Boy Scouts experience 3.9% growth in program
In the last year the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America has experienced a 3.9 percent growth in the number of participants with more than 11,000 in its programs.
It’s a statistic that Tim McCandless proudly reports. In an interview Monday, McCandless, Scout Executive and CEO of the Narragansett Council, called it the greatest growth in Scouting in about 15 years. He attributed the growth to less controversy over gender issues and greater recognition of scouting values as well as improved marketing that reaches young families.
Warwick is part of the growth picture.
With 20 scouting units between Cub Scouts, Boys Scout Troops, and Explorer and Adventure groups that accept boys and girls, Warwick has one of the largest concentration of scouts of any municipality in the council.
In Warwick 381 youths are engaged in scouting programs along with 250 volunteers. The growth in Warwick was 7 percent for the fiscal year.
McCandless is hopeful the upward trend will continue.
“It looks very positive,” he said of recruitment efforts, “we’re up year over year.”
He said the council is prepared to kickoff its campaign to recruit volunteers, adding, “I think we’re right on track for 2,000 [kids registered as scouts] in the fall.”
McCandless shared his enthusiasm for scouting Thursday at the Rotary Club of Warwick meeting.
“Kids want to be scouts. It’s translating that to their parents,” he said.
“How do you reach the 29 and 30 year olds?” he asked.
To that end the council has initiated a campaign across a spectrum of media including a concentration on social media. The message is that not only will their kids have fun and be engaged but they will also gain skills.
“If they are scouts they have an advantage through the rest of life,” said McCandless.
McCandless moved east from Spokane, Washington last year. He opened his talk with information on the Ponderosa Pine, showing pictures of the majestic 100-foot high trees and in particular a tree living in an arid area with an extensive, deep roots. He then turned to photos of wind ravaged campus of a Whitworth University in Spokane with scores of Ponderosa Pines scattered like match sticks. The trees had been uprooted. Their root systems were shallow and tiny compared to the earlier tree displayed.
McCandless’ point was that the trees that had been felled had had it easy. They were watered and fertilized. They didn’t need to sink deep roots and they were in no condition to standup to heavy winds.
“We’re in the business of helping young men grow deep roots,” he said.
McCandless said camping is often “the bait” to bring kids into scouting. From there the program is directed at building teamwork whether it is white water rafting or camping and leadership.
“It is causing young people to do hard things, to go a little bit further…so they can withstand turbulent times,” he said.
He turned to a two-and-a-half-year study performed by Tufts University of about 1,800 Cub Scouts and 400 non-Scouts in the Philadelphia area. Scouts and non-Scouts were interviewed at separate times during the time period. Initially, there was little difference between the Scouts and the non-Scouts, but in successive interviews researchers found Scouts were more likely to embrace positive social values than non-Scouts. When asked what was most import, a Scout was more likely to say, “helping others” whereas the non-Scouts answered, “being smart” or “being best” or being good at sports.
The study showed boys in Cub Scouts became significantly more cheerful, helpful, kind, obedient, trustworthy and hopeful about their future than non-Scouts.
McCandless points out additional information on scouting and locating the nearest troop or pack is as easy as going to beascout.org. The annual fee for being a scout is $24.