101 great Scout service project ideas

Nothing your Scout unit can do raises community awareness more than a service project.

These good turns are some of our best marketing tools. They send the message that Scouts are here, making life better for others.

But where to start? I’ve collected 101 Scout service project ideas below. These should get you started, but really anything that fulfills a community need (and follows the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting) can count for service hours.

And those service hours count toward your Journey to Excellence, or JTE, score.

At the pack level, you can achieve JTE bronze status by completing two service projects in the year — and entering them on the JTE website. Complete three service projects, and you’ll get silver. If at least one of those three is conservation-oriented, you’ll get gold.

At the troop and team levels, it’s three projects a year for bronze, four for silver and five for gold. At the crew and ship levels, it’s two for bronze, three for silver and four for gold.

Here’s the list. Note: While some of these might make great Eagle Scout service projects, most are intended for unit-level service.

  1. Organize a book and magazine drive, with the collected items going to a daycare, overseas soldiers, a VA medical center or an inner-city school
  2. Help out a local Cub Scout pack at its pinewood derby, Arrow of Light presentation or by teaching camping or cooking skills
  3. Improve your local Scout summer camp, perhaps by clearing trails, splitting wood, repairing tents or more
  4. Volunteer at a district event, running the first-aid station or staffing the Klondike derby
  5. Participate in Scouting for Food, the annual canned-food drive
  6. Help at the Scout Show, the council-level event where your volunteer service is always welcome
  7. Lend a hand at University of Scouting, the training event for volunteers, can always use help
  8. Go caroling at a local nursing home
  9. Perform skits or songs at a homeless shelter, nursing home or children’s advocacy center
  10. Collect gifts and make gift baskets for elderly people with no families
  11. Prepare and distribute holiday cards (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc.) for people without families of their own
  12. Assist in snow/ice removal for members of the community or businesses that need a hand
  13. Assist in yard work for members of the community or businesses that need a hand
  14. Adopt a needy family
  15. Help agencies cook and serve meals for the homeless
  16. Make gift boxes to be distributed by a local charity
  17. Stock shelves at a local food pantry
  18. Place flags on gravesites for Memorial Day or other special days of remembrance
  19. Create and deliver thank-you cards to veterans on Veterans Day (or any day)
  20. Help religious organizations set up religious exhibits or activities
  21. Deliver, retrieve and dispose of Christmas trees
  22. Help residents set up or take down Christmas lights
  23. Repair and paint holiday decorations
  24. Collect toys for Toys for Tots (or a local equivalent)
  25. Prepare and serve hot chocolate or apple cider at the annual town tree-lighting ceremony
  26. Purchase and distribute toys for the children’s hospital near you
  27. Make stuffed animals, such as a Build-a-Bear, to brighten up a child’s holidays
  28. Assist with parking cars at a local event (but please follow strict safety protocols!)
  29. Assemble Easter baskets and distribute to local shelters
  30. Provide free coffee at rest stops on heavy travel weekends, such as Thanksgiving or Memorial Day
  31. Help run a fall carnival or pumpkin patch
  32. Create or help create and run a haunted house
  33. Assist at alternative trick-or-treat events
  34. Adopt a town after a disaster
  35. Assist organizations that provide home maintenance service
  36. Help paint a school, church or chartered organization
  37. Clean a Habitat for Humanity house before the family moves in
  38. Clean a local animal shelter
  39. Help walk the dogs at the animal shelter
  40. Perform janitorial duties for your chartered organization
  41. Repaint fences at government or nonprofit buildings
  42. Adopt a Highway or road and take care of it
  43. Take part in a litter cleanup project
  44. Help beautify city hall
  45. Clean up and/or help inventory a cemetery
  46. Clean up and beautify the local community center, campground, park, river or school parking lot
  47. Clear brush from a fire-prone area
  48. Improve a town walking trail
  49. Pick up trash at the chartered organization before or after a meeting (not just the trash you left — check out the entire facility)
  50. Clean up the shoreline
  51. Help package medical supplies to be sent to developing countries
  52. Assist with a blood drive
  53. Distribute organ donor cards
  54. Pass out anti-drug literature
  55. Provide the first-aid station at a district or council event
  56. Create and distribute first-aid kits to residents in need
  57. Help children make bicycle safety kits
  58. Make welcome-home kits for victims of a disaster
  59. Make bandanas, pillows or other items for cancer patients
  60. Serve as “victims” for a local first-responders training event
  61. Adopt a military troop and send them birthday cards and other holiday cards
  62. Become pen pal with someone serving overseas
  63. Create video histories of veterans and share the edited results with their families
  64. Organize a movie night at a VA medical center.
  65. Send calling cards to servicemen and servicewomen overseas
  66. Assist in training search and rescue dogs
  67. Clean and refill bird feeders at the local Audubon Society
  68. Collect aluminum cans and donate the proceeds to a local charity
  69. Construct duck houses, owl boxes or birdhouses
  70. Build an education sandbox for a local nature center
  71. Build a fence around air conditioners at a local establishment
  72. Conduct a CPR training event
  73. Build a handicap ramp at a community location
  74. As a Boy Scout troop or Venturer crew, offer to cater a pack’s blue and gold banquet
  75. Run a basketball tournament
  76. Volunteer at the Special Olympics — water station, handing out medals, etc.
  77. Construct a soccer field: lines, goals, benches
  78. Construct bat and helmet racks for your school’s baseball/softball teams
  79. Build a horseshoe pit at the local park
  80. Host a dodgeball tournament and donate the proceeds
  81. Refurbish the press box at a local ballfield
  82. Serve as volunteer referees or umpires at a sports tournament
  83. Staff a local run or marathon
  84. Repair and paint bleachers
  85. Plant trees
  86. Hand out voting reminders in the community
  87. Call residents and encourage them to register to vote
  88. Conduct a winter coat drive and clean and distribute the coats
  89. Set up and help run a website or Facebook page for your chartered organization or a local nonprofit
  90. Perform at a local charity talent show
  91. Collect unused makeup, perfume and cosmetics for a center for abused women
  92. Create a poison awareness campaign
  93. Paint over graffiti (but first check with your city/town government)
  94. Sponsor a TV blackout event to encourage families to spend time outside
  95. Host a free camping clinic where you share basic camping skills with residents
  96. Plant, tend and harvest a vegetable garden and donate what you grow
  97. Organize a pet show, with a portion of the proceeds going to the winning dogs and the rest going to a local charity
  98. Design placemats for Meals on Wheels recipients
  99. Rake leaves for elderly neighbors or your chartered organization
  100. Lead a game of bingo at a nursing home
  101. Hold a bike safety rally, where you teach bike skills and inspect the bikes

On being compensated for work

A Scouting friend wrote me to ask whether a pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew can count hours served if the unit is paid for the work.

“It’s my understanding since we are being compensated, the Scouts can’t receive service hours and neither can the troop,” he wrote.

I checked with the expert: Mike Lo Vecchio of the BSA. He writes: “Being compensated for work is not service hours. Service hours are considered to be uncompensated work being done as a service/courtesy.”

Want more?

Read this story in the November-December 2014 issue of Scouting magazine

Share your service project ideas

Which recent service project did your Scouts or Venturers enjoy most? Which was most meaningful? Share your ideas below.