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Volcano Scouting is a group of scouts, adult leaders, and outdoor professionals working to bring Scouting back to Mount St. Helens through stewardship, education, adventure, and leadership opportunities. With help from the USDA Forest Service and Mount St. Helens Institute, we provide young adults with the resources they need to design engaging outdoor programs at the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center.


Volcano Scouting is an organization established and operated by scouts, Adult Scouters, and outdoor professionals of all backgrounds. We recognize that our volunteers, staff, participants, and partners come from diverse perspectives and cultures. We acknowledge sociocultural inequalities limit certain communities’ exposure to the great outdoors and strive to eliminate any and all barriers between those we serve and the volcano we love. Our team is committed to promoting and securing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all the work that we do. Furthermore, as longstanding partners with the USDA Forest Service and Mount St. Helens Institute, we are committed to upholding their Non-Discrimination Statement and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement, respectively. 


Every community owes its existence and vitality to generations from around the world who contributed their hopes, dreams, and energy to making the history that led to this moment. Some were brought here against their will, some were drawn to leave their distant homes in hope of a better life, and some have lived on this land for more generations than can be counted. Truth and acknowledgment are critical to building mutual respect and connection across all barriers of heritage and difference. We begin this effort to acknowledge what has been buried by honoring the truth. Volcano Scouting hosts its events at Mount St. Helens on the ancestral lands of the Cowlitz and Yakama People. We pay respects to their elders past and present. Please take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration, and settlement that bring us together here today. And please join us in uncovering such truths through any and all programs.


Lawetlat'la (Mount St. Helens) is listed as on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) under Criterion A because it is directly associated with the traditional beliefs of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Yakama Nation regarding origins, cultural history, and nature of the world. Those beliefs are rooted in tribal history and are important in maintaining the cultural continuity of the tribal community. The Cowlitz name for Mount St. Helens is Lawetlat'la, which roughly translates to "the smoker" (Kincade 2004). The name itself identifies the eruptive character of the mountain. Other names recorded for the mountain include nsh' ak'w from the Upper Chehalis people, which translates as "water coming out," and aka akn, a Kiksht (upper Chinookan) term for "snow mountain" (Rob Moore, personal communication, 2001). Knowledge of the mountain, its creation, and behavior has been passed down through generations of Cowlitz and Yakama through an oral tradition of myths and legends. Lawetlat'la is one of the first landform features created by Spilyai, or Coyote, a key figure of their creation myths. Other myths inform them of the nature of the relation between people, their environment, and the sacred, and tell of how Lawetlat'la came to be imbued with spiritual power. The myths offer lessons regarding personal conduct and cultural ideals, providing a window into traditional worldviews, or perceptions of reality, both physical and spiritual. Though the myth is of central importance in relating Lawetlat'la to Cowlitz spiritual beliefs, other aspects of cultural identity, such as traditional practices and rituals, and historic accounts of the mountain reveal its cultural-historical significance.


Our vision is to restore the lost connection between Scouting and Mount St. Helens. Prior to the volcano's 1980 eruption, five youth camps populated the shores of Spirit Lake. Both Longview and Portland YMCA's had camps as well did the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. The St. Helens Hiking Club also had a camp located near Harry Truman's famous St. Helens Lodge. Camp Spirit Lake was a nationally-recognized Boy Scout camp for its canoe-only access, water activities, and hiking program.

Images courtesy of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Archive. Camp Spirit Lake, circa 1979



Volcano Scouting was founded in 2015 by Newberg (Oregon) Star Scout Quentin Comus. After visiting the Science and Learning Center, he decided to approach the Mount St. Helens Institute about hosting more scouts at the facility. A partnership soon developed and in August 2016, Volcano Scouting hosted 40 scouts and adult leaders at its Volcanoree 2016. This five-day event featured camporee games, hikes, movies, education programs, and service projects.​

Later, in 2017, Volcano Scouting partnered with the USDA Forest Service to promote the Monument's recreation opportunities to Scouting groups in the area. That summer, over 75 visitors participated in the Merit Badge Weekend, Summit Hike, and VolcanoTrek 2017. Volcano Scouting also hosted a Spaghetti Feed and Silent Auction with Troop 520 to help decrease participant fees.


In 2018, Volcano Scouting hosted its second annual Merit Badge Weekend and first annual Hornaday Adventure Camp to foster stewardship, environmental education, and adventure leadership. Staff also held a Partnership Conference with local Scouting leaders, public land managers, and Volcano Scouting staff to discuss the future of Scouting at Mount St. Helens.


Volcano Scouting aims to serve scouts through four disciplines: stewardship, education, adventure, and leadership. These values ensure our programs are exciting and engaging for scouts of all backgrounds.



We believe the Earth is everyone's home. So why not leave it better than you found it? At Volcano Scouting, we require that all overnight programs include at least one service project that makes a significant improvement to the local environment or economy. Along the way, we instill conservation ethics, trail building skills, recreation management insight, and memories in our participants. Mount St. Helens is also home to a variety of Eagle Scout Projects!



Providing participants with meaningful programs goes along with providing exciting educational activities. Teaching Native American culture, ecology, geology, history, and conservation skills enable scouts to make an impact on the world. Times are changing, but we cannot forget what events and knowledge shape our interactions with ourselves, others, and the environment. Volcano Scouting is proud to offer presentations from outdoor professionals and hands-on activities at our programs.



Scouts and adult leaders alike live for adventure. Whether that's scaling a volcano or taking a stroll in the woods, recreation is an important part of our programs. Volcano Scouting offers a variety of outdoor activities that encourage participants to engage with their public lands and promote good health. Older scouts can venture through the Mount Margaret Backcountry, go canoeing on Coldwater Lake or climb to the summit of the volcano. 



We believe the best way to provide scouts with exciting and engaging programs is to let them design it. That's why Volcano Scouting is youth-led and adult-supported. Older scouts have the opportunity to staff with Volcano Scouting, alongside outdoor professionals, by planning and leading outdoor programs at the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center. Additionally, we are proud to offer all participants with unique leadership training opportunities.