Developing Thoughtful Leaders for Tomorrow
By Eric Magendantz
An enterprise as thoughtful, and impactful, as a Boy Scout Council requires vision from the top. That vision must match the mission and drive organizational growth. Our vision is to create unparalleled experiences for more youth. We define unparalleled experiences for our scouts and families as creating value, enthusiasm, robust growth and retention of program participants. We do this by focusing labor (volunteers and staff) and funding towards activities which kids can only experience in scouting. The result is the growth of kids, and the resulting growth of scouting by keeping them engaged once they have joined.
One major focus is new Cub Scouts, particularly those in first through third grades. This level of our program is the portal to scouting and where the scouting experience begins. Put these two elements together, initial and unparalleled experiences. and you’ve got unprecedented and sustainable growth. Yes, growth. Growth is paramount because we assist families with developing charter, leadership, virtues and job exploration for their kids.
Another important concentration is job exploration. Each of our 144 merit badges has an embedded component requiring the scout to learn more about a career field. The interest in certain industries and vocations for many of our scouts and Eagle scouts were sparked while earning merit badges.
Career Interest Through Exposure
In December, we will host an inaugural Central Florida Scout Jamboree. Between 6,000 to 10,000 scouts, parents and siblings are expected to attend this event, which will provide an unparalleled experience with an undercurrent of job exploration and career awareness.
Companies, trade organizations, unions, and universities will be asked to join us in providing these experiences. For example, a construction firm might bring heavy equipment for kids to gain a hands-on experience; metal workers union could have kids weld their initials onto a piece of steel; or a ranch owner could show kids about the high tech methods of modern agriculture, just to name a few. We want hundreds of activities from a diverse group of businesses and organizations. This will be an exciting new and engaging way to show kids about various career opportunities, and it’s an event we plan to hold every two years.
Keeping Our Promise
One final key to our success is the promise that we make to our parents. Parents will say scouting in the Central Florida Council offers their family fun and adventurous things to do. These activities are designed to help their children develop leadership skills and values that impart good citizenship and service to others.
I am often asked ‘What is scouting all about?’ I reply quite simply, “Scouting gives a kid the chance to practice being an adult before he becomes one.” Scouts get chances to learn from experiences in a fun and safe environment, which introduces leadership, project and team management, and develops character.
A recent study conducted by Tufts University confirmed what we knew; that scouting does empirically build character. Over 2,000 scouts and non scouts participated in the three-year study designed to better understand character development as it was happening. At the end of the study, scouts demonstrated the following outcomes vs. non scouts: Fourfold increase in cheerfulness, helpfulness, obedience, and a two-fold increase in kindness. Scouts showed nearly a three-fold increase in hopefulness when compared with non scouts. In addition, religious reverence decreased 11 fold when compared to scouts.
In others words, scouts are significantly more likely to embrace social values than non scouts. The more time kids spend in Scouting, the better the outcome in character development. While scouts showed a two-fold increase in cheerfulness and helpfulness, non scouts showed a two-fold decrease in these characteristics. Scouts showed a three-fold increase in hopefulness when compared to non scouts. When youth are hopeful about the future, it is proven they are more likely to do well in school, have higher career aspirations and make more thoughtful choices.
Eric Magendantz is the Scout Executive and Chief Executive Officer of the Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America www.cflscouting.org