Last weekend my son was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, an honor society for students with high grade-point averages and in the top 20 percent of their class. NSCS is notable in that inductees are freshmen and sophomores, recognizing early achievement and acclimation to the rigors of college academics.
At the induction ceremony, the chapter leadership explained that NSCS emphasizes three pillars: scholarship, leadership and service. Among the service the society engages in is a program where students in middle schools are mentored by society members, and are invited to come to the college campus for a day to experience a glimpse of what higher education is all about. NSCS members are also encouraged to develop leadership skills through serving as officers of the society chapter and attending development events.
These concepts – leadership and service to others – are new to most college students, but not to Scouts. In Scouting, our young people help and serve others in many ways, from conservation and camp development to community food drives and Eagle service projects. Older Scouts help younger ones learn Scout skills. The Order of the Arrow helps to crystallize the spirit of helpfulness into a Scout’s everyday life.
Through serving as youth leaders and in positions of responsibility, Scouts not only learn about leadership, they actually get to lead. They acquire leadership tools, practice servant leadership and can understand the bridge between leadership and service.
These valuable skills experienced in Scouting give our young people an advantage when they pursue higher education. They already have the leadership tools and skills, and are more likely to step up and take leading roles in campus clubs and organizations. They also find that helping others comes naturally, and use their talents to improve the lives of other people and the campus and community. The leadership my son learned while a Boy Scout is being put into practice, as he is one of the officers of the campus environmental club.
Few organizations besides Scouting give our young people these unique advantages. Best of all, they don’t need to be chosen or elected to reap the benefits – all they have to do is join.
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