Studying The Benefits Of Scouting

March 23, 2010

According to the Scout Law, a Boy Scout is "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."

But does he stay that way as he grows up?

That's a question never scientifically studied until now. Researchers Dr. Byron Johnson and Dr. Rodney Stark with Baylor University's Institute for Study of Religion have received a two-year, $992,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a series of studies examining the impact of Scouting in fostering positive youth development and healthy, virtuous behaviors--termed "prosocial behavior."

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. Founded in 1910, the BSA provides programs for young men and women designed to build character, give training in the responsibilities of participatory citizenship, and develop personal fitness. The purpose of Scouting is to help youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethical decision-making skills, leadership skills and citizenship skills that carry over into adulthood.

"Unfortunately, there has been very little research on Boy Scouts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals are essentially nonexistent," Johnson said. "We need empirical answers to a number of important questions: Does Scouting matter? Is Scouting associated with beneficial results over time? Do Eagle Scouts value their Scouting experiences more than other Scouts? Does this vary for different eras? In other words, do Eagle Scouts from the 1950s differ from those of the 1980s?"

The BSA will celebrate its centennial in 2010, and the head of the organization, Chief Scout Executive Robert Mazzuca, says he looks forward to seeing results of the research. "For decades, the Boy Scouts of America has used outcomes research to strengthen our programs and curriculum. The research produced by Baylor University is very important, and at this crucial time, we expect to learn a great deal from the research as we embark on our next 100 years," Mazzuca said.