HOME—US Scouting—Aims & Methods of Scouting (BSA)
The Mission, Vision, Aims, and Methods of the BSA Programs
Scouting isn't just a fun outdoor program. As Baden-Powell said, it's a game with a purpose. The Boy Scouts of America expresses that purpose via its broad mission and vision statements, and its four general aims. In addition, BSA specifies a different set of key methods for each program (Scouts BSA, Cub Scouts BSA, Venturing BSA, and Sea Scouts BSA). Only Cub Scout packs, Scout troops, Venturing crews, and Sea Scout ships that use all the methods of their program provide real Scouting, because it is the combination of those methods that makes Scouting unique.
BSA Mission Statement
"to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law"
BSA Vision Statement
"The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law."
Aims of Scouting
- Character Develoopment
- Citizenship Training
- Personal Fitness
- Leadership Development
NOTE—BSA quietly added Leadership as a fourth aim around 2018. I'm glad they added it, because Leadership Development has always been an important benefit of Scouting.
Methods of Scouts BSA
The Troop Leader Guidebook compares the eight methods of Scouts BSA to an eight-cylinder engine: "When all eight pistons are firing, the car moves powerfully yet smoothly toward its destination. When a few pistons get fouled, the car lurches haltingly along. When only one or two pistons are firing, you might as well get out and walk." The methods are listed in alphabetical order, "but they could be listed in any order because they are all equally important." I have made some very mild grammar edits to eliminate singular antecedents to they/their/them (which some people object to), a grammar problem caused by the need to rewrite the methods to apply to Scouts who can now be girls as well as boys.
Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. Scouts plan their advancement and progress at their own pace as they meet each challenge. Scouts are rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help Scouts grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
- Association with Adults
Scouts learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to the Scouts, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
The ideals of Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout Motto, and the Scout Slogan. Scouts measures themselves against these ideals and continually try to improve. The goals are high, and, as Scouts reach for them, they have some control over what and who they become.
- Leadership Development
The Scouting program encourages Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership and becoming a servant leader helps Scouts accept the leadership role of others and guides them towards participating citizenship and character development.
- Outdoor Programs
Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Scouts gain an appreciation for God's handiwork and humankind's place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature's resources.
The patrol method gives Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches Scouts how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.
- Personal Growth
As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. Young people grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with their Scoutmaster help Scouts to determine their growth toward Scouting's aims.
The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout's commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.
Purposes and Methods of Cub Scouts BSA
The Cub Scouting program has 10 purposes related to the overall mission of the Boy Scouts of America — to build character, learn citizenship, and develop personal fitness:
- Character Development
- Spiritual Growth
- Good Citizenship
- Sportsmanship and Fitness
- Family Understanding
- Respectful Relationships
- Personal Achievement
- Friendly Service
- Fun and Adventure
- Preparation for Boy Scouts
Every Cub Scouting activity should help fulfill one of these purposes. When considering a new activity, ask which purpose or purposes it supports. Not everything in Cub Scouting has to be serious — far from it! Silly songs, energetic games, and yummy snacks all have their place in the program.
The Methods of Cub Scouting
To accomplish its purposes and achieve the overall goals of building character, learning citizenship, and developing personal fitness, Cub Scouting uses seven methods:
- Living the Ideals
Cub Scouting's values are embedded in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Cub Scout motto, and the Cub Scout sign, handshake, and salute. These practices help establish and reinforce the program's values in Scouts and the leaders who guide them.
- Belonging to a Den
The den—a group of six to eight children who are about the same age—is the place where Cub Scouting starts. In the den, Cub Scouts develop new skills and interests, they practice sportsmanship and good citizenship, and they learn to do their best, not just for themselves but for the den as well.
- Using Advancement
Recognition is important to everyone. The advancement plan provides fun for the Scouts, gives them a sense of personal achievement as they earn badges, and strengthens family understanding as adult family members and their den leader work with them on advancement projects.
- Involving Family and Home
Whether a Cub Scout lives with two parents or one, a foster family, or other relatives, their family is an important part of Cub Scouting. Parents and adult family members provide leadership and support for Cub Scouting and help ensure that Scouts have a good experience in the program.
- Participating in Activities
Cub Scouts participate in a huge array of activities, including games, projects, skits, stunts, songs, outdoor activities, trips and service projects. Besides being fun, these activities offer opportunities for growth, achievement, and family involvement.
- Serving Home and Neighborhood
Cub Scouting focuses on the home and neighborhood. It helps Scouts strengthen connections to their local communities, which in turn support the boys' growth and development.
- Wearing the Uniform
Cub Scout uniforms serve a dual purpose, demonstrating membership in the group (everyone is dressed alike) and individual achievement (Scouts wear the badges they've earned). Wearing the uniform to meetings and activities also encourages a neat appearance, a sense of belonging, and good behavior.
Methods of Venturing BSA
- Leadership and Mentoring
All Venturers are given opportunities to learn and apply proven leadership skills. A Venturing crew is led by elected crew officers. Venturing's program model provides explicit training experiences to help youth lead and mentor as well as opportunities to test and refine their skills during youth-led and youth-mentored adventures.
- Group Activities and Adventure
Venturing's emphasis on adventure helps provide youth with team-building opportunities, new meaningful experiences, practical leadership application, and lifelong memories. Venturing activities are interdependent group experiences in which success is dependent on the cooperation of all. Learning by doing in a group setting provides opportunities for developing new skills.
- Venturing Recognition
Personal growth comes through the Venturing recognition program and through the acknowledgment of a youth's competence and ability by peers and adults. The recognition program is more than just earning awards—as a Venturer progresses through the four levels of the Venturing recognition program, he or she will learn valuable skills and competencies that have been identified as vital to achieving success in education, in a work environment, and in life.
- Adult Association
The youth officers lead the crew. The officers and activity chairs work closely with adult Advisors and other adults in a spirit of partnership. The adults serve in a shadow leader capacity. The Advisor is there to support and challenge the Venturer to make the best decisions as he or she learns to lead their colleagues on adventures of ever-increasing challenge and sophistication.
Venturers are expected to know and live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law and commit to serving God and country, other people, and themselves. A Venturer measures himself or herself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as you reach for them, you continuously meet the challenge and answer the question of how these statements of personal value guide your life path.
- Group Identity
Peer groups are essential for the growth and development of youth. Group identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group with common values and serves as a means to build positive group interactions and self-confidence. Some crews use outward signs of group identity, such as a uniform or jacket, but a crew may decide to form an identity that is more focused on shared commitments.
Service encourages youth to identify a community need and to take action to address that need. Service helps youth make a difference in the world beyond themselves, and in the process, develop the disposition to put the needs of others first.
Sea Scout "Pillars" and Methods
I couldn't find specific methods on the Sea Scout website, but instead they list four Sea Scout "Pillars":
The best part of Sea Scouts is cruising and mastering the skills you learn with your shipmates. On board a vessel you share hands-on experiences as helmsman and navigator, lookout and cook, sail handler and engineer. You and your shipmates will plan and conduct your annual cruise — summer camp underway. Imagine sailing the Caribbean, cruising to Alaska, fishing, swimming, diving, snorkeling or anything else your ship wants to do!
Sea Scouts is youth led and adult mentored. You and your shipmates lead your Sea Scout program. Elected youth leaders plan and conduct the program and adult leaders guide and support your efforts as you learn important leadership and life skills. As you gain experience you will have the opportunity to contribute as a leader in your ship. Sea Scouts are recognized and rewarded for the things they learn and do. You can earn valuable certifications in SCUBA, boating safety, lifesaving, and CPR, as well as advance in rank from Apprentice to Quartermaster. Each certification and level of advancement marks your growth as a sailor and a leader.
Sea Scouts take service very seriously. Sea Scouts perform various kinds of service from service to their ship to community service. They participate in service such as river or beach clean-up efforts, food drives, and youth programs. Sea Scouts also participate in flag ceremonies, and serve as honor guards at various community events.
Sea Scouts provides opportunities to share experiences with other young people who share your interests. As your ship participates in fun and exciting activities like sailing regattas, rowing races, and rendezvous, you'll learn and grow with your shipmates. You'll even have the opportunity to meet Sea Scouts from other parts of your community, the nation, and even the world!
I did find eight "Methods of Sea Scouting" on the non-BSA meritbadge.org website, but if these are still current, they are well hidden on the BSA's website:
- Group Activities
- Adult Association
- High Adventure, Outdoors, Nautical Activities
- Teaching Others
Last Revision to This Page: 9 July 2021
Copyright © 2010-21 by Troop 97 BSA
(BSA Mission & Vision statements, & Aims, and Boy Scouting Methods as found on the BSA troopleader.scouting.org website (2021);
Cub Scouting Purposes & Methods as found on the BSA website (2018);
Venturing Methods as found in the manual "Venturing Advisor Position-Specific Training", 2014 printing, on the BSA website;
Sea Scout Pillars as found on the Sea Scout website; Sea Scout Methods as found on the meritbadge.org website)