Three Boys Sitting on Branch Nestled among the tall trees and a nearby lake in northwestern Minnesota is a Boy Scout camp called Many Point Scout Camp, where scouts are learning valuable life lessons, as well as potential careers. One such field is communications — something I happen to be quite familiar with.

I recently had the opportunity to spend part of a week with my son at Many Point. It was a rare treat to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, working at a marketing agency and raising a family, to enjoy some time with my son and his fellow scouts in the White Earth State Forest. The experience is one I will not soon forget — including the thousands of pesky mosquitoes.

Careers in communications
To spark an interest in our industry, it’s important to engage young people and to promote careers in journalism and public relations. Many public relations professionals working in agencies today, including me, have traditional journalism backgrounds and have previously worked for newspapers or TV stations. The skills learned in journalism transfer seamlessly to public relations. At Many Point, boys have the opportunity to learn about careers in communications with merit badges that teach them the following skills:

• Journalism
• Photography
• Radio broadcast
• Mass communication
• Video production

The camp even has its own radio station and a booth where the boys can practice honing their broadcast skills. Other boys write stories throughout the week and publish them in a newspaper that is distributed to campers at the end of the week.

Here is a brief summary of some of the journalism merit badge requirements:

• Read a local newspaper, national newspaper, newsmagazine and news from an online source.
• Compare a story about the same event from each type of media.
• Visit a newspaper or magazine office and tour the various divisions.
• Discuss the differences between a hard news story and a feature story.
• Attend a public event and write two newspaper articles about the event.
• Find three career opportunities in journalism. Pick one and find out about the education, training and experience required for this profession.

Merit badge requirements are not easy. Trust me, as a parent who has supervised the completion of many for my own son. The badge requirements are intended to make the boys work to have a better understanding and appreciation for a profession.

Since 1927, the journalism merit badge has provided scouts with an opportunity to learn about facts and opinions; what freedom of the press is and the First Amendment; and the terms libel, slander, defamation, fair comment and criticism. Undoubtedly, some former Boy Scouts have leveraged their experience and applied it to a profession later in life.

As for my son, you wouldn’t catch him at the camp radio station or writing a story. Wouldn’t you know, he chose to work on four other merit badges while at camp? He has his sights set on other careers, which he also has the opportunity to explore through scouting programs.

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About Ryan Johnson

Ryan is a PR pro, with an earned accreditation in public relations. He’s a senior public relations supervisor who specializes in copywriting, media relations, and custom publishing. You can pick Ryan’s brain on custom content at