Leadership and the Boy Scouts of America's High Adventure Program
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Recreation programs for youth are increasingly being asked to justify their purpose beyond providing fun and games. Stakeholders (e.g., taxpayers, parents, or donors) expect youth programs to develop specific outcomes in young people that will assist them in becoming fully functional adults. More empirical evidence is needed to support the idea that recreational programs indeed provide added educational or developmental benefits. One key outcome that transcends many recreational programs, regardless of setting, is leadership development. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate leadership development in a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) High Adventure Program. Two research objectives guided this study. First, the researcher sought to determine whether youth participants in Philmont’s 12-Day Trek High Adventure Program reported increases in leadership measures as a result of their experiences. Based on the goals of this program, the researcher hypothesized that self-reported leadership qualities would increase after youth had participated in the program. Second, the study went one step further to explore what characteristics of the High Adventure Program potentially promoted or detracted from leadership development within the BSA High Adventure Program. The research design for this study was a non-experimental retrospective research design using quantitative and qualitative data obtained from a single sample of participants at the Philmont Scout Ranch. The method of data collection employed a self-administered survey instrument given to participants upon completion of their program. The survey used the Youth Leadership Life Skills Development Scale in addition to two open-ended questions designed to extract elements that promoted or detracted from leadership development. Results from the Youth Leadership Life Skills Development Scale indicated that there was a statistically significant difference between the mean of participant attitudes before the Philmont experience and the mean of participant attitudes after the Philmont experience. Results from the open-ended questions isolated nine emergent themes that participants reported to promote leadership development and four that detracted from leadership development. Overall, this study provides much needed empirical evidence to contribute to the idea that recreational youth programs, while providing fun leisure experiences, can utilize their settings to make an even bigger contribution to the lives of young people.
Lizzo, Robin (2013). Leadership and the Boy Scouts of America's High Adventure Program. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from