By Darryl Alder
Sep 09, 2019

Scout Ambassador Toolchest: Why Should Schools Charter Scout Units?

Education and Scouting—a Natural Partnership

Consistently, principals surveyed like Scouting. They recognize the good Scouting does for the children in a community. They also see that
Scouting’s youth development goals are similar to those of the educational system.

Boy Scouts of America, National Task Force on Educational Relationships

As an educational resource, Scouting is chartered by Congress and incorporated to provide resources for communities serving youth. Our programs make us the nation’s leading youth development organization and we have often been seen so elementary secondary schools, colleges, and by special needs, private, charter, homeschool, rural, and after-school programs.

In fact, a few years ago while serving on our local school board and while attending a Nation School Board Conference with 40,000 other board members, the secretary of education stated that we could do away with high schools if every teen read and worked on all of the merit badges Scouting offers. That was quite an endorsement.

As Scouting Ambassadors, communicating the value of Scouting to local educational organizations is part of our job. We need to work to influence educators and parents organizations in the education community to see the value of Scouting in their schools.

Scouting’s Values for Educators

Program objectives of the Boy Scouts of America have historically aligned with school and educational objectives helping prepare youth to be tomorrow’s leaders. With things like our STEM and merit badge programs, Scouting and literacy, leadership development and helping youth be “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight,” our partnership is a natural one.

And as BSA states, “Citizenship has always been a major part of Scouting. The tenets of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law have guided Scouts to enrich themselves, to think of others, and to make the world a better place.” In so doing, young people practice model behavior at school and in the community, nation, and the world.”

Listed below are a series of studies supporting educational objectives in each Scouting program by age.

Cub Scouting and Elementary Aged Youth in grades K-5

Tufts University research shows Scouting activities contribute to significant increases in cheerfulness, helpfulness, kindness, obedience, trustworthiness, and hopeful future expectations, all of which makes for better students. the academic development of the children who participate. In addition, the Search Institute found their 40 Development Assets needed for elementary-aged youth are all found in Cub Scouting.

Cub Scouts are children in grades K–5. Girls and boys are organized in their own dens, but packs may combine both genders

Interestingly, Cub Scouting lets kids have fun while teaching them skills that will help them later on. From the thrill of shooting an arrow to learning how to transform a block of wood into a race car, Cub Scouts is one thrill after another.

With a program expertly tailored to match each age in a young child’s life, Cub Scouts learn that even when fun isn’t easy, it’s always an adventure. In Scouting, everything has a purpose and activities contribute to the academic development of children who participate. And it shows kids that doing their best is the most fun of all.

In the elementary grades, the program is built around a series of adventures that are theme-based explorations in areas such as service, outdoor adventure, fitness, and leadership. Children also have opportunities to explore other areas of interest such as STEM investigations, crafts, and outings within the community. Some of the specific positive effects documented by researchers include the following:

  • The time that children spent in structured activities such as Scouting has been correlated with higher academic and conduct grades, constructive peer relations, and positive emotional adjustment (Posner and Lowe, 2008).
  • Involvement in activities such as Scouting is correlated with a decrease in delinquency rates (Agnew and Peterson, 1989).
  • The time that children spent in Scouting shows that scout programs help children develop a sense of themselves as people who are broadly competent, who can work constructively in groups, and who can complete poorly defined tasks.
  • Children in Scouting also have an increased sense of obligation to the community and its institutions (Kleinfeld and Shinkwin, 1983).
  • Children involved in Scouting are identified as demonstrating higher affective and cognitive regard for learning science content (Jarman, 2005).
  • Scouting programs support the growth of developmental assets (Search Institute, 2004).

Scouts BSA is for All Middle-school Aged Children

For the first time in its 100+ year history, the iconic program of the Boy Scouts of America is open to young women as well as young men, all of whom will have the chance to earn Scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout.

Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts) is our flagship program. It is designed for youth ages 11 to 17. These youth are most often in the middle school grades, but older youth stay with the program as youth mentors and leaders.

Activities for this age group augment the academic development of youth who participate. Scouts BSA is built on an advancement and recognition system that is largely self-guided and self-directed. Advancement supports youth development in areas of service, outdoor adventure, fitness, and leadership. Scouts also have the opportunity to explore other areas of interest such as STEM investigations, the arts, and outings within the community. Some of the specific positive effects documented by researchers include the following:

  • Those who achieve the Eagle Scout Award have been documented to demonstrate more traits of active and engaged citizens than non-Eagle Scouts. These traits carry over into adulthood (Jang, Johnson, and Kim, 2012).
  • The time that children spent in structured activities such as Scouting has been correlated with higher academic and conduct grades, constructive peer relations, and positive emotional adjustment (Posner and Lowe, 2008).
  • Involvement in activities such as Scouting is correlated with a decrease in delinquency rates (Agnew and Peterson, 1989).
  • The time that youth spent in Scouting shows that it helps develop a sense of self as people who are broadly competent, who can work constructively in groups, and who can complete poorly defined tasks. Boys in Scouting also have an increased sense of obligation to the community and its institutions (Kleinfeld and Shinkwin, 1983).
  • Youth involved in Scouting are identified as demonstrating higher affective and cognitive regard for learning science content (Jarman, 2005).
  • Scouting programs support the growth of developmental assets (Search Institute, 2004).

In all, Scouts BSA offers youth grounding in civics and practical citizenship and applied knowledge of community resources. In STEM, these Scouts explore many fields of science, engineering, and technology, with a special emphasis on practical and career applications of this knowledge. As for physical education, Scouting teaches fitness for life, including nutrition, goal setting, and active participation throughout one’s lifetime. Scouts in this age group gain problem-solving skills while developing a positive self-concept; it helps them become solution-oriented, independent problem-solvers and gives each Scout an orientation toward community service.


Venturing and Scouts BSA

Venturing is an inclusive program through the Boy Scouts of America for teens aged 14-20 (or 13 and completed the 8th grade).
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The aim of Venturing, like Scouts BSA, is to encourage the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual development of young people so they may play a constructive role in society as responsible citizens and as members of their local and international communities. In Scouts BSA troops are gender-specific but in Venturing the program is coed from the get-go.

Venturers are always looking for an adventure. Rappelling a cliff. Perfecting their shot. Designing a robot. Kayaking into the sunset. Exploring faith traditions. Volunteering at an animal shelter. The choice is theirs!

As a an outdoor oriented school club, Venturing is youth-led and youth-inspired. They’ll acquire life skills and gain experiences that will prove to be valuable regardless of where their future takes them, all while having a blast: leadership, event-planning, organization, communication, responsibility – the list goes on!

The Venturing program, which is designed to achieve the same program
outcomes but through a program model that focuses on youth-designed and youth-led adventures as the means for personal development. Young adults may achieve the Venturing Summit Award in recognition of their leadership and service, which is useful on college applications.


As a school club or after school program, Scouting can be used K–12 in any school or through a parent-teacher organization for school children and teens. Through hands-on activities and active learning, Scouting helps youth develop a desire for lifelong learning and high regard for self-improvement, community engagement, and respect for the outdoors.

Sharing many of the same goals Scouting, schools, and educators make an ideal team. To learn how your school or educational organization can benefit from starting a Scouting unit, contact your local Scout Council.

Darryl Alder, blogger for "The Boy Scout"
Author: Darryl Alder is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Exploring Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner. He currently serves on the Utah National Parks Council Executive Board and is a Scouting Ambassador.

Other articles in this Charter Partner series include:

For other articles in this series see:

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