The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to provide an effective educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and to help them develop their personal fitness, providing this country with citizens who:
are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit;
are highly self-reliant as evidenced by such qualities as initiative, courage, and resourcefulness;
have personal values based on their own religious concepts;
have the desire and skills to help others;
understand the principles of the American social, economic, and governmental systems;
are knowledgeable about and take pride in their American heritage and understand our nation's role in the world;
have a keen respect for the basic rights of all people; and
are prepared to participate and lead at all levels of society.
This sounds like a tall order, but Scouting delivers!
Boy Scouting, one of several membership divisions of the Boy Scouts of America (others include Cub Scouting, Venturing, and Sea Scouting), is available to boys who have earned the Arrow of Light Award or have completed the fifth grade, or who are 11 through 17 years old and subscribe to the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The program achieves the BSA's objectives of developing character, citizenship, and personal fitness qualities among youth by focusing largely (but not exclusively) on a program that emphasizes outdoor activities.
Aims and Methods of the Boy Scout Program
Boy Scouting works toward three aims.
The first is to build character, developing the Scout's personal qualities, values and outlook -- honesty, courage, integrity, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect.
The second aim is to foster participating citizenship, training the Scout on his duties, obligations, privileges and functions as a citizen and member of his community.
The third aim of Boy Scouting is to help the Scout to develop physical, mental, moral and emotional fitness.
The methods of Scouting are designed to accomplish these aims.
The Methods of Scouting:
Ideals - The Ideals of Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan. The Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as he reaches for them, he has some control over what he becomes.
Patrols - The patrol method gives Scouts an experience in group living and participating in citizenship. It places a certain amount of responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to act in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected leaders.
Outdoor Program - Boys often join Scouting for the challenge and fun of the outdoor program. Much of Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors, where Scouts find adventure, share responsibilities and learn to live with each other. The outdoors is also a laboratory where Scouts use the skills learned in troop and patrol meetings.
Advancement - Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps to overcome them through the advancement process. Each Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he overcomes each challenge. He is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and the ability to help others. As Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. Among the activities offered are over 100 hobby and career skills through the merit badge program, as well as camping and high adventure programs.
Adult Association - Scouts associate with adults (Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmasters, Merit Badge Counselors) of high character and learn from their examples.
Personal Growth - As Scouts plan their activity and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept -- helping others -- is a major part of the personal growth method of Scouting. Through service projects, Scouts take their place in the community. Many Scouting activities also allow Scouts to grow by associating with Scouts from different backgrounds.
Leadership Development - Scouting encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations and to be involved in planning, organization and decision-making. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership roles of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting. Boy Scouts frequently demonstrate leadership skills far beyond those of their non-Scouting peers.
Uniform - The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force of good and creates a positive youth image in the community. The uniform gives the Scout a sense of belonging, not only in his patrol and troop, but in a world brotherhood of youth who share the same ideals. Wearing the uniform also shows each Scout's commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting.
Troop 208 is a boy-run troop. The adult leaders and parents help out a lot, but boys run the program and make the key decisions. They are expected to make mistakes, which is how they learn. Leadership is one of the methods of Scouting. Every boy will have an opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership. The patrol leaders' council plans and carries out meetings and troop activities. Patrol leaders will assign duties for patrol activities. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps the boy accept the leadership of others and helps him to grow into a more responsible adult. Below is an outline of the duties of the troop's key leadership positions.
The Scoutmaster is the adult leader responsible for the image and program of the troop. The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters work directly with the Scouts. The general responsibilities of the Scoutmaster include:
Train and guide boy leaders.
Work with other adult leaders to bring Scouting to boys.
Use the methods of Scouting to achieve the aims of Scouting.
Assistant Scoutmasters are recruited by the Scoutmaster and approved by the troop committee to assist the Scoutmaster in the operation of the troop. Assistant Scoutmasters may be assigned program tasks by the Scoutmaster and provide guidance to the boy leadership. Assistant Scoutmasters also provide the required two-deep leadership (two adult leaders present at every Boy Scout activity).
Senior Patrol Leader:
The senior patrol leader (SPL) is the top boy leader in the troop and is elected by his fellow Scouts. He leads the patrol leaders' council and, in consultation with the Scoutmaster, appoints other junior leaders and assigns specific responsibilities as needed.
Assistant Senior Patrol Leader:
The assistant senior patrol leader (ASPL) fills in for the SPL in his absence. He is also responsible for training and giving direction to the quartermaster, scribe, historian, librarian, and instructors.
The patrol leaders (PL) are responsible for giving leadership to the members of their patrols, tracking their advancement and being aware of the needs and desires of the members of their patrol. Each patrol leader is elected by the members of his patrol. The PL represents the members of his patrol on the patrol leaders' council. The PL is also responsible for holding any patrol meetings outside of the regular troop meetings.
Assistant Patrol Leaders:
Assistant patrol leaders help the PL run the patrol and fill in for him in his absence.
Positions of Responsibility:
Scouts have the opportunity to serve in several other positions of responsibility within the troop, such as Den Chief of a local Cub Scout Pack, Librarian, Quartermaster, Scribe, Instructor, Guide, Bugler, and several others. Every scout has the opportunity to develop leadership skills.