“A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create.” Mahatma Gandhi
Since the inception of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, one of their main objectives has been to provide strong role models for youth during their formative years. What our youth need are caring adults who are strong role models. And this could not be any more relevant than it is right now as we see our communities and our nation coming out of a battle against a pandemic – the coronavirus. During the pandemic we saw businesses shutter, schools and churches close, and extracurricular activities come to a screeching halt; leaving our children with very little to occupy their time.
Scouting stepped up to the plate by continuing to offer its programs, camps, and experiences. We showed our youth what perseverance looks like, and how no problem is too difficult to solve. Most importantly, we aided in creating much-needed family time and social bonding, while social distancing of course. We created a space for healthy mentorship, through organized activities with other Scouts via Zoom for instance.
We know that mentoring is an important component of Scouting and recent scientific research proves that Scouting builds character. 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 2 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 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.”
Too many wrong choices are available for our youth. They desperately need, and want, our guidance to successfully navigate the difficult years of adolescence. Being involved in Scouting and mentoring can have a powerful impact in the lives of youth. The bottom line is mentoring improves decision-making, builds confidence and teaches life lessons. And that is what Scouting has always been about—preparing America’s youth for the future.
Scouting is time-tested and has proven it can withstand whatever obstacles are thrown in its way – isn’t that what we want to teach our children? Your family can experience all the benefits of Scouting. All youth (boys and girls, Kindergarten through age 18) are invited to join the Circle Ten Council today.