The Boy Scouts of America (hereafter the BSA) is an organisation founded in 1910 as part of the Scouting Movement, which began in 1907 with Lord Baden-Powell's establishment of a similar organisation in England, using his previous experience in the Royal Army (which he achieved the rank of Lieutenant General in). The American version was founded by William D. Boyce, whose story is immortalised in the 'Story of the Unknown Scout' (a memorial is dedicated to said Scout in Washington, D.C., in the form of a buffalo). The BSA includes youth aged 12-18, and has several offshoot programs, including Sea Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venturing.
The BSA is primarily intended to teach young men and boys the value of good citizenship, leadership skills and outdoorsmanship.
The BSA has a system of ranks and awards to recognise and encourage advancement in its program. The ranks are, in order of lowest to highest, Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and finally Eagle. After achieving Eagle, a Scout may endeavour to earn other awards beyond his rank, called Eagle Palms, ordered Bronze, Gold and Silver (compare with Olympic medals, ordered Bronze, Silver and Gold). Since these Palms are non-specific, they may be earned again and again, and stacked much like a military award in ribbon form, for as long as the Scout is actually in Scouting (i.e., he has not turned 18). Other awards of note are what the BSA calls merit badges, which are required to advance beyond First Class (and are required to advance beyond Star and Life to Eagle). These merit badges focus on one particular topic, and have a set of requirements that must be met before completion can be asserted. They are intended, much as the other requirements are, to teach valuable skills, give examples of what a Scout may wish to do with his life, train him in group leadership and cooperation and to give him a greater awareness in general. In addition, the BSA maintains several religious awards (not all are mainstream Christian: there is an Islamic, Meher Baba, Jewish, LDS, Catholic—including Eastern—Moravian and Zoroastrian), lifesaving awards (the Honor Medal—awarded in cases 'of exceptional skill or resourcefulness and extreme risk of life' with crossed palms upon the ribbon—Heroism Award and Medal of Merit), ecological awards (the World Conservation Award, commonly known as a 'pocket panda', the Leave No Trace Awareness Award and the Hornaday Award), several sporting-related awards, interpreter badges (for those Scouts who can translate to and from other languages fluently) and even an Organ Donor Awareness Award.
The BSA is organised into four regions: Western, Central, Southern and Northeast. These regions are further subdivided into areas, which are further subdivided into councils (the main administrative body). Councils have several troops under their authority, which are in turn comprised of patrols. Other bodies, such as those mentioned above (Sea Scouting, Cub Scouting, etc.) also fall under Council jurisdiction.
The BSA has, in recent years and in various areas of the United States, been seen as an organisation dedicated to discrimination and its members viewed as somehow weak, because of the set of promises that the Scouts take upon themselves. The truth is in fact much different: the BSA is a private organisation (although one with an extensive national heritage, and so receives special treatment, which other organisations and some Scouts and Scouters themselves do not agree with), whose right to determine its membership laws was upheld 5 to 4 in the Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale Supreme Court case in 2000. The BSA is also, in fact, composed of individuals of strong character, mind and body, who have not only hiked on extensive wilderness trips, navigated river rapids, gained recognition as experienced sailors and more, but have also participated in community service projects ranging from small to those of great import (the creation of a memorial, etc.), as well as saved lives, both by direct and indirect means. Many Scout troops maintain contingency plans for reacting to everything from fires to chemical spills, and some troops go so far as to develop plans for community defence. In other areas of the country, the opinion of the BSA is improving, albeit slowly.
Often seen as a paramilitary organisation, some troops de-emphasise this, while others do nothing to hinder it. The position of the National Council is that Scouting is a non-military movement, and has in fact banned much of the camouflage used by the military, and has also banned the use of rigid knives, such as Bowie knives.
Further reading can be found at the following links (remove spaces where applicable):
The Boy Scouts of America is an American organisation, much like the American Legion.
Prices shown in USD.
Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!
Emails are sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll never spam you.