Sen. Joseph Getty shares his experiences with scouting during an Eagle Gathering at Integral Components in Westminster Wednesday.
Sen. Joseph Getty shares his experiences with scouting during an Eagle Gathering at Integral Components in Westminster Wednesday. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

While talking to a group of local men who had achieved the Eagle Scout rank, state Sen. Joseph Getty told them that he represented the 98 percent of their Boy Scout friends who didn't make it to the organization's highest rank.

Getty, who was a member of Troop 320 in Manchester, said he regretted not sticking with scouts long enough to become an Eagle Scout because of the positive benefits that doing so has brought many Eagle Scouts, including two of his sons who went on to attend the United States Naval Academy.

"Many scouts learn life-long skills which build character and also leadership," Getty said. "Eagle Scouts learn that to an even higher degree."

While people within the Boy Scouts of America organization have known for a while now that males who achieve the Eagle Scout rank help their communities in countless positive ways, it's great when an independent-third party can back that up, said Jeffrey Griffin, associate development director for the Boy Scouts of America's Baltimore Area Council.

The organization got just that in April, when researchers from Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and Program on Prosocial Behavior released findings from a study that showed those who achieve the highest rank in scouting are more likely to engage in more prosocial behaviors than those who don't.

The study compared Eagle Scouts to Boy Scouts who had never obtained the rank of Eagle Scout and men who were never scouts.

Of the 2,512 males who took part in the 55-question survey, 134 were Eagle Scouts and 853 were Boy Scouts.

The study found that Eagle Scouts were more likely to participate in health and recreational activities, have a greater connection to siblings, neighbors, religious leaders, friends and co-workers, and show higher levels of service and leadership, environmental stewardship, goal orientation, planning and prepardedness.

When compared to men who were never Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts were 124 percent more likely to have a disaster supply kit in their home, 92 percent more likely to be active in a group that works to protect the environment, between 66 and 62 percent more likely to volunteer for an organization, 55 percent more likely to have held a leadership position at work, 39 percent more likely to read books and 38 percent more likely to play a musical instrument.

Those figures come as no surprise to Griffin, who said everything taught in Boy Scouts revolves around maturing into a man who helps his community and himself in any way possible.

Eagle Scouts are men who have received merit badges for first aid, citizenship in the community, nation and world, communications, personal fitness, emergency preparedness, environmental science, personal management, swimming, hiking or cycling, camping and family life.

All those skills make scouts extremely well-rounded and ready for anything that may come their way, Griffin said.

To get the Eagle Scout rank, Boy Scouts also have to demonstrate their leadership skills, something that Ron McKinney, district executive for the Baltimore Area Council, said stays with them their entire lives.

"When you hear someone is an Eagle, you automatically know they can lead and can get things done," McKinney said. "For them to get the Eagle Scout rank by the time they are 18, it shows they are committed and focused and can work hard."

While some Eagle Scouts have gone on to become Nobel Peace Prize winners or other well-known figures, more end up being firefighters, police officers, doctors or teachers, Griffin said.

"They do everything they can to be the best police officer or the best teacher they can be," Griffin said. "That's what makes them special."

McKinney said many Eagle Scouts also get involved with local government or boards, volunteer organizations or find other ways to continue giving back to their communities.

"Eagle Scouts have a keen sense of the need to give back," McKinney said. "They think they can help to change their communities and the world, and they do."