What’s your proof? It’s mainly the anecdotal evidence of 100
years of great Scouting alumni and their profound impact on the country, right?
Now, Baylor University plans to find the evidence behind those anecdotes.
A $992,000 study, financed by a grant from the John
Templeton Foundation, aims to determine the “prosocial benefits” of Scouting.
Dr. Byron Johnson and Dr. Rodney Stark of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of
Religion will spend two years examining how men who were in Boy Scouts differ
from those who were not.
Researchers say they hope the comparison between Scouts and
non-Scouts will determine the validity of some “common assumptions” about
- Former Scouts have a better-quality family life.
- Former Scouts are more religious.
- Former Scouts are better citizens.
- Former Scouts are more generous contributors to charity.
- Former Scouts are less likely to drink or use drugs.
- Former Scouts are healthier and more apt to participate in fitness activities.
- Former Scouts are better educated and have higher occupational status.
- Former Scouts are more patriotic.
- Former Scouts are more likely to report that they are "very happy."
Although you and other volunteers may classify these
statements as certainties, there’s no scientific study to prove them. That’s
about to change.
"Unfortunately, there has been very little research on
Boy Scouts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals are essentially
nonexistent," Dr. 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 timing of this research coincides perfectly with the
BSA’s 100th Anniversary. The results could help guide the program’s leaders
through the next 100 years. And that leadership starts with Chief Scout
Executive Bob Mazzuca, who said he looks forward to reading the results in a
couple of years.
"For decades, the Boy Scouts of America has used
outcomes research to strengthen our programs and curriculum,” Mazzuca said. “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