Learn to Speak Scouting

Scouting practically has its own language. Here are most of the terms you’re likely to hear during your involvement with Scouting. Now, when your son tells you, “I’m meeting my patrol on the Thursday before the camporee to work on my Second Class,” you’ll understand.


Assistant patrol leader

A Scout who is appointed by the patrol leader to help him and to take his place in his absence.

Assistant Scoutmaster

A volunteer Scouter, 18 or older, appointed by the chartered organization to help the Scoutmaster by working with a new Scout patrol, Varsity Scout team, or Venture patrol.

Assistant senior patrol leader

A troop youth leader, usually in larger troops, who helps the senior patrol leader. The senior patrol leader appoints them with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

Baden-Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth

Founder of the worldwide Scouting movement. Born February 22, 1857, in London, he was made a baron in 1929. He is called Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Chief Scout of the World, and died January 8, 1941. Abbreviate to B-P (without periods).

Board of Review

A review held to determine if a Scout has satisfactorily completed rank requirements. A review may be held also to encourage Scouts who are not advancing. For the first five ranks, the board of review is conducted by the troop committee. For the Eagle Scout rank, the Council decides whether the unit committee or the district or Council committee responsible for advancement conducts the board of review. At least one district or Council advancement representative shall be a member of the unit board of review.


Camp Director

The Scouter in charge of the administration of a Scout resident camp, a Cub Scout day camp, or a resident camp.

Camp Ranger

A ranger’s responsibilities may include maintaining camp facilities, performing camp improvements and maintenance, issuing supplies and equipment related to maintenance, directing the maintenance staff, and managing the off-season program. Usually, the ranger reports to the camp director or business manager.

Camping Director

A professional scouter who is responsible for developing the local council’s year-round camping program. This person supervises the long-term camping program and may or may not serve as the resident camp director.


This is derived from two words: camp and jamboree. A camporee is a district or Council troop activity that demonstrates the techniques of living in a camp. It involves a one- or two-night camping experience and may include a Scout-craft competition.


  1. Spiritual leader for units appointed by the church, synagogue, or community organization chartered to use the Scouting program.
  2. One who gives spiritual leadership to a camp or jamboree community; conducts religious services according to his or her faith and arranges for other religious observance as needed; provides help in dealing with morale; and visits those who are ill and provides counseling in case of bereavement.

Chaplain Aide

A youth leader who works with the troop chaplain to ensure all members have appropriate religious observance during outings and helps other Scouts in the religious emblems program. With the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent, the senior patrol leader appoints this position.


In the BSA, charters authorize (1) an organization to operate BSA Scouting units (see “chartered organization”); (2) a local Council to incorporate as a BSA local Council; (3) operation of an Order of the Arrow Lodge; or (4) the Boy Scouts of America to incorporate. See “Charter of the Boy Scouts of America” and “Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America.” When used as a verb, use “to obtain a charter” and “to renew a charter” rather than “to charter” or “to recharter.”

Chartered Organization

A religious, civic, fraternal, educational, or other community-based organization that has applied for and received a charter to operate a BSA Scouting unit.

Chartered Organization Representative

A manager of Scouting in a chartered organization who also represents this organization in the local Council and district.


A commissioned Scouter who works with packs, troops, teams, and Venturing crews to help the units succeed. In addition to the Council commissioner, there are district commissioners, assistant district commissioners, roundtable commissioners, huddle commissioners, and unit commissioners. Also, see “international commissioner.


An administrative body chartered for Scouting in a designated geographic territory.

Court of Honor

This is a recognition ceremony for those who have met the requirements of any of the Scout ranks, merit badges, or other awards.


A geographical area of the Council which is determined by the Council executive board to help ensure the growth and success of Scouting units within the district’s territory.

District Committee

Consisting of chartered organization representatives and elected district members at large, the district committee coordinates the functions of the district to carry out the policies and objectives of the Council. The executive office of the district committee is the district chairperson.

District Executive

A professional Scouter who works under the direction of the local Council Scout executive and acts as an adviser to the volunteer leaders in the district.

Eagle Scout

The highest rank for Scouts.

Fast Start Training

Adult volunteer leadership training immediately furnishes the information new leaders need to help them get started, help them understand what is expected of them, and establish effective meeting patterns. There are versions for Cub Scouts and Scout leaders.

First Class

The rank above Second Class Scout and below Star Scout in Scouting.

Friends of Scouting (FOS)

This is an annual opportunity for Scouters and interested people in the community to identify with the local Council through their financial support and influence in expanding the Council program.

Gilwell Park

The British Scout Association’s training center and the original homesite of Wood Badge training are located in Epping Forest, England. Baden-Powell chose it as the territorial designation for his peerage, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell.

Good Turn

A distinctive feature of Scouting is its emphasis on service to others. All scouts endeavor to acquire the Good Turn habit.

High Adventure

This term refers to high-adventure activities or trek programs administered by local Councils for older Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.


A term chosen by Baden-Powell to describe the first international gathering of Scouts camping together in London in 1920. The term is restricted to indicate a national or world jamboree. Not capitalized unless in the title of a specific jamboree, as: “1993 National Scout Jamboree” or “19th World Scout Jamboree.” The BSA has a national jamboree every four years.

Junior Assistant Scoutmaster

A troop may have any number of junior Assistant Scoutmasters. They are 16- or 17-year-old Scouts who help the senior patrol leader; they are appointed by him, with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

Key 3

  1. The Council Key 3:
    • Council president
    • Council commissioner
    • Scout executive
  2. The district Key 3:
    • District chairman
    • District commissioner
    • District executive


Leave No Trace

The BSA is committed to this nationally recognized outdoor skills and ethics awareness program to reduce impacts on the environment and other people. The seven principles should be followed at all times in the outdoors: Plan ahead and prepare; camp and travel on durable surfaces; pack it in, pack it out; leave what you find; minimize campfire use; respect wildlife; and respect others.

Life Scout

The rank below Eagle Scout and above Star Scout.

Long-term Camping

A camping experience consisting of five or more consecutive days and nights in the outdoors.

Merit Badge

A recognition given to a Scout for completing the requirements for the badge. There are more than a hundred subjects in life skills, hobby, and career fields, with requirements and supporting pamphlets to help Scouts broaden their outlook.

Merit Badge Counselor

A registered adult volunteer at least age 18 who is expert in a merit badge field and shares enthusiasm for that field with Scouts and who certifies that requirements have been met.

National Office

The address of the administrative offices of the Boy Scouts of America is Boy Scouts of America, 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079.

Order of the Arrow

Scouting’s national honor society. Youth members (Arrowmen) must hold First Class Scout rank; they are elected by all youth members of the troop, based on their Scouting spirit and camping ability. The aim of the OA is to promote the outdoor program and service to Scouting


A small group of Scouts (usually five to eight) who belong to a troop and work together in and out of troop meetings. Normally, there are several patrols in one troop. Capitalize only when part of a title, such as “Fox Patrol.” Note: Webelos dens are not patrols.

Patrol Leader

Elected by the patrol members, this Scout leads the patrol and represents it on the patrol leaders’ Council, which plans the troop program.

Patrol Leaders’ Council

Each patrol leader, representing his patrol, meets with other patrol leaders and the senior patrol leader to plan their troop program. The Scoutmaster acts as an adviser.


Abbreviation for Programs of Religious Activities With Youth. An organization outside the BSA that administers religious awards for youth-serving organizations, including the BSA, Girl Scouts, and Camp Fire.

Quality awards

Recognition given each charter year to units and each calendar year to districts, Councils, areas, and regions that commit to and meet specified national standards pertaining to leader training, service, advancement, camping, and membership growth. Applies to packs, troops, teams, crews and ships.


One of four geographical administrative units of the BSA: Northeast Region, Southern Region, Central Region, and Western Region. There are regional service centers, regional directors, regional staffs, regional presidents, and regional committee members.


An event conducted by a roundtable commissioner and roundtable staff to help the unit leadership of a district plan and carry out their own unit programs.

Safe Swim Defense plan

An eight-point plan of recommended procedures for conducting group swims. The eight points are:

  1. qualified supervision
  2. physical fitness
  3. safe swimming area
  4. lifeguards on duty
  5. lookout
  6. ability groups
  7. buddy system
  8. good discipline

Safety Afloat

Guidelines for safe unit activity afloat in craft less than 26 feet long: (1) qualified supervision, (2) physical fitness, (3) swimming ability, (4) personal flotation equipment, (5) buddy system, (6) skill proficiency, (7) planning, (8) equipment, and (9) discipline.

Scout Executive

The Council’s chief executive officer is responsible for the administration, financing, marketing, motivation, recruiting, and staffing required for successful Council operations.

Scout reservation or camp

Land owned by or leased to the Boy Scouts of America to further the Scouting program. A Scout ranch, reservation, and sometimes a camp usually have two or more camps or separate camping areas.

Scout Sunday

The Sunday before February 8, Scouting Anniversary Day.


A registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America who serves as a volunteer or professional.

Scouting Anniversary Day

February 8, 1910, was the day William D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting Anniversary Week

This is the week beginning on Sunday, which includes February 8, Scouting Anniversary Day. During the week, units are encouraged to conduct rededication ceremonies and demonstrate Scouting’s purposeful activities.


A volunteer Scouter, 21 or older, appointed by the chartered organization to lead a Scouts BSA troop.

Scoutmaster conference

A distinctive feature of the troop advancement plan is that a Scoutmaster helps a Scout accept responsibility for his own growth toward each rank.

Scoutmaster’s Minute

A part of the closing ceremony of a troop meeting or campfire in which the Scoutmaster encourages Scout-like conduct by telling a story.

Second Class

The rank above Tenderfoot in Scout and Varsity Scout advancement.

Senior Patrol Leader

Each troop has one senior patrol leader, a Scout elected by the Scouts to help all the patrols succeed. He may be assisted by one or more Assistant senior patrol leaders.

Silver Beaver Award

This recognition is given by the National Court of Honor for distinguished service to youth within the Council.

Short-term Camping

It is when a camping experience lasts one to four days and at least one night outdoors.


A Varsity Scout team subdivision that consists of four to eight members is equivalent to a patrol in a Scouts BSA troop.

Squad Leader

Elected by squad members, this Varsity Scout leads the squad and, with other team members, develops team meeting agendas.


The rank above First Class and below Life in Scout advancement.



The first rank in the Scout advancement program. Always singular.

Totin’ Chip

This recognition is given to Scouts who subscribe to the Outdoor Code and understand and can demonstrate the proper handling, care, and use of wood tools.


The unit that conducts Scouting for the chartered organization. Capitalize only when used with the troop number.


This organization conducts Scouting for the chartered organization. Its members are registered youth and adult volunteers. A unit may be a pack, troop, team, crew, or ship.

Varsity Scout

A young man who is a registered youth member of a Varsity Scout team.

Varsity Scout team

A stand-alone unit that conducts Varsity Scouting for the chartered organization.

Varsity Scouting

A part of the Scouts of America program for young men (Varsity Scouts) who are at least 14 but not yet 18 years old. The unit is a team; the unit leader is a Coach. Emphasis is on advancement, high adventure, personal development, service, and special programs and events.


An individual who donates service, time, or funds to support the Boy Scouts of America program.

Wood Badge

This training award is granted upon completion of the Wood Badge for the 21st Century course. Those who have completed the training wear a leather thong with two wooden beads, a special neckerchief, and a slide (woggle).