For more than 100 years, Scouting programs have instilled in youth the values found in the Scout Oath and Law. Today, these values are just as relevant in helping youth grow to their full potential as they were in 1910. Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership skills, and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives.
In 2005, the Boy Scouts of America commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the Values of Americans study to examine the ethics and character of Americans young and old, and to see if values have changed over time. The Boy Scouts of America also wanted to determine how Scouting has influenced the values of adults over their lifetimes and the lives youth members. Scouting has touched the lives of many youth and adults across America.
Scouting Provides Lifelong Benefits
Scouting provides youth with an opportunity to try new things, provide service to others, build self-confidence, and reinforce ethical standards. These opportunities not only help them when they are young, but carry forward into their adult lives, improving their relationships, their work lives, their family lives, and the values by which they live. In fact, 83 percent of adults who were Scouts agree that the values they learned in Scouting continue to be very important to them today, with 63 percent who were Scouts five or more years strongly agreeing with this statement.
Men with Scouting backgrounds also say Scouting has had a positive impact on their ability to work as a team, improved their family life at the time they were Scouts, and has helped them have a happier family life today. They also credit Scouting with building pride in their country and are more likely than men who have never been Scouts to say that voting in every election is essential to good citizenship (47 percent versus 29 percent).
The Tufts University Study
We all know Scouting’s goal is to prepare young people for life, but does it work?
Scouting was put to the test over the course of three years, when a research team from Tufts University worked with the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council to measure the character attributes of both Scouts and non-Scouts — all with a goal of better understanding the character development of youth as it was happening.
The project, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and led by Dr. Richard M. Lerner, surveyed nearly
1,800 Cub Scouts and nearly 400 non-Scouts under age 12 using both interviews and survey data. In the beginning, there were no significant differences in character attributes between the two groups. By the end, however, the differences were striking in several areas:
- Hopefulness (Hopeful Future Expectations)
In all, there were four, key findings reported by the study:
- The more time kids spent in Scouting, the better the outcomes in character development
- Those attend meetings regularly reported higher outcomes virtually across the board when compared with Scouts with lower attendance
- Scouts are more likely to embrace positive social values than non-Scouts
- Scouts who are more engaged in the program report higher outcomes in nearly every category.
Beyond the badges: The Eagle Scout Rank
One hundred years after Arthur Eldred of New York earned this nation’s first Eagle Scout Award, new, independent research demonstrates the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society every day. Since it was first awarded in 1912, more than 2 million young men have achieved the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank. The study conducted by Baylor University, Merit Beyond the Badges, found that Eagle Scouts are more likely than men who have never been in Scouting to:
- Have higher levels of planning and preparation skills, be goal-oriented, and network with others
- Be in a leadership position at their place of employment or local community
- Report having closer relationships with family and friends
- Volunteer for religious and nonreligious organizations
- Donate money to charitable groups
- Work with others to improve their neighborhoods
This independent research was funded by the Templeton Foundation and conducted by Baylor University. The Boy Scouts of America has linked to it with the permission of Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion, Program on Prosocial Behavior.