Program Innovations and Character in Cub Scouts: Findings from Year 1 of a Mixed-Methods, Longitudinal Study


  • Lacey J. Hilliard Tufts University
  • Rachel M. Hershberg Tufts University
  • Jun Wang Tufts University
  • Edmond P. Bowers Clemson University
  • Paul A. Chase Tufts University
  • Robey B. Champine Tufts University
  • Mary H. Buckingham Tufts University
  • Daniel J. A. Warren Tufts University
  • Kaitlyn A. Ferris Tufts University
  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University



Youth development programs seek to promote positive development through mentoring and engaging youth in opportunities for individual growth and community connectedness. We present findings from the initial phase of a mixed-methods, longitudinal study aimed at assessing the impact of one such program, Cub Scouts, on character development. We assessed if Scouting, and a recent innovation in Scouting focused on program quality, are associated with the development of character and other positive youth outcomes. Participants were 1,083 Scouts and non-Scouts, aged 5-12 years. At the start of the study, there was no difference in indicators of character between Scouts and non-Scouts, once matched through propensity score analyses. Through content analyses of interviews and short- answer questionnaires administered to leaders, we found that leaders’ views of character and of their roles corresponded to those envisioned by Cub Scouts. Implications for character development, and for the role of program components in character development, are discussed.






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