There are over 2.4 million youth participants, making Boy Scouts of America one of the largest youth organizations in the country. One key to our ongoing success with youth is that we recognize that a boy’s perception of fun is constantly changing and fun is why kids join Scouts.
They want fun, excitement and the mystery associated with outdoor adventure. While we accomplish those things, the actual results are much more impacting.
In fact, our mission centers on helping youth make ethical choices based on the Scout Oath and Law during their Scouting days and long after.
The fun stuff we do in weekly meetings, on camp outs and hikes helps us achieve our mission. Each program uses a unique set of methods, that when balanced into a unit’s program not only provide fun but growth in three general areas called the Aims of Scouting. These include the following:
- Character can be defined as the collection of core values held by an individual that leads to moral commitment and action. Character encompasses a boy’s personal qualities, values, and outlooks.
- Citizenship, our second aim, is civic participation. Used broadly, citizenship means the boy’s relationship to others. He comes to learn of his obligations to other people, to the society he lives in, and to the government that presides over that society.
- Fitness, the third aim of Scouting is development of physical, mental, and emotional health. Fitness includes the body (well-tuned and healthy), the mind (able to think and solve problems), and the emotions (self-control, courage, and self-respect).
Once again, youth don’t join Scouting for those three things, but it’s how they grow. To accomplish these aims, we have created age-appropriate methods for each program. When implemented, these methods will help maximize a youth’s development.
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For now, let’s just explore the methods of Boy Scouting. There are eight. An easy way to remember the methods is to look at the first letter of each one, which spells PAUL SOAP.
The patrol method gives Boy Scouts experience in group living and citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.
Association with Adults
Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases, a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.
The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.
Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for God’s handiwork and humankind’s place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Boy Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.
Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The concept of doing a good turn daily is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. It’s possible that no device is as successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout determine his growth toward Scouting’s aims.
When you work all eight methods into your program, you will help create boys with character, citizenship, and fitness. It’s a guarantee.