Boy Scouts of America, by the Numbers

8/23/2011 2:21:58 PM

Tags: Boy Scouts of America, leadership, children, success, statistics, arts and culture, Miller-McCune, Will Wlizlo

 boy-scouts 

“Be Prepared.” That’s the motto of one of America’s longest running youth organizations, The Boy Scouts of America. The outdoor adventure and leadership club for boys turned 100 years old last year, and its longevity has piqued the interest of academics and statisticians. Miller-McCune compiled a collection of studies of the boy scouts’ first century, and some of the results may “offer guidance to program leaders for the organization’s next 100 years.”

The first obstacle the scouts face is declining membership. According to Miller-McCune’s Tom Jacobs, “[p]articipation peaked in 1973 with 4.8 million scouts and has since plunged 42 percent, to 2.8 million.” In the same timeframe, the population of America has risen by about 100 million. A number of causes have been attributed to declining membership, including scout masters’ struggle to properly teach outdoors skills to children with less and less exposure to nature and exclusionary, spirituality-based recruitment criteria (the organization bars atheists, agnostics, gays, and girls). Although the Boy Scouts are behind the times culturally, the organization is ahead of the game in regard to America’s number one preoccupation: makin’ moola.

A long established maxim is that boy scouts go on to be more successful than their Honor Badge-less peers. Jacobs points to a 2010 Gallup poll that confirms that:

Twenty-two percent of men who have been Boy Scouts graduate from college compared to 16 percent of non-Scouts; 19 percent of men who have been Boy Scouts achieve a postgraduate education, compared with 13 percent of non-Scouts. Men who have been Boy Scouts also report higher annual incomes.

You’d think that with demographics like these—coupled with our sluggish economy—the ranks of boy scouts would be swelling.

Although many of these studies show interesting trends, the results don’t offer many non-statistical takeaways. “The rap on all this research about Scouts is that little of it has been published in peer-reviewed journals and thus lacks empirical answers to the most important questions,” writes Jacobs. “Does Scouting matter? Do Eagle Scouts achieve greater success than other Scouts? Does the impact of Scouting vary from different eras?”

Source: Miller-McCune 

Image by KOMUnews, licensed under Creative Commons. 



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Post a comment below.

 

Diana Drucker
9/2/2011 1:49:01 PM
My father was a scout leader, my brother was a scout. I sadly had to stop supporting BSA when they came out against gays

steve eatenson
9/1/2011 10:23:16 AM
Growing up, my father didn't spend much time with me. He was too busy making money, reading the newspaper, doing what he wanted to do. Boy Scouts was a place to go one evening a week to meet with other guys and learn stuff. We went camping and got to learn about starting fires, pitching tents, cooking meals. I enjoyed being out in the woods. My Scout-leader was a very nice man who was kind, interested, a good teacher and a good role model. I never knew about the scouts anti-gay policies back then or any religious mandates. I felt special in my scout uniform. When I got older, I got to join the Sea Explorers. We went out on the lake on sail boats. That was really cool too. Earning merit badges involved my family and taught me things. I wasn't at all aware of the scouts being a money making organization. How sad that today's youth spend so much time playing violent computer games rather than attending scout functions. We've lost something special.

steve eatenson
9/1/2011 10:22:06 AM
Growing up, my father didn't spend much time with me. He was too busy making money, reading the newspaper, doing what he wanted to do. Boy Scouts was a place to go one evening a week to meet with other guys and learn stuff. We went camping and got to learn about starting fires, pitching tents, cooking meals. I enjoyed being out in the woods. My Scout-leader was a very nice man who was kind, interested, a good teacher and a good role model. I never knew about the scouts anti-gay policies back then or any religious mandates. I felt special in my scout uniform. When I got older, I got to join the Sea Explorers. We went out on the lake on sail boats. That was really cool too. Earning merit badges involved my family and taught me things. I wasn't at all aware of the scouts being a money making organization. How sad that today's youth spend so much time playing violent computer games rather than attending scout functions. We've lost something special.

Joe Price
8/31/2011 1:14:33 PM
>>spirituality-based recruitment criteria (the organization bars atheists, agnostics, gays, and girls) The prospect of economic advantage in the long-term is supposed to outweigh these abhorrent policies?

kasser
8/28/2011 4:23:18 PM
good and nice info. Thank you very much for the post



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