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Here are the basics about the Boy Scouts of America:

The BSA offers four traditional Scouting programs based on grade or age (Cub Scouts, Scouts, Venturing, Sea Scouts), plus three non-traditional subsidiaries (STEM Scouts, Learning for Life, and Exploring). Membership numbers are from the 2017 BSA Annual Report to Congress (released on 24 May 2018). Note that the annual report no longer reports adult numbers, and no longer reports the number of units in each program (it reports only total BSA units).

Traditional Programs

Cub Scouts (boys and girls [opened to girls starting in 2018], Kindergarten through grade 5)

Scouts (boys [and girls, starting 1 February 2019], age about 10-1/2 until 18)

Varsity Scouts (boys only, age 14 until 18)

Venturing (young men and young women, age about 14 until 21)

Sea Scouts (young men and young women, age about 14 until 21)

Order of the Arrow (young men [and young women, starting 1 February 2019] and male & female adults)

Non-Traditional Programs

STEM Scouts (coed, for grades 3-12)

Learning for Life (LFL) (coed, for grades K-12)

Exploring (coed, for ages 10-20)

Names and Numbers

While the Girl Scouts of the USA call all their units troops, the BSA identifies its units by the program they conduct (which can be confusing for parents as their children move up through the programs):

Unit identification (pack, troop, etc) is more confusing in the US than in many countries. Outside the US, units often are part of a Scouting "group". Each group would include one or more program "sections" such as a pack, a troop, and a crew. The group would have a number associated with its town or area (such as the 2nd Brixton Scout Group), and often all group members wear a common neckerchief. In the US, which doesn't use the "group" approach, each pack, troop, etc, is separately numbered, and there is no link to the unit's location. For example, in our town, there is a Pack 97 and a Troop 97, which are unrelated and meet at separate locations. And, since unit numbers are repeated in each of the 270 local Scout Councils, there could be hundreds of Troop 97's in the US. Actually, due to the many Scout Council mergers over the past 25 years (there used to be over 500 Councils), some Councils (like ours) could have two Troop 97's. It remains to be determined how the new girls' troops will be identified, especially if a girls' troop and a boys' troop are sponsored by the same chartering partner.

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Age Requirements/Advancement/Highest Awards—


For more information on BSA-related topics, see:

For information about US Girl Scouting (Guiding), see Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).

For information about girls in the BSA, see Women and Girls in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

For information on Camp Fire and other alternatives to Scouting, see our Scout-like Organizations page.

For names and pictures of the highest rank/achievement/advancement in other countries, see our Highest Rank in Scouting page.