Whether we were playing baseball, street hockey, Platoon, or "Tag," even in our little groups there was a sense of understanding that one of us could do things better than another. We learned through play fighting, street games, races and the like who was the best at pinning down an opponent, outsmarting the person who was “it,” and who could sprint distances without the slightest sense of exhaustion. It is in this base level of self-awareness that the next generation will begin to realize the power of a unit as a means to fill the gaps where they may find themselves lacking. In the preparedness community it may be difficult to explain to a child why in your group of trusted friends you are drawn to variety - doctors, builders, communicators, hunters, soldiers. A varied community is like the Leatherman in your pocket - each tool combining to strengthen and add value to the whole.
So, I offer up the following groups as a starting point for you and yours. These have all been able to withstand the test of time, having grown and become some of the greatest avenues for kid communities and skill building. Each has its own set of benefits geared toward improvement and independence. And at the same time, they offer immeasurable lifetime benefits.
In No Particular Order:
Scouts (Boy Scouts of America, or any of the 219 other countries around the world with presence)
Civil Air Patrol
Future Farmers of America (FFA)
Every community starts somewhere. From humble beginnings to massive levels of membership, each community has an opportunity to thrive with the right level of involvement. With each group is a cluster of like-minded people who want to contribute to a greater good for all. And in contributing, members of the group are often able to gain not only experience, but life skills that can be shared and put to use elsewhere. By encouraging your kids and exposing them to some of these groups, and groups like them, you can help to build a future of leaders, problem solvers, and community-minded citizens that put service at the forefront above self-service. But like anything, it starts with an introduction. From me to you, the list and options we provided today are only the beginning. These are only useful if you as a parent can show them the way and give them a chance to grow and learn. If you think you have a pilot in the midst, or a farmer in your hands, or a leader in the pack, give them a chance to contribute these skills to help others and learn new skills in the process.