Two Years of Scouting Should be Mandatory Before Graduating High School
PRO (4 arguments)
Scouting- a coed program (not specifically Boy and Girl Scouts of America) which focuses on the values of character growth and citizenship training
Mandatory - must complete before graduation but would be during school hours
Weighing Mechanism: Whichever side best prepares students, during high school and after graduation, to be good citizens and contribute to their communities should win this debate.
Scouting serves as a very educational environment where high schoolers can learn and improve upon skills they wouldn’t normally learn in class, like leadership, teamwork, community service and environmental awareness. As a result, high schoolers are more likely to pursue other leadership activities and stay actively involved in their communities after their scouting experience.
According to a major study conducted by Baylor University, people who were engaged in scouting were 87% more likely to belong to a civic organization and 76% more likely to have held a leadership position in their community. Additionally, 92% were more likely to be in an organization dedicated to protecting the environment. In another study conducted by Professor Sarah Barnett, Barnett surveyed 2,772 Girl Scouts in high school and asked them to rate how much an impact scouting has had on their leadership skills out of a scale of 10. Professor Barnett found in her study that the average Girl Scout said that scouting had a 8/10 impact on their leadership skills, meaning that scouting served as a very successful tool in teaching good leadership qualities. In addition, of men who were scouts in their youth, 83% said the values they learned in scouting impacted their life today. Half of those surveyed even claim that scouting helped them with their current career path. Clearly, scouting has both a positive impact on student’s high school career and future life.
Baylor University, Professor Sarah Barnett
While most students in high school are extremely stressed out, scouting can provide an outlet for relaxation. Most high school students just want an activity where they can forget about the five tests they have the next day, and scouting provides a solution. Scouting provides fun, community-based learning experiences that cannot be found in schools, and allows for students to truly forget their stresses and just focus on their environment and enjoying themselves. This reduction in stress and organization skills taught by scouting directly lead to increased grades.
According to a study conducted by Harris Interactive, “scouts are more likely than other boys who have never been Scouts to report they earn mostly A’s.” Furthermore, the study finds that more than 50% of all Boy Scouts found that scouting improved their performance in science, reading, and math. In the aforementioned study by Professor Sarah Barnett, Barnett also finds that involvement in scouting in high school can lead to better grades and academic performance, as a result of increased engagement. She finds that empirically, being involved in Girl Scouts was associated with a 12% higher GPA than girls who were not a part of Girl Scouts.
Harris Interactive, Professor Sarah Barnett
Scouting is an activity where individuals get to enjoy the outdoors and be close to nature. During the many trips and outings, scouts are taught valuable survival skills that can be useful in dangerous situations. For example, some of the skills that scouts learn are how to fish, how to hunt, how to construct a shelter, build a fire, and - most importantly - life-saving first aid techniques. In any situation, scouts feel prepared for whatever comes their way, whether they are stranded in a forest by themselves or are confronted with an injured friend who needs help.
In the tragic 2013 Los Angeles airport terminal shooting, one of the survivors was able to live because of his prior involvement with scouting. Brian Ludmer, a 29-year-old California teacher and former member of the Boy Scouts, was shot multiple times in the leg and was bleeding profusely. Remembering his First-Aid badge that he got in Boy Scouts, Ludmer created a makeshift tourniquet that he credits with saving his life. This skill of being able to think quickly in an intense situation and use the correct medical applications is something that is only taught in scouting. According to Superintendent of the Las Virgenes School District, Dan Stepenosky, “the majority of schools nowadays don’t teach a single lesson about first aid or on-the-spot medical treatments. This lack of basic medical knowledge could pose a serious threat when a student faces a dangerous situation.” Indeed, according to the Baylor University study, scouts lived up to the motto “Always Be Prepared” by being a whopping 124% more likely to have a survival kit in their homes.
Washington Post, Baylor University
The values instilled by scouting lead to personal growth and character development. Unlike academic classes that teach specific academic skills like algebra, grammar and historical facts, scouting instills values that go to the core of the scout’s identity. This means these skills and values last an entire lifetime and can affect the outcome of the scout’s life.
In a study on scouting by the Templeton Foundation, they found that of those who were scouts, compared to those who were not, 81% were more likely to say they achieved a spiritual goal in the last year; 64% were more likely to say they achieved a personal goal in the last year and 49% were more likely to say they achieved a financial goal in the last year.
CON (4 arguments)
First, we would like to observe that the topic implies that students would be joining already existing scouting clubs. Thus, for the sake of this debate, boys in high school would join Boy Scouts and girls would join Girl Scouts.
Weighing Mechanism: Whichever side best improves the students’ education and promotes equality should win the debate. If we prove that scouting harms students’ education, then you should negate.
Boy scouts and Girl scouts are an incredibly outdated, sexist institution that perpetuates stereotypes. This can be especially harmful for students in high school, where they are just beginning to develop their own opinions on the world. Being separated into two distinct groups by gender simply reinforces the idea that genders are not equal and that they must have different activities that suit each better.
A University of Maryland researcher studying the Boy and Girl Scouts handbooks found that the badges that scouts could earn differed greatly on gender. The study found that 27% of girls’ badges had what they classified as “cutesy badges” while none of the boys’ badges did. For example, the geology badge, is called the “Rocks Rock Badge” for girls while for boys it’s called the “Geologist Badge”. Additionally, Professor Kaitlyn McGowan writes that: “Applying a different organization to each gender further adds to the sexual discrimination and stereotyping that run rampant throughout the U.S. Reinforcing the concept of gender separation through popular youth-oriented clubs places restrictions on their members’ potential to flourish beyond society’s gender norms. Furthermore, there is an obvious genderization of skills that are learned with the scouts. Girl Scouts earn badges based off of creativity and domestic skills. Boy Scouts earn merits that involve more rugged and outdoor activities.”
While scouting may seem fun and relaxing, for most high school students it’s just another requirement they will have to complete in order to graduate. As a result, students will approach the scouting programs with little interest and be unproductive when it comes to getting community work done. This forced requirement actually has long-term impacts on students future community involvement, as they become disinterested in doing community service since they feel like they already have done their part. In other words, scouting creates complacency since students feel like their duty to their community is finished once the two years are over with.
Professor of economics at Stanford University, Sara Helms, conducted a study on community engagement after being forced to attend a scouting program for the first two years of high school in Maryland between 1997-2011. Helms found that "If this is for school, how do we know [students] are considering this as community service, rather than just homework for school? One of the interpretations that is more convincing is, maybe we are substituting this [requirement] for being self-motivated.” Indeed later in Helms study, she concluded that students who were required to participate in the scouting program were less likely after it to stay engaged in community service. She found that before the requirement, students in Maryland were 7.8% more likely to be active in service activities than the average national student. However, after the mandatory scouting was implemented, Maryland students were 17% less likely to volunteer for community service jobs.
Most high schoolers have a ridiculous amount of work they must do every night just from their normal school classes. Adding a whole new mandatory class onto their schedule will overload high school students and raise stress levels for everyone. As a result, test scores and grades will suffer, as increased stress directly relates to a lower academic performance.
According to the Boy Scouts own Scouting Magazine, high school scouts are required to accomplish large projects to earn their badges. For example, the article reports about a common project that scouting troops require where they have each member build a bench or walkway for a city building. These projects can take around 3-5 weeks to complete, and the fear that your project isn’t good enough for a badge definitely adds a great deal of stress. According to the US National Institutes of Health, stress can lead to a greater likelihood of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Decreased mental health can greatly reduce academic performance. Professor Ben Bernstein of Stanford University found that on average, increased levels of stress or worse mental health, corresponded with a massive reduction in academic performance, especially in the case of lower scores on tests. That’s why every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. This is really important since a high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime, and almost a million dollars less than a college graduate. Additionally, in the U.S., high school dropouts commit about 75% of total crimes. Overall, forcing students to add another huge task onto their already stressful life will only harm them when it comes to what really matters: their academic performance in school and their prospects at a good future.
Doing an activity for two years of high school uses up valuable and limited academic teaching time that students need to use preparing to succeed in the job market or in college. High schools can’t be everything to everyone - community service and character development can be learned through other outside activities. Making scouting mandatory is therefore repetitive learning for kids who already learn these skills in their extracurriculars. Keeping it a voluntary participation activity is best for everyone.
According to US News and World Report, 55% of all high school students play a sport, and in 2014, the number of participants in high school sports increased for the 25th straight year. Introducing mandatory scouting could reduce this positive growth in sports participation. Also, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of teens already participate in community service. Thus, many of the activities these students would be forced to do through the scouting requirement, they are already doing.