Doing service projects together is one way that Scouts keep their promise "to help other people." While a Scout should do his best to help other people every day, a group service project is a bigger way to help people. While you're giving service, you're learning to work together with others to do something that's good for your community.
Community service is a very important part of Scouting in which units perform community service projects, conservation projects, projects for their chartered organization, or participate in an Eagle Scout project.
Service projects may help the natural world, the community, or the chartered organization.
Civic Service Project Ideas
From its congressional charter in 1916 to its present vision statement, the Boy Scouts of America has embraced training young people in citizenship as one of its primary purposes. Scouting units should regularly plan community service projects as part of the program. Service projects are often coordinated to include more than one unit. The important objective is to help youth learn specific qualities of citizenship through service to others. You might choose a project to serve in any of these areas: children, Scouting for Food, senior citizens, safety, conservation, emergency service, recreation, hospitals, improving the community physically, helping community government, taking part in celebrations, or emphasizing historical, patriotic, or international heritage.
Any activity you select or create must have a definition and purpose, be real to the Scouts, involve them through democratic processes, require some kind of preparation from them, become a significant action, and be compatible with the objectives of the Scouting movement. Here are some service activities Scouts can do.
Helping the natural world
- Pick up litter around your neighborhood.
- Clean up trash by a stream.
- Plant seedlings or flowers.
- Recycle glass, paper, aluminum, or plastic.
- Make bird feeders.
Helping the chartered organization
- Do a cleanup project.
- Plant and care for trees.
- Conduct a flag ceremony.
- Help set up for a special event.
- Hand out programs or bulletins at a meeting of the organization.
Helping the community
- Give a flag ceremony for a school.
- Collect food for food banks.
- Make cards for a care center.
- Clean up a church parking lot.
- Shovel snow or rake leaves for seniors.
- Hand out voting reminders.
- Hand out emergency procedure brochures.
- Recycle family newspapers.
Reporting Service Hours
Units are encouraged to report their service projects on the Journey to Excellence website. This helps provide the community an accurate report on the great service and dedication our Scouts are showing throughout the Sam Houston Area Council.
Why Community Service Is Important
Scouting has a unique opportunity and responsibility to teach better citizenship to American youth.
- Community service projects are the most important way to teach good citizenship because they are an active involvement in which most all of a youth’s senses are engaged, not a passive condition of only listening.
- Many youth are finding it increasingly difficult to find meaning and satisfaction in life. Young people are seen as a liability on the family budget instead of an economic asset as in the early part of the 20th century. Youth may see the world as a place that is already shaped, is beyond their influence, and where they are, for the most part, not needed. One of the great contributions of Scouting service projects is to provide youth with major areas of life which they can shape and where their ideas are listened to and valued. Service projects are activities that make youth feel competent and capable.
- Amid an atmosphere of cynicism for public life and government office, Scouting service projects can help youth have a more positive experience in civic participation.
- More than any past generation, today’s youth need good adult role models outside of the home. Scouting provides additional role models of law-abiding citizens involved in their communities. Scouting members learn to take responsibility in the civic arena by working side by side with these role models.
- In a cultural environment that places heavy emphasis on material things, Scouting service projects place emphasis on the value of human individuals and “helping other people at all times.”
- One of the most important functions of a good Scout unit is giving youth a much-needed sense of belonging. Unit service projects deepen this function by giving not only youth members, but the entire unit a greater sense of belonging to their communities.
- Service projects help foster community pride.