BSA at a Glance


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.

Chartered Organizations

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.


Tiger Cubs BSA. A school-year program for first-grade (or 7-year-old) boys and their adult partners that stresses simplicity, shared leadership, learning about the community, and family understanding. Each boy-adult team meets for family activities, and twice a month all the teams meet for Tiger Cub den activities.

Cub Scouting. A family and home-centered program for boys in the second through fifth grades (or who are 8, 9, and in years old). Fourth- and fifth-grade (or I0-year-old) boys are called Webelos Scouts (WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts) and participate in more advanced activities that begin to prepare them to become Boy Scouts. Cub Scouting’s emphasis is on quality program at the local level, where most boys and families are involved.

Boy Scouting. A program for boys 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. (Boys also may became Boy Scouts if they have earned the Arrow of Light Award or have completed the fifth grade.)

Varsity Scouting. An active, exciting program for young men 14 through 17 built around five program fields of emphasis: advancement, high adventure, personal development, service, and special programs and events.

Venturing. A 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 activities that help youth pursue their special interests, to grow, to develop leadership skills, and to become good citizens.

Volunteer Leaders

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.

National Activities

Cub Scouting continues to strengthen the tie of the family in Scouting and to encourage physical fitness and education through its programs.

Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts 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, and Scout Sunday. Unit activities feature blue and gold banquets, courts of honor, and open house meetings.

Venturers and older Boy Scouts have a wide variety of exciting outdoor experiences available at the three national high-adventure areas located in Minnesota (with satellites in Manitoba and Ontario in Canada), Florida, and New Mexico. Volunteer leaders may attend the Philmont Training Center in New Mexico each summer for a weeklong training conference.

Learning for Life

The mission of Learning for Life is to serve others by helping to instill core values in young people and in other ways prepare them to make ethical choices throughout their lives so they can achieve their full potential. Learning for Life can help schools and organizations prepare youth to handle today’s complex society. The program is designed to build confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. It can help youth learn positive personal values and make ethical decisions. Character development is a lifelong process, with roots firmly planted in childhood. Learning for Life has curricula designed to fulfill its mission.

Learning for Life Exploring is designed far young men and women ages 14(who have completed the eighth grade) through 20 to help them gain insight into a variety of careers through career-oriented programs that offer leadership training, life skills, service learning, character education, and career hands-an experiences. Exploring promotes the conditions necessary for the growth and development of adolescent youth.

National Good Turns

The Good Turn continues as an important part of Scouting. It could be a simple daily act of assistance by an individual youngster, or a coordinated national effort. In 1986, youth members distributed 14 million brochures to families, informing them of the need for donated human organs and tissue as a part of the Donor Awareness Presidential Good Turn. The 1988-91 Scouting for Food National Good Turn resulted in the collection of more than 425 million cans of food for the needy.

National Crime Prevention Program

The BSA’s National Crime Prevention Program has four components: youth, family, community, and unit–each with its own role in the program and suggested activities.

Developing crime prevention coalitions and initiatives with local United Ways, law enforcement, and other agencies is a key component of this new BSA program.

The BSA National Crime Prevention Program is supported by the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington. DC.; the international Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Sheriffs’ Association; and the US Office of National Drug Control Policy.


The Boy Scouts of America publishes two magazines for its members: Boys’ Life, for all boys, published once a month; and Scouting, for all registered adults in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and Venturing, published six times a year.

In addition, BSA publishes handbooks for all phases of the Scouting program, more than 100 merit badge pamphlets for Boy Scouts, leader books, training pamphlets, program helps booklets for unit leaders, and other literature for use by youth members, adult leaders, and parents.

Financial Support

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, the United Way, 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, or crew treasuries and through approved money-earning projects, they can earn additional income for their units.

Membership and Units

Membership since 1910 totals more than 100 million. As of April 2005, membership was 3,910,108.