The BSA wants to know: How do you define ‘adventure’?

Ask 12 people this question, and you’ll get a dozen different answers: What does “adventure” mean to you?

To find out, the BSA isn’t consulting a dictionary. And it’s not asking a mere 12 people. It wants to hear from as many Scouts, Scouters and prospective Scouting families as possible.

Why the need to define “adventure”? After all, the BSA has been the gold standard of adventure for 108 years.

It’s simple. The BSA has maintained its status as the standard-bearer for adventure precisely by regularly asking its members what that word means to them.

For me, a Scout who grew up in Texas, “adventure” meant hiking at Philmont, earning the Wilderness Survival merit badge at Camp Cherokee and canoeing the Brazos River.

For other Scouts and Scouters, it means pushing their boundaries, exciting their imagination and trying new things.

What does it mean to you? You’re invited to share your answer in a few sentences at the end of this post. The BSA is listening.

Introducing the Outdoor Adventures team

This exercise isn’t purely for fun. The BSA is serious about analyzing how families define “adventure” to see how it can serve those families even better.

So serious, in fact, that last year the BSA named Al Lambert as the National Director of Outdoor Adventures, a new position.

Lambert’s Scouting career has been an adventure of its own. He served as a professional Scouter in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Hampshire before being named director of the Central Region.

A Distinguished Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Lambert’s current adventures include fishing, camping and spending time in the outdoors with his wife, two daughters and five grandkids.

In wanting to examine the definition of “adventure,” Lambert and his Outdoor Adventures team want to get as many people engaged in this dialogue as possible.

“There’s the traditional definition of adventure,” like Philmont and our other high-adventure bases, Lambert says. “But adventure comes in many forms. Not everyone goes to camp. Where does adventure happen for you?”

‘Classroom for character’

You’ve heard this one before: Young people don’t join Scouting to have their character strengthened. They join to have fun.

As leaders, it’s our job to blend the two in life-changing ways.

“The outdoors is the BSA’s classroom for character,” Lambert says. “There are lessons weaved throughout the outdoors experience.”

To make sure those lessons are as effective as possible, we go back to Lambert’s underlying question: “What does ‘adventure’ mean to you?”

Some of my favorite responses so far

The BSA asked some of its Facebook followers this very question. Here are a few of my favorite responses so far:

  • “It started when our son came home and said, ‘I want to be a Boy Scout!’ We have now been leaders in his troop for 13 years and still going strong.” – Lauren P.
  • “Northern Tier Quetico! Being knee deep in moose muck with a canoe on your shoulders in the Northwoods is a religious experience. You have to work together as a team to do a small task. It’s a true wilderness experience.” – John B.
  • “Walking alone in the Bushveld of the Kalahari desert … a thing I had dreamed of since a young boy and only made possible by all I learned in Scouting.” – Steve M.
  • “Being prepared for anything that comes next in life. … Family members who become ill and need help fending for themselves. Helping the underdog achieve success. Paying the tab for somebody with food stamps. Every day is an adventure.” – Mike C.
  • “Everyone has posted these amazing trips and locations. … However the biggest adventure of my life, as well as Scouting life, is living the daily adventure with my son who has a passion for Scouting and is also on the autism spectrum. Our whole life is an adventure of discovery, and Scouting is helping us through that path.” – Deirdre L.

What’s your definition?

Leave a few sentences below about what “outdoor adventure” means to you, and/or email your thoughts to

You’re also encouraged to find the BSA on Instagram, where your fellow Scouts and Scouters are sharing photos using the hashtag #WeOwnAdventure.

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.