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What Is Boy Scouting?


The Beginning of Scouting
Purpose of the BSA
Aims and Methods of the Scouting Program
The Scout Oath and Law


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.


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.

Boy Scout program membership, as of December 31, 2004, is
988,995 Boy Scouts/Varsity Scouts
543,487 adult volunteers
52,131 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.

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 Oath
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


Scout Laws
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 On Home

 

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