Scouting helps grow future leaders for churches, our communities, and the nation by using leadership development as one of its program methods, which in turn contributes to both good character and good citizenship.

Scouting provides leadership opportunities for youth and adults.

Scouting grows future leaders for churches, our communities, and the nation. It may sound strange but it has been true for more than a century. And while all three Scouting programs, Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, and Venturing, share these aims:

character development
citizenship training
personal fitness

each age program uses leadership development as one of its program methods. This, of course, contributes to both good character and good citizenship in youth.

In a paper for Leadership and Management in Engineering  Francis E. Griggs Jr., wrote:

Everything I needed to know about leadership, I learned in the Boy Scouts.”

This is a lesson for every church and business in our Nation. Griggs continues: “…the Boy Scout program, which is one of the best leadership programs in the world and begins to teach boys to be leaders at age 11. Many leaders of business, government, and education have indicated that the Boy Scout program was one of the most important experiences in their lives, one that impacted their thinking and actions throughout their careers.” Of course, he wrote this ten years before girls could join, so it follows that Scouting would have the same leadership benefits for them too.

For both youth and adults in Scouting part of leadership development is learning the skills of leadership.

Scouting’s Skills of Leadership

1. Living the Values

Values, Mission, and Vision
Aims and Methods
2. Bringing the Vision to LifeListening to Learn
Giving and Receiving Feedback
Valuing People and Leveraging Diversity
Coaching and Mentoring
3. Models for SuccessTeam Development Model
Situational Leadership
4.Tools of the TradeProject Planning
Problem Solving
Managing Conflict
Assessing Team Performance
Managing Change
Celebrating Team Success
5.Leading to Make a 

Leaving a Legacy
Learning the Greatest Leadership Secret

“Scouting’s core values … are wonderful building blocks for a movement and a life. Scouting’s genuinely egalitarian goals and instincts are more important now than they’ve ever been. It’s one of the only things that kids do that’s genuinely cooperative, not competitive.”

 Peter Applebome, a The New York Times editor

Scouting has inherent building blocks that your local church can transform into effective ministry as you grow young people into your congregation’s future leaders. Each week and during outdoor activities lead by a volunteer leader of your faith, a young person may be helped with their personal and spiritual needs, while they are mentored into adulthood.

This guidance could extend from answering simple questions about belief to guiding discussions around those subjects. They also include serving as a role model for the youth, many who will need one.

Servant Leadership for Adults

For Scouting adults, BSA offers a wide variety of training to help adults become effective mentors and servant leaders themselves. One adult leader wrote, “Scouting has helped me grow as a person, more than I ever imagined it would.” Then she explained her own experience at Wood Badge, Scouting’s advanced leadership course, saying that it “was far beyond what I expected it to be, and it was absolutely the right decision to go.”

These courses are designed to help them improve their own leadership skills and deliver a quality program.

  • Youth Protection training (available online).
  • Leader position-specific training for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing leaders,
  • Training for committee members who will help support your pack, troop, and crew.
  • Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills for Scouts BSA and Venturing leaders
  • In addition, the BSA provides monthly roundtables to help leaders learn Scouting methods and skills
  • There are also a variety of advanced training courses such as Wood Badge and the Trainer’s EDGE, designed to let adults live in simulated youth experience to really drive home servant leadership while catching the full spirit of Scouting

“I live my life, in essence, accoreding to the Scout Oath and Law …making sure you stay grounded in it is enormously helpful. Make sure you keep that compass. That’s one of the things that will never leave me.”

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.)

For most churches who have women and men attend Wood Badge, a great legacy comes back to the congregation. One trained leader wrote: “For me it wasn’t about the camping or all the scouting stuff. For me it was the chance to experience challenges, to wrap myself up in a legacy of great leaders, by whose example I could learn how to become a better leader for a program that means the world to me, So then maybe just maybe I could be a legacy for someone else.”

Legacy for your church is part of what Scouting offers your congregation. If you still need proof, just consider that over the history of Scouting in the USA, two million youth have climbed the trail to Eagle, Scouting’s highest award, that is just 5% of those youth who joined.

Today these adults serve in Congress, one has been president, they have walked on the moon, run major companies, become filmmakers and then of course, and there is one guy that champions “dirty jobs.”

Servant Leadership for Youth

“Kids are surrounded by plenty of opportunities to make the wrong decisions; to experience the negative. Scouting stacks the deck for a positive experience – adults who are interested in providing kids a safe environment to learn and have fun, exposure to new things, to the outdoors & hopefully a set of experiences that they’ll use for the rest of their lives whether that manifests itself in good friends, valuable skills, a first shot at leading a team or just a good memory or two.”

Troy Trybom, an Eagle Scout and father in Stilwell, Kansas.

In a Scout troop, the Scoutmaster’s first job is to train the older youth to lead the troop and start these young leaders on Scouting’s Youth Leadership Continuum. This begins shortly after other Scouts in the troop have elected their own youth leaders, as the adult leaders offer Troop Leadership Training.

The objectives of this training is to introduce the troop youth leaders to their new leadership roles and give them the expectations of the position. They also learn how their role fits in with other youth leaders as they develop a vision for the job and work on skills to become an effective leader.

This course begins with teaching them about servant leadership, which for most faiths will reflect back to the example of their founders and early leaders, (ie. BuddhaConfuciusJesus ChristMosesMuhammadParshvanatha Zoroaster, etc.), each who in their own way demonstrated servant leadership, which they can model.

The syllabus starts with this statement: “Most Scouts would… rather tell people what to do than be told what to do. That is human nature, not just the nature of a Scout. But leadership in the troop is not about the title or even about being the person doing the telling.

It is about a choice to lead. It is about a choice to give rather than to receive.What we need to build into the makeup of our Scout leaders is the concept of servant leadership. We trust effective leaders because they care about us and about helping others succeed. That is the true role of a leader—helping other members of the troop succeed. Servant leaders understand what success looks like not only for the group but for each member of every team. They do everything they can to help the troop and each member succeed.

Scouting’s Youth Leadership Training Continuum

“Servant leaders help the troop through day-to-day operations and through all the chores and tasks that must be accomplished. Duties are delegated and roles assigned. Troop leaders help manage this process. They focus on how to make every member successful in assigned tasks so that the troop will come together quickly as a team.

“Servant leaders want to lead because they know they can help make a difference and provide a better experience for every individual.”

With that introduction the adult leaders model servant leadership for the remainder of training, not just this first weekend, but every time they meet.

Of this idea, Andy Gibbons, a BYU Instructional Design Professor wrote:

“The concept of the servant-leader is acted out through councils. The ideal of self-government in Scouting is to act ‘in council…’”

Handbook cover
1951 (5th edition) Handbook for Boys

My favorite Scouting image is the cover of the January 1951 printing (5th edition) of the Handbook for Boys” (price: 65 cents)…

For me, this has always been more than a clever image to appeal to boys’ imaginations (which it did to mine). My attention is on the Scouts sitting by the campfire. In my mind’s eye I see them (and I saw them then) planning and making decisions together…”

Then Gibbons asks, “What is the message of this illustration for mentors of youth?” Of course, he goes on to explain it is youth leading youth under the mentoring guidance of caring adults.

Gibbon’s concludes: “Being ‘in council’ is a way of conducting yourself whether you are in a formal meeting or not. A one-to-one mentoring relationship is a council. ‘Council’-ing is the way of the mentor: working harmoniously as a member of a group of any size, often as a servant, not as a boss. The best leaders at work, at home, and in the civic forum see themselves as servants and resist the temptation to grab control.”

“As a mentor of youth, you could probably make the skills and attitudes of servant-leadership a goal for your own growth and personal development. “(You can read the details of his thinking here: Practice Servant Leadership.)

Imagine teaching this to young members of your congregation, but after adults in the troop finish training, there is more for your youth leaders. National Youth Leadership Training is a Scouting premier youth leadership training course. It offers an exciting, action-based program designed to deliver leadership skills and experience for youth that they can use back home in Scouting and in other situations demanding leadership by them.

But just participating in Scouting has a profound effect on the lives of youth. According to a Tufts University study of more than 2,000 Cub Scouts and non-Scouts, Dr, Richard Lerner, the study’s author, reported “other big wins for kids who were part of the program. ” He showed Scouting matching well with the overall developmental needs of children in areas of caring, connection, competence, confidence, and character.


Scouting programs have for more than a century helped Churches, communities, and businesses grow new leaders. Leaders who live with character, who are active citizens serving in their neighborhoods and churches, men and women who work for total fitness of their minds, bodies, and souls. Along the way, Scouting develops its youth participants as servant leaders who know how to follow a mentor and then become one themselves.

Every youth program in your church has an important role in the development of young people, but Scouting offers leader and youth interaction for more effective mentoring. One church publication wrote: “Even assuming perfect attendance for a year, at 50 minutes a week this adds up to only 43.3 hours for the whole year. When Scouting becomes part of your church youth ministry, consider the intensive periods of personal guidance potential within a year’s span. 

“The larger segments of time in which young people and leaders interact outside the daily routine has been credited, in part, as a reason for the number of Christian conversions reported in Scouting units operated by churches.”

  • Regular meetings 65 hours (based on one unit meeting each week)
  • Overnight campouts 156 hours (based on one campout per month)
  • Scouting shows/multi-unit events 26 hours (based on two per year)
  • Summer camp 80 hours (based on six full days)
  • Total 327 hours of adult servant leadership mentoring

Just think what this could mean for your congregation’s future in leadership. Scouting helps the adults now and the youth who will grow up soon who will take the reigns themselves.

To learn how to organize a Scout unit for your youth, contact your local Scout Council.

For other articles in this series see:

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. These days he is a Scouting Ambassador and serves on the Council Membership and Marketing Committee. However, his pride in Scouting is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative, and Commissioner.


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