Community service has been a central pillar of Scouting since its very beginning, and is highlighted by the Scout Slogan, “Do a good turn daily.” Every Scout needs to take part in, and even lead, numerous service projects before achieving the rank of Eagle – so it’s time to get your service boots on!
Given how important service is to Scouting, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of “good turns.” Your troop likely even has a few service projects that you do regularly. But, wouldn’t you like to do more — while learning more? That’s why I’ve put together 16 of my favorite service projects I used to do with my troop, which you can try with yours!
What Are The Best Scout Service Projects? BSA Scout service projects encompass a range of community-focused activities. Scouts often clean parks, organize donation drives, assist with construction work, and even aid the elderly. Each troop project not only benefits communities but also reinforces the Scouting values of service and learning.
PS. This article is a collaboration between Eagle Scouts, Chandler M, and Cole 🙂
If you’re struggling to think up an interesting, new service project of your own, fear not! This article is packed with unique service ideas and tips for improving projects you might’ve taken part in before. So, get ready to learn a ton of exciting and valuable Scout service project ideas to test out with your troop!
Clean-Up Service Projects
Some of the most popular service projects involve Scouts cleaning up their local communal areas. Parks and trails are always in need of care, and there’s no one better than Scouts for the job! Although your troop might have done something like this before, there are plenty of opportunities for you to put your own spin on clean-up service projects!
Finding Somewhere to Clean
When choosing an area to clean, your troop may default to a park nearest your meeting location. But, if you’ve taken part in a few service projects in that same area, it might be time to branch out to other locations! YMCAs and community centers could likely use the attention of a helpful troop, as well as lower-income areas where communal spaces are often neglected.
A good way to find out which areas might need your troop’s help the most is to call around your local parks. Remember, the goal of a project like this is to find an area where you can really make a difference by cleaning it up! So, if a park has been recently cleaned, it might be best to find another.
In your local parks, trails, and community centers it’s likely there are shelters, bathrooms, and fences that could do with a fresh coat of paint. You’ll often find that city parks already have the new paint to use, just nobody to do the painting. That’s where you and your troop can come in to save the day! 😀
One of my favorite service projects was when my troop went and repainted an old YMCA’s bathrooms. While some of us tried really hard not to get our clothes dirty, others took to painting Scouts rather than the walls of the building! I walked out with paint covering most of my body!
So, when calling around your local parks and community centers be sure to ask if anything’s in need of repainting. Not only is this a worthwhile service project, it’s also really fun and will likely attract many Scouts to come and participate! So, if you’d like to get involved with cleaning or repainting a park near you, try contacting the National Park Service!
Cleaning a Cemetery?
When thinking of cleaning up your local parks it’s fair to say that a cemetery probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But, they’re actually fantastic places for a service project, with a lot of visitors and green spaces that would benefit from some hard-working Scouts! Your troop could assist with cleaning headstones, placing flowers and flags, and even landscaping walkways.
With a few simple cleaning materials, like a washrag, light soap, or a power-washer for walkways, you can make a meaningful impact by honoring those who rest there, along with their visiting families. This project also offers the unique chance to reflect on your own life as you help to preserve the memories of those buried at the cemetery.
Cleaning a specific cemetery could even become a regular project that your troop does once a year to freshen it up for the summer months. This may not necessarily be the fun-filled activity that painting a community center might be, but it’s one that will mean a lot to those who visit the cemetery! 🙂
Construction Service Projects
Building something for your community is always a fantastic way of giving back. While construction projects might typically require more effort and resources than cleaning or painting, they’re a really fun experience for the Scouts, and you’ll be leaving a lasting mark on your community!
What a construction project involves can vary wildly depending on your community’s needs and what your Scouts feel comfortable building. With this in mind, below is a varied list of ideas for construction projects that you can consider working on at your next service outing.
- Little Free Library: A little free library is an awesome project for everyone to enjoy. Essentially, you’re building a little wooden library (almost like a birdhouse), where people can leave and take books as they please.
- Benches: Crafting a commemorative bench for your troop or chartered organization is a great way to offer something to the community whilst leaving a lasting mark for your troop. These are pretty easy to build and will only require a handful of Scouts. You’ll even have somewhere to sit down and rest after your hard day’s work!
- Birdhouses: Building birdhouses is a fun project that requires few supplies and almost no construction knowledge – so if you’re not a builder, don’t worry! You and your troop can simply build birdhouses with pre-bought kits, put them up in a park (make sure you ask before you install them), and then wait for nesting birds to arrive!
- Planting Trees: Ok, maybe this isn’t exactly “construction”, but planting trees requires just as much hard work. You can call local parks, churches, and community centers to see if they need any trees planted so your troop can create its own mini-forest!
- Landscaping: Like tree planting, this project requires a lot of labor. But at the end of your project, you can leave community centers, parks, and churches with amazing outdoor spaces.
- Help Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is a fantastic organization that helps those who may not be as fortunate. They are always looking for extra hands to landscape or build shelters and Scouts are always welcome.
- Firewood Shelter: This was one of my first service projects – what a great memory! Building a firewood shelter requires just a few materials and is a welcome addition to any firepit or camping area. All you’ll need is wood and some sheet metal and you’ll never have a campfire ruined by rain ever again!
Remember, there are plenty of other construction-type projects for you to think of. These are just examples of things my troop did to get your creative juices bubbling! What all of these projects have in common is they’ll be welcomed and enjoyed by your community for years to come. So, keep that in mind when thinking up construction projects of your own!
Pro Tip: Construction projects are also perfect add-ons to include when planning an Eagle Scout Project! This article is the perfect primer for coming up with awesome ideas for your own Eagle project, but if you’re ready to move on to the planning phase, check out the article I linked above.
Donation Drive Service Projects
Donation drives are popular service projects as they allow troops to help a wide range of worthy causes. If you’ve ever participated in Scouting for Food, then you’ll be familiar with how they work. You don’t need to limit yourself by sticking to the same structure as Scouting for Food, though; you can organize your drive however you want and ask for donations of pretty much… anything!
Publicizing your drive in places like schools, community centers, gyms, and churches is an easy way to get people to notice and donate to your cause. You can set up donation boxes for visitors and, from there, plan pick-up days to take the goods to a donation center of your choice! 😀
It doesn’t have to be just canned goods, either. Here are a few other things you could ask for donations of:
- Gently Used Clothes
- … And anything else you could see people needing!
Pro tip: Before getting started, try working with a shelter, local school, or donation center near you to find out what is needed most! I’d recommend also reaching out to your chartered organization to see if they’re in need of donations or supplies.
Volunteering With Existing Service Projects
While it can be exciting to lead your own project, there’s no point in simply doing something for the sake of it! There are probably plenty of worthwhile projects that already exist for your troop to devote its time and energy to. This could be a service project organized by one of your fellow Scouts, or with a local organization looking for some helping hands.
Here are some of the many organizations and events that are looking for the Scouts for help:
- Red Cross Blood Drives
- Your Chartered Organization’s Events
- Parking Logistics
- Local Sports Events
- Community Days
- Local Festivals
- Food Drives
- CPR Training
- Drug and Alcohol Awareness Event
There are a lot more opportunities to choose from, so keep an eye out to see what’s going on in your area. You’ll most likely have no problem finding an event in need of help from the Scouts!
Cooking For The Hungry
All of us (especially Scouts 😉 ) have to learn cooking skills at one time or another. You might’ve already had to cook something for a camping trip or even to earn your Cooking merit badge! If you think you can whip up some tasty grub, why not put this skill to good use in your local community?
If you haven’t already, check out my guide on the Cooking merit badge. You’ll want some decent cooking skills if this service project sounds like something you want to do, and having your Cooking merit badge will make sure you’re well prepared for this type of event. This is also a great way to help younger Scouts earn their Cooking badge!
Sadly, there are people everywhere who go hungry for days on end. This is often because they don’t have the means to get themselves food and need some assistance. It’s here that you come in!
Your troop should work with a homeless shelter or other organization to help cook meals for the less fortunate and make sure those in need get a proper meal. These can be relatively simple, a nutritious and hearty meal can go a long way, and should easily fit into a to-go container.
Something to remember: You’ll want a couple options in case of dietary or religious food restrictions. It’s always good to come prepared!
Helping With State-Assisted Burials
Funerals and burials are often unexpected and can be very costly. When families can’t afford the huge expense of a funeral, or where those who have passed have nobody to organize and pay for their ceremony, the government assists with the costs. However, Scouts can (and do!) also often provide assistance.
My high school had a program where students could get their service hours done by acting as pallbearers for these funerals. Many areas call it the “Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society”, but yours could be called something else.
Your area likely has a nonprofit program that assists with burials like this. You can help at these ceremonies by doing a reading at a service, acting as a pallbearer, or ushering attendees.
If you’re worried about attending a service like this, just remember it’s an amazing thing to do for someone else. Everyone deserves to have someone there to give them a dignified burial, and your attendance can be a huge help. You’ll find this service project is a very unique experience, and may provide you with a new perspective on life!
Given the nature of this type of service project, it’s a good idea to talk to your Scoutmaster or parents before deciding on it. If you want to know more about what’s involved, head to the volunteering page for the National Cemetery Administration.
Holding A Flag Drive
Did you know that the Scouts BSA is one of the few organizations in America with the ability to retire flags? It’s important to retire flags in a respectful way and, while lots of people fly their own flags, they may not know what to do with their old, tattered ones. This is where your troop can help!
Just like a food drive, you can set up collection boxes for people to drop off their old flags for retirement. Your troop can then hold a flag ceremony so these flags can get the retirement that they’ve earned (it’s tiring work flying at the top of a pole 24/7 😛 )!
As well as showing your respect to the flag, this is also a cool way to teach younger Scouts how to care for a flag with the proper retirement ceremony. Plus, this will give your Scouts a more well-rounded view of the importance of our flag when holding your regularly scheduled flag ceremonies!
Service Projects for Veterans and the Elderly
Many veterans and elderly people in care homes often go a few holidays without visits from friends or family. This can be a lonely time, and it’s the job of the Scouting community to show those who are alone during the holidays that we care!
A great thing about this service project, though, is you can do it at any time. There’s never a bad time to show your respect and appreciation to those who’ve done so much for us and our country!
One of the best things your troop could do for those in care homes is send cards and care packages. You can get loads of people involved and really brighten up their day with personalized cards and gifts for the residents!
You’ll first need to get in touch with a care home (perhaps you or someone in your troop already knows someone in a care home who would appreciate cards from the Scouts?) to get a list of the residents’ names (just first names is fine). This makes sure everyone gets a card so no one is left out!
Once you’ve got all the cards ready you’ll then need to organize a good time to deliver them. Around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July are a few occasions where a visit from your troop will really be appreciated, and you can make their day by giving up just a few hours of your own!
Fire Hydrant Care
Ever wondered why fire hydrants should have bright paint? It’s so they’re easy to spot in the event of an emergency! But all too often they’re neglected, meaning their paint becomes dull and they can get lost amongst overgrown weeds. But with the help of Scouts, they can be restored to their sparkling glory in no time!
One of the Eagle projects I helped out on was to paint arrows to the closest fire hydrant on old, country roads. This allowed people to clearly see where a hydrant was even though many of them were obscured by weeds or trees.
As Scouts, you can work with your local fire station to cut back weeds and give hydrants a new coat of bright, easily-visible paint. You could even paint markers on the road like I did. You never know, this simple action from your troop could save lives!
So, consider giving your local fire station a call to find out if there are any fire hydrants in the area that could use your attention!
Community Awareness Events
As a Scout, you learn lots of important information like fire safety, outdoor care, and first aid that you might not otherwise know. You can provide an important service to your community by teaching others these vital skills with a community awareness event!
You can pick any topic you think may be important for your community and create learning resources like leaflets, brochures, posters, or anything else that could help people to learn about your topic. If there are other Scouts who’re knowledgeable on your topic then why not get them involved, too?
Here are a few ideas for community awareness events:
- Fire safety at home
- Safety around open water
- The importance of picking up trash
- How to make your home more energy efficient
- Making your garden wildlife-friendly
Why not see if you can work with others in your community for these events? Fire stations, community centers, and park rangers may be holding their own events that your troop could get involved with. You could even learn more useful information right from the pros!
Restore a School Playground
Playgrounds are some of the most used spaces in our communities. As a result, without proper maintenance they can become dangerous for children and, honestly, look pretty bad! Unfortunately, many schools can’t afford to restore these areas themselves and are left with playgrounds in desperate need of some care.
Scouts can be a great help in these circumstances. Here’s what you could do:
- Offer to re-mulch the area
- Organize a donation event for new equipment
- Repaint equipment
- Clean up trash
There are loads of different options for this type of project and it’s a wonderful way to give back to your old school. Children need a good, safe area to get their energy out (don’t we all?) and a well-maintained playground is the best place!
I’d highly recommend giving it a go, especially if you haven’t visited your old elementary school in a while! Contact schools in your area to see what you could help them with and organize a day to lend a hand with your troop.
Create Life Story Books for Veterans
Many veterans don’t get the chance to share their stories before they pass away. This shouldn’t be the case; they’ve experienced a lot in their lives and once they’re gone their stories, vibrant personality, and lessons go with them. 🙁
With your troop, you can meet up with some older veterans to listen to and record what they have to share. Once you’ve got all the information you can put it together into a story of their life! If you can, collect pictures and documents to accompany the text and create a more vivid history.
Once you’ve created this book, share it with the original storyteller and, with their permission, their family. Not only is this a brilliant way of showing your respect, but you will also learn a ton and hear some fascinating stories!
A good place to start if you want to volunteer with veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs. You can find loads of interesting volunteering opportunities and organize your life story project here!
Volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club
The Boys and Girls Clubs offer opportunities for underprivileged children that, without the organization, wouldn’t exist. These give boys and girls across the country the chance to relax, have fun, and just be kids! Your troop can make these programs even better by giving some of your time.
Here are a few ideas for things to do:
- Organize a movie night with popcorn, a projector, and a movie everyone will enjoy!
- Organize a sports game like soccer, ultimate frisbee, or softball
- Teach them some of the skills you’ve learned with the Scouts
This is a fun opportunity to show what Scouting is all about and maybe get some new people involved. If you want to learn more about volunteering with your local Boys and Girls Club then check out their volunteering page!
Help With Archival Work
Many historical societies and even your BSA Scout troops have lots of information still on paper (Stone Age stuff, right?). With this comes the risk of this information being lost or destroyed over time. So, you might want to think about using your tech-savvy skills to transfer this information to computers so it’s protected for future generations!
To get started you should contact a local historical society and offer to help digitize some of their older documents. This may sound a bit boring, but you’ll learn a lot about your area’s history and provide a fantastic service to your area’s historical society! Then, once you’ve learned how it’s done, you could do the same for your troop!
Hold a Fishing Derby
Nothing is more fun than a community fishing derby (just don’t ask the fish for their opinion 😛 ). It’s an exciting way to bring people together and introduce newcomers to the fun of fishing, teaching them new skills and showing off your own in the process!
Here are some ideas to pep up the occasion:
- Offer prizes for the biggest (or smallest) fish caught
- Tailor the day to children. They might not have had the chance to fish before!
- Got your Fishing merit badge? Teach newbies how to tie fishing knots
- Share important safety information for fishing
Has this idea got you hooked? Then grab your rod and get planning!
Plan A Fingerprinting Event
A fun service project you might not immediately think of is a fingerprinting event! Many people are not in a fingerprint database and, if something were to happen to them, they may go unidentified. So, a fingerprinting event offers people the chance to get on the database whilst also educating kids about law enforcement!
It’s also a fantastic opportunity to earn the fingerprinting merit badge and show your troop how the community can work with law enforcement to make everyone’s lives easier. To make the most of an event like this you should get in touch with your local police station. You can then work with them to decide a location and date for the event!
So, there you have it…16 stellar ideas for your next service project! With these popular service ideas in your back pocket, your troop is now better prepared to make meaningful contributions in your community. So, it’s time to rally your troop, set forth, and start creating ripples of positive change!
Remember though, these are just ideas from my own troop experiences. You can use them as inspiration to come up with tons more service project ideas of your own! Start by focusing on the causes that matter most to you, ask how your troop can help, and you’ll have plenty of service opportunities in no time. 😀
Thanks for reading, and for helping to better our nation’s wonderful communities! If you enjoyed learning about Scout service projects, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- 57 Fun And Creative Scout Service Projects Ideas (Submitted By Scouts and Scouters)
- Rank-Up Tips For BSA Scouts: The Fast Path To Earn First Class Rank
- 99 Amazing And Creative Eagle Scout Project Ideas
- 37 Essential Tips For BSA/Boy Scouts (From An Eagle Scout)
- Cole’s Epic eBook The 7 Secrets for Scouting Success 📖 (discount included!)
Before you go, I challenge you to suggest your favorite service project idea to your troop at your next meeting. Doing this will help you to step up as a leader and make a positive impact in your community. That’s all for now, best of luck in your Scouting adventures!