Character Development within Youth Development Programs: Exploring Multiple Dimensions of Activity Involvement. Academic Article uri icon


  • We examined links among three dimensions of youth involvement (intensity, duration, and engagement) in Boy Scouts of America (BSA), an international out-of-school time (OST) youth development program designed to promote moral and performance character in boys. Using data from 737 youth and their parents who participated in one of 40 BSA program sites (commonly referred to as "packs"), we first considered how┬áindividual- and pack-level measures of program involvement were differentially linked with character development. Next, we examined whether pack-level involvement characteristics moderate individual-level involvement characteristics, hypothesizing that highly involved packs would serve to further enhance the positive effects of high levels of individual involvement. Results indicated engagement was the strongest, most frequent predictor of increases in both moral and performance character. Although there were no direct effects of pack-level intensity, duration, or engagement, the effects of individual-level engagement were moderated by pack-level engagement, suggesting that the largest increases in moral and performance character occurred among highly engaged youth who were enrolled in highly engaged packs. These results highlight the need to examine multiple dimensions of OST program involvement simultaneously, and suggest that strengthening youth engagement in programming may provide a means for enhancing the positive effects of high-quality youth programming.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lynch, A. D., Ferris, K. A., Burkhard, B., Wang, J., Hershberg, R. M., & Lerner, R. M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016 11:11 AM