Childhood obesity has tripled since the 1960s, and doctors are treating younger and younger patients for conditions like diabetes. Binge drinking has become rampant in college, and younger kids are finding newer and more dangerous ways to get high. Schools are dropping art classes and recess for academics, yet young people in America are falling behind their international peers in math and science achievement.

Against that backdrop of bad news, Scouting promotes mental and physical fitness through a rigorous program of outdoor activities and a varied array of merit badges and other awards that encourage youth to stretch both their muscles in their minds. As philosopher John Locke wrote, “A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.”

“Our object should be to make the individual boy understand personal self-care, and his responsibility for his own health and strength. It is a duty to himself, to the nation, and to his Maker.”

–Robert Baden-Powell