What Is Boy Scouting?
Purpose of the BSA
The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated to provide a program for community organizations that offers
effective character, citizenship, and personal fitness training for youth.
Specifically, the BSA endeavors to develop American citizens who are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit;
have a high degree of self-reliance as evidenced in such qualities as initiative, courage, and resourcefulness; have personal
values based on religious concepts; have the desire and skills to help others; understand the principles of the American social,
economic, and governmental systems; are knowledgeable about and take pride in their American heritage and understand our nation's
role in the world; have a keen respect for the basic rights of all people; and are prepared to participate in and give leadership
to American society.
Boy Scout Program Membership
Boy Scouting, one of the traditional membership divisions of the BSA, is available to boys who have earned the Arrow of
Light Award and are at least 10 years old, or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old, or who are 11,
but not yet 18 years old. The program achieves the BSA's objectives of developing character, citizenship, and personal fitness
qualities among youth by focusing on a vigorous program of outdoor activities.
Thousands of volunteer leaders, both men and women, are involved in the Boy Scouting program. They serve in a variety of
jobs — everything from unit leaders to chairmen of troop committees, committee members, merit badge counselors, and
chartered organization representatives.
Like other phases of the program, Boy Scouting is made available to community organizations having similar interests and
goals. Chartered organizations include professional organizations; governmental bodies; and religious, educational, civic,
fraternal, business, labor, and citizens' groups. Each organization appoints one of its members as the chartered organization
representative. The organization is responsible for leadership, the meeting place, and support for troop activities.
Who Pays for It?
Several groups are responsible for supporting Boy Scouting: the boy and his parents, the troop, the chartered organization,
and the community. Boys are encouraged to earn money whenever possible to pay their own expenses, and they also contribute
dues to their troop treasuries to pay for budgeted items. Troops obtain additional income by working on approved money-earning
projects. The community, including parents, supports Scouting through the United Way, Friends of Scouting campaigns, bequests,
and special contributions to the BSA local council. This income provides leadership training, outdoor programs, council service
centers and other facilities, and professional service for units.
Aims and Methods of the Scouting Program
The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the "Aims of Scouting." They are character
development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.
The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.
Ideals. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout
slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as he
reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.
Patrols. The patrol method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places
responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small
groups where members can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through elected representatives.
Outdoor Programs. Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share
responsibilities and learn to live with one another. In the outdoors the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings
come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for the beauty of the world around us.
The outdoors is the laboratory in which Boy Scouts learn ecology and practice conservation of nature's resources.
Advancement. Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement
method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded
for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance
and in the ability to help others.
Associations With Adults. Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be
positive role models for the members of the troop. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage
them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
Personal Growth. As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth.
The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community
service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is as successful in developing a basis for personal growth
as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal
conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting's aims.
Leadership Development. The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy
Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership
helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
Uniform. The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in
the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout's commitment
to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe
in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the
badges that show what they have accomplished.
Local councils operate and maintain Scout camps. The National Council operates high-adventure areas at Philmont Scout Ranch
in New Mexico, the Northern Tier National High Adventure Program in Minnesota and Canada, and the Florida National High Adventure
Sea Base in the Florida Keys. About 70 councils also operate high-adventure programs.
The BSA conducts a national Scout jamboree every four years and participates in world Scout jamborees (also held at four-year
intervals). Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia, was the site of the 2001 National Scout Jamboree.
The Beginning of Scouting
Scouting, as known to millions of youth and adults, evolved during the early 1900s through the efforts of several men dedicated
to bettering youth. These pioneers of the program conceived outdoor activities that developed skills in young boys and gave
them a sense of enjoyment, fellowship, and a code of conduct for everyday living.
In this country and abroad at the turn of the century, it was thought that children needed certain kinds of education that
the schools couldn't or didn't provide. This led to the formation of a variety of youth groups, many with the word "Scout"
in their names. For example, Ernest Thompson Seton, an American naturalist, artist, writer, and lecturer, originated a group
called the Woodcraft Indians and in 1902 wrote a guidebook for boys in his organization called the Birch Bark Roll.
Meanwhile in Britain, Robert Baden-Powell, after returning to his country a hero following military service in Africa, found
boys reading the manual he had written for his regiment on stalking and survival in the wild. Gathering ideas from Seton,
America's Daniel Carter Beard, and other Scoutcraft experts, Baden-Powell rewrote his manual as a nonmilitary skill book,
which he titled Scouting for Boys. The book rapidly gained a wide readership in England and soon became popular in
the United States. In 1907, when Baden-Powell held the first campout for Scouts on Brownsea Island off the coast of England,
troops were spontaneously springing up in America.
William D. Boyce, a Chicago publisher, incorporated the Boy Scouts of America in 1910 after meeting with Baden-Powell.
(Boyce was inspired to meet with the British founder by an unknown Scout who led him out of a dense London fog and refused
to take a tip for doing a Good Turn.) Immediately after its incorporation, the BSA was assisted by officers of the YMCA in
organizing a task force to help community organizations start and maintain a high-quality Scouting program. Those efforts
climaxed in the organization of the nation's first Scout camp at Lake George, New York, directed by Ernest Thompson Seton.
Beard, who had established another youth group, the Sons of Daniel Boone (which he later merged with the BSA), provided assistance.
Also on hand for this historic event was James E. West, a lawyer and an advocate of children's rights, who later would become
the first professional Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. Seton became the first volunteer national Chief
Scout, and Beard, the first national Scout commissioner.
The BSA publishes the Boy Scout Handbook (more than 37.8 million copies of which have been printed); the Patrol
Leader Handbook, which offers information relevant to boy leadership; the Scoutmaster Handbook; more than 100 merit
badge pamphlets dealing with hobbies, vocations, and advanced Scoutcraft; and program features and various kinds of training,
administrative, and organizational manuals for adult volunteer leaders and Boy Scouts. In addition, the BSA publishes Boys'
Life magazine, the national magazine for all boys (magazine circulation is more than 1.3 million) and Scouting
magazine for volunteers, which has a circulation of over 1.1 million.
Conservation activities supplement the program of Boy Scout advancement, summer camp, and outdoor activities and teach
young people to better understand their interdependence with the environment.
- A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
- A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
- A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
- A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas
and customs other than his own.
- A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along
- A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or
kill harmless things without reason.
- A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks
these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
- A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
- A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources.
He carefully uses time and property.
- A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh
at or threaten him.
- A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He
helps keep his home and community clean.
- A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
Scout Oath (or Promise)
- On my honor I will do my best
- To do my duty to God and my country
- and to obey the Scout Law;
- To help other people at all times;
- To keep myself physically strong,
- mentally awake, and morally straight.
- Be Prepared
- Do a Good Turn Daily