The Aims & Methods of Scouting
The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the "Aims of Scouting." They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The eight methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.
The best way to test and train boys is to get them outdoors. That's why we have regular camping activties. A boy confident on the basketball court, suddenly realizes he needs to learn new skills to get along safely outdoors.
He also learns the values or " the code" that help him get along well with others in the outdoors. Honesty, doing your best, to live honorably, helping other people at all times, cheerful service, and making ethical choices. He "runs the twelve" points of the scout law to square his potential actions with the ideals of scouting.
In the outdoors a boy becomes teachable and each begins to discover what fun outdoor activities can be when he lives by a code of values. As boys mature in scouting they "crack" the code and discover the real value of the ideals of scouting. The outdoors is scouting's lab for character development.
Local councils operate and maintain Scout camps. The National Council operates high-adventure programs at Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico; Northern Tier National High Adventure Programs, Minnesota and Canada; and Florida National High Adventure Sea Base.
The BSA conducts a national Scout jamboree every four years and participates in world Scout jamborees (also held at four-year intervals). Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, was the site of the 1993 National Scout Jamboree.
The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy 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 and who he becomes.
The patrol method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where they can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through their elected representatives.
Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. It is here that the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for God's handiwork and humankind's place in it. The outdoors is the laboratory for Boy Scouts to learn ecology and practice conservation of nature's resources.
Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.
As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting's aims.
Baden-Powell called this experience of associating with role model adults as "snapshooting." Adults leaders, living the scout law and oath by example give boys the opportunity to see or "take a snapshot" the application of these ideals in the everyday lives of their leaders. That's why dedicated leaders, committed to high standards are called into scouter positions of leadership.
The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout's commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.