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Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America—incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916— provides an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

Chartered Organizations
Community-based organizations receive national charters to use the Scouting program as a part of their own youth work. These groups, which have goals compatible with those of the BSA, include religious, educational, civic, fraternal, business, and labor organizations; governmental bodies; corporations; professional associations; and citizens' groups.

Program

  • Boy Scouting.  A year-round program for boys 11 through 17 designed to achieve the aims of Scouting through a vigorous outdoor program and peer group leadership with the counsel of an adult Scoutmaster. (Boys also may become Boy Scouts if they have earned the Cub Scouting Arrow of Light Award and are at least 10 years old or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old.)
  • Varsity Scouting. An active, exciting, year-round program for young men 14 through 17 built around five program fields of emphasis: advancement, high adventure, personal development, service, and special programs and events. Venturing. A year-round program for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age to provide positive experiences through exciting and meaningful youth-run activities that help them pursue their special interests, grow by teaching others, and develop leadership skills.

Volunteer Leaders
Volunteer adult leaders serve at all levels of Scouting in more than 300 local councils, 30 areas, and four regions, and nationally with volunteer executive boards and committees providing guidance. Each autonomous local council is chartered by the BSA, which provides program and training aids along the guidelines established by the National Executive Board and the national charter from Congress.

ScoutParents is part of the National Parenting Initiative.

The intent is to provide parents with information and tools to help them understand their importance in becoming more involved with their Scouts.
Visit http://www.scoutparents.org  

National Activities
Cub Scouting is where it all begins. Ninety-five percent of all Boy Scouts participated in Cub Scouting at some time. Cub Scouting strengthens the family, encourages physical fitness, and teaches core values to live by through its program. A thrilling outdoor program starts in Cub Scouting with day camps, resident camps, council-organized camps, pack camping, and the fabulous make-believe themes of Cub World venues such as castles, frontier forts, pirate ships, and more.

Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers have many special activities available to them, such as camporees, summer camps, Scouting shows, and national jamborees. The Order of the Arrow, Scouting's national camping honor society, recognizes those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. The order has local lodge, section, and national meetings. Scouts who have become Eagle Scouts, the highest advancement award in Scouting, may join the National Eagle Scout Association. All Scout camps are inspected and accredited annually by teams of trained volunteers to ensure the health, safety, and quality of program for campers. Scouting Anniversary celebrations, during February, include observance of the BSA's February 8 birthday, Scout Sabbath, and Scout Sunday. Unit activities feature blue and gold banquets, courts of honor, and open house meetings.

National High-Adventure Bases
The BSA has three national high-adventure areas, and all three are unique. The Northern Tier National High Adventure Program offers wilderness canoe expeditions and cold-weather camping; the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base offers aquatics programs in the Florida Keys; and Philmont Scout Ranch offers backpacking treks in the rugged high country of northern New Mexico. Volunteer leaders may attend the Philmont Training Center each summer for a weeklong training conference.

Publications
The Boy Scouts of America publishes two magazines: 96-year-old Boys' Life, produced monthly for 1.1 million subscribers in three demographic editions (LOW demographic edition goes to all Tiger Cubs and Cub Scout subscribers through age 8. MIDDLE demographic edition goes to all Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts 9 years and older and all adult Cub Scouting leaders who subscribe. HIGH demographic edition goes to all Boy Scout?age subscribers and all other subscribers); and 95-year-old Scouting, produced six times a year for all adults registered in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing. In addition, unit leaders and commissioners receive special program inserts in Scouting. The BSA publishes handbooks for all phases of the Scouting program, more than 100 merit badge pamphlets for Boy Scouts, leader books, training pamphlets, program helps booklets for unit leaders, and other literature for use by youth members, adult leaders, and parents.

Financial Support
On the unit level, chartered organizations that use the Scouting program provide meeting places and often furnish program materials and other facilities. Youth members help to pay their own way by paying dues to their local units and through approved money-earning projects, they can earn additional income for their council. Local councils are supported by donors through an annual Friends of Scouting campaign, the United Way, special events, product sales, foundation grants, investment income, bequests, endowment gifts, and special contributions. The National Council is supported largely through annual registration fees paid by all members, charter and service fees paid by local councils, income from the sales of Boys' Life and Scouting magazines and Scouting equipment, bequests, and special gifts.

Membership and Units
Membership since 1910 totals more than 112 million. As of December 31, 2007, membership was:

Youth Members
Tiger Cubs 241,851
Cub Scouts 800,729
Webelos Scouts 645,406
Boy Scouts 851,572
Varsity Scouts 62,016
Venturers 254,259
Total Youth 2,855,833

Adult Members
Cub Scout Leaders 480,316
Boy Scout Leaders 524,962
Varsity Scout Leaders 23,356
Venturing Leaders 65,645
Council Scouters 44,525
Total Adults 1,138,804

Units
Cub Scout Packs 50,780
Boy Scout Troops 41,947
Varsity Scout Teams 8,387
Venturing Crews 19,920
Total Units 121,034

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 is a year-round program for boys age 11 - 17. Boys who are 10 may join if they have received the Arrow of Light Award or have finished the fifth grade. Boy Scouting is a program of fun outdoor activities, peer group leadership opportunities, and a personal exploration of career, hobby and special interests, all designed to achieve the BSA's objectives of strengthening character, personal fitness and good citizenship.  Boy Scout program membership, as of December 31, 2007, is 913,588 Boy Scouts/Varsity Scouts 548,318 adult volunteers 50,334 troops/teams

Volunteer Scouters
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.
  • 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.

Outdoor Activities
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 2005 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.

Publications
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
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.

Scout Law

  • TRUSTWORTHY.  A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
  • LOYAL.  A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
  • HELPFUL.  A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
  • FRIENDLY.  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.
  • COURTEOUS.  A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
  • KIND.  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.
  • OBEDIENT.  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.
  • CHEERFUL.  A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
  • THRIFTY.  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.
  • BRAVE.  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.
  • CLEAN.  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.
  • REVERENT.  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.

Scout Motto
Be Prepared

Scout Slogan
Do a Good Turn Daily