The Purpose of Scouting

When I was working with the scout troop (before I moved) we had discussions among our adult leaders about the purpose of scouting and our desire to help boys advance without trying to create an Eagle Scout factory. I stumbled upon a really good example of the difference between an advancement focus and a boy focus for a scout troop. I think that’s an important difference for scout leaders to recognize.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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5 Responses to The Purpose of Scouting

  1. Reach Upward says:

    There is no reason that there cannot be a twin focus of boy and advancement. My Scoutmaster was a great example.

    If you were interested in advancing, he was there for you, and we had a functioning advancement chairman to help. Every meeting was focused on events that passed off various requirements.

    But if advancement wasn’t your thing, the Scoutmaster was still there for you. The meetings were fun and challenging. You passed off requirements by participating, even if you didn’t care about it. But no one was forced to advance.

    One of my best friends in the troop did all of the same stuff I did at the meetings, but he never advanced beyond 2nd Class. He just didn’t care about advancement, but he was always there and had fun. He has turned out to be an outstanding husband and father.

  2. Marie says:

    WOW!!!!! I loved that article! I wish more people could understand that, and not just in scoutin alone; about music lessons, and school, and everything!
    I felt so pushed to get my young womanhood madallion that I “rebelled” and chose not to get it at all, although I’d completed most all the stuff.
    Life is about learning and growing and having fun, not about proving that you’ve learned or grown.
    I know I’m not a parent yet, and I’ll probably turn out somewhat pushy and highstrung like my mom was. But, hey, I’m still learning too. At least I have a goal to shoot for, and articles like this to inspire me.
    I really love it, and want to print it out and give it to my violin student’s moms. It’s not about what book you’re in, or how fast you’re learning songs, its about enjoying it and not quitting! I feel like shouting this to the world. Thanks David!

  3. David says:


    I totally agree that advancement and boys can both be subjects of a scout leader’s focus. I think you understand this, but my belief is that too much focus on the boy dilutes the value of scouting while too much focus on advancement distorts or even destroys the value of scouting. I would hope to err on the side of extra focus on the boys.


    I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Your reaction sounds similar to mine.

  4. JP says:

    I thought this was an interesting article. I have sometimes wondered why I stopped scouting at 15. I was only a scoutmasters conference and board of reveiw away from my first palm, but no one my age in my troup was scouting any more. I realized that the award was all that mattered to my peers and my leaders. Once you had an eagle they had no idea what to do with you and so few of us did anything after 14 or 15 (yes, every boy had his eagle by 14 or 15 whether they liked it or not). I have always felt somewhat cheated by the fact I could have accomplished so much more and had 3 more years of scouting involvement if the focus was on being a scout not getting an eagle.

  5. David says:

    Thanks for sharing JP. In my troop as a youth the scouting was essentially in-name-only by the time we were 15 or 16 because the boys were not interested (generally). Thankfully the years before that were not exclusively focused on the awards so even as the “scouting” activities dwindled there was still a solid connection between the boys and the leaders so they could plan appropriate activities and the boys could continue to receive appropriate support from adult leaders. Not all the boys became Eagles (I’d say about 1 in 7 over the years) but I think we all had good scouting experiences.

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