The Aims and Methods of Boy Scouting
Over the past century of Scouting much study, discussion and application has refined a fairly consistent approach to the aims and methods of boy Scouting defining what we are doing and how we do it.
I don’t suggest that this particular iteration of the aims and methods should be anything other than the most current. It is not holy scripture, it is not sacrosanct but it is a starting point for study, discussion and definition.
These statements changed over the years but the concepts behind them have remained fairly constant; especially within the past 40 years. Rick Seymour’s Inquiry.net has an excellent resource showing how the aims and methods have been officially expressed over the history of the B.S.A.
The following has been copied from the NESA (National Eagle Scout Association) website:
THE AIMS AND METHODS OF BOY 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 methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.
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.
Association with Adults
Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of their troops. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.
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.
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.
Purposes and Methods of Cub Scouting
The Cub Scouting program has 10 purposes related to the overall mission of the Boy Scouts of America – to build character, learn citizenship, and develop personal fitness:
Every Cub Scouting activity should help fulfill one of these purposes. When considering a new activity, ask which purpose or purposes it supports. Not everything in Cub Scouting has to be serious – far from it! Silly songs, energetic games, and yummy snacks all have their place in the program.
The Methods of Cub Scouting
To accomplish its purposes and achieve the overall goals of building character, learning citizenship, and developing personal fitness, Cub Scouting uses seven methods:
1. Living the Ideals
Cub Scouting’s values are embedded in the Cub Scout Promise , the Law of the Pack , the Cub Scout motto , and the Cub Scout sign , handshake , and salute. These practices help establish and reinforce the program’s values in boys and the leaders who guide them.
2. Belonging to a Den
The den—a group of six to eight boys who are about the same age—is the place where Cub Scouting starts. In the den, Cub Scouts develop new skills and interests, they practice sportsmanship and good citizenship, and they learn to do their best, not just for themselves but for the den as well.
3. Using Advancement
Recognition is important to boys. The advancement plan provides fun for the boys, gives them a sense of personal achievement as they earn badges, and strengthens family understanding as adult family members and their den leader work with boys on advancement projects.
4. Involving Family and Home
Whether a Cub Scout lives with two parents or one, a foster family, or other relatives, his family is an important part of Cub Scouting. Parents and adult family members provide leadership and support for Cub Scouting and help ensure that boys have a good experience in the program.
5. Participating in Activities
Cub Scouts participate in a huge array of activities, including games, projects, skits, stunts, songs, outdoor activities, trips and service projects. Besides being fun, these activities offer opportunities for growth, achievement, and family involvement.
6. Serving Home and Neighborhood
Cub Scouting focuses on the home and neighborhood. It helps boys strengthen connections to their local communities, which in turn support the boys’ growth and development.
7. Wearing the Uniform
Cub Scout uniforms serve a dual purpose, demonstrating membership in the group (everyone is dressed alike) and individual achievement (boys wear the badges they’ve earned). Wearing the uniform to meetings and activities also encourages a neat appearance, a sense of belonging, and good behavior.
8. Making Character Connections
Throughout the program, leaders learn to identify and use character lessons in activities so boys can learn to know, commit, and practice the 12 core values of Cub Scouting. Character Connections are included in all the methods of Cub Scouting and are the program themes for monthly pack meetings.