Here’s how you can join the thousands of Scouts who will volunteer on National Public Lands Day

Chances are, there's a National Public Lands Day event within a couple of hours of you

Helping other people at all times is what we as Scouts do, and there are few opportunities to make a bigger impact than National Public Lands Day.

Scheduled for September 24, it’s the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which leads and coordinates National Public Lands Day.

As if that wasn’t enough to get you motivated, September 24 is also the next entrance fee-free date for our national parks, forests and seashores.

Looking for a place to have a unit meeting on September 24? For free?!? You’re welcome.

(FYI your next opportunity to visit one of these locations on a fee-free day will be Veterans Day — November 11.)

Thousands of Scouts, parents, other family members and adult volunteers will be participating in projects at sites across the country, according to data that NEEF was kind enough to share with us.

Looking for a straightforward, well-managed service project that your entire unit and their families can participate in? Click here to find an event near you.

Non-Scout volunteers remove a tire at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn at a recent National Public Lands Day event. Photo by Matt Malina

Helping the natural world

The types of projects offered on National Public Lands Day include activities such as trash pickup, trail maintenance, shoreline cleanup and planting wildflowers.

In terms of sheer size, one of the more impressive efforts is the H2Ozarks Shoreline Lake Cleanup, during which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host volunteers at 50 different sites. Around 500 people are expected to help clean up the shores along Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake in Missouri and Arkansas.

Although this project is officially associated with National Public Lands Day, it’s so extensive that it will run until October 8.

At West Point Lake in Georgia, around 400 people will clean areas of shoreline, construct habitat structures, paint facilities and perform vegetation management along nature trails.

And at California’s Lake Sonoma, around 200 people will pick up trash on the lake’s shoreline and in the surrounding parking lots and trailheads.

Working as a team

Group service projects are a great way to build your unit’s comradery, especially if you’ve just added a ton of new members, like so many Cub Scout packs have done recently. And if you’re nervous about organizing your own event, joining a National Public Lands Day event near you just might be your answer.

The BSA has been a proud supporter of National Public Lands Day for many years. Established in 1994, the theme of this year’s event is Giving Back Together. Over the last decade, the event has drawn more than 1 million volunteers who have combined to work 5 million hours. NEEF estimates the value of that work to be $133 million.

About Aaron Derr 448 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.