Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America are one of the most long-standing and prominent organizations in the US, providing a positive influence on millions of young children in both America and the international community. We created this mega page to cover all things Boy Scouts: history, Boy Scout levels and badges, uniform instructions, trivia, international developments, and much more!

Table of Content

The Founding of the Boy Scouts of America

Who Founded the Boy Scouts of America?

Before we can say who founded the Boy Scouts of America, we need to look back and see who founded the original boy scouts. Popular lore is that Boer War hero Robert Baden-Powell launched a boys program of sorts in 1908, in which he used elements of military training to train young boys to become good citizens.

However, there is evidence of an earlier founding of boy scouts. In 1899, the phrase ‘boy scout’ was used by an author writing in a Buffalo Bill Library magazine in which he described popular character Harry White, Buffalo Bill’s assistant, as a boy scout. The thought is that this writer was touching on the vernacular term for similar groups of this age bracket.

And although Baden-Powell gets the lion’s share of modern credit with founding the Boy Scouts of America, there were other groups which should be mentioned:

Timeline of the Founding of Various Boy Scout Groups:

  • The Boys Brigade was founded in 1884 by William Smith in Britain
  • The Boys Life Brigade – founded in 1899 by John Paton in the United States
  • The Wandervogel was founded in 1901 by Alexander Lion in Germany
  • The Woodcraft Indians – founded in 1902 by Ernest Seton in the United Sates
  • The Boys’ Guide Brigade was founded in 1902 by Edward Carter in Germany
  • Sons of Daniel Boone/Boy Pioneers in 1905 by Daniel Beard in South Africa
  • Boy Scouts of America founded in 1910 by Chicago businessman and publisher William D. Boyce, in the United States
  • Boys’ Life magazine becomes an official Boy Scouts publication, thereby cementing their status as an official group

Scroll to the end to see some fun and historical Boy Scout trivia questions!

Levels of Cub Scouts

Before one becomes a boy scout, he must start as a cub scout, which is for the younger age bracket. Each age represents a different rank in the Cub Scout hierarchy.

Tiger Scouts

This is for first grade boys, and the Tiger group is referred to as a Tiger Den. Each kid works with an adult to understand and fulfill various challenges that are required for the boy to earn his Tiger badge and rank.

Wolf Scouts

After completing the Tiger Scout rank, boys who are generally in the second-grade school level go on to join the Wolf Den. There are weekly meetings for each boy (and adults no longer accompany them), however families are still allowed and encouraged to assist their kids with fulfilling all of the challenges and requirements to graduate from the Wolf Den in order to earn the Wolf Badge.

Bear Scouts

After achieving the Wolf badge, boys who are generally in the third grade school year go on to become members of the Bear den. The Bear Scouts level encourages boys to work on and achieve most challenges on their own with much less help from their families.

Webelos Scouts

After finishing the Bear den and getting the Bear badge, all boys in the fourth & fifth grade school year then go on to become Webelos Scouts. Webelos Scouts are able to take on advanced challeneges and activities, and are on the cusp of becoming full-fledged boy scouts, should they complete the Webelos level.

The Arrow of Light Rank

The Arrow of Light Rank is the highest Cub Scouting ranking, in which Webelos Scouts must complete four required adventures and three elective adventures. This level includes a tremendous amount of practice in outdoor and survival skills, physical fitness and activity, and higher level classes on learning to become a good citizen. The next step is the official Boy Scout level.

Levels of Boy Scouts

After a boy scout finishes up the Scout levels by earning the Arrow of Light rank, they get to move onto the Boy Scout rankings and navigate through the new Boy Scouts levels.

Patrols is the name given to groups of boy scouts as they work together. The patrol is made up of scouts who then elect one of the older boys who becomes Patrol leader. All Patrol groups are part of Troops, which has leaders who give expert guidance and counsel to Boy Scout members.

Tenderfoot Requirements:

This is where it gets tough for boy scout members as they journey through the Boy Scouts levels, as the Tenderfoot rank requirements include showing skills in areas like:

  • Camping: pack correctly, help pitch a tent, sleep in the wilderness
  • Cooking: assist in preparing a meal, and demonstrate safety while cooking
  • Learning how to tie knots and use hitches
  • First Aid in nature: bites, stings, nosebleeds, blisters, frostbite, choking
  • Understanding poisonous plants and recognizing various plants and their uses
  • Fitness: pushups, situps, and walking/running long distances
  • Demonstrating general leadership qualities

Second Class Requirements:

  • Camping: spend three nights outdoors, practice Leave No Trace, choose location
  • Cooking: prepare fire via kindling and wood
  • Navigation: use a compass with a map, and demonstrate superior knowledge in map usage and symbols
  • Nature: identify ten wild animals or mammals
  • Swimming: swim at least 25 feet outward and back, and demonstrate rescue missions
  • First Aid: demonstrate high level knowledge of First Aid for shocks, burns, wounds, and heatstroke
  • Read more here.

First Class Rank Requirements

First Class rank and badges represents a turning point for any Boy Scout during their journey through the Boy Scout levels, as the number of Scouts passing First Class rank within one year of joining is a huge measure of success: Boy Scout studies show that a Scout that achieves First Class rank within a year of joining will last in the program for at least three years. Here are some of the advanced skills required to pass this Boy Scout level:

  • Camping: 10 patrol outings, 6 overnights, and pitching/sleeping in a tent
  • Cooking: understand nutritional aspects of meals, prepare food budget, arrange utensils, and cook
  • Tools: use lashings, and demonstrate ability to tie timber hitch and clove hitch
  • Navigation: complete 1 mile navigational course, and demonstrate GPS knowledge
  • Nature: identify 10 plants, understand weather forecasts and hazardous weather
  • Aquatics: complete BSA swimmer test, identify boating parts, save a drowning practice victim in water 30 feet from land
  • First Aid: apply bandages for serious wounds or sprains, transport practice victim 25 feet, understand emergency procedures for fire and more
  • Fitness: be physically active at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks
  • Citizenship: visit and discussed pre-approved legislative or community leader to discuss constitutional rights, spend 3 hours on a service project
  • Leadership: bring in a newcomer to the Boy Scout community, and explain the process and culture

Star Rank Requirements

The Star Rank is the 3rd highest rank for all Boy Scout levels, and is awarded to any boy scout that has served actively in their troop, in a position of responsibility (team leader positions – outlined below) for at least 4 months, and has done at 6 hours of community service, and has earned six badges.

Star Rank Positions of Leadership:

  • Patrol leader
  • Assistant senior patrol leader
  • Senior patrol leader
  • Troop guide
  • Order of the Arrow troop representative
  • Den chief
  • Scribe
  • Librarian
  • Historian
  • Quartermaster
  • Bugler
  • Junior assistant Scoutmaster
  • Chaplain aide
  • Instructor
  • Webmaster
  • Outdoor ethics guide

Life Rank Requirements

This rank and badge is the second highest honor among Boy Scout levels, and has essentially the same requirements as the Star rank, except it requires 6 months of leadership as opposed to 4 for the Star rank. There are a number of other additional recommendations, including teaching at least one skill to another scout, outlined below:

Using the Teaching EDGE Method to Teach Another Scout One of the Following:

  1. Tenderfoot – (first aid)
  2. Second Class – (cooking/camping)
  3. Second Class – (navigation)
  4. First Class – (tools)
  5. First Class – (navigation)
  6. Second Class – (first aid)
  7. First Class – (first aid)

Eagle Rank Requirements

The Eagle rank is highest rank for Boy Scouts levels, and started in 1911. In United States history, over 2 million boys have earned the Eagle rank and badge.

In order to earn the Eagle badge, a Boy Scout must earn a whopping 21 merit badges, with 13 of them required to come from this essential list:

  1. First Aid
  2. Citizenship in the Community
  3. Citizenship in the Nation
  4. Citizenship in the World
  5. Communication
  6. Cooking
  7. Personal Fitness
  8. Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving
  9. Environmental Science or Sustainability
  10. Personal Management
  11. Swimming, Hiking or Cycling
  12. Camping, and
  13. Family Life

What is Venturing for Boy Scouts?

You might have heard the term ‘adventuring’, but in reality, people are referring to a Boy Scouts of America program that is called “Venturing”. It is mean for slightly older participants: boys and girls age 13 and 14 who have finished elementary school, up until 21 years old. Venturing is considered to be beyond the traditional Boy Scouts levels journey.

Venturing is basically an adult-extension of the boy scouts, and helps to train young teens on their journey to adulthood, through various programs. This can include adventures and challenges which teach more skills, leadership, and offer knowledge and understanding via adventures (including sea), sports, culture and arts, various hobbies, and religious practice as well.

Boy Scout Uniforms

The history of the Boy Scouts of America uniform goes back some time – all the way to the founding in 1910. Click here to view the original Boy Scout uniform. The original Boy Scout uniforms consisted of a high collared brown jacket with metal buttons, as well as big outside pockets. Their pants were ‘flared’ at the thighs and tight around the knee in order to protect the legs but provide nimbleness when walking through terrain. Long socks were also worn for similar reasons.

Why Do Boy Scouts Wear Uniforms?

There are 4 reasons given by the official Boy Scout website as to why Boy Scouts wear uniforms:

    • Personal equality – Scouts all wear the same uniform to represent freedom and democracy, in that everyone is equal
    • Identification – Boy scout uniforms allows boy scouts to be identifiable, as good and positive assets to any community
    • Achievement – Boy scout uniforms, depending on the rank, can show off each boy scout’s activity, responsibility, and overall achievement, via badges.
    • Personal commitment – Boy scout uniforms serve as reminders to each boy scout of their commitment to the overall purpose of the Boy Scouts community, and reminds them to constantly help others.

Fun Boy Scout Skills & Games

The Boy Scouts were created as a way to foster independence, learning, and skill survival for kids. Team building is a crucial aspect of the Boy Scouts, and we have gone ahead and listed a number of fun boy scout and girl scout skills and meeting activities to get you acquainted:

Fun Boy Scout Activities for Kids

When it comes to boy scout and girl scout activities, there aren’t truly any differences. (On a corporate and mission level, there are certainly differences in regard to sponsors, mission statements, and policies). As for fun kids’ summer activities, the reason there is no difference is because both genders of scouts have the same goal: to provide a fun but productive outlet for youth, to build character through various scout-skills activities, and, to quote the official Scouting.org website: “Helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible and productive society.”

Boy scout and girl scout activities are a great way for participants to learn survival skills and have fun in a productive environment. Our picks for best scout activity ideas are compass treasure hunt games and first aid training scenarios:

Compass Games:

Understanding how to use a compass is a foundational skill for any scout. A compass treasure hunt is a fun way to learn how to use a compass, and very simple to set up. First you need to hide the treasure (bowls of candy are usually crowd pleasers), then set up a number of notes each with direction specifications. The first note would read “North”, and the scout who heads north from that point will then find another note waiting for them. Setting up at least 5 notes, with the final note pointing to the treasure, will have your future scouts learning how to use a compass, (and eating candy) in no time!

First Aid Scenarios:

First aid skills are important for all boy scouts, and proper training indeed requires a proper course. However, you can definitely provide some fun educational value, (as well as some healthy competition) by having a scenario based Family-Feud style game. Have someone read out a scenario that requires first aid skills, then whoever calls out first gets to answer. If they provide the correct first aid recommendation, they get a point. If they get it wrong, then the next answerer has the opportunity for two points. Here are some real life first aid scenarios from Boys Life Magazine.

Blind Knots Activity:

Give each boy scout a piece of paper, a pencil, and some rope. Have each boy scout sit down in a syummetrical line, each wearing blindfolds. The leader boy scout then ties a knot in his rope, and then hands it over to the first boy scout sitting next to him. Each boy scout then passes it along to the next boy scout sitting next to them, and they each get 10 seconds to figure out and get a feel for the knot. The blindfolds are then removed, and each boy scout must write down the type of knot they think it is, and then they must each recreate the knot and tie that very knot on their own rope! This is a classic boy scout skills activity which will help all scouts learn to get familiar with knots.

Additional Boy Scout Resources:

While compasses and first aid are important skills for any scout to learn, there are many other skills and activities that a parent can use for either a scout themed kids party or a local scout chapter in any community. Here are three additional scout resources to check out:

  • http://www.boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/boy-scout-activities.asp
  • http://www.girlscouts.org/en/for-girls/grades-k-5.html
  • http://www.boyscouttrail.com/boy-scouts/merit-badges.asp (Boy scout badges)

Scroll down a bit more to see some fun Boy Scout Trivia, and if you run out of boy scout activities, then be sure to check out these activity ideas for kids!

Badges: Information, Rank, History

The Boy Scout badge history is ripe with information about their meanings, ranks, levels, symbolism, and much more. We’ve broken up the Boy Scout badge information section into the most common Boy Scout badge questions, and have answered them below:

What Do Boy Scouts Get Badges For?

Boy scout badges are earned on merit, and even referred to as merit badges. They are earned and awarded based on various exercises and activities that a Boy Scout completes according to level-based guidelines (which we outlined above). The merit badge program is to designed to allow Boy Scouts to explore their skills and develop talents, which may lead them on a path toward a career or job.

How Do Boy Scouts Earn Badges?

As touched on earlier in this article, as well as in the previous paragraph, badges are earned based on merit: the higher a level a Boy Scout achieves, the next badge they can then ‘merit’ or earn. Each level and rank involves completing various exercises, including camping, cooking, swimming, exploring, surviving in nature, leadership, community initiatives, and global initiatives as well.

Where Do Boy Scout Badges Go?

This very popular Boy Scout badge placement question is basically asking: upon receiving a merit badge, where is it placed on the Boy Scout uniform? The official answer is that all earned merit badges are placed on the front of the sash that is worn (sowed in through the front and back). The badge placement goes on the middle of the sash, slightly above the center, to show prominence. The Varsity Letter/Venture is then attached at the bottom corner at the front of the Boy Scout sash. In regard to all temporary Boy Scout insignia, that is placed on the back.

What Goes on Boy Scout Sleeves?

This answer can be broken up into two sections: the right sleeve and the left sleeve:

The Right Sleeve:
  • U.S. flag
  • Den numeral number
  • Journey to Excellence award
  • Musician badge (if Boy Scout is in band or drum corps)
The Left Sleeve:
  • Council shoulder emblem
  • Pack numeral number
  • Veteran unit insignia bar
  • Trained Leader emblem
  • Den chief cord (worn over left shoulder, underneath the epaulet)

What Goes on Boy Scout Pockets?

As with the Boy Scout sleeves, Boy Scout pockets also have very particular instructions, and is also broken up into the right and left pocket.

Right Pocket:

Temporary insignia (must be centered on pocket, or hung from button)
The National Summertime Award (pinned and centered on right pocket flap)
The Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award (worn on right pocket flap)

Left Pocket:
  • Cub Scouts wear the following badges in diamond form in clockwise format:
    Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf, and Bear.
  • Gold background disks are worn alongside Cub Scouting service stars
  • Religious emblem knot
  • Any lifesaving or meritorious award knot
  • The World Crest emblem
  • The 1910 World Crest Ring
  • No more than five medals may be worn at once

Boy Scout Trivia Questions:

Boy Scout trivia is a fun and evolving topic, as many people around the world love asking Boy Scout questions and little known answers. We will add new Boy Scout trivia questions to this area on an ongoing basis, and we’ll do our best to answer the most popular trivia questions! We have broken trivia Q&A into two separate sections: Historical trivia and scout knowledge trivia:

Historical Boy Scout Trivia:

How Many Boy Scouts are There in the World?

This is a very tricky question to answer, and there are different answers. Scouts.org.uk claims the number is currently between 25-40 million. However Scout.org says that there are 38 million worldwide members, coming from 165 various worldwide boy scout organizations.

Which Presidents were Boy Scouts?

There were five U.S. Presidents who had served in the Boy Scouts of America prior to becoming President, and they are listed below. It should be noted, however, that there were a handful of Presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft who were heavily involved in the Boy Scouts in various ways, outlined here.

  • John F. Kennedy: President Kennedy was a boy scout from Troop 2 in Bronxville, New York from 1929 to 1931. He also became a leader in the Boston Council, and achieved the rank of Star Scout. On his experience in the Boy Scouts, Kennedy remarked: “In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals.
  • Gerald Ford: President Ford started his Boy Scout career in 1924, as a member of Troop 15 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He achieved Eagle scout rank, and later on in his career he won Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1970. He later received the Scouter of the Year Award in 1974, while he was in office.
  • Bill Clinton: President Clinton never made it to the Boy Scout ranks, but served as a Cub Scout. He was, however, outspoken about the Boy Scouts of America and all the good they’ve done, and had this to say: “For almost a century, the Boy Scouts of America have helped to make volunteer service an American ideal. With every act of kindness, you’ve strengthened our nation’s commitment to community and promoted a sense of civic responsibility.
  • George W. Bush: Similar to President Clinton, President Bush served as a Cub Scout but did not progress to Boy Scout levels. However, also like Clinton, he was an ardent supporter, and spoke fondly of them: Every day, Scouts are showing that the greatest strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens. Through your Good Turn for America initiative, Scouts have given more than 1.4 million hours of volunteer service this year alone. On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the Boy Scouts for serving on the front line of America’s armies of compassion.
  • Barack Obama: A very popular recent question has become: Was Barack Obama ever a Boy Scout? Indeed, President Obama’s Boy Scout membership has come under fire, as he did not formally serve as a member of the Boy Scouts of America, but rather in The Indonesian Scout Association. Many people say that this is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Association, and President Obama is an ardent supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, as he holds membership, and welcomes Boy Scout troops in the Oval Office.

Which Boy Scout Earned the Most Merit Badges?

The all time leader with the most merit badges is Josh McCoy. He earned a staggering 135 merit badges! And he might have earned more if he was able to – but 135 is the maximum number. From Virgina, Josh was inspired by his dad, who had earned (just) 83 badges back in his day. Read the whole story here.

Boy Scout Skills & Knowledge Trivia Questions:

Come back soon for some more Boy Scout trivia!

International Boy Scout Information:

The Boy Scouts of America is obviously not the only Boy Scouts chapter, as the rest of the world has their own versions of Boy Scouts. In this section we will cover all of the information related to various international Boy Scout factions.

How many countries are involved in scouting?
In terms of international boy scouts, there are currently 216 countries and territories which have active scouting, which makes up for a membership of nearly 32 million global members, including both male and female. In terms of worldwide support, the international scouting movement receives public support from The World Organisation of Scout Movements (WOSM).
Are there any countries which don’t have boy scouts or scouting?
Indeed there are a few. As stated above, there are 216 countries and territories which have active scouting factions, and 196 of those are official countries. As such, there are only 6 independent countries which have no Boy Scout or scouting movements or groups. This includes: AndorraCubaNorth KoreaLaos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vatican City. Technically China has no scouting, though Hong Kong and Macau do have scouting groups, which technically keeps China off the list.
Is Boy Scouts International different from the Boy Scouts of America?
It sure is. The global, international aspect of the Boy Scouts is referred to as the World Organization of the Scout  Movement, which is considered to be a confederation of over 160 Scout groups and organizations from separate countries.
What is the role of Boy Scouts International?
As the global representation of Boy Scouts across the world, Boy Scouts International is an international organization which has no  official governmental role, and is responsible for all national scout organizations across all independent countries in the world. They are also referred to as the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. They were established in 1920.