Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, to bounce back from difficult experiences. This can be a particularly tricky character trait to teach because it is natural to want to protect children from emotionally difficult experiences. And it’s a trait that our programs help develop by providing young people opportunities to face challenges through adventures. These experiences help them build confidence in their ability to persevere. Recently, Yale University released a study that reminded me of some of the other ways our programs help families shape character and give young people the tools they need to face challenges in life.
In this study, 63,000 boys and girls between 12 and 17 years old took a survey designed to determine their levels of resilience in the face of adverse events, such as divorce or death. Researchers found that young people who engaged in extracurricular activities outside the home – volunteering, sports, paid or unpaid work – thrived in spite of experiencing these challenges. Those who were less involved showed lower levels of resilience and struggled more with their circumstances. This means that families who give young people opportunities to build their life skills and experiences outside of the home through organizations, such as Scouting, can give them quite a leg-up in their emotional development.
The structure of the Boy Scouts of America not only provides young people a group of peers and adult leaders who can serve as friends and role models, it also gives them the responsibility of serving as leaders in our organization and in their communities. Having these experiences in childhood and early adulthood improves confidence, encourages independence and provides a sense of belonging. Outside of these benefits, nobody offers more exhilarating or diverse adventures for young people than the Boy Scouts of America.
We structure adventure such that it gives young people the know-how to tackle experiences they’ll encounter for the rest of their lives. Whether it’s overcoming obstacles in the great outdoors, getting outside of their comfort zone to lead a team for a service project, or exploring career options through hands-on professional or scientific experiences, the content of our programs is designed to develop leadership, character and confidence.
Adventure is a constant in Scouting and each day, new adventures grow Scouts into who they will become as adults. Let me know in the comments what innovative approaches you are using to share the character-building benefits of Scouting with families in your community.
Yours in Scouting,