IRVING, Texas (April 10, 2012)-One hundred years after Arthur Eldred of New York earned this nation’s first Eagle Scout Award, new, independent research demonstrates the significant, positive impact Eagle Scouts have on society every day. Since it was first awarded in 1912, more than 2 million young men have achieved the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank. The study conducted by Baylor University, Merit Beyond the Badge, found that Eagle Scouts are more likely than men who have never been in Scouting to:
- Have higher levels of planning and preparation skills, be goal-oriented, and network with others
- Be in a leadership position at their place of employment or local community
- Report having closer relationships with family and friends
- Volunteer for religious and nonreligious organizations
- Donate money to charitable groups
- Work with others to improve their neighborhoods
“Eagle Scouts have made their marks throughout history—from walking on the moon and working behind the desk in the Oval Office to running the bases in the major leagues. And while we’re proud to claim some truly great men in American history among our ranks, we’re even more proud that everyday Eagle Scouts become wonderful husbands, fathers, and citizens,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. “This research validates for the world something we’ve known about Eagle Scouts for years. They lead. They vote. They donate. They volunteer. They work hard and achieve their goals. In short, Eagle Scouts are exceptional men.”
Baylor University’s Program for Prosocial Behavior received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to measure the lifelong effects of being in the Scouting program, and more specifically, of attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
“Our study measured if achieving the rank of Eagle provides an advantage and benefits throughout a Scout’s life,” said Dr. Byron Johnson, lead researcher, Baylor University. “We found that the effort and commitment required to earn this rank produces positive attributes that benefit not only these men in their personal and professional lives, but also benefits their communities and the country through the service and leadership they provide.”
The Eagle Scout badge has become widely recognized as a mark of distinction both within and outside of Scouting. Once earned, it is worn for life. About 4 percent of Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank. To do so, Scouts must demonstrate their understanding of leadership, service, character, personal fitness, and outdoor skills at multiple levels.
In addition to the 21 life skills merit badges required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, each Scout must complete an extensive self-directed service project. The Scout must plan, organize, lead, and manage the entire service effort prior to his 18th birthday. The average number of hours spent on Eagle Scout projects is 130. In 2011, more than 51,000 young men earned the Eagle Scout Award, which means Eagle Scout service projects alone represented almost 6.7 million hours of community service.
Among the 21 required merit badges to earn the Eagle Scout rank are First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Camping, and Family Life.
Some of the more notable Eagle Scouts are President Gerald Ford; Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton; explorer Steve Fossett; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates Sr.; MLB all-star Shane Victorino; and actor Jon Heder, who starred in the independent film Napoleon Dynamite.
While not a household name, a clear example of what Baylor University found in its research is 15-year-old Eagle Scout Spencer Zimmerman. Zimmerman learned that Dayton Hayward, a friend with cerebral palsy, liked to feel the wind in his face. So, he invited Hayward to join him in completing a triathlon. To help Hayward achieve the impossible, Zimmerman pulled, pushed, and carried his friend through a 500-meter swim, 3.2-mile run, and 12-mile bike ride. Both boys faced intense physical tests in completing the race. For his commitment to serving others, Zimmerman was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s American Spirit Award.
“I was honored to receive the American Spirit Award, but the credit goes to Dayton,” Zimmerman said. “Despite the challenges he faces, he has great spirit. Throughout the training and race, I was just his legs. I believe there’s no reason why Dayton shouldn’t have the opportunity to do what everyone else does.”