With the new school year underway, I know many families have returned to a whirlwind of carpools, homework and after-school obligations. In the midst of the non-stop action, it can be hard to know what impact the time and energy spent really is having. But, rest assured the experiences that kids have in this window of time make a meaningful impact and shape them into who they will become. With that opportunity comes tough decisions for parents on what activities will be most beneficial to their children.

Scouting aims to help parents and families make the most of right now by developing character and leadership skills. Our organization is unique in its ability to do that. The Tufts University Character and Merit Project (June, 2015) found that a combination of sports and a positive youth development organization (like Scouting) is a powerful driver of the creation of character in young people. This study compared character traits of Scouts and non-Scouts over a two-and-a-half-year period and found that youth who participate in Scouting and sports together are almost 12 percent more likely to embrace pro-social values such as ‘helping others’ or ‘doing the right thing’ than youth who only play sports. The two activities are highly compatible. The positive values taught by Scouting provides the foundation of character necessary to be a leader and thrive in a team environment.

We often find Scouts among the athletic elite and, time and again, they tell us that the lessons of Scouting were instrumental to getting them where they are today. Take, for example, Eagle Scout Eric Saubert, a tight end for the Atlanta Falcons. Clearly, the level of talent and dedication required to reach the professional level in football can’t be overstated, but Eric also credits Scouting with giving him a strong moral foundation, practice working with a team and a supportive environment while he pursued his passion for football. In fact, he first fell in love with the game playing football at Scout campouts! Eric is a clear example of how Scouting can contribute to success in athletics, and he is far from alone. Remember Josh Hart? He now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. And there also are several other Eagle Scouts making their mark on the NFL this year. I hope Scouts who are currently in school and on sports teams will recognize ways to apply the same lessons in sportsmanship, time management and teamwork.

It’s great to see how Scouting’s lessons in character and leadership continue to impact our members as they move into adulthood. Is finding a balance hard during the school year? It absolutely can be. But some of the people who’ve gone farthest in Scouting and in sports agree: it’s worth it. Scouting provides fun, life-changing experiences young people can’t get anywhere else; lessons that tie together well with the lessons derived from sports. The lessons they get here will serve them well wherever they choose to go.

Let me know in the comments how you apply the principles of Scouting throughout the school year.

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