Boy Scout

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Community organisations

Scouts coming from various nations sing at the European Jamboree 2005
Scouts coming from various nations sing at the European Jamboree 2005

A Boy Scout is a boy, usually 11 to 17 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. This movement began in 1907, when General Robert Baden-Powell held the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island, South England. To advance his ideas, Baden-Powell wrote the book, Scouting for Boys, which targeted boy readership, and described the Scout method of using outdoor activities to develop character, citizenship, and personal fitness qualities among youth.

Boy Scouts are organized into troops averaging twenty to thirty Scouts under guidance of a Scout leader. Troops subdivide into patrols of about six Scouts and engage in outdoor and special interest activities. Troops may affiliate with national and international organizations. Some national Scouting associations have special interest programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands and rider scouts. Some troops, especially in Europe, have been co-educational since the 1970s, allowing boys and girls to work together as Scouts.


Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts as an organization in 1908, a few months after the first scout encampment at Brownsea Island Scout Camp in 1907. Baden-Powell got the idea from his experiences with the British Army in South Africa. To advance his ideas, Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys for boy readership, which describes the Scout method of outdoor activities aiming at developing character, citizenship, and personal fitness qualities among youth. Many boys joined in Scouting activities so that the movement grew rapidly to become the world's largest youth organization.

The Boy Scout program is designed to develop youths who have a high degree of self-reliance, initiative, courage, helpfulness, integrity and resourcefulness. Boy Scouts should be helpful; understand their society, heritage, and culture; have respect for the rights of others; and be positive leader-citizens.

Originally, the Boy Scout program was aimed at 11-16 year old boys. However, the younger brothers of Boy Scouts started to attend Troop meetings, and so the Wolf Cub section was started. It was also evident that young girls wanted to participate in similar activities, but the Edwardian values at the time would not allow young boys and girls to "rough and tumble" together, causing the Guide Movement to be created.

Over time, the Boy Scout program has been reviewed and updated in many of the countries where it is run, but the same core values and principles as Baden-Powell originally envisaged still apply.

While most Boy Scouts may join a troop after finishing Cub Scouts, this is not required. He may later join another affiliated program for older boys while simultaneously still being a member of a Boy Scout troop or a Scout Group, such as Exploring or Venturing.


Boy Scouts having fun at a campfire ring at summer camp
Boy Scouts having fun at a campfire ring at summer camp

A Boy Scout learns the cornerstones of the Scout method, Scout Promise, and Scout Law. These are designed to instill character, citizenship, personal fitness, and leadership in boys through a structured program of outdoor activities. Common ways to implement the Scout method include spending time together in small groups with shared experiences, rituals, and activities; as well as emphasizing good citizenship and decision-making that are age-level appropriate. Cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors and outdoor activities are key elements. Primary activities include camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports.


Camping most often occurs on a unit level, such as in the troop, but there are periodic camporees and jamborees. Camporees are events where units from a local area camp together for a weekend. These occur a couple times a year and usually have a theme, such as pioneering. Jamborees are large events on a national or international level held every four years where thousands of Scouts camp together for 1-2 weeks. Activities at these events include games, scoutcraft competitions, patch trading, aquatics, woodcarving, archery, and rifle and shotgun shooting.

For many Scouts and Scouters, the highlight of the year is spending at least a week in the summer as part of an outdoor activity. This can be a long event such as camping, hiking, sailing, canoeing, or kayaking with the unit or a summer camp operated on a council, state, or provincial level. Scouts attending a summer camp, generally one week during the summer, work on merit badges, advancement, and perfecting scoutcraft skills. Some summer camps operate specialty programs for older Scouts, such as sailing, backpacking, canoeing and whitewater, caving, and fishing.

Working for ranks and merit badges

All Scouting organizations have an advancement program whereby the Scout learns scoutcraft, community service, leadership and explores areas of interest to him at an increasingly difficult level. The lower ranks focus mostly on basic Scouting skills. Requirements for demonstrating leadership, community service and learning about other topics, such as possible career areas, generally come in the middle and upper ranks. Scouts are recognized by being awarded ranks and badges of recognition, such as merit badges, which are called proficiency badges in some countries. Merit badges are awarded for a variety of fields, such as mastering advanced scoutcraft, sports, aquatics, ecology, citizenship, and academics.

All Scouting associations have a highest rank that require mastering scoutcraft, leadership, and performing community service. Only a small percentage of Scouts attain them. In the Scouting associations of many member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, the highest rank is the Queen's Scout or King's Scout Award. In the United States it is the Eagle Scout Award. Since the Boy Scouts of the Philippines is an outgrowth of Scouting in the United States, Eagle Scout is also the highest award. Other worldwide Scouting groups have the Baden-Powell Award ( Baden-Powell Scouts), Crown Scout ( The Guides and Scouts Movement of Belgium), Pramuka Garuda ( Indonesian Scouting), King Scout ( The National Scout Organization of Thailand), and Chief Scout's Award ( Scouts Canada).

As Scouts get older, they often seek more challenging and diverse activities. To meet this demand, programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, Venturing and Exploring in America, Explorer Scouts in the United Kingdom, Rovering and Venturing.

Unit affiliation


The troop is the fundamental unit of the Boy Scouts. This is the group a Boy Scout joins and via which he participates in Scouting activities, such as camping, backpacking, and canoeing. The troop leadership, youth and adult, organizes and provides support for these activities. It may include as few as a half-dozen boys, or as many as seventy or more. Troops usually meet weekly. A troop is often sponsored by a community organization such as a business, service organization, school, labor group veterran's group, or religious institution. The chartering organization is responsible for providing a meeting place and promoting a good program. A key component of the Scout method is that troops are run by the Scouts under the advice and guidance of adult leaders.


Each troop is divided into patrols of six to ten Scouts and use the patrol method, where the Scouts divide into smaller groups within the troop. A patrol's independence from the troop varies among troops and between activities. For instance, a troop typically holds ordinary meetings as a unit. Patrols' autonomy becomes more visible at campouts, where each patrol may set up its own cooking area. However, on a high-adventure trip which only a small part of the troop attends, divisions between patrols may disappear entirely. Patrols may hold meetings and even excursions separately from the rest of the troop, but this is more common in some troops than in others.

Some troops mix older and younger Scouts in the same patrols, so that the older boys can teach the younger ones more effectively. Other troops group boys by age, and may assign an older boy as a "troop guide" to mentor each of the younger patrols.

Leadership in the troop

Every troop has two separate leadership structures: one consisting of Scouts and another consisting of adults. The adult leadership manages the logistics of troop activities, administers rank advancement and awards, maintains troop records and finance, and recruits new Scouts and adult leaders. The youth leadership keeps order and coordinates labor at activities. Scouts and adults cooperate to plan agendas for troop meetings, as well as the troop's schedule of outings.

An adult responsible for a Scout (usually a parent) may join the troop committee. The committee, in turn, selects a chair and appoints its members to specific positions, most importantly those of the Scoutmaster (or Section Leader) and his assistants. While all adult leaders work for the committee chair, the Scoutmaster is the adult directly responsible for the troop's program. These leaders must complete special training mandated by their Scouting association. The top level leader training course around the world is Wood Badge.

The youth leadership is headed by a senior patrol leader (SPL), who works closely with the Scoutmaster to run troop activities. He is expected to attend most meetings and outings. While the SPL is directly responsible for running the troop, he shares that responsibility with one or more assistants (Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders or ASPLs). Following the Scout method, a troop is "boy-run". Other troop-wide positions of responsibility exist and their duties vary from country to country.

The SPL is elected by the entire troop, from a list of candidates approved by the Scoutmaster. He then cooperates with the Scoutmaster to appoint the other troop-wide leaders. Likewise, each patrol elects a Patrol Leader (PL), who appoints his Assistant Patrol Leader(s) (APL). Many youth leadership positions require training. All youth leaders may serve six-month terms. Many Scouting associations have training programs for Scouts holding leadership positions within their troop.


In many countries a local organisation, a "Scout Group", combines different sections together into a single body. In other countries, the different sections are independent of each other, although they might be sponsored or chartered by the same organisation, such as a Church. Scout Groups can consist of any number of Scout Troops, Cub Scout Packs, and Beaver Scout Colonies. In some countries Rover Scout crews and Venture Scout crews can be part of a Scout Group.

Organization above the troop or group level

One or more troops and one or more other sections or groups can form a district. These are troops or groups that are located near each other geographically and provide mutual support, advice and district level encampments a couple of times per year. In some countries, this is the first level at which the troop has contact with professional Scouters from its association. In some associations districts are organized into regions or councils. It is this level of an association that generally operates very large outings. Above these levels there is a national association. Most national association are member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and/or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), some are member of the Order of World Scouts, the World Federation of Independent Scouts, the International Union of the Guides and Scouts of Europe (UIGSE) or Confederation of European Scouts (CES) and others are non-aligned.


The Scout uniform is a specific characteristic of Scouting. In the words of Lord Robert Baden-Powell at the 1937 World Jamboree, it "hides all differences of social standing in a country and makes for equality; but, more important still, it covers differences of country and race and creed, and makes all feel that they are members with one another of the one great brotherhood". The original uniform, which has created a familiar image in the public eye and had a very military appearance, consisted of a khaki button-up shirt, shorts and a broad-brimmed campaign hat. Baden-Powell himself wore shorts as he felt that being dressed like the youth contributed to reducing distances between the adult and the young person.

Uniforms have become much more functional and colorful since the beginning and are now frequently blue, orange, red or green, and shorts are replaced by long trousers in areas where the culture calls for modesty, and in winter weather. T-Shirts and other more casual wear have also replaced the more formal button-up uniforms in many Scouting regions.

To show the unity of all Scouts, the World Membership Badge ( World Crest) is a part of all uniforms. Neckerchiefs and Woggles (slides) are still quite common, but some Scouting associations do not use them. Patches for leadership positions, ranks, special achievements, troop- or group- numbers or names, and country or regional affiliation are standard.

Scout shops sell uniforms, Scouting literature, badges, and other items such as camping equipment for local Scouts, and Scout souvenir items for visiting foreign Scouts. The shops are usually located at the local branch office of the Scout organization and may be run professionally or by volunteers.

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