Get your Scouts out of town and look up for awe-inspiring views

We looked this week at the BSA’s amazing high-adventure bases. They’re catalysts for exciting new experiences for Scouts and leaders, but they’re also havens of natural beauty and wonderment — spots where you can pause and reflect on our place in this universe. That’s hard to do though when you can barely see any bit of the universe when you gaze skyward.

If you live in the middle of a big city, you’re regularly missing out on incredible views of our galaxy that appear overhead every night. Light pollution washes out many astronomical objects: the Milky Way galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, star clusters and constellations. The farther away you get from the city lights, more magical lights begin to dominate the nighttime sky, as seen here in this National Geographic video:

You can see many celestial objects from the national high-adventure bases. At Northern Tier, you might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Check out this photo of what the night sky can look like at Philmont Scout Ranch.

Such awe-inspiring sights can also inspire your Scouts to learn more about the universe. Tigers learn about what they can see in the Sky is the Limit elective adventure. Webelos Scouts also study the night sky in the Adventures in Science elective adventure; they can also build a model solar system, go to an observatory and launch a model rocket. Scouts can pursue the Astronomy merit badge. Cub Scouts, Scouts and Venturers can earn the STEM Nova and Supernova awards, which have astronomy options. And Explorers can examine astronomy as a career.

Dark skies

You can ignite that fascination by taking your Scouts to places where they can see a plethora of stars. The national high-adventure bases are great options for nighttime viewing; you can try finding a place closer to home, too. Visit a nearby observatory or find a place to camp under a “dark sky.” The International Dark-Sky Association certifies places that have truly dark skies, away from light pollution. Here is a list of some places by state that have received such certifications:

Arizona

California

Colorado

Georgia

Idaho

Michigan

Montana

Nevada

New Mexico

North Carolina

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Wisconsin

About Michael Freeman 51 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.