Edward T. Broderick, Council President of the Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America and President of Gilbane Development Company
The Boy Scouts of America just celebrated its 100th anniversary -100 years of instilling lifelong values and lessons. The timelessness of the organization is telling of its lasting effects on generations of Scouts. Anyone who was a Scout, raised a Scout, or knew a Scout can tell you what a positive and lasting impact the program has on youth.
But for those whose family members have not been a part of the Boy Scouts, how will they know the benefits? A recent study by Tufts University shows that boys who are Scouts show significant, positive differences in character attributes during developmental years than boys who are not scouts.
The study examined Scouts and non-scouts ages 6 to 12 over a period of three years who were not significantly different from each other in other aspects. Using qualitative data to track and compare the boy's progress, the study aimed to study the character development of youth. In tracking their responses through interviews and surveys, the researchers focused on six key characteristics: hopefulness, helpfulness, obedience, cheerfulness, kindness, and trustworthiness.
Boys in the Scout program reported that they felt they grew significantly in all six categories over a period of three years. Conversely, non-Scouts did not report an increase in any of the categories. In fact, many non-Scouts reported that they felt less cheerful, helpful, and obedient than when the study began.
Over the period of the study, the Scouts saw a steady increase in learning and exhibiting positive social values. An important part of this study is the first-hand information that it relies upon. The youth are self-reporting, which means we get an insider’s view of the value of the Boy Scouts to these boys. The Scouts’ significant increases in character reporting shows that they feel like they have improved. The fact that they have improved is important, but so is the fact that these Scouts feel like they are more capable and have better social characteristics than when they first began.
When asked what was “most important” to them, Scouts were more likely to choose “helping others” or “doing the right thing” over “being smart,” “being the best,” or “playing sports.” Non-Scouts on the other hand chose answers geared toward self-importance and achievement. The Scout program places importance on other-oriented values, like the ones observed by the Scouts in the study, which illuminates the impact that being a Scout has on their development.
To show further impact of the Scout program, youth in sports, youth in Scouts, and youth in both were compared on how they felt regarding other-oriented values. Sports teams generally aim to instill leadership and teamwork qualities into youth, just as the Scouts do. However, youth in the Scouts program scored higher than those involved in both or just sports. The Scouts program is a unique one, which supports that development of other-oriented values in a superior way.
Additionally, the amount of involvement the Scouts had in the organization made a difference. Those who participated more regularly and for a continuous period of time showed better outcomes in character development. This is to be expected, but even those who sometimes or rarely attended meetings saw an increased levels of trustworthiness, helpfulness, kindness, and thriftiness. This second dynamic within the study provides further evidence that the Boy Scouts is a positive and effective program for our youth. Those who have the time and resources to participate regularly excel, but even those who are less involved show a greater development of positive characteristics than those who are not part of the Scouts. Being a Scout makes a difference.
Becoming a Scout is one of the best ways to teach developing youth positive, lasting social values. An organization with 100 years of tenure in helping youth reach a higher potential, the Boy Scouts is a great way to teach core values that help youth succeed for years to come. The Tufts study shows what every person involved in the Scout program can tell you: being a Boy Scout makes a positive impact on youth that will stay with them through the rest of their years.