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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

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.

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:

  1. Character Development
  2. Spiritual Growth
  3. Good Citizenship
  4. Sportsmanship and Fitness
  5. Family Understanding
  6. Respectful Relationships
  7. Personal Achievement
  8. Friendly Service
  9. Fun and Adventure
  10. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

Sea Scout "Pillars" and Methods

I couldn't find specific methods on the Sea Scout website, but instead they list four Sea Scout "Pillars":

I did find eight "Methods of Sea Scouting" on the non-BSA website, but if these are still current, they are well hidden on the BSA's website:

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 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 website)