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.
- mixed methods research
- positive youth development
- relational developmental systems
- sense of purpose
- youth purpose