Those of us who have worked with young people in Scouting over the years know how well our program builds men we can be proud of, but a new study from Tufts University measures objectively and scientifically the impact we have on young men, and the results are startlingly positive. The study, conducted independently and funded by the Templeton Foundation, followed 2,000 boys over a period of three years. Like any proper scientific study, a “control group” of non-Scouts was examined and compared to the observed Scouts. Factors like sports and other activities were equalized between the two groups to make it an apples-to-apples comparison.
The boys were measured on six parameters, which include cheerfulness, helpfulness, obedience, kindness, hopefulness, and trustworthiness (sound familiar?). In every one of these character traits, boys in the Scouting program improved through the three years of the study. Non-Scouts actually showed a decline over three years in their scores for cheerfulness, helpfulness, and obedience measures. The non-Scouts had modest improvements in kindness, hopefulness, and trustworthiness, but not nearly to the degree that Scouts did.
What about sports? Many parents suggest that sports impart the same character traits as Scouting, after all. Not so, according to this independent study. While sports did improve some character traits, Scouting fared much better.
As a scientist myself, I’ve explored in some detail the findings of the study and have found its methodology and conclusions to be founded on good experimental principle. The number of scientific publications, that are and will continue to be published from the study, shows how valuable this new data is.
If you’ve got friends or parents in your unit who are struggling with the decision of whether to enroll their children in Scouts, please share this blog and the link below. Give them the scientific evidence that proves what we in Scouting already know: the Scouting program prepares young people for a happy, honorable future better than any other youth program.
For more detailed information on the Tufts study, visit www.tuftscampstudy.com.
— John A. Hovanesian, MD
Executive Vice Chairman, OCBSA