David training at Beaver High Adventure Base (9,000 ft.)

Scouting teaches life skills. For over 100 years, youth in the Scouting program have faced physical, mental, and emotional obstacles and overcome them with perseverance and the Scout Oath and Law. Scouts are famous for being resourceful, physically fit, comfortable in the outdoors, determined, and hard-working. So is it really a surprise that a Scout would choose to face one of the world’s toughest obstacle courses?

David Peterson, former Boy Scout and current professional Scouter, has been training for “American Ninja Warrior” since last year. This popular TV show pits contestants against an increasingly difficult series of obstacles that require grit, endurance, balance, and immense physical strength. Anyone who completes the course receives prize money and the coveted title of American Ninja Warrior.

In an article about David’s efforts, Grant Olsen said of the Eagle Scout:

Peterson has been training for the competition since 2015. In recent months, he said he has kicked it up to a whole new level of intensity.

“The support from my wife and three kids to let me take time away from home in the evening to train has been crucial,” Peterson said. “I’ve focused quite a bit on endurance and different types of obstacle training, like swinging transfers from one obstacle to another.”

It was the complexity of the courses that attracted Peterson to the competition in the first place. He said he values the opportunity to test his abilities and seek new skills. An Eagle Scout, Peterson credits his early experiences with the Boy Scouts of America for instilling in him the persistence to overcome obstacles in life.

David is not only drawing on his past Scouting experiences as he prepares for the challenge. He currently works as a District Director for the Utah National Parks Council in St. George, overseeing Scouting programs for over 6,000 youth and 3,200 adult volunteers. Southern Utah offers a great setting to practice and train, and David takes advantage of rock climbing opportunities and other outdoor adventures as he builds strength and endurance.

Olsen explains that given David’s Scouting experience, past and present,

it’s not surprising that he incorporated several Scouting elements into his “American Ninja Warrior” audition video. He then received a call from the show’s casting crew telling him, he’d been selected to compete in Oklahoma City on May 13.

If Peterson finishes the qualifying round, he’ll compete with the top athletes in the finals the following day.

“My goal overall is to have fun and enjoy the ride, but make it through qualifying and kill it in the finals,” Peterson said.

David isn’t the only Boy Scout Ninja Warrior this round:

Peterson won’t be making the trip to Oklahoma alone. Three of his “American Ninja Warrior” training buddies, Brian Beckstrand, Jon Stewart and John Merrihew, have also been invited to compete in the competition. Like Peterson, they share a love for extreme challenges, and like Peterson, they’re all former Boy Scouts.

David will have plenty of Boy Scouts from across the country cheering him on as he faces this grueling course. And if he’s not thinking of his first Scout climbing trip or the fear of his first rappel, no doubt countless other Scouts will be.

Are your Scout experiences making you a Ninja Warrior? Tell us how in the comments.

Maria Milligan
Has spent several years as a merit badge counselor, several summers as a waterfront director, and her whole life wishing she could do the Pinewood Derby with her 6 brothers. She joined the Utah National Parks Council as a Grant Writer to get her chance.


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