Service to America

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In April 1997 BSA responded to the President's call for increased volunteer service with a commitment to provide 200 million hours of service by youth members by the end of the year 2000. BSA's campaign was called "Service to America" and was promoted by the Order of the Arrow.

Scouts who completed a minimum of 12 hours of service qualified for the BSA patch shown below:

BSA Service to America Patch

This program was hugely successful and is indeed continuing in a large scale within many local Councils and nationally, but with a different name.  The new name of the program is Good Turn for America.  Visit the official website at for more information. Patches are available through local Councils (with a new design), and there are small "rockers" (segmented patches) with the year that the Award was received in to attach to the bottom of the patch. 

Good Turn for America Patch with Rockers for Each Year

These patches are also available through the BSA's Supply Division if your local Shop does not have them available.

New Info: Don't forget to record the hours of service your unit has performed on your Quality Unit application form - this will help BSA tally all the hours of service that its members are giving.

The U.S. Scouting Service Project is pleased to offer some Internet tools to help you in joining this extremely worthwhile endeavor.

Service to America

Web Resources
  • National Park Service

    The website for several years provided information about volunteer opporunities at America's many National Parks. Scouts who completed a minimum of 12 hours of service as a volunteer in a National Park qualified for this Boy Scouts of America/National Park Services Patch through the year 2003.  This program has been superceded and is no longer available.  The patch below is displayed for historical purposes only.

    BSA-NPS Patch

    The website now advises:

    "Dear Scouts and Scout Leaders"

    "As of October 2003, this site is no longer offering opportunities to participate in the NPS Service to America Program. The program, involving Scouts in volunteer projects in our national parks, is taking a new direction. With the launch of the Department of the Interiorís Take Pride in America program, Scout projects in national parks are considered Take Pride in America events and will be so recognized. There are many ways for Scout groups to take pride in their natural and cultural resources. For more information on the new direction of this program, contact Joy Pietschmann."

    "Opportunities for volunteering at national parks can be found at or by contacting the park directly. In the future, there will be a place on the Take Pride in America Web site where troop leaders can post photographs and accomplishments of their Scouts in action."

    "Eastern National has taken great pride in being able to assist the more than 100,000 Scouts who have participated in various service and stewardship efforts for our national parks. It has been rewarding to facilitate the Service To America program, and to recognize the Scoutsí efforts with a patch they can wear with pride. Eastern National will continue fulfilling patch orders for volunteer hours completed for the Service to America program until November 26, 2003. As of December 1, patches will be available from the National Park Service until they are gone, at which point the Service to America patches will be discontinued. As of December1, patch orders may be emailed to"

    "Thanks again to everyone who participated in the program over the last several years. If you would like more information about Eastern Nationalís products and programs, please visit us at"

  • United States Geological Survey

    Visit to learn more.  Requires volunteers to have and be able to use a GPS unit and have Internet access.

    Frequently Asked Questions

  • Other Scouting Sites With Ideas This a primarily for Eagle Projects but could be used as a unit service project too:

Details About the Program

Community Service Projects:

  • Involve youth
  • Should have a definition and a real purpose with true importance to the participants that is compatible with the aims and objectives of the Scouting movement.
  • May include Eagle Scout projects and local council Scouting for Food programs.
  • Should be recorded on the Quality Unit Award application
Scouts who complete a minimum of 12 hours of community service per year may purchase a Service to America patch in 1998 and segments in 1999 and 2000 from local council service centers, Scout shops, or from a BSA distributor. If 75% of all youth members in a unit earn the patch, all adult unit leaders may purchase the patch.

The National Order of the Arrow Committee will recognize outstanding promotion efforts by individual lodges at section conclaves. There will also be a Lodge Standard Award that all lodges may achieve as part of the lodge recognition program.

Scouting units seeking more information regarding the Service to America program and OA promotional visits should contact their council service center.


In Texas, legislation has been introduced, passed by both houses and signed by the governor which authorizes the State Parks & Wildlife Commission to provide passes to nonprofit youth groups who volunteer to do service projects at the state park.

Ideas You Can Use

Some Possible Places to Contact:

  • Your church, temple or synagogue
  • Your school, or a neighborhood school
  • Eye Dog Foundations
  • State Parks
  • Science Centers
  • City Parks
  • Local Museums and Zoos
  • Local Botanical Gardens

Things Boy Scout Troops have done:

  • Built newspaper recycling boxes for an elementary school
  • Built camp chuck boxes for a Girl Scout Troop
  • Repair and painted the playground at the church
  • Landscap the church grounds, including shrubs, ground cover, and edging
  • Collect pairs of used eye glasses for the Lions Club program for the needy
  • Repair fencing and outdoor facilities at a church sponsored nursing home and organized a social function for the residents
  • Built a foot bridge in a city park
  • Repair the church sign and re-landscaped around it.
  • Built a janitor closet in the church Fellowship Hall
  • Built storage cabinets in Sunday School rooms
  • Re-roof and painted gazebo at church
  • Conduct a book fair for a church run bookstore
  • Repair a local troubled youth facility, inside and out, including woodwork, painting, carpeting
  • Collect children's books and toys and setup a play area at a public hospital neighborhood clinic.
  • Paint a mural on the wall of his Synagogue depicting Jewish life
  • Conduct a program for kindergarten children about dangers of abduction and fingerprinted them for their parents
  • Modify church's storage building, adding double door for tractor access, shelves, permanent window covering
  • Plant trees and placed boulders in a local park to stop off-roading vehicles from damaging grounds
  • Build a nature trail and erosion dams in a city park
  • Rebuild and greatly improved a patio at a local troubled youth home.
  • repaired and reset headstones for county cemetary
  • organized emergency response team for local red cross chapter
  • built learning games for special education program
  • built historical display for local museum
  • did spring clean up of 10 acre museum grounds
  • painted church garage
  • built and installed glass display case & bulletin board for church
  • planted trees for local forest preserve
  • painted 100 picnic tables for local park district
  • cleared 1 mile of vegetation for new nature/bicycle trail
  • did landscaping project for nursing home
  • did landscaping project for church
  • did spring cleaning project for church
  • painted basement and classrooms for inner city church
  • painted and refurbished light booth for high school auditorium
  • built floating goose nest platforms for forest preserve pond
  • built a conservation education display for nature center
  • recycled old bicycles for needy children
  • sifted sand at local children's playground and improved site
  • did landscaping for local VFW property
  • did spring clean up campaign of city parking lots
  • painted house and garage for elderly woman
  • painted memorial army tank on display in downtown area
  • conducted community food pick up for local food pantry
  • mapped college pond, restocked fish & aquatic plants, reshaped shoreline
  • built bridge in local wetlands forest preserve
  • removed underbrush and restored oak savannah at forest preserve
  • removed unwanted trees at wetland area to restore native plants
  • organized community awareness campaign for donors and held blood drive
  • collected data and printed booklet for local historical hike
  • transplanted trees from nursery to forest preseve
  • installed braille stations on blind hiking trail at forest preserve
  • installed erosion control bars and reshaped ground contours at park
  • built and installed flag holders for city lightpoles
  • bound braille books for church program
  • produced and delivered church service audio tapes to shut-ins
  • Painted curbside numbers for street addresses to help emergency services find houses easier

Join us in supporting BSA's Scouting for Food Campaign.

Scouting for Food
Participate in Scouting for Food and help to collect canned or boxed foods for the needy in your home community.

Scouts Using the Internet Cartoon - Courtesy of Richard Diesslin - Click to See More Cartoons
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