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  • Doug Cook

Achieving More in Scouting

The green graph below shows how many Boy Scouts each year earn the Eagle Scout award  (click to enlarge).  Since 1912 over 2.3 million young men have earned Boy Scouting’s highest award.

Eagle Scout Awards by year

Compare that to the blue graph below which represents Boy Scouting membership since 1960.

2010 and later news reports suggest Boy Scouting membership is lagging behind primarily due to membership policies of recent years.  The trend however goes back more in time due to a mixture of reasons of which bigger factors probably include time competition (e.g.: jobs, athletics, required extracurricular activities, online and gaming activities).

The Eagle Scout success curve continues to grow stronger

How so?

The requirements have remained the same.  One notable variance in the graph is a 1973 spike followed by a dip which is likely explainable by an increase of difficulty of requirements in merit badges and more stringent service project planning.

I think the success is due to a better program now than 30 years ago.  Scouting is achieving more success despite fewer members.

I think we have gotten better in leadership training. Some key leadership methods that have incorporated include:

  1. Better training with Wood Badge – Scouting’s leadership training for adult volunteers.  Many note this course as a mountaintop experience in their Scouting career.

Leading EDGE graphic
  1. Better training with National Youth Leadership Training courses.  These council level courses consistently generates motivated Scouts who participate with a level of training nearly equivalent to Wood Badge.

  2. Leading EDGE model of leadership training.   This teaches the science of a leadership model that can adapt to the needs of a group.  This model works not only within troops and patrols but any group (school, work, friends, family).

Where do we go from here?

Improvements in volunteer training, keeping programs relevant and sticking to a model that emphasizes youth leadership of a troop are ideas I recommend we continue.  I encourage seeking ways to accept diversity within the family of Scouting.  World Scout Jamborees are wonderful models of how a communities of up to 40,000 can live close together despite differing cultures, religions and customs.  It is this sense of fellowship in Scouting that can inspire us to make the movement better for the future.

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