By Andy Price, CEO of the Grand Canyon Council, BSA

Photos courtesy of Grand Canyon Council

Putting down your phone and picking up a backpack may help with the mental health crisis many youth are facing today.

According to the CDC, children and teens now spend an average of eight to nine hours in front of a screen daily, which can cause sensory overload and increase the risk of attention deficit disorders, anxiety, and depression. Too much screen time and limited experiences outdoors disproportionately affect children causing long-term developmental consequences.

The local Grand Canyon Council Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts of America) programs encourage boys and girls to socialize, learn new skills, gain confidence, and participate in outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, and canoeing. Scouting provides access to outdoor programs and activities designed with children and their families in mind who want to incorporate more outdoor exercise, have access to character development, all the while forming lasting bonds with their peers.
While Scouting is focused on teaching young people how to be prepared for life, it goes beyond helping the individual – parents and other family members may also benefit from Scouting by getting more quality time with their children.

Scouting provides a safe environment to learn and make friends, not just for the kids, but for parents, too. As a parent, active involvement in your Scout’s troop helps foster a sense of community, helps build a network of support, and even helps enhance parenting skills.

Community and the feeling of belonging are critical for everyone’s mental health, but especially today’s youth. Having a strong sense of social connection and spending time with people you love boosts self-esteem, promotes adaptability, and resilience, and is associated with improved overall quality of life. And spending time in nature has been proven to help focus, lower stress, boost your mood, and improve relationships.

So, we encourage you to put down that phone, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails!

To learn more about getting involved in Scouting, visit