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18 Things Every Scout Should Do, An Exclusive Excerpt From Bear Grylls’s New Book

Do Your Best: How to be a Scout by Bear Grylls is a handbook for every Scout, young and old. It teaches skills and inspires readers to face life head-on and make a real difference in the world.

Here is an exclusive look at Bear’s list of 18 things every scout should do in life, including things like climb a mountain, go on a long journey, and cook a three-course dinner in the outdoors.

1. SLEEP OUT UNDER THE STARS

Find a patch of grass and stare up at the Milky Way. Feeling the cold night air on your skin is a great way to find your place in the universe. A bivvy bag is ideal for this: a waterproof covering that you and your sleeping bag will fit snugly inside, while leaving your face exposed. Count comets and shooting stars until you drop off.

2. GO TO A WORLD SCOUT JAMBOREE (OR AT LEAST AN INTERNATIONAL CAMP)

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World Scout Jamborees happen every four years, and in a different country each time. Tens of  thousands of Scouts attend from all over the Scouting world for a festival of peace and friendship. They’ve been happening since the first one in London in 1920 and there’s really nothing like them on earth. It’s where you’ll learn how to say your promise in Spanish, how to cook a Hungarian goulash and swap badges with a New Zealander. And if you don’t manage to get a place at a World Scout Jamboree, then don’t worry. There are plenty of international camps that happen all over the world. Find one near you. You’ll never forget it.

3. PASS ON A SKILL TO ANOTHER SCOUT

You’ve only truly mastered a skill when you know it well enough to teach someone else. If you feel like you can tie the highwayman’s hitch (see page 231) with your eyes closed, then now’s the time to pass that skill on.

4. VOLUNTEER (AND GIVE YOURSELF A CHEER)

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Becoming a volunteer will make you shine brighter. Helping other people does great things for your soul and brings out the best in you. Whether you do some shopping for an elderly neighbour or help run the Cub pack, this’ll help you be the best version of you. Because when we give, we always receive.

5. TIE SOMEONE’S FRIENDSHIP KNOT

You know you’ve truly made a friend in Scouts when they ask you to tie a friendship knot in their neckerchief (see page 268). In fact, if you can tie a friendship knot, you’ll find you have lots of friends. This skill is in high demand.

6. TAKE PART IN A CAMPFIRE

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Campfires are not just for keeping warm. They’re places for Scouts to get together, sing badly and glug hot chocolate. Be brave and lead your fellow Scouts in a song or a sketch. Show them a magic trick or tell a tall tale. Don’t worry about making a fool of yourself – that’s the whole point! People will love you all the more for your sense of adventure and fun.

7. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Remember, you only start learning when you reach the edge of your comfort zone, so don’t be afraid to stick a toe over the edge. Talk to someone new, get onto that stage or put that scuba diving mask on and go diving! You won’t look back.

8. REMAKE YOUR PROMISE IN AN UNUSUAL PLACE

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Whether it’s in a kayak in the middle of a lake, standing at the top of a hill at dawn or on the end of a surfboard, remind yourself of how important the Scout promise is by making it again in a place you’ll never forget.

9. CLIMB A MOUNTAIN

Whether it’s a real mountain or a metaphorical mountain, go attempt the impossible. Fail and try again. Push yourself. Aim big. Never give up. I got to be part of a military team to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, when I was twenty-three – and it changed my life. It reminded me that all of life is a challenge. And the bigger we dare to dream, the bigger the adventures ahead will be. There are all sorts of different ‘mountains’ we can climb. It could just as easily be a particular challenge you’ve been thinking about for a long time, like writing a book, learning a new skill, making a new friend, or breaking a negative habit. Remember, growing as a person doesn’t happen by chance. It happens with change. And change always starts with a decision. And climbing our own ‘Everest’ starts with that first small step . . .

10.  GO ON A LONG JOURNEY

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People once travelled great distances to discover new lands and meet new friends. Without cars or planes, these journeys once took weeks, months or even years (Marco Polo once travelled for

nearly twenty-five years before returning home). Pick a spot on a map and travel the slow way – by bike or on foot. As they say: life is the journey, not the destination.

11.  MAKE THE WORLD’S BEST HOT CHOCOLATE

Every now and again, treat yourself. You deserve it. Pile the mini-marshmallows high. Squirt on the cream until it looks like Mount Everest. Stick in some crumbly chocolate flakes. Now savour every moment. Go on, you’ve earned it.

12.  BE A LEADER

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You might not know it, but you’re already a leader. If you have any influence on others, it means you’re already leading. That might simply be in your family, or sports team, or your Scout group. If people watch what you do, in any way, then you’re a leader. So be a good one. Be proud of how you behave, and lead with kindness and integrity. Then people will follow you anywhere.

Next time you see a chance to step up, why not take it? When all eyes are on you, you’ll be surprised at what you can do. It’s your time to shine. Go for it!

13.  COOK A THREE-COURSE DINNER IN THE OUTDOORS

The greatest dinner parties are those held in 5-billion-star hotels. That’s right: the ones that have no roofs, just the night sky above. So get the fire going, wrap up your potatoes in tin foil and prepare for a feast. Everything tastes better outdoors!

14.  EARN YOUR TOP AWARD

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Image by Boy Scouts of America

Whether it’s becoming a King’s Scout, an Eagle Scout or getting the Chief Scout’s Silver Award, there’ll be an award that’s the highest possible for you and your friends. Plan how you’ll achieve it, then go for it. Don’t stop until you’ve tied off the last stitch as you sew it onto your shirt.

15.  GO ON A NIGHT HIKE

Watch the moonlight as it peeps through the trees, listen for the hoot of an owl or wave your torch around like a lightsaber. These are just a few of the rituals of the night hike. Remember to stay safe on roads, wear hi-vis jackets and pack spare batteries for your torch – especially if you’re doing impressions of Luke Skywalker. Tasty snacks are compulsory.

16.  BE A FRIEND (WHEN SOMEONE NEEDS YOU MOST)

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Everyone goes through a rough patch, but not everyone tells you about it. Watch out for people who are quieter than usual, or who are on their own or looking sad. You could be the friend that makes all the difference. A friend in need is a friend indeed. And a true friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

17.  PLANT A TREE

One of the most hopeful things you can do is plant a tree. It’ll help keep our air clean and our earth green. And it could still be growing after we are long gone. I’ve come across some truly amazing trees in my life. Some of them over 1,000 years old. (And I thought Scouting was ancient!)

18.  MAKE YOURSELF PROUD

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This could be doing some little act of kindness: holding open a door, giving someone a smile or giving up your place in a queue. Whatever you do, make yourself proud by making someone else’s day.

Do Your Best: How to be a Scout will be released September 28, 2023 in the U.K., Ireland, and Australia/New Zealand, and it will be published in April 2024 in the U.S. Buy it here.

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