Service is at the very heart of Scouting, which is why practically every Scout participates in dozens of service projects each year! From trail restoration to food drives, construction projects to service for veterans, so much good is regularly done across our country thanks to the hard work of BSA Scouts.
Sometimes, everyday service might sound like a chore…but it doesn’t have to be! In addition to helping the community, service projects can be a ton of fun. They can lead to new adventures, great memories, and closer friendships. In this article, you’ll hear lots of awesome ideas from Scouts, Scoutmasters, and Scouting parents about their favorite service experiences, and what made them so great! 😀
Service Projects Ideas For BSA Scout Troops
“What’s been your favorite service project you’ve done with your troop so far? What made it special to you?” is the question I asked readers in my ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter (sign up to share your experience too!). For their privacy the repliers will stay anonymous, but a huge, huge thank you if you wrote in and shared your favorite service project!
Hearing the incredible stories of fellow Scouts and Scouters was incredibly inspiring for me, and I hope it will be for you too. Maybe you can even borrow one or two of these service project ideas as you find new ways to help your community!
Did you know? History shows that Scouting has always emphasized service: Scouts provided first aid to those injured in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, gathered more than 150,000 water bottles to help first responders on 9/11, and even planted “victory gardens” to support the war effort during WWII!
Service through Scouting, alongside your troop, is truly an awesome way to give back and become a great citizen. So, with that being said, please enjoy reading the favorite service projects of just a small fraction of the amazing people involved in Scouting!
The Favorite Service Projects Of BSA Scouts
- Laying wreaths at Holly National Cemetery. There had been heavy snow the night before, so not that many Scouts showed up. The weather was perfect. Bright sun, no wind, lots of light fluffy snow on the ground. It just felt special. We got to lay a lot more wreaths than we would have if everyone showed up. Some of the families were there including a Gold Star Mom. They were so glad to see us.
- Trail maintenance at Philmont—amazing place!
- My favorite was Bio Blitz, where we catalog species we find in the local state and national parks when they need it.
- Making benches to install at the local animal shelter. It was fun to see everyone coming together for a common purpose. (And we had fun making them too 😉)
- Doing my buddy’s Eagle project, I just had a good time. We were building a bridge and fixing up the trails the bridge connected to.
- Our troop helped at a 5K fundraiser to support children with cancer. It was extra meaningful to me because my niece has cancer.
Scouting Tip: Every event is an opportunity — so seize the day! While you might not feel motivated to attend every event (been there!), you should always make an effort to go. Often, I found myself unexpectedly completing requirements or having a blast at troop events that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to, beforehand.
Also, if you’re ever feeling unmotivated in your troop, check out my article on the 6 keys to staying motivated (and ranking up) in Scouting!
- My friend was helping a college rebuild part of their bee research pavilion. It included mulching a new garden, redoing an entire gazebo that looked like a honeycomb, and repairing a walkway.
- Helping to cook and serve food in a homeless shelter.
- My favorite was moving the troop and everything we own from the church we were with to a house that was given to our troop. It created such a big impact on our troop because now we are able to do a lot more things!
- Clearing invasive tees from a prairie restoration area along the Ice Age Trail. February in Wisconsin. Big bonfire, roasting hot dogs, Scouts playing in the snow.
- My favorite service project so far with my troop was definitely the time when my troop went to summer camp and had to clean up the nature center along the water. Someone fell in… 😛
Did you know? The Boy Scouts of America played a role in promoting conservation early on, with President Theodore Roosevelt serving as the organization’s honorary president from 1910 to 1915!
- My favorite service project so far has been when my troop repainted ball walls at an elementary school. One of the walls I designed, and the other, a student designed. We were going to try and tackle it all in one weekend, but it ended up taking two! Afterwards it felt really great to see the new beautiful artwork on the playground, and the fact that I had a part in it is even more humbling.
- A Labor Day picnic with my church.
- I liked putting in a giant chessboard at summer camp. It was fun because we got to play on it afterwards.
- We put up little free libraries. It was special because we did it at my old preschool!
- My favorite service project I have done with my troop was making and painting owl boxes. This project was special to me because I had fun connecting with my fellow Scouts.
Scouting tip: When planning your Eagle Scout service project, keep in mind that the best project idea is one that helps a cause you’re passionate about. This could be your church, your school, your chartered organization, or even a local community center. Eagle Projects provide a great way to help organizations that might not have the budget to make the improvements themselves!
For more tips on Eagle Scout projects, check out my 99 Eagle Project ideas article!
- We did some trail restoration in our campsite at Camp Alexander in Colorado. It’s special to me because I hadn’t felt so productive in a really long time.
- Scouting for Food!
- Trail cleanup on some of the Catoctin Mountain trails with the OA! It was fun because what we were doing would actually be helpful to other people.
- Making birdhouses was my favorite because I love birds!
- During COVID-19, the use of our community parks EXPLODED…just like all the trash folks were leaving behind. While not a glorious task, I took Scouts (in our “bubble”) out to the local parks and they picked up all that trash (I wish we had weighed it, but it was being done for service, not glory 😀 ).
Did you know? Following the aftermath of 9/11, Scouts hailing from New Jersey and New York united to gather an impressive quantity of more than 150,000 water bottles destined for the rescue workers at Ground Zero!
- At my Scout Camp this summer, we decided to do a service project. The camp director said that we could clean out the little streams that were feeding into Bear Lake. Apparently, though, the streams came directly from a cow farm, which meant they were full of manure and smelled terrible. So here we were, ankle-deep in poopy water. We started down the stream and it started getting deeper. We were tossing out branches and leaves while burrs were sticking to our hair and clothes. At some point the brush got too thick to go through, so another Scout and I climbed out and looked for another spot. We found another spot, but it was literally the grossest stagnant water. I slid in and was about waist-deep. We cleared out the water and it started to flow! 🙂 Then, as I took another step, my foot went down so far and I was like… “Nope, not today!” But when I went to get out, I felt something crack below my foot. I jumped out so fast!
- I’m helping my cousin with his Eagle and we are cleaning and repairing gravestones of veterans at the local cemetery.
- When I cleaned up our summer camp. It’s special to me because it was my first service project. I had a really fun time with my other Scouts, and the best part was setting up cots!
- I removed invasive Johnson grass with my two children Scouts and their respective troops! The service project was performed in our neighborhood city park.
Scouting Tip: When you’re leading a project, it’s important to keep your volunteers motivated. Make sure you show your appreciation, plan breaks, and make things fun.
For more tips, check out my guide to leading and running your Eagle Scout project!
- My favorite service project was the Eagle project of someone in our troop. We were cleaning out an emergency shed in a school, and we had to empty expired water onto the field in that school. It was fun because we stepped on the water bottles to empty them and we all got wet.
- On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, we taught community members how to make paracord bracelets for military service members. It was part of a day of work event organized by the mother of one of our Scouts, with lots of other organizations participating.
- Building a bench 😀
- Cleaning out boats at a summer camp. Some kids got to stay dry, while others had to move the boats within the water. It was really cold—it was a cove, so it was just freezing ocean water!
- My favorite service project I’ve done with my troop was when we made gift bags for people in need during Ramadan. It was special because during Ramadan we fast so that we can understand how it feels to be hungry. So it made it more meaningful to give back during that time.
Did you know? Established in 1915, the “Order of the Arrow,” the national honor society of the BSA, centers its mission on fostering a spirit of cheerful service and brotherhood among Scouts.
- Dwight Derby House—an archaeological dig in my town! We are going through a big pile of dirt to find artifacts from colonial times.
- Building dog houses for SPCA. I love dogs!
- I enjoyed the project that helped another fellow Eagle Scout in our troop.
- My favorite was a conservation project at Rodney!
- Serving meals at our local senior center.
- My favorite service project so far has been helping to clear the path for a new trail at our local heritage center. I found some snakes. It was cool, and it’s always fun to get a workout in via service!
Scouting Tip: Make your fellow Scouts laugh, and lift them up. On a difficult hike or a long service project, it can be easy to start grumbling. Don’t! Instead, I challenge you to try to lift everyone up. whether this means cracking jokes or being supportive, I promise this small bit of effort will go far in improving everyone’s mood.
For more awesome tips (and games!) for long Scout hikes, be sure to check out my article, Scout Hiking 101: Tips And Activities For Awesome Troop Treks!
- Building an orienteering course. It was lots of fun, but the hard part was lugging the concrete on the 5-mile trail!
- The Eagle Scout service project with the people in my troop. One of them made Eagle!
- My troop volunteered for several hours one Saturday at an organization that gives away supplies to kids in foster care or who recently aged out. All the Scouts in my troop loved organizing the supplies, moving boxes of books, and taking outdated clothes off of the hangers.
- Gravestone leveling.
- We went to a Scout reservation near us to spend the night and help prepare for their summer camp. We carried parts for new platform tents up a hill, cleared out brush, and picked up branches littering the campsites. On top of that, the other troop there was so friendly to our much smaller group of Scouts and invited us to join their campfire that night!
Did you know? The only documented Tyrannosaurus Rex footprint was uncovered at the Philmont Scout Ranch!
- I enjoyed cleaning up the church because not only did we appreciate having a clean environment but so did the people attending church.
- I liked putting up flags on the graves of veterans. It was cool to be able to pay respects to the nation’s armed forces.
- My favorite service project would have to be my Eagle Scout project because unlike most volunteer work, it was inside.
- Helping support our local food pantry with Scouting for Food!
- Cleaning up the beaches, because I could help save the oceans 🙂
- Assisting with the food bank distribution at our sponsor church.
- We did a conservation project removing trees at Philmont on our trek last summer. It was awesome!
- Winterfest: helping the Kiwanis Club run a winter carnival with Polar Plunge, dog sled races, ice sculpture contests, food concessions, and much more!
Scouting Tip: When it comes to financing your Eagle Scout Project, it’s hard to know where to begin. Luckily, there are plenty of options available. From holding a rummage sale, fundraising from friends and family, or even recycling used ink cartridges for money, there are many ways to fund an awesome Eagle Scout project idea.
It’s always good to begin planning your Eagle Project early, so read my article on fundraising for Eagle projects for more tips!
- Park cleanup at our local county park. It was great knowing we were making the environment better, both for the people that visit the park and the animals that live there. We also made challenges to see who could find the most unique/largest/oldest piece of trash, which kept everyone entertained!
- Helping shop, put together grocery bags, and hand them out to families—especially veterans—with Baskets of Blessings.
- I helped make the church from Westworld permanent.
- Every year, our troop helps out our chartered organization—American Legion—with replacing the US flag markers at the graves of veterans in our local cemetery. The Legion then donates the old flags to the troop for us to retire at different ceremonies throughout the year. It’s a great way of honoring our fallen heroes, reminding us of our duty to our country and to better citizenship, and remembering some of the troop’s alumni who are also buried there, and the lasting positive impact they’ve had on us.
Scouting Tip: Take the time to look back at how far you’ve come. As you press forward on your Scouting journey, you may get used to the process and begin to feel a bit bored. This is a sign to look forward — and backward! By setting your sights on a new goal and also looking at how far you’ve come, you’ll be prepared to reach even greater heights!
- Cleaning the ash out of the camp fire pits and splitting and stacking firewood for next year’s summer camp. We all were like lumberjacks and covered in pine sap and black ash! We took lots of pictures and laughed. It was so much fun!
- Digging up old bushes and planting new flowers around our school flag pole.
- My favorite service project I’ve done with my troop is one at Memorial Park. This Eagle Scout project was possibly the most productive one I’ve attended, and I felt like we contributed to the park quite a bit, despite the project only lasting a few hours.
- My favorite service project was when we did a 4th of July parade because we held candy out for the little children and they were so happy! 😀
So there you have it — 57 ways that fellow Scouts and ScoutSmarts readers have made a difference, and had fun at the same time! I loved hearing what these awesome Scouts did for their communities, and I hope you did too. Whenever Scouts engage in community service, they undoubtedly learn important lessons, make great memories, and honor what it means to be a Scout!
Thanks for reading! I hope this article inspires you to get out there and make the most of your upcoming service projects. Also, if you liked this article, I encourage you to check out some of these others that may help you out even more:
- Advance Fast in Scouting (5 Rank-Up Keys To Earn Eagle)
- The Value And Benefits of Scouting (58 Highlights From Scouts)
- BSA Scout Recruiting: A Simple Guide To Growing Your Troop
- 99 Epic BSA Activities: Scouts Share Their Favorite Troop Adventures
- My Epic eBook: The 7 Secrets for Scouting Success 📖 (discount included!)
Did you see a Scouting service memory here that’s similar to one of your own? Or maybe find a new idea for your own troop to try? I encourage you to share your service project ideas with your troop and even brainstorm a few new ones for how you all can help make the world a better place! Someday, you might even be planning an Eagle project of your own. 😉
That’s all for now, but be sure to come back to ScoutSmarts again soon! Here, my goal is to help Scouts lead and succeed, so many of the articles I’ve made should be helpful resources for new Scouts joining your troop. Feel free to share with them and, until next time, I wish you the best of luck on your Scouting adventures!