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Benefits of Scouting

Will your child really become a better person if they join scouting? YES! According to recent research from Tufts University, cub scouts are more likely to have positive caring relationships with both adults and other children, develop important life skills, and experience leadership opportunities. 

Tufts University doctoral candidate Dan Warren studied 4,000 scouting and non-scouting kids in the Philadelphia area in three specific areas that have been established by leading researchers as necessary to create a "positive youth development program." His research demonstrated that boys that participated in cub scouts benefit strongly from all three key characteristics:

1. Includes sustained, positive adult-youth relations with caring and supporting adults

“The suggestion is that this takes at least a year of connection in order to really benefit from this,” Warren says. “Scouting accomplishes this by leadership positions and extends over a year of time in a variety of settings, so Cub Scouting checks that box really well.”

2. Promotes development of life skills through program activities

“Scouting is full of skills that can be directly applied to the life of a growing boy from everything from cooking to crafting skills,” Warren says. “Also, life skills like communication are all aspects of Scouting.”

3. Provides leadership opportunities

“I mean, if there’s one giant thing that Scouting produces, it’s leaders,” Warren says. “As the Scouts progress in the program, they’re allowed to take on more and more responsibility.”

Boys Definitely Grow Over Time

Interestingly, Warren also found that boys changed for the better, regardless of background---so children of all education, intelligence, and economic backgrounds experienced positive growth. “When we look at the kids who are coming into the program and their characteristics, especially when you start looking at the younger years where they haven’t been in the program for a long period of time or they’re just new Scouts, we’re not seeing a big difference here. You cannot identify them from other kids. In a really neat way, you have an average group of kids that come to Scouts.”

Sports or Scouting — or both?

Consistent with other studies on the topic, Warren found that the addition of scouting in the lives of children involved in sports is what makes the difference. If a child is only doing sports, he may not be living up to his full potential.

“What we found was that if kids are participating in sports and nothing else, things didn’t seem to go well,” Warren said. “If they were participating in some type of youth-development program like a Boy Scout, when you add sports onto that, there is this amazing result. It catapulted.”

Warren and other researchers believe that the combination of scouting and sports creates the idea character-building environment. Children and parents should definitely not feel that the child must decide to participate in one activity over the other. Scouting and sports is really a teaming operation.

The full article and more about the Tufts University study can be found here.