Congratulations to all the Scouts, Venturers and Explorers graduating this month! If you’re headed off to college, getting vocational training or launching into the workforce, I know what you’ve learned through Scouting and all of our BSA programs will serve you well.
When we think of the benefits of Scouting, specifically, some might assume that the leadership skills we teach are the most impactful lessons for helping young people succeed after high school. After all, leadership positions are easy to highlight on a college resume. But while our leadership training is unparalleled, it’s important to never separate it from its foundation of character development.
Building character is in our nature, and it’s the most important lesson we could ever pass along to our youth. And it actually can be a stand-out feature in the eyes of educational institutions! In a recent column I read, the author pointed out that in a world awash with high achievers, having good character and demonstrating kindness can be a differentiating, advantageous trait in college essays. The column discusses a new report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which shows that universities are looking to attract students with ethical character. More specifically, they are “drawn to applicants who show concern for others, promote good citizenship and civic engagement and develop personal responsibility.” Sounds a bit like Scouts, doesn’t it?
I think this understanding of the nature and impact of good character is part of why the Eagle Scout rank is consistently recognized as a standout achievement on resumes.
But regardless of which BSA program young people participate in or what rank they achieve, I hope the core values infused throughout all of our programs will become a part of all of our participants’ personal moral codes. Building character is an activity that should be done for its own sake – not to advance in Scouting or add a line to a resume. But it is gratifying to see examples of ways that our foundational values set Scouts up for a lifetime of success.
Keep on living our oath and our laws. They will serve you well.
Yours in Scouting,