The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America—incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916—is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.
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.
Lion is a family-oriented program where youth and their adult partner join Scouting together. Lion Scouts are in Kindergarten and begin to learn the importance of building citizenship, character building, personal fitness, leadership, and fun in the outdoors.
Tiger is a year-round family- and home-centered program that encourages the ethical decision-making skills for first-grade (or 7-year-old) girls and boys. These youth participate in the program with their adult partners. The program emphasizes shared leadership, learning about the community, and family understanding.
Cub Scouts is a year-round family- and home-centered program that develops ethical decision-making skills for girls and boys in the second through fifth grade (or who are 8, 9, and 10 years old). Activities emphasize character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.
Webelos Scouts is a year-round family- and home-centered program that develops ethical decision-making skills for fourth- and fifth-grade (or 10-year-old) girls and boys. Webelos Scouts participate in more advanced activities that begin to prepare them to become Scouts in the Scouts BSA program.
Scouts BSA. A year-round program for boys and girls 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. (Youth also may transition to Scouts BSA 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.)
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 adult leaders serve at all levels of Scouting in more than 300 local councils, 28 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.
Cub Scouting is where it all begins. Ninety-five percent of all Scouts BSA 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.
Scouts BSA 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 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, Scout Sunday, and Scout Jumuah. 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.
The Boy Scouts of America publishes two magazines: 95-year-old Boys’ Life, produced monthly for 1.3 million subscribers in three demographic editions (LOW demographic edition goes to all Lion, Tiger, 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 Scouts BSA-age subscribers and all other subscribers); and 94-year-old Scouting, produced six times a year for all adults registered in Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, 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 Scouts BSA, leader books, training pamphlets, program helps booklets for unit leaders, and other literature for use by youth members, adult leaders, and parents.
The National Council is supported largely through annual registration fees paid by all members, charter and service fees paid by local councils, an Annual Giving Campaign among national employees and selected volunteers, income from the sales of Boys’ Life and Scouting magazines and Scouting equipment, bequests, and special gifts. Local councils are supported by communities through an annual Friends of Scouting campaign, special events, foundation grants, investment income, bequests, endowment gifts, and special contributions.
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 pack, troop, team, ship, or crew treasuries, and through approved money-earning projects, they can earn additional income for their units.