According to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Office, scout membership is down, especially for older teens. The program has never deviated from its mission of instilling positive values and protecting its membership.
Controversial decisions such as excluding gay and lesbian participants have led to a drop in support in participation. Those still attending are still showing higher levels of self-esteem and self-confidence as well as a sense of responsibility to the community according to information from the National Office of the Boy Scouts of American headquartered near Dallas, Texas.
The Values of the Boy Scouts of America
It is the goal of the BSA to orient its members to reflect the values of the Scout Oath which reads:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
While the Scout Law reads:
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
The BSA reaches youth by organizing local Troops – groups of Boy Scouts organized by geographical region. In 2001, 41,947 BSA Troops were active internationally. These make the BSA one of the most prolific youth organizations in history.
Membership in the BSA does not require any specific faith or civic orientation. Any male youth aged 11 1/2 to 18 years of age is welcome to enter into the BSA. Once within the group, participating scouts rise in rank from Scout to Eagle.
The organization is based on encouraging the development of skills, knowledge, career opportunities and self-esteem. The BSA also encourages spiritual development of Scouts through strong relationships with all major denominations and faith.
Parents Assured of Safety
The BSA has among the strictest requirements for any volunteer working within the organization. Often, background checks and references are required. The organization also has advanced training and operational manuals which govern how leaders and scouts interact.
Besides, when on camping or other off-site events, scouts must participate in the buddy system which matches two scouts to be in constant contact with each other. The BSA also teaches first aid and other basic skills as some of the first experiences scouts learn.
While there have been cases of sex abuse and molestation charges against adult members of the BSA, the organization continually updates its practices to screen out problematic adults, and they are having a positive effect.
One difficult note for anyone of conscience wanting to endorse the BSA is their policy against gay and lesbian persons. However, many find the benefits of the organization to be so strong that they participate in scouting while attempting to educate and persuade from within the organization. Barring that one note of blatant discrimination, scouting does celebrate and encourage diversity of race and religion.
Since 1910, the Boys Scouts of America has been providing an attractive program for youth participation. As parents find teens with more free time in summer months, scouting offers an activity that teaches a myriad of skills with the stepped participation, resulting in the sense of accomplishment. And, by offering incremental goals and promotion, the BSA can be a crucial sway for participants to develop self-esteem and lifetime skills.