Boy Scouts of America

Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America
Headquarters Irving, Texas
Country United States
Founded February 8, 1910
  • 2,739,692 youth
  • 1,082,919 adults
  • 114,994 units (2010)[1]
Chief Scout Executive Robert J. Mazzuca
President Rex Tillerson
Affiliation World Organization of the Scout Movement
Official Website
Scouting portal
Boy Scout, 1969

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions. Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.[2]

The BSA goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to inculcate typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking.[3][4]

The BSA is a constituent member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. The traditional Scouting divisions are Cub Scouting for boys ages 7 to 10½ years, Boy Scouting for boys ages 10 1/2 to 18 and Venturing for young men and women ages 14 (or 13 and have completed the 8th grade) through 21. Learning for Life is a non-traditional subsidiary that provides in-school and career education.[1][5] The BSA operates traditional Scouting locally through units sponsored and operated by churches, clubs, civic associations, educational organizations and the like. Units are led entirely by volunteers who are supported by local councils using both paid professionals and volunteers.

The influence of Scouting on American society is frequently cited by both its advocates and critics. Critics have called the BSA's membership obligations unfair, resulting in litigation in various state and federal courts. However, the Supreme Court has affirmed that, as a private, expressive association, the BSA can set its own membership standards under the Constitutional right to freedom of association.



The progressive movement in the United States was at its height during the early twentieth century.[6] With the migration of families from farms to cities, there were concerns among some people that young men were no longer learning patriotism and individualism. The YMCA was an early promoter of reforms for young men with a focus on social welfare and programs of mental, physical, social and religious development.[7]:72–82

BSA had two notable predecessors in the United States: the Woodcraft Indians started by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1902 and the Sons of Daniel Boone founded by Daniel Carter Beard in 1905 in Cincinnati, Ohio.[8] In 1907, British General Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement in England using elements of Seton's works among other influences.[9] Several small local Scouting programs for boys started independently in the U.S., soon after, many of these programs merged with the BSA.[10]:52

In 1909, Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London, where he encountered a boy who came to be known as the Unknown Scout.[11] Boyce was lost on a foggy street when an unknown Scout came to his aid, guiding him to his destination. The boy then refused Boyce's tip, explaining that he was a Boy Scout and was merely doing his daily good turn. Soon thereafter, Boyce met with General Baden-Powell, who was Chief Scout at the time. Upon after his return to the U.S., Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.[12] Edgar M. Robinson and Lee F. Hanmer became interested in the nascent BSA movement and convinced Boyce to turn the program over to the YMCA for development in April 1910. Robinson enlisted Seton, Beard, Charles Eastman and other prominent leaders in the early youth movements. In January 1911, Robinson turned the movement over to James E. West who became the first Chief Scout Executive and Scouting began to expand in the U.S.[7]:148

The BSA's stated purpose at its incorporation in 1910 was "to teach [boys] patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred values."[2]:7 Later, in 1937, Deputy Chief Scout Executive George J. Fisher expressed the BSA's mission; "Each generation as it comes to maturity has no more important duty than that of teaching high ideals and proper behavior to the generation which follows."[13] The current mission statement of the BSA is "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."[3] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the first partner to sponsor Scouting in the United States, adopting the program in 1913 as part of its Mutual Improvement Association program for young men.[14]


Traditional membership

Varsity Scouts preparing to go backpacking

In the BSA, Scouting is considered to be one movement with three main programs:

Cub Scouting is the largest of the three programs, available to boys from first to fifth-grade or 7 to 11 years.[15] The program is designed to pursue the aims of character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. Cub Scouting is divided into age-based levels of Tiger Cubs, Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos Scouts.[3][16]

Boy Scouting is the flagship program of the BSA for boys ages 11 to 18. (Boys who have achieved the Cub Scout Arrow of Light Award or Have completed the 5th grade can join as young as 10 years old) [15] It uses outdoor activities such as camping, aquatics and hiking to achieve the aims of character, citizenship and personal fitness training.[17] Varsity Scouting is a sub-division of Boy Scouting available to boys ages 14 to 18; it adds a program of high adventure and sporting activities.[18] The Order of the Arrow is the Boy Scouting national honor society for experienced campers, based on American Indian traditions and is dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and cheerful service.[19]

Venturing is the program for young men and women ages 14 through 21.[15] Its purpose is to provide positive experiences to help youth mature and to prepare them to become responsible adults.[20] Sea Scouting is a sub-division of Venturing focused on nautical activities.[21]

There are about 100,000 physically or mentally disabled Scouts throughout the United States. Anyone certified as disabled "may enroll in Scouting and remain in its program beyond the regulation age limits. This provision allows all members to advance in Scouting as far as they wish."[5] Advancement is measured by the achievement to the best of the Scout's abilities.

Learning for Life

Learning for Life is a school and work-site based program that is a subsidiary of the BSA. It utilizes programs designed for schools and community-based organizations that are designed to prepare youth for the complexities of contemporary society and to enhance their self-confidence, motivation, and self-esteem.[22] Exploring is the worksite-based program of Learning for Life with programs based on five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education, and leadership experience.[23]

Learning for Life is not considered a traditional Scouting program; it does not use the Scout Promise, Scout Law, uniforms, or insignia of traditional Scouting. All Learning for Life programs are open to youth and adults without restriction based on gender, residence, sexual orientation, or other considerations other than age requirements.[23][24]

Membership controversies

Though the non-traditional program, Learning for Life, does not restrict participation other than by age, membership in the traditional BSA programs is more restricted and controversial. Girls can only join Venturing, though women can be adult volunteers in all programs. In 2004, the BSA adopted a new policy statement, including the following as a "Youth Leadership" policy: "Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."[25] published these policies until February 2010, when it was removed from their website.[25]

The BSA contends that these policies are essential in its mission in the traditional programs to instill in young people the values of the Scout Oath and Law. These policies have been legally challenged as unjust at the state and federal level. In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the Supreme Court affirmed that, as a private, expressive association, the BSA can set its own membership standards under the Constitutional right to freedom of association. However non-discrimination laws may prohibit some types of government support, and other lawsuits continue to be filed to determine what is and is not permitted or required.

Scout Oath, Law, Motto, Slogan, and The Outdoor Code

The Scout Oath for the BSA developed from the original version by Lord Baden-Powell, the main difference was that the second line stated that "I will do my duty to God and the King." [26] The Scout Law for the Boy Scouts of America was originally adopted in 1910. By 1911 it was adjusted to what it is today. The original version by Lord Baden-Powell had only 10 points to the Scout Law (the tenth and twelfth of the BSA version were added when the BSA was founded).

Scout Oath

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country;
To obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.[27]

Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.[27]

Scout Motto

Be Prepared

Scout Slogan

Do a good turn daily

Outdoor Code
As an American, I will do my best, to be clean in my outdoor manners, to be careful with fire, to be considerate in the outdoors, and to be conservation minded

Aims, methods, and ideals

The objectives of the BSA are referred to as Aims of Scouting: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The BSA pursues these aims through an informal education system called the Scout method, with variations that are designed to be appropriate for the age and maturity of each membership division.[3][28] Each unit is sponsored by a community organization as part of their youth program and is involved in the neighborhood and community.

Cub Scouts wear a uniform that gives each boy a level of identity within the den, the pack and the community. The boys learn teamwork by meeting and working together in a den of eight to ten boys under adult leadership. They learn and apply the ideals codified in the Cub Scout Promise and the Law of the Pack,[29] and in the Character Connections program that develops the core values of citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health and fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect and responsibility.[30] The advancement system uses both age-based ranks and an optional Academics and Sports Program designed for the development of physical, mental and emotional fitness.[16][31] Most advancement is done in the home and is intended to involve the entire family and many Cub Scout activities include family members.

Boy Scouts learn to use the ideals spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan.[27] They wear a uniform and work together in patrols of eight to ten boys with an elected patrol leader. Scouts share responsibilities, apply skills learned at meetings and live together in the outdoors. The advancement system provides opportunities for personal growth and self-reliance.[32] Scouts interact with adult leaders who act as role models and mentors, but they are expected to plan their own activities within the troop and to participate in community service. Opportunities are provided for leadership training with practical application.

Venturers are expected to know and live by the Venturing Oath and Venturing Code.[33] They associate and work directly with adults as partners, but the crew is led by elected youth officers who are given opportunities to learn and apply leadership skills. Venturers plan and participate in interdependent group experiences dependent on cooperation. An emphasis on high adventure provides opportunities for team-building and practical leadership applications. A series of awards provide opportunities for recognition and personal growth.[34] Each award requires the Venturer to teach what they have learned to others returning the skill and knowledge back to the community and enabling the Venturer to master those skills.


National Council

BSA National Office in Irving, Texas

The National Council is the corporate membership of the Boy Scouts of America and consists of volunteer Scouters who meet annually. The day-to-day operations of the National Council are administered by the Chief Scout Executive and other national professional staff. National Council members include volunteers who are elected National Officers and Executive Board members, regional presidents, the local council representatives, members at large, and honorary members.

The BSA was granted a Congressional charter in 1916, now codified as 36 U.S.C. Chapter 309,[35] stating that their purpose is to:

promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916.

The charter authorized and set standards for the incorporation of the BSA and provided for the "exclusive right to use emblems, badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words or phrases" that they adopt.

The BSA National Executive Board governs the organization and is led the national president, a volunteer elected by the National Council. Board members included regular elected members, regional presidents, and up to five appointed youth members. The Chief Scout Executive is the board secretary and non-voting member. The National Executive Board has a number of standing committees that correspond to the professional staff organization of the National Council. Finally, since the founding of the BSA in 1910, the President of the United States has served as the organization's honorary president during his term in office.[36]

Groups and divisions

Boy Scouts canoeing on the Blackwater River, Virginia

The Program Impact Division is responsible for developing the Scouting program and includes the volunteer committees and staff working on volunteer training, youth development, and other program impact needs. The All Markets membership emphasis includes focus groups and special committees working to improve outreach to youth and families in various underserved ethnic populations, with literature and marketing materials targeting Hispanic/Latino families, Asian-American families, and African-American families. The BSA also participates in the American Indian Scouting Association in partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA.

The Outdoor Adventure Division oversees four "High Adventure" bases Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases, the The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, and Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, as well as other special programs and the Order of the Arrow.

Other divisions provides support for the world and national jamborees and International Scouting relations. The Membership Impact Division works to sustain marketing efforts and relationships with the national organizations that make up the predominant number of chartered organizations, such as Lions International, Rotary International, Kiwanis International, American Legion, Elks, VFW, and all religious denominations chartering BSA units.

The National Supply Group is responsible for developing and selling uniforms, apparel, insignia, literature, and equipment. It sells equipment and supplies through National Scout Shops, local council trading posts, authorized independent resellers, and online at Supply Group also licenses trademarks for use by other commercial vendors. The Administrative Group provides internal administration service and support. It includes the Marketing and Communications Division responsible for marketing the BSA program, administering the national websites and publishing Scouting for adult leaders and Boys' Life for youth.

The National Scouting Museum is located in Irving, Texas. Exhibits include Norman Rockwell paintings, high adventure sections, hands-on learning experiences, interactive exhibits, and a historical collection tracing uniforms, themes, and documents from the beginning of the Scouting movement in America. Among the museum's artifacts are the Eagle Scout medal of Arthur Rose Eldred, the first Eagle Scout.

The National Court of Honor certifies and the BSA's highest awards: lifesaving and meritorious action awards, Distinguished service awards, Eagle Scout and Quartermaster.

Regions and areas

Boy Scouts of America regions as of 2011

For administrative purposes, the BSA is divided into four regions—Western, Central, Southern and Northeast.[37] Each region is then subdivided into areas.

Each region has a volunteer president, assisted by volunteer officers, board members, and committee members. The day-to-day work of Scouting is managed by the regional director, assistant and associate regional directors, and area directors. Regions and areas are subdivisions of the National Council and do not have a corporate status separate from the BSA.[38]

  • Central Region covers all of Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Northeast Region covers all of Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virgin Islands (U.S.), parts of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and members of the BSA Transatlantic Council.
  • Southern Region covers all of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Western Region covers all of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, most of Montana, parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas, territories located in the Pacific Ocean, and members of the BSA Far East Council.

Local councils

The BSA program is administered through 294 local councils, with each council covering a geopolitical area that may vary from a single city to an entire state. Councils receive an annual charter from the National Council and are usually incorporated as a charitable organization.[37]

The council level organization is similar to that of the National Council. The council executive board is headed by the council president and is made up of annually elected local community leaders.[38] The board establishes the council program and carries out the resolutions, policies, and activities of the council. Board members serve without pay and some are volunteer Scouters working at the unit level. Youth members may be selected to the council executive board according to the council by-laws.

"The Ideal Scout," a statue by R. Tait McKenzie in front of the Bruce S. Marks Scout Resource Center in the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia

The Scout executive manages council operations—including finance, property management, advancement and awards, registrations, and Scout Shop sales—with a staff of other professionals and para-professionals. Volunteer Commissioners lead the unit service functions of the council, help maintain the standards of the BSA, and assures a healthy unit program.[39]

The BSA charters two councils for American Scouts living overseas, largely on military bases in Europe and Asia. The Transatlantic Council, headquartered in Germany, serves BSA units in much of Europe, and the Far East Council, headquartered in Japan, serves units in the western Pacific areas. The Direct Service branch makes the Scouting movement available to U.S. citizens and their dependents living in countries outside these jurisdictions or in isolated areas. The Aloha Council in Hawaii also serves BSA units in the American territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and in the sovereign countries of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.[40]

The Greater New York Councils are unique in that they are divided into five boroughs with each led by a borough Scout executive and each borough then divided into districts. Similarly, due to scouting population and geographic distance, the Utah National Parks Council is divided into 12 Sectors with each led by a volunteer Assistant Vice President and Assistant Council Commissioner with each sector then divided into districts.[41]

Councils are divided into districts with leadership provided by the district executive, district chairman, and the district commissioner.[37] Districts are directly responsible for the operation of Scouting units and, except for the district executive, are mostly staffed with volunteers.[38] The voting members of each district consist of volunteer representatives from each chartered organization having at least one BSA unit, plus annually elected members-at-large who in turn elect the district chairman. Boroughs and districts are subdivisions of the local council and do not have a separate corporate status.

Chartered organizations and units

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the first sponsor of the BSA and today contributes the most Scouts of any chartered organization.

The Boy Scouts of America partners with community organizations, such as religious congregations, fraternal groups, service clubs, and other community associations, to provide the Scouting program for the particular neighborhood or community in which the particular organization wishes to outreach to youth and families. These organizations hold charters issued by the BSA and are known then as chartered organizations. Each chartered organization provides the meeting place for BSA youth, oversees the volunteer leaders, and agrees to follow the basic BSA safety policies and values-based program, and the organization is considered the "owner" of its local program, much like a franchise.

Within each chartered organization, there may be one or more "units". A unit is a group of youth and adults which are collectively designated as a Cub Scout pack, Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team, or Venturing crew/Sea Scout ship. Each chartered organization may charter as many units as it wishes, but usually only 3 or 4 (one unit for each program level). The BSA council provides the leader training, inter-unit activities, camping programs, volunteer and professional support, and insurance coverage. Units also create their own activities (such as monthly camping trips, outings, or service projects), and most meet weekly at the place of the chartered organization for youth to learn basic skill development and practice leadership in small groups known as dens and patrols.

Top 10 Chartered Organizations associated with the Boy Scouts of America, by Total Youth[42]
Name of Organization Total Units Total Youth
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 37928 412720
United Methodist Church 11287 371499
Catholic Church 8795 286733
Parent-teacher groups other than PTAs 4039 160007
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 3714 126969
Lutheranism 4030 121096
Groups of Citizens 3782 110248
Baptists 4282 108435
Private schools 2975 97869
Parent-Teacher Association/Parent Teacher Organization 1775 72321


The National Council is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is funded from private donations, membership dues, corporate sponsors, and special events.[43] In 2005, the BSA ranked as the twelfth-largest non-profit organization in the U.S., with total revenues of $665.9 million. As of January 2007, the American Institute of Philanthropy listed former Chief Scout Executive Roy Williams as having the fifth-highest compensation of any nonprofit chief in the United States, at $916,028.[44] In 2005, Williams' pay was 0.26% of total expenses, whereas the national average among charities was a higher 0.34%.[45] Williams was honored in 2005 and 2006 as one of the top fifty most effective non-profit leaders by the Non-Profit Times.[46]

2008 Income
Fees $79,761,000
Supply operations $19,339,000
Contributions and bequests $15,255,000
Retirement benefits trust $10,797,000
Primary trading post sales $6,559,000
Magazine publications $2,025,000
Total Income $133,736,000
2008 Expenses
Program development and delivery $51,754,000
Field operations $39,368,000
Insurance programs $23,926,000
Human resources and training $11,026,000
Program marketing $9,981,000
World Scout Bureau fees $1,344,000
Total program expenses $137,399,000
Source: Better Business Bureau.[43]
The above numbers are for National Council operations and do not include local council income or expenses.

Leadership training

The BSA offers a wide variety of mandatory and optional training programs in youth protection, outdoor skills and leadership.

Adult leadership training

Every adult leader must complete Youth Protection Training, and then is strongly encouraged to complete a general overview training called This is Scouting, and a Fast Start training specific to his/her program level. Position-specific training is then offered for all direct-contact leaders. Upon completion of basic training, a leader may wear the Trained emblem on his/her BSA uniform.

Supplemental skill-specific training is also available to BSA volunteers to gain knowledge in outdoors skills including camping, hiking, first aid, Leave No Trace, swim safety, climbing safety, hazardous weather, and other skills.

The highest level of BSA training is Wood Badge [47], which is focused on helping participants develop leadership skills while participating in an outdoor program over two weekends. Some councils offer high-adventure training for adults using the Powder Horn program.[48] Sea Scouting leaders can take the Seabadge advanced leadership and management course.[49]

Youth leadership training

Boy Scout and Varsity Scout youth leaders may attend the unit-level Troop Leadership Training. Local councils offer the advanced National Youth Leadership Training and the National Council offers the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience conducted at Philmont Training Center. The Northeast Region also offers a Youth Staff Development Course that trains youth staff members from all regions for council-level NYLT courses.[50]

Venturers and Sea Scouts may attend the unit-level Venturing Leadership Skills Course. Crew officers can attend Crew Officer Orientation, and then a council-provided Kodiak leadership training program.[51]

Impact on American life

Scouting and Boy Scouts are well-known throughout American culture. The term "Boy Scout" is used to generally describe someone who is earnest and honest, or who helps others cheerfully; it can also be used as a pejorative term for someone deemed to be overly idealistic.[52]

Prominent Americans in diverse walks of life, from moviemaker Steven Spielberg (who helped launch a merit badge in cinematography) to adventurer Steve Fossett to politicians, were BSA members as youths.[53][54] Over two-thirds of all astronauts have had some type of involvement in Scouting,[55] and eleven of the twelve men to walk on the Moon were Scouts, including Eagle Scouts Neil Armstrong and Charlie Duke.[56][57] The pinewood derby—a wood car racing event for Cub Scouts—has been declared "a celebrated rite of spring" and was named part of "America's 100 Best" by Reader's Digest.[58]

President Gerald Ford said, "I can say without hesitation, because of Scouting principles, I know I was a better athlete, I was a better naval officer, I was a better Congressman, and I was a better prepared President."[59]

Norman Rockwell's Beyond the Easel

Famed American illustrator Norman Rockwell's works were closely associated with the Boy Scouts of America for much of the 20th century.[60]:43 Beginning in 1913, Rockwell began illustrating covers of Boys' Life, the magazine for BSA youth. He also drew the organization's annual calendar illustrations between 1925 and 1976.[60]:89

In 1969, as a tribute to Norman Rockwell's 75th birthday, officials of Brown & Bigelow and the Boy Scouts of America asked Rockwell to pose in Beyond the Easel for a calendar illustration. As part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, Rockwell's Scouting paintings toured the nation and were viewed by 280,000 people.[60]:155 In 2008, a twelve-city U.S. tour of Rockwell's works was scheduled.[61]

Alvin Townley wrote in Legacy of Honor about the large positive impact of Eagle Scouts in America. Townley cited such examples as how Scouts, especially Eagle Scouts, were disproportionately represented among Hurricane Katrina's volunteer relief workers; just as they are disproportionately represented among members of the United States Senate.[2]:152 Governor Rick Perry of Texas is an Eagle Scout who defended BSA policies and restrictions against ACLU attacks in his book, "On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For".[62]

Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, told a magazine interviewer in May 2008 that, "Particularly in the very impactful ages of youth 11 to 14 years old, when they can really go astray and you're taking the time to spend with them and focus on cultural core values like reverent, trustworthy, loyal, and helpful —all of those different things ... Scouting has a huge positive impact on boys and their lives, and that in turn positively impacts our communities and society as a whole."[63]

Mayor of New York City and business tycoon Michael Bloomberg, said that the BSA's Scout Law required of all Boy Scouts—a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent—are "all the American values ... Americans have quaintly simplistic ways and direct ways of phrasing things ... I think it's one of the great strengths of this country."[2]:116

Peter Applebome, an editor of The New York Times, wrote in 2003 of his experience as an adult participating with his son in Scouting activities, "I feel lucky to have had this unexpected vehicle to share my son's youth, to shape it, and to be shaped by it as well."[64] He concluded that, although Scouting is viewed by some as old-fashioned, "Scouting's core values ... are wonderful building blocks for a movement and a life. Scouting's genuinely egalitarian goals and instincts are more important now than they've ever been. It's one of the only things that kids do that's genuinely cooperative, not competitive."[64]:319–320

At the turn of the 20th century, Halloween had turned into a night of vandalism, with destruction of property and cruelty to animals and people.[65] Around 1912, the BSA, Boys Clubs and other neighborhood organizations came together to encourage a safe celebration that would end the destruction that had become so common on this night.[66]

The Boy Scouts of America are quite particular about how and when the Scout uniforms and insignia may be used in film and other portrayals; and for that reason, most films and television productions made in the U.S. utilize "ersatz" Scouting organizations. Examples of this include the "Order of the Straight Arrow", portrayed in the King of the Hill cartoon series, and the "Indian Guides" depicted in the 1995 Chevy Chase film, Man of the House. A notable exception to this policy is the final scene of The Sopranos television show, where Tony Soprano sits down to dinner in a restaurant. At another table, several Cub Scouts, in full uniform, are seated.

Good Turns

Smokey Bear with members of the Boy Scouts of America and the Camp Fire Girls celebrating the 50th anniversary of their founding in 1910.

From the inception of the Scouting movement, Scouts have been urged to "Do a Good Turn Daily", as it is the slogan for the Boy Scouts of America. The first national Good Turn was the promotion of a safe and sane Fourth of July in 1913. During World War I, Every Scout to Save a Soldier was a slogan used to motivate children involved in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to help sell War savings stamps.[67]

Scouting for Food is an on-going annual program begun in 1986 that collects food for local food banks. In 1997, the BSA developed Service to America with a commitment to provide 200 million hours of service by youth members by the end of the year 2000. As part of Service to America, the BSA provided service projects in conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS). In October 2003, the Department of the Interior expanded the program with the creation of Take Pride in America, opening service to all Americans.[68]

Service to America became Good Turn for America in 2004 and expanded to address the problems of hunger, homelessness, and inadequate housing and poor health in conjunction with the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations.[69]

Sex abuse cases

Scouting sex abuse cases are situations where youth involved in Scouting programs have been sexually abused by someone who is also involved in the scouting program. J.L. Tarr, a Chief Scout Executive in the United States, was quoted in the 1980s in an article regarding sexual assault cases against Scout leaders across all 50 states: "That's been an issue since the Boy Scouts began.” [70] Scouting was among the first national youth organizations to address the issue of sexual abuse of its members and in the 1980s developed its Youth Protection program, to educate youth, leaders and parents about the problem as a whole, and to introduce barriers to pedophiles using the Scout program to reach victims.

National Scout jamboree

The national Scout jamboree is a gathering of Boy Scouts from across the US. It is usually held every four years, with some adjustment for special years such as the 2010 National Scout Jamboree that celebrated the BSA centennial. The first jamboree was held in 1937 at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.[71] Since then, jamborees have been held in varying locations. Beginning in 1981, the jamboree has been held at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. A permanent location owned by the BSA was sought in 2008 for future jamborees, high adventure programs and training. The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve near Beckley, West Virginia will be the permanent site beginning with the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.[72]

High Adventure Bases

The Boy Scouts of America operates several high adventure bases at the national level. Each offers a wide range of programs and training— a typical core program may include sailing, wilderness canoeing or wilderness backpacking trips. These bases are administered by the High Adventure Division of the National Council.

Current high-adventure bases of the Boy Scouts of America include Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases, Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, and The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve which is currently under construction and will be the site of the 2013 Jamboree.

See also

  • Boy Scout Memorial


  1. ^ a b "At a Glance". Boy Scouts of America. 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2010.  (Learning for Life numbers are no longer reported)
  2. ^ a b c d Townley, Alvin (2007). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved June 22, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d "BSA Vision Statement". U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved July 22, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Aims of the Boy Scouts of America" (PDF). U.S. Scouting Service Project. Retrieved July 3, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "Boy Scouts". The New Book of Knowledge. Grolier Online. Retrieved February 24, 2008.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Phillips, John Calvin (2001) (PDF). Selling America: the Boy Scouts of America in the Progressive Era, 1910–1921. University of Maine. Retrieved July 19, 2008. 
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Cite error: <ref> tag with name "praymember" defined in <references> is not used in prior text; see the help page.

Further reading

  • Block, Nelson R.; Proctor, Tammy M. (2009). Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement's First Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 1443804509. 
  • Perry, Rick (February 12, 2008). On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For. Macon, GA: Stroud & Hall. ISBN 0979646227. 

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