Skills for Life


We’ve probably all met Little League dads and soccer moms who are totally convinced that their kids are on the fast track to full-ride scholarships, pro contracts, and lucrative shoe deals. But I’m convinced that most parents have a clearer-eyed view of sports. They understand, to paraphrase a NCAA tagline, that most kids are going to go pro in something other than sports. (In fact, just 0.08 percent of college athletes will sign pro contracts.) Smart parents see youth sports as a venue for kids to learn discipline, teamwork, perseverance, and other virtues while having fun and being physically active, not as a ticket to fame and fortune.

So how do parents see Scouting? We Scouters know that our mission is to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law, but do people outside Scouting know this? I’m not sure they always do. I’m not sure they see how the specialized skills we teach–Dutch oven cooking, anyone?–translate to success in high school and beyond.

I started thinking about this question recently when a friend shared an amazing video from the Scout Association in the UK. Without words, this video clearly demonstrates how Scouting teaches skills for life, as the tagline promises.

I encourage you to watch the video and then to think about ways you can share its message with prospective and current parents in your troop. If you don’t help them see how Scouting teaches skills for life, they’re all too likely to view Scouting as just another option for their kids, perhaps one that’s inferior to those they know are associated with values like discipline, teamwork, and perseverance.

Need some great troop program ideas? Check out The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is available in both print and e-book formats at


3 thoughts on “Skills for Life

  1. What a great video.

    As a parent of a Scout, I watched this through the filter of my own son’s path through Scouting what it did for him then and how it continues to be a part of his life. This semester, he is participating in a study-abroad semester, spending the term in Luxembourg. Two highlights from his semester speak to the impact of Scouting on his life – and others as well.

    At the closing dinner, he and his classmates presented awards to one another. Marshall received the “best itineraries” recognition. He was always organizing the weekend trips around Europe that were part of each free weekend. He became known for putting together the most inexpensive trips, setting up the lodging, etc. There is not much of a stretch there from what he did as a patrol leader for troop outings…or organizing the logistics for his Eagle service project. Everyone had a good laugh at that award.

    On one of those weekend, trips, he and his friends were in a crowded restaurant when someone outside of their group fell to the ground and and began presenting seizures. The restaurant patrons started freaking out – no one knew what to do. Marshall stepped forward, assessed the situation, provided first aid, and made sure that the victim was cared for when EMTs arrived.

    There are lots of great programs for young people, but none has the impact over a lifetime – and the lives of others – that Scouting does.

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