Exploring Pathways to Purpose in Scouts

Alexandra Rush, Jennifer Brown Urban, William J. Davis, Miriam R. Linver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Youth purpose was investigated using a two-phase embedded design with youth participating in Scouts BSA (N = 3,943), ages 9–20 (M = 14.0, SD = 1.9). Participating Scouts were mostly White (91%) and male (98%). In Phase 1, we conducted a two-step cluster analysis on Scouts’ survey responses to three purpose dimensions (personal meaning, goal-directedness, beyond-the-self orientation). Four clusters emerged: Purposeful, Explorers, Dreamers, Nonpurposeful. In Phase 2, we explored qualities of purpose within each cluster and programmatic features and relationships within the scouting context fostering youth purpose with a Scout subsample (N = 30) who completed semi-structured interviews. Results demonstrated that adults supporting scouting, inspiration from older peers, and opportunities to help others and explore new activities supported youth purpose.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • adolescence
  • mixed methods research
  • positive youth development
  • relational developmental systems
  • sense of purpose
  • youth purpose


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