Sung Joon Jang on the Boy Scouts of America
Date: May 14th, 2012
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“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty, to God and my country….” And so begins the Oath of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization now over a century old and the largest youth organization in America. It is also an organization with a global reach. To what extent are the ideals of the Boy Scouts upheld by their members, particularly into their adult years? Prof. Sung Joon Jang, an associate professor of sociology at Baylor University and a faculty fellow at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, joins us to discuss the most extensive sociological study of the Boy Scouts to date. Commissioned by the Boy Scouts and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Prof. Jang along with his colleagues Byron Johnson and Young-Il Kim surveyed over 2,500 adults to see whether belonging to the Boy Scouts had any affect on their adult behavior and character. Their particular focus was to see whether or not becoming an Eagle Scout, the BSA’s highest award, resulted in prosocial behavior in adulthood. After discussing what it takes to become and Eagle Scout, and the methodology involved in the study, Prof. Jang discusses the results of his survey in a variety of categories including exercise & recreation, social capital, environmental stewardship, community service, goal orientation, and leadership. The study largely confirms that becoming an Eagle Scout leads to very positive outcomes later in life. Nonetheless, there are some surprising results along the way, including interesting comparisons with Boy Scouts who never made the rank of Eagle. Throughout the interview, Tony reflects upon his time in the Boy Scouts. While never achieving Eagle, Tony did work at a BSA summer camp and was active in Order of the Arrow, the BSA’s honor society. After our discussion with Prof. Jang, Tony visits with an old friend he knew back in his Scouting days, Gene Sjoberg. Gene provides colorful detail about his Eagle experience and how it has affected his life, shares a few laughs with Tony, and leaves us with perhaps the most powerful and inspiring moment in this podcast’s two-year history. Wise advice from an outstanding citizen. Recorded: May 3, 2012
Prof. Sung Joon Jang’s biography at Baylor University’s Department of Sociology.
Eagle Scouts: Merit Beyond the Badge, by Sung Joon Jang, Byron Johnson, and Young-Il Kim. This link includes free access to the report discussed in today’s podcast.
Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.
Camp Long Lake, BSA (the camp Tony and Gene worked at located in Dundee, WI).
Byron Johnson on Religion & Delinquency.
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