New To Scouting
Some of the following information are excerpts from the BSA fact sheet.
Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has continued to provide programs which meet the developmental needs of young people, and has remained constant in its core values as found in the Boy Scout Promise and Scout Law. Each phase of the program meets needs of that group age, and develops youth in character, citizenship, personal and mental fitness.
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.
The 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.
The Scout Law
A Scout is:
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 together.
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.
- 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.
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.
- Reverent A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.
The Scout Motto
The Scout Slogan
Do a good turn daily.
Scout is the first rank of Boy Scouting and can be earned as soon as a boy joins a troop, especially if he has earned his Arrow of Light as a Webelos scout. This first rank is earned by applying and memorizing some important scouting basics. Some troops have Webelos scouts bridge over from the pack to the troop in February at their Cub Scout pack Blue and Gold dinner and then have a court of honor in March or April where they are presented with their Scout badge.
Tenderfoot is the first rank earned as a Boy Scout. The requirements of becoming a Tenderfoot provide basic skills to begin preparing the scout for higher adventure outings. Earning badges and receiving recognition can be very satisfying to boys. However, keep in mind that the badge is only a representation of a valuable set of skills that a scout has learned and demonstrated. The skills, wisdom, and experience gained through the activities of the scouting program are of much more value than a small badge.
Second Class scouts work on building their outdoor survival and camping skills. Compass work, nature observation, camp tools and swimming are areas where new skills are mastered and demonstrated. A second class scout, having completed all the requirements, should be able to lead a hike, care for his own equipment, set up a campsite, and perform basic first aid.
When the First Class rank is attained, a scout has learned all the basic camping and outdoors skills of a scout. He can fend for himself in the wild, lead others on a hike or campout, set up a camp site, plan and properly prepare meals and provide first aid for most situations he may encounter. A First Class scout is prepared.
Up through First Class rank, a scout was busy learning skills and becoming a self-sufficient scout. He now moves from being a learner to being a leader. The Star rank is attained with participation, leadership, service, and self-directed advancement through merit badges.
Continuing to develop leadership skills, the Life Scout rank is earned by fulfilling additional leadership positions, service hours, and merit badges. A Life Scout is expected to be a role model and leader in the troop, providing guidance to new scouts and helping the troop however he can. Being a good leader can only be learned by doing and troop leadership positions allow the scout to make decisions, lead discussions, and encourage others.
Attaining the Eagle rank is often the end goal of a scout and his parents. It looks good on a resume and shows commitment to a program over an extended span of time. But, just like each rank advancement before it, the Eagle rank is a major advancement milestone, but not the culmination of scouting. After reaching Eagle, a scout can continue to earn merit badges and be rewarded with an Eagle Palm for each 5 additional merit badges. He can also continue to lead and guide the troop or he can change his focus to helping Cub Scouts become Boy Scouts. He may become a Junior Assistant Scout Master, helping the Scout Master with projects to improve the troop. Or, he can look for worthwhile endeavors outside of scouting to which he can apply his scouting background. There are many ways an Eagle Scout can continue to contribute to and receive from the Scouting program.
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 Scouting program, a Boy Scout Troop belongs to an organization with interests similar to those of the BSA. This organization, which might be a church, school, community organization, or group of interested citizens, is chartered by the local BSA council to use the Scouting program. This chartered organization provides a suitable meeting place, adult leadership, supervision, and opportunities for a healthy Scouting life for the boys under its care. Each organization appoints one of its members as a chartered organization representative. The organization, through the pack committee, is responsible for providing leadership, the meeting place, and support materials for pack 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).
The BSA publishes the Boy Scout Handbook; 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 and Scouting magazine for volunteers.
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.
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.