks are cheating. I learned I had a temper, I learned how to control it. I learned how to rock climb, I went spelunking. I learned about the outside world. I learned Forestry. I learned nature. I can ID almost every tree in the eastern US – leaves – Bark – Twigs – bud scales – petiole vein holes – tree shapes in the open and in the forest – by their fruits and seeds. I learned to fish. I learned to hunt. I went to Washington DC, I visited Congress, I visited the Senate. I spent a week in the Smithsonian Institute, in its back rooms with the naturalists there. I canoed from Mount Vernon to Washington DC and learned what tidal rivers are about. I slept under the stars 15ft away from the Washington Monument. I climbed up the stairs of the Washington Monument. I swam the length of the Washington Monument reflecting pool. I went to New York City, I went to Niagara Falls. I went to the Grand Canyon, I went to Zion Canyon, I went to Bryce Canyon. I caught pneumonia at a Jamboree, I learned that pneumonia at a Jamboree equals a month in the hospital. I learned how to properly handle, fire, respect, and take care of a firearm. I learned to drive at camp. I learned to not drive across a flooded bridge, that was close!! I learned to listen – I learned to speak – I learned when to and when not to do either of these. I learned why Slick Rock Ford is named Slick Rock Ford. I learned how to tie knots, splice ropes, and wrap and frap. I learned to be proud of my mistakes as I learned from them. I got skunked by a skunk. I had a raccoon in my tent. I learned about snakes. I found a snake in my sleeping bag. I still know Morse Code and Semaphore Signals. When I was 15, I changed the oil pan on one of my ASM’s cars 5 miles out in the woods, a rock in the road punched a very large hole in it. I have camped in so many places I can’t even remember them all. I spent 2 wonderful summers camping on the Buffalo River in Arkansas. I became a leader of boys. I became a leader of men. I learned about a lot of things by way of the merit badge program. One of which became my vocation – Thanks Mr. Terrell Dawkins P.E. for teaching me Electricity and Electronics. I still use so many Scout skills today. I became an Eagle Scout – I earned it. I was an APL, PL, SPL, JASM, ASM. I was a Brotherhood OA Man. I worked Camp Staff at Kia Kima Scout Reservation in Hardy Arkansas. I grew up. I became a man. I taught many young fellows about trees and many other Scout things. I went to Wood Badge and completed my ticket. I was a Scoutmaster then I semi-retired. I became the me I am today because of the efforts and assistance of so many along the way. Thanks to all for helping to make me – ME. My troop has been chartered since 1937, in 20 years it will be 100 years old. I hope I make it to the party.

  28. As a Scout leader for many years I learned that every boy who was involved in scouting, even for a short time, became a better Man for it.

  29. Hiked across the isthmus of Panama from Pacific ocean to Atlantic ocean(December 26-31 1964). The Historic trail was called “El Camino Real”. I was 13.

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