Unit Tips for Success


What is a Service Project?

Planning a Service Project

Service Project Ideas

Public Relations

Frequently Asked Questions

Recording Service Hours

Ideas for Everyday Kindness and Good Turns

What is a Service Project?


All Scouting groups are encouraged to participate in this service project initiative.


This is a time for all Scouting groups to conduct meaningful, visible service projects of their choice in their communities. You are encouraged to discuss and choose your projects with the help of your Scouts, committee, and chartered organization.


Service projects can be done for your chartered organization or for the cause of your choice. Projects done in collaboration with other organizations are highly recommended.


Projects may be conducted at any time.


Scouting was founded on the premise of doing a Good Turn daily. Community service is very important in the character-building process and, as Scouts, we have made the commitment to give back to our communities.


You should select a service project coordinator. After making the commitment to participate, your Scouts and committee should decide on and begin planning the project.

Planning a Service Project

The Scout Oath includes the phrase “to help other people at all times,” which reminds us to always be of service to others. Begin planning your project by discussing various service ideas with your Scouts. Adult leaders, your chartered organization, and the local government are also good resources for ideas. Projects will be more meaningful and fun if they are well-planned.

Your project should:

Be significant. The project should be something important. When it’s done, everyone should be able to look back with satisfaction on an effort that has made a difference in your community.

Be democratic. Scouts are more likely to buy into the project if they have taken an active part in selecting, planning, and organizing it.

Be clearly defined. A project must have definite beginning and end points, with logical steps in between. A clear goal allows everyone to measure the progress along the way, and increases everyone’s sense of participation and pride in a job well done.

Be well-prepared. This begins long before the project starts. Ask these questions: What is the project’s purpose? Who should be contacted as resources? How many Scouts must be involved to complete the work in the allotted time? What tools or resources are needed? What safety issues must be addressed?

Be promoted. Promote your project within your community. This will not only provide additional workers, but will increase the visibility of Scouting and the impact it has on your community. Create a yard sign that says “Pack/Troop/Crew/Ship/Post No. ___ Service Project” or “Scouting Supports Our Community.”

Include reflection and recognition. When the project is complete, spend 10 or 15 minutes discussing it.

Involving Parents in Planning and Implementing Service Projects

Participating in a service project is easy, exciting, and meaningful. To begin, your unit should recruit a unit service project coordinator, who should do the following:

  • Share this information with your unit committee, and get their approval and commitment to participate.
  • Promote the service project within the unit.
  • Coordinate the service project throughout the unit.
  • Involve Scouts and unit committee members in researching and deciding on a service project. Involve Scouts in all phases of planning the project.
  • Recruit enough people to plan, conduct, and promote the project.
  • Incorporate at least four service projects into the unit’s annual program plans.
  • Enter Eagle and Exploring service projects through  www.scouting.org/Awards/JourneyToExcellence. All other service projects, enter via Scoutbook.com.
  • Coordinate with district and council committees to promote events and report successes.
  • Conduct an evaluation and discussion with Scouts.

Project Planning Sheet

General project description ______________________________

What organization is the project for, or who or what will the project benefit? _____________________________________________

What materials are needed to complete the project?____________

How long will the project take?____________________________

Are there any costs involved?_____________________________

Is there any special permission needed?_____________________

Is the project age-appropriate?___________________________

Are there any safety concerns for participants? (Consult the Guide for Safe Scouting.) _____________________________________

Is the project manageable within the time frame and the number of volunteers involved? ____________________________________

Reflection and Group Discussion Guide

At the end of your project, a discussion will help make the experience meaningful to all of those involved. This last step is important to help the Scouts realize the impact they can have in the world by volunteering and participating in community service projects.

Topics may include:

What impact did the project have on other people or the environment?

How could the effort be improved if it were to be repeated?

What changes would have enabled the group to work together more effectively?

Discuss why it is important to give back to our community.

Have an open discussion or share how the efforts made each Scout feel.

Recognition for service won’t always involve badges or awards. The greatest reward can simply be an individual’s heartfelt gratitude for the cheerful, unselfish service that all Scouts are honor-bound to give, and the positive feelings one feels after helping someone else.

Service Project Ideas

Idea 1: Book and Magazine Drive

This project can be done door-to-door in one day, or Scouts can leave door hangers and return later to collect the books and magazines. Work with a store (grocery, dry cleaners, donut shop) to collect the books over a period of time, and make arrangements with the benefiting organization prior to the collection drive.


  • Daycares
  • Military deployed in the Middle East
  • VA medical center
  • Inner-city school
  • Christian Library International

Idea 2: Assist the Elderly in Your Community

  • Participate in caroling at a nursing home.
  • Collect personal items and make baskets for the elderly with no families.
  • Conduct entertainment programs, including skits and plays, at a nursing home.
  • Conduct visits and reading programs.
  • Construct reading tables for residents to be able to read sitting in a chair or in bed.
  • Prepare and distribute Valentine’s cards.
  • Assist in snow and ice removal.
  • Assist in yard work.

Idea 3: Remember Others During the Holidays

  • Adopt a needy family.
  • Assist agencies that provide meals to the needy by helping them prepare and serve the meals.
  • Stock shelves and carry food to vehicles at a food pantry.
  • Make and donate gift boxes to be distributed by Feed the Children.
  • Participate in collaborative food drives and collect donations for food pantries.

For Veterans and Memorial Day

  • Place American flags on gravesites for Memorial Day.
  • Make and deliver thank-you cards to veterans on Veterans Day.

Religious Holidays

  • Assist religious organizations in setting up and cleaning up exhibits and activities.
  • Deliver, retrieve, and dispose of Christmas trees.
  • Remove lights for residents.
  • Repair and paint town holiday decorations.
  • Collect toys for Toys for Tots.
  • Prepare and serve hot chocolate at the annual town tree lighting.
  • Go caroling at a home for the elderly.
  • Purchase toys for a children’s hospital.
  • Make stuffed animals, include personal notes, and donate to a children’s hospital (e.g., Build-a-Bear).
  • Assist with parking cars at the annual Easter pageant.
  • Assemble Easter baskets and distribute to shelters.
  • Assist with the palm burning before Ash Wednesday.

For Thanksgiving

  • Provide free coffee at rest stops on Thanksgiving weekend.

For Halloween and Fall Festivals

  • Assist with fall carnivals and events.
  • Assist with a haunted house.
  • Assist in alternative trick-or-treat events.

Idea 4: Home Repair and Maintenance

  • Adopt a town after a disaster.
  • Assist organizations that provide home maintenance services for those in need.
  • Assist with painting a school, church, or chartered organization.
  • Clean a Habitat for Humanity house before the family moves in.
  • Clean a local animal shelter.
  • Perform janitorial duties for the chartered organization.
  • Repaint fences at fire stations or other buildings.
  • Repair damaged tents and tent pads at the council camp.

Idea 5: Litter Cleanup and Beautification

  • Adopt-a-Road cleanup.
  • Assist in community beautification projects, including repairing and repainting homes and sprucing up the yards of those in need.
  • Litter cleanup projects.
  • Beautification project at city hall.
  • Cemetery cleanup and inventory.
  • Cleanup and beautification of community center.
  • Clean up campgrounds, a local park, river, or a school parking lot.
  • Cleanup and beautification of a council camp.
  • Clear brush from fire buffer zone.
  • Clear debris and downed trees from people’s yards following a disaster.
  • Improve walking trail.
  • Pick up trash at the chartered organization prior to or after a Scout meeting.
  • Clean up the shoreline.
  • Yard cleanup at an American Legion hall.
  • Yardwork for a senior citizen in the neighborhood.

Idea 6: Medical

  • Assist in the packaging of medical supplies for developing countries.
  • Assist with a blood drive.
  • Collect books for a VA medical center.
  • Distribute organ donor cards to the public.
  • Distribute healthy living and drug abuse awareness literature.
  • Provide a first-aid station at a district or council event.
  • Help children make safety kits to take home and use when bicycling.
  • Make “welcome home” hygiene kits for disaster victims.
  • Make bandanas and pillows for cancer patients.
  • Collect and donate toys for children’s hospital.
  • Serve as victims for a county EMT or first responders training course.

Idea 7: Military

  • Adopt a service troop and send birthday cards.
  • Conduct a book drive to send to military deployed in the Middle East.
  • Send Christmas cards or be pen pals with someone in the military.
  • Collect books for a VA medical center.
  • Create video histories of American Legion members.
  • Make and deliver thank-you cards to veterans on Veterans Day.
  • Organize a movie night at a VA medical center.
  • Place American flags on gravesites for Memorial Day.
  • Provide telephone cards to servicemen and -women.
  • Clean up the yard at an American Legion hall.

Idea 8: Animals

  • Assist in training search and rescue dogs.
  • Clean a local animal shelter.
  • Clean out and refill bird feeders at the local Audubon Society.
  • Collect and crush aluminum cans to donate to an animal shelter.
  • Construct duck houses.
  • Construct an educational sandbox for local nature center.
  • Construct owl boxes.
  • Construct and install bluebird and bat houses to combat mosquitoes.
  • Conduct a pet food drive.
  • Provide socialization time with service dogs as part of their training.

Idea 9: Safety

  • Build a fence around air conditioners on a playground for the children’s safety.
  • Build handicapped ramp access at community locations.
  • Construct a walking path for children walking to school.
  • Conduct a CPR training event.
  • Provide a first-aid station at district event.
  • Help children make safety kits to take home and use when bicycling.
  • Host a bike rally to train youth on bike safety and maintenance.
  • Make “welcome home” hygiene kits for disaster victims.
  • Repair and repaint playground equipment.
  • Serve as victims for a county EMT or first responders training course.

Idea 10: Serving Food

  • Assist agencies in preparing and serving meals to the needy.
  • Offer free coffee at a rest stop on Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Prepare and serve hot chocolate at the annual town Christmas tree lighting.
  • Set up, serve, and clean up meals at a social center.
  • Have a troop or crew put on and cater a pack’s blue and gold banquet.

Idea 11: Sports

  • Assist with a basketball tournament.
  • Assist with Special Olympics—ribbons/medals, water, etc.
  • Construct a soccer field—lines, goals, and benches.
  • Construct bat and helmet racks for school baseball and softball teams.
  • Construct a horseshoe pit in the community park.
  • Line and place blocks in a golf course parking lot.
  • Refurbish the press box at a ball field.
  • Repair and paint bleachers at a baseball or softball field.
  • Host Scout field games.

Public Relations

The Purpose of Public Relations

  • To increase awareness of the BSA nationally and in local markets across the country in a positive manner.
  • To generate media coverage.
  • To provide credibility.
  • To enhance our image.

Service Project Key Messages

  • The BSA is one of the oldest youth programs of character development in the United States, providing young Americans the tools and skills they need to face the demands and challenges of a changing society.
  • The BSA represents where young men and women are prepared for life. It has a 100-year-strong foundation and continues to evolve to remain relevant to today’s youth and the communities it serves, and to prepare the leaders of the next millennium.
  • The BSA has honored its mission and tradition of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Since its inception in 1910, the BSA has helped develop more than 114.8 million American youth and adults into successful citizens and community leaders.
  • The BSA is a forward-thinking organization concerned with making wise, long-lasting contributions to society.
  • Although society’s views on what is right and wrong change over time, moral standards do not.

Service Project Sample Story Angles

  • Habitat for Humanity projects
  • First-aid, clothing, and canned food drives
  • Volunteer work at local nonprofits
  • Service projects created by members that impact the community
  • Helping the community following a natural disaster
  • Collaborative initiatives (Department of Homeland Security, local police department)

Preparing Your PR Campaign

Build relationships with reporters

  • Study your media by reading and watching your local news.
  • Daily newspapers (including online editions)
  • Weekly and community papers
  • TV and radio
  • Be proactive.
  • Contact reporters with story ideas.
  • Leverage trends and tie in your initiatives.
  • Note their recent articles.
  • Be a resource by sharing ongoing local Scouting activities.

Know your five “w’s” and the “h”

  • Who? Your council and any alliances affiliated with the initiative.
  • What? Components of the initiative and its importance.
  • When? Disclose the timing of the initiative or event.
  • Where? The community at large or a specific locale.
  • Why? The purpose and rationale.
  • How? The logistics of the initiative or event.

Keep media materials clear and concise.

Convey the main point in the first few sentences of your news release and pitch.

Give a call to action.

Provide information in a timely manner and follow up.

Example of a Newsworthy Pitch

Today, our youth are growing up in a very different world than 20 years ago. Children are facing problems of obesity, substance abuse, education, family, and messages from the media and entertainment industries. Recently, the BSA commissioned a study (The Values of Americans), which revealed:

  • More than half of the youth surveyed had cheated on homework or a test.
  • The use of alcohol and drugs is prevalent.
  • Incidences of violent or delinquent behavior increase as youth move into their teenage years.

One thing is certain—America’s youth are not receiving adequate support to foster character development. More than ever, the BSA, and programs like it, is vital to create a safe environment for American youth. Last year alone, Scouts, leaders, family members, and community volunteers logged more than twelve million hours that benefited the elderly, parks and recreation, hurricane victims, and their communities in general. And, more importantly, Scouts were taught to think beyond themselves and to serve others.

I look forward to your thoughts on this story.



For the Boy Scouts of America

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Good Turn?

A service project is a special Good Turn that puts Scout spirit into action.

Some Good Turns are big—saving a life, helping out after floods or other disasters, recycling community trash, or working with others on conservation projects. But Good Turns are often small, thoughtful acts—helping a child cross a busy street, going to the store for an elderly neighbor, cutting back brush that is blocking a sign, doing something special for a brother or sister, or welcoming a new student to your school.

How does a service project benefit the community?

Meeting the substantial needs of every community is dependent on its citizens to answer the call of volunteerism. There is a natural fit between the Boy Scouts of America and other community organizations, and service-learning is an integral part of the Scouting program. As a result, youth and adults seek opportunities to volunteer. Community organizations need volunteers to help them fulfill their missions, and working with these organizations creates a win/win situation for everyone.

Do volunteers have to be a member of the Boy Scouts of America to participate in the service project?

No. In order to fight hunger, provide shelter, and teach the habits of healthy living, we need the assistance of everyone in the community.

Will Supply Group sell recognition items?

No. Councils will need to design their own recognition items if they choose to offer them.

Recording Service Hours

For Eagles and Exploring service hours, use the method below. All other service hours are recorded through Scoutbook.

Go to our website at www.scouting.org/Awards/JourneyToExcellence. Look for the “Service Project” area of the screen. Click on “Enter service hours here.” Choose “Click here to log in or create an account.” Volunteers with a MyScouting account can also reach the Journey to Excellence service hour website by clicking on the service hours link on the left side of the screen in the “Unit Tools” section.

First-Time Users

Select “Click Here” to register. Complete your information and create a user name and password. The user name must be unique (you may have to try again). Your e-mail address will be used only if you forget your password.

Returning Users

Enter your user name and password, then click “Login.” Select an option.

Ideas for Everyday Kindness and Good Turns

Source: The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

  • Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
  • Send a treat to a school or daycare center.
  • Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
  • Wipe rainwater off shopping carts or hold umbrellas for shoppers on the way to their cars.
  • Give the gift of your smile.
  • Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.
  • Adopt a homeless pet from the humane society.
  • Organize a Scout troop to help people with packages at the mall or grocery store.
  • Host special programs or speakers at libraries or bookstores.
  • Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for 10 minutes.
  • Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.
  • Write notes of appreciation and bring flowers or goodies to teachers or other important people, such as the principal, nurse, custodian, and secretary.
  • Incorporate kindness into the curriculum at area schools, daycare centers, or children’s classes in faith organizations.
  • Give a hug to a friend.
  • Tell your children why you love them.
  • Write a note to your mother or father and tell them why they are special.
  • Pat someone on the back.
  • Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way.
  • Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
  • Donate time at a senior center.
  • Give blood.
  • Visit hospitals with smiles, treats, and friendly conversation for patients.
  • Stop by a nursing home and visit a resident with no family nearby.
  • Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
  • Collect goods for a food bank.
  • Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
  • Garden clubs can make floral arrangements for senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations, or shut-ins.
  • Adopt a student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.
  • Volunteer to be a tutor at a school.
  • Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen.
  • Merchants can donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.
  • Bring coworkers a special treat.
  • Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.
  • Buy a stranger a free pizza.
  • Distribute lollipops to kids.
  • Sing at a nursing home.
  • Offer a couple of hours of babysitting to parents.
  • Slip paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.
  • Have a charity day at work, with employees bringing non-perishable food to donate.
  • Serve refreshments to customers.
  • Draw names at school or work, and have people bring a small gift or treat for their secret pal.
  • Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
  • Treat someone to fresh fruit.
  • Pay a compliment at least once a day.
  • Call or visit a homebound person.
  • Hand out balloons to passersby.
  • Give free sodas to motorists.
  • Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say hello.
  • Transport someone who can’t drive.
  • Mow a neighbor’s grass.
  • Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
  • Give free car washes.
  • Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
  • Tell your boss that you think they do a good job.
  • Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.
  • Let workers leave an hour early.
  • Have a cleanup party in the park.
  • Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
  • Have everyone in your office draw the name of a Random Acts of Kindness buddy out of a hat and do a kind act for their buddy that day or week.
  • Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.
  • Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.
  • Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.
  • Open the door for another person. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-thru.
  • Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.
  • Leave a bouquet of flowers on the desk of a colleague at work with whom you don’t normally get along.
  • Call an estranged family member.
  • Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.
  • Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.
  • Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.
  • Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.
  • Give friends and family “kindness” coupons they can redeem for kind favors.
  • Be a friend to a new student or coworker.
  • Renew an old friendship by sending a letter or small gift to someone you haven’t talked with in a long time.
  • For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.
  • Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
  • Invite someone new over for dinner.
  • Buy a roll of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
  • Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip. Be sure to be specific in your thanks.
  • Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
  • When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in. Wave and smile.
  • Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
  • Distribute kindness stickers and bookmarks, available from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.
  • Create a craft project or build a birdhouse with a child.
  • Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.
  • Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously.
  • Plant a tree in your neighborhood.
  • Make a list of things to do to bring more kindness into the world, and have a friend make a list. Exchange lists and do one item per day for a month.
  • Use an instant camera to take people’s photographs at a party or community event, and give the picture to them.
  • As you go about your day, pick up trash.
  • Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.
  • Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
  • Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.
  • Buy books for a daycare or school.
  • Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulties.
  • Take an acquaintance to dinner.
  • Offer to take a friend’s child to ball practice.
  • Waive late fees for the week.