Does Scouting build character? Here’s one way to find out …

Do Cub Scouts have improved character, health, and academic achievement over boys who aren’t in the program?

Empirical evidence says yes, but soon we’ll have scientific data to support what we all think we know.

This September, a three-year study by Baylor University and Tufts University will seek to answer that question and more. 

You may remember the Baylor University study from last year that documented statistically significant differences between Eagle Scouts, former Scouts who didn’t make Eagle, and men who were never in Scouting. The overall finding: Eagle Scouts contribute to society in ways men who were never in Scouting do not.

Now it’s Cub Scouting’s turn. Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion is joined by Tufts’ Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development for this new study, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

The universities will survey 3,880 boys from the economically and ethnically diverse Philadelphia area. It will compare boys ages 7, 8, 9, and 10 from these three groups:

  • 36 randomly selected Cub Scout packs with full-time Scout executives
  • 36 randomly selected Cub Scout packs without full-time Scout executives
  • Comparable samples of boys who are not in Cub Scouts

The same boys will be surveyed in September 2013, May 2014, September 2014, and May 2015 to document their progress. Results will measure the importance of Scouting in a boy’s development — as well his contribution to his community and democracy. In addition, the study should provide insight into the effectiveness of full-time Scouting professionals who assist Scout troops by training the leaders, recruiting and retaining youths, and raising money.

Researcher Byron Johnson, director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, had this to say about the study’s potential in a news release:

“The program could become a model for recruitment and retention of diverse youth — especially boys from inner cities — in Boy Scouts, especially if the study shows that involvement in the Scouts enhances the youths’ character.”

I’ll have the results on Bryan on Scouting when they’re published.


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About Bryan Wendell 2832 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.