Scouting is a vehicle that carries youth on a developmental journey that unlocks their full potential and leaves an indelible impression that lasts a lifetime. Scouts are taught self-confidence that allows them to react heroically in tragedy, the importance of serving others and meeting needs when they arise, and what it means to give back.
From administering first-aid in the knick of time to keeping a victim calm in the face of danger, Scouts are saving lives nearly everyday. Take Will Durrett, for instance. A Circle Ten Council Scout, he earned the Boy Scout Honor Medal for saving a man’s life by rescuing him from a burning car. If you ask him where he mustered the courage to spring into action, his answer is the Boy Scouts of America. A rare honor, it’s one of only four special recognitions given to Scouts for their honorable service to others.
“It’s awarded less than the Eagle Scout Award, which is earned by less than 4% of all the boys in Boy Scouts,” said Durrett’s Scoutmaster Kevin Heady.
Dal Kelly, a fellow Scout, has been friends with Durrett for years.
“I was really shocked, but I mean I can expect it from him,” said Kelly. “He’s a very good person. But I was really just proud of him that he would jump in there and save someone’s life like that. I wish I could do that, but it takes real courage.”
But for Will Durrett, he says this award doesn’t compare to anything he’s received before. “I don’t feel like I needed an award but it feels good. I’m still kind of shocked,” said Durrett.
This example is just a small glimpse into how the BSA equips its members with the skills and knowledge to know what to do in a crisis.
The Scout Oath and Scout Law also empowers Scouts to serve others everyday in ways big and small. Whether a Scout is completing an Eagle project in hopes of reaching Scouting’s highest rank or a Scout is simply doing a “good turn daily,” Scouts are here to make life better for others.
Last month, Collin Coker of Troop 57 in Garland heard that his church needed new benches and he stepped forward to offer his assistance.
“Ever since I was a little kid the Children’s Pastor has mentioned that it is something the church wanted done and some people said I could do it as an Eagle Project. When the time came I asked if they still wanted newer benches and then one thing led to another and that became my Eagle Project.”
The COVID-19 pandemic stalled his project for several months, but he was determined to make good on the promise he made to his pastor. “Throughout my time in this program, I have learned a lot of things like outdoor skills, knots, and much more. But I think the most important thing is all of the leadership skills I have learned through the years, whether just from my peers or a leadership training course.”
Because of these lifelong skills, it is no wonder that the program has propelled Scouts to some of the most honored and influential positions in history. Presidents Gerald Ford and John F. Kennedy ascended to the most powerful position in the country, but before they became leaders of the free world, they were Scouts. More recently, Distinguished Eagle Scout Rex Tillerson, was sworn into his new office as the nation’s 69th Secretary of State. Lifelong advocate and benefactor of Scouting, Ross Perot, was known for being many things: a businessman, a patriot, and philanthropist – all qualities he says he developed as a 13-year-old Eagle Scout.
It is an unrefutable fact that Scouting builds character and prepares young people to make good choices. If those examples don’t convince you, data from a study conducted by a research team from Tufts University will. It proves that Scouting is scientifically proven to promote positive character development. Dr. Richard M. Lerner, a psychologist and youth expert at Tufts University, and his team measured the character attributes of nearly 1,800 Cub Scouts and nearly 400 non-Scouts.
“As a former Cub Scout myself, I’ve always shared the belief that Scouting had beneficial effects on kids’ character, but as researchers we must be rigorous and give it a fair test,” says Lerner. “We did, and the results are strikingly positive. After three years, Scouts reported significant increases in cheerfulness, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, trustworthiness and hopeful future expectations.”
In the beginning, the group of kids had no statistically significant difference in the character traits being measured. Through five different times over the course of two years, the youth were asked to describe themselves in relation to situations such as kindness, trustworthiness, hopeful future expectations and helpfulness.
The Scout group reported significant increases in the character attributes, while the non-Scouts showed no significant increases. Scouts also were more likely than non-Scouts to say that “helping others” or “doing the right thing” was more important to them than “being smart” or “being the best.”
“Now the organization can go beyond anecdotes and show how Scouting helps build character in kids,” Lerner says. “If I were a parent and wanted to put my young person in a program that leads to being hopeful, trustworthy and helpful, the answer is Scouting.”
“Each and every day we get to see the positive influence Scouting makes in young people’s lives,” says Sam Thompson, Scout executive/CEO of Circle Ten Council. “And while we weren’t surprised by the study’s results, it is great to be able to quantify the impact of the program and show parents the value of participation.”
The Boy Scouts of America will continue to meet the needs of our changing country, bringing the fundamentals of character and leadership to new generations of Scouts to make our communities better places to live and raise families. All youth (boys and girls, kindergarten through age 18) are invited to join the Circle Ten Council today.