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.
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, then once or twice a month all the teams meet for Tiger Cub group activities. Cub Scouting. A family- and home-centered program for boys in the second through fifth grade (or 8, 9, and 10 years old). Cub Scouting's emphasis is on quality program at the local level, where the most boys and families are involved. Fourth- and fifth-grade (or 10-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. 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 become 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. Exploring. Designed for young men and women ages 14 (who have completed the eighth grade) through 20 to gain insight into a variety of programs that offer leadership training, fitness, outdoor, service, and career hands-on experiences. Exploring promotes the conditions necessary for the growth and development of adolescent youth.
Volunteer adult leaders serve at all levels of Scouting in approximately 342 local councils, 30 areas, and 4 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 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, the national brotherhood of honor campers, recognizes those Scout campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives, and it has local lodge, section, and national meetings. Those who have become Eagle Scouts, the highest advancement award in Scouting, may join the National Eagle Scout Association.
All camps are inspected and accredited annually by teams of trained volunteers to ensure the health, safety, and quality of program for campers. Exploring holds a biennial national leadership conference for youth and adult members that offers national competitive events, seminars, shows, entertainment, elections, and an awards ceremony. The biennial national law enforcement Explorer conference provides competition, training, demonstrations, program exchanges, and career information in this field. An annual mock trial competition provides a national challenge for Explorers interested in the legal field.
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. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Explorers participate in Scouting Environment Day in April and Scouting Energy Day in October. Explorers 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 northern Wisconsin and 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
Learning for Life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. The mission of Learning for Life is to serve others by helping to instill values of good character, participating citizenship, and personal fitness in young people, and in other ways to prepare them to make ethical choices throughout their lives so that they can achieve their full potential. Learning for Life can help schools prepare students to handle today's complex society. It's designed to build confidence, motivation, and self-esteem. It can help students 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.
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 fourteen 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 1989X91 Scouting for Food National Good Turn resulted in the collection of 274 million cans of food for the needy. (More on National Good Turns)