Most people have heard of Scouts BSA, formerly known as the Boy Scouts of America, but few truly know and understand the purpose of this century-old organization. Having been a scout myself, in this article I’ll fill you in on the lesser-known aims and impacts of Scouting on our world!
What is the purpose of Scouting? The primary purpose of Scouting is to provide young people with opportunities to develop the skills, values, and confidence they need to make ethical choices and become responsible members of their communities. Through a variety of activities, Scouts learn valuable life skills, develop a sense of self-reliance, and build strong relationships with others.
However, outside of preparing young people for real-world success, Scouting also serves as a force to positively impact communities and spread awareness on important issues. To fully understand the purpose and significance of Scouting today, we must look back to its origins…
Why was Scouting Founded?
The Scouting movement was officially founded on August 1907 by a man named Lord Robert Baden-Powell. In 1899, while serving in the Second Boer War in South Africa, Baden-Powell saw that the local boys there were trained to provide first aid, relay messages, and give community support.
Inspired by what he saw, Baden-Powell recognized that youth everywhere could benefit from such training. Thus, with the goal of providing a well-rounded outdoor education for young people, Lord Robert Baden-Powell outlined his ideas in the Scouting For Boys handbook and founded the British Scouting movement!
There’s a lot more interesting information to learn about the origins of Scouting! To learn more about Scouting’s rich history and even see a timeline of its growth, check out my article: A Brief History Of The Scouting Movement!
What is the Purpose of Scouting Today?
Scouting has changed immensely since being founded over 100 years ago, but what hasn’t changed is its goal of developing young people into responsible and caring adults. Scouts today learn a wide range of useful skills which can benefit them in their personal and professional lives, such as:
- First Aid
- Outdoor Survival
- Problem Solving
- Personal Fitness
- Personal Management
- Emergency Preparedness
- Knife Safety
- Time Management
Personally, I’m still surprised by the unexpected usefulness of the skills I first learned as a scout. Whether I’m trying to secure a load to a truck or planning a presentation for work, the skills I learned in Scouting continue to come in handy! 🙂
In addition to developing practical skills, Scouting also provides young people with opportunities to learn and practice important values, such as honesty, integrity, and respect. Scouts are taught to always do their best and to treat others with kindness and respect. These values are reinforced through the Scout Law and Oath, which are the foundations of Scouting.
Another important aspect of Scouting is its focus on outdoor activities and adventure. Scouts are encouraged to explore our natural world and learn about the environment. These activities help Scouts develop a sense of self-reliance and confidence, and can also provide a deeper connection to the outdoors.
To learn more about the goals and purpose of Scouting, check out the informative video (3:00) below:
What Activities do Scouts do?
But what exactly do scouts do? While each troop is unique and may plan a wide variety of activities depending on their location and interests, some of the activities that scouts most often participate in include:
- Camping: Many troops make it a point to spend lots of time outdoors, and what better way to do so than camping? A Scout camping trip may include activities such as hiking, fishing, orienteering challenges, swimming, merit badge earning, service projects, and wilderness survival skills.
- Service Projects: Scouts often plan and participate in service projects that benefit their local communities, such as cleaning up parks, planting trees, building facilities, or collecting food for local food banks. These projects help scouts develop a sense of responsibility and civic engagement.
- Merit Badges: Learning a new skill in Scouting is often accompanied by earning a merit badge! Scouts are required to earn 14 core merit badges and 7 elective ones to become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in Scouting, which is why merit badge-earning is a common scout activity.
- Outdoor Adventures: Scouts BSA offers a variety of outdoor adventures, such as rock climbing, rafting, archery, rifle shooting, handicrafts, and backpacking. Often, scouts will attend a week-long camp during Summer and Winter vacation where they’ll be able to participate in more thrilling types of high adventure activities under qualified supervision.
- Leadership Training: Scouts are encouraged to develop their leadership skills through training programs like NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training). There, they learn valuable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. These skills often help scouts in their future careers and community roles.
Ultimately, the goal of these activities, and Scouting in general, is to provide young people with varied experiences that develop their character and enrich their communities. By focusing on service and self-reliance, scouts are more likely to grow into leaders who continue to give back to their country!
How has Scouting helped me?
Personally, Scouting helped me to discover who I could become. As a scout, I was exposed to a wide range of role models and troop leaders. These individuals inspired me to step up within my troop and help bring my fellow scouts up as well. Without Scouting, I likely would be satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
Instead, while in Scouting I was encouraged to constantly be learning and growing. Each meeting, I’d work on requirements and improve my skills so that I could eventually teach what I’d learned to the younger scouts. This cycle of helping others inspired me to grow into the service-minded person I am today.
Furthermore, Scouting helped me to excel in academics by teaching the importance of planning and diligence. As a scout, only one person can get you to the Eagle Scout rank — and that person is you! This lesson carried over into everything else I did, as I realized the necessity of taking responsibility for one’s own success. 🙂
How Has Scouting Impacted Our World?
My experience isn’t unique! Each year, more than 2.2 million youth are actively involved in Scouting. Through its programs, Scouting has helped to develop the skills, values, and confidence of countless young people, and has contributed to the well-being of communities around the world.
Scouting, which began as the Boy Scouts movement in the early 1900s, has undeniably had a significant impact on our society. Some of the biggest ways that Scouting has made a positive difference include:
- Developing leadership skills: Through the Scouting program, young people have the opportunity to develop a variety of leadership skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. These skills can help scouts in their future careers and community roles, and can also help to build more effective and responsible leaders in our world.
- Promoting physical fitness: Scouting emphasizes the importance of physical fitness and provides opportunities for scouts to participate in activities that promote these values. This can help to build stronger and healthier communities, and can also help to reduce the impact of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
- Encouraging environmental stewardship: Scouting teaches young people about the natural world and the importance of protecting our environment. Scouts learn about conservation, sustainability, and the need to preserve natural resources for future generations.
- Fostering teamwork and collaboration: Scouting emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration, providing opportunities for scouts to work together on projects, activities, and challenges. This can cultivate generations of leaders and team players who positively impact our society’s businesses and organizations.
- Developing character and values: Scouting promotes values like honesty, integrity, and respect, which are essential to personal and community well-being. Through activities, awards, and recognition, scouts are encouraged to live by these values and demonstrate good character in all that they do.
- Providing opportunities for personal growth: Scouting provides young people with opportunities to learn, grow, and challenge themselves in a supportive and inclusive environment. By striving to earn their Eagle Scout rank, scouts are taught to always be learning and improving themselves.
- Developing skills for lifelong learning: Scouting emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning and provides opportunities for scouts to learn new skills and knowledge in a variety of areas. Through merit badges and instructional classes, scouts often receive a thorough education in a wide range of disciplines.
- Supporting the military: Many Scouts BSA units have a strong connection to the military, and many scouts go on to serve in the military after completing the Scouting program. In fact, scouts who’ve earned their Eagle rank are eligible to enlist in our armed forces at a higher starting rank and pay!
- Supporting diversity and inclusion: Scouting is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment that values and respects people of all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities. Through the new Citizenship in Society merit badge and other efforts, Scouting helps to promote understanding and respect among all people.
- Promoting international understanding: Scouting is a global movement, with millions of scouts in more than 160 countries. Through activities such as international events and exchange programs, Scouting promotes international understanding and friendship among young people from different countries and cultures.
With that, you should now understand the aims and impacts of Scouting! With over 100 million individuals whose lives have been touched by this movement, it’s easy to see how Scouting has made a significant difference in our world.
Also, if you want to learn more about the specific benefits Scouting can offer young people, I’ve written a more in-depth article on 10 of the Best Parts of Scouting. This will help you to be 120% prepared for what’s to come if you do decide to join!
My time in Scouts BSA changed my life for the better, and I can say with confidence that the same is true for many others! While Scouting is always evolving, its mission of supporting our nation’s youth and making our world a better place will never change.
With that, I hope you learned something useful, and am wishing you all the best in your adventures to come!😀