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Language of Scouting

Scout Patrols and Leadership Positions

Patrol A small group of Boy 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.

New-Scout patrol When a boy joins a Boy Scout troop, he becomes a member of a patrol composed of new Scouts, where an assistant Scoutmaster and a troop guide help him get a good start in Scouting.

Troop Leadership Training The first course in the youth leadership training continuum; designed to be conducted frequently in a troop setting whenever there are new Scouts or there has been a shift in leadership positions within the patrol or troop.

Patrol leaders’ council (PLC) 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.

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

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

Senior patrol leader (SPL) 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.

Assistant senior patrol leader (ASPL) A troop youth leader, usually in larger troops, who helps the senior patrol leader. Appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

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. Appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

Grubmaster The informal name of the Scout in charge of patrol hike and camp menus and assembling food for outdoor patrol activities. He is appointed by the patrol leader.

Instructor (1) This youth leader helps other youth members with rank advancement; appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent. (2) This term can also apply to any youth or adult who can instruct others on parts of the Scouting program.

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.

Librarian A Scout who supervises the use of troop-owned books; appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

Quartermaster A youth officer in a troop or patrol who keeps the equipment in good shape and maintains an up-to-date inventory of it. In the troop, the quartermaster is appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent; in the patrol, he is appointed by the patrol leader.

Scribe A youth officer who checks attendance and keeps records. The troop scribe is appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent. The patrol scribe is appointed by the patrol leader.

Treasurer A Boy Scout who keeps a record of patrol dues and makes up a budget for patrol outings; appointed by the patrol leader.

Troop guide A youth leader who works with Scouts in the new-Scout patrol; appointed by the Scoutmaster in consultation with the assistant Scoutmaster responsible for new Scouts.

Troop historian This youth leader records the troop’s activities both in writing and visually; appointed by the senior patrol leader with the Scoutmaster’s advice and consent.

Scout Advancement

Advancement The process by which a youth member meets certain requirements and earns recognition. There is no advancement program for adults.

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

Board of review A review held to determine if a Boy Scout has satisfactorily completed rank requirements. A review may be held also to encourage Boy Scouts who are not advancing. For the first five ranks, the board of review is conducted by the troop committee.

Merit badge A recognition given to a Boy 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.

Service star An insignia worn over the left shirt pocket of the uniform to denote number of years of service.

Court of honor A recognition ceremony for those who have met the requirements of any one of the Boy Scout ranks, merit badges, or other awards.

Rank There are six ranks for Boy Scouts: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle Scout. Combinations: “First Class rank,” “Star Scout.”

Arrow of Light Award The highest rank in Cub Scouting and the only Cub Scout badge that may be worn on the Boy Scout uniform.

Tenderfoot The first rank in the Boy Scout advancement program. Example: “Boys must pass Tenderfoot requirements before they can become Tenderfoot Scouts.”

Second Class The rank above Tenderfoot in Boy Scout advancement. Combinations: “Second Class Scout,” “Second Class rank.”

First Class The rank above Second Class Scout and below Star Scout in Boy Scouting. Combinations: “First Class Scout,” “First Class rank,” “achieve First Class.”

Star The rank above First Class and below Life in Scout advancement. Combinations: “Star Scout,” “Star rank.”

Life Scout The rank below Eagle Scout and above Star Scout.

Eagle Scout The highest rank for Scouts. Combinations: “Eagle Scout badge,” “Eagle Scout requirements,” “Eagle Scout rank,” “Eagle Scout Award.”

Eagle Scout service project While a Life Scout, a boy plans, develops, and gives leadership to others in a project that benefits any religious organization, school, or community. Required for the Eagle Scout rank.

Eagle Scout board of review The meeting that council and district advancement committees have with a Boy Scout to determine his understanding of Scouting ideals and experiences, and to evaluate how he’s getting along in his troop. It’s also a time to review rank requirements to ensure that they have been met.

Eagle Scout court of honor A public ceremony that recognizes a Boy Scout for completing all of the requirements necessary to earn the Eagle Scout Award.

Eagle Palms Each Palm worn on the Eagle Scout Award ribbon represents being active in the troop and patrol for at least three months after becoming an Eagle Scout or earning the last Palm, showing Scout spirit, making a satisfactory effort to develop and demonstrate leadership ability, earning five additional merit badges, and taking part in a Scoutmaster conference. The Bronze Palm represents the first five merit badges after Eagle Scout, the Gold Palm the next five, and the Silver Palm the third five. Combinations: “Eagle Palm,” “Palm,” “Palms.”

Adult Leadership

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

Chaplain (1) A spiritual leader for units appointed by the faith-based 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.

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

Fast Start training Adult volunteer leadership training that immediately furnishes the information new leaders need to help them get started, help them understand what is expected of them, and assist in establishing effective meeting patterns. Combinations: “Boy Scout Leader Fast Start training,” “take Fast Start training.” (

Instructor This term can also apply to any youth or adult who can instruct others on parts of the Scouting program.

Leader-specific training The basic course of training for adult leaders such as Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training and Varsity Coach and Assistant Coach Leader Specific Training. (

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.

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

Scoutmaster A volunteer Scouter, 21 or older, appointed by the chartered organization to lead a Boy Scout troop.

Troop resource survey A survey of the talents, skills, and interests of adults who could provide program assistance to the troop.

Scouting Program

Baden-Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Founder of the worldwide Scouting movement. Born February 22, 1857, in London. Made a baron in 1929. He is referred to as Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Chief Scout of the World. Died January 8, 1941.

Be Prepared The Scout motto. The initials of the motto are the initials of Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting.

Boy Scouting That part of the program of the Boy Scouts of America for boys and young men not yet 18 years old, and who are at least 11, or have completed the fifth grade and are at least 10 years old, or who have earned the Arrow of Light Award in Cub Scouting and are at least 10 years old. Boy Scouts advance through Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life ranks to Eagle Scout. The emphasis is on outdoor activity, learning skills, developing leadership ability, and service.

BSA Mission Statement The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Good Turn A distinctive feature of Boy Scouting is its emphasis on service to others. The Good Turn habit is one that all Scouts endeavor to acquire. Always capitalize. See “Scout slogan.”

Methods of Scouting The eight methods are the ideals (Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout motto, and Scout slogan), patrol method, outdoors, advancement, association with adults, personal growth, leadership development, and the uniform.

Scout handshake This unique greeting is given with the left hand, the thumb separated from the fingers.

Scout Law A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. (There are 12 points to the Scout Law.)

Scout motto Be Prepared.

Scout Oath or Promise On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout salute A hand salute made by Scouts and Scouters with the fingers of the right hand held in position as for the Scout sign.

Scout sign A sign made by raising the right hand palm forward, upper arm straight, and out to the side. The arm is bent at the elbow, forming a right angle. The three middle fingers are held erect and the thumb covers the nail of the little finger.

Scout slogan Do a Good Turn Daily.

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.

Troop The unit that conducts Boy Scouting for the chartered organization. Capitalize only when used with the troop number. Combinations: “Boy Scout troop,” “Troop 44.”

Outdoor Program

Buddy system One part of the Safe Swim Defense plan. Swimmers of like ability are paired, check in and out of the water together, and stay within 10 feet of each other during the swim. The buddy system is also used in other aquatics, hiking, and camping activities for safety reasons and in working with a merit badge counselor.

Campout A camping activity with at least one overnight stay.

Camporee Derived from two words: camp and jamboree. A camporee is a district or council troop activity that demonstrates the techniques of living in camp. Involves a one- or two-night camping experience and may include outdoor skills competition.

Dutch oven A heavy iron or aluminum pot used for cooking food over an open fire or coals. A traditional Scout dessert is peach cobbler baked in a Dutch oven.

Florida National High Adventure Sea Base Aquatics adventure programs, including canoeing, sailing, scuba diving, and exploring the reefs of the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, are offered for older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.

High adventure Can refer to high-adventure activities or to trek programs administered by local councils for older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.

Jamboree 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. The BSA has a national jamboree every four years.

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; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out); leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors.

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

No-trace camping Refers to the Leave No Trace principles for techniques that minimize the effects of Scouting groups on the environment.

Northern Tier National High Adventure Program The Charles L. Sommers High Adventure Base in Ely, Minnesota, the Northern Expeditions Base in Bissett, Manitoba, Canada, and the Donald Rogert Canoeing High Adventure Base in Atikokan, Ontario, Canada, serve as launching points for canoeing, fishing, and camping by older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturers, and families of registered adult BSA members. Cold-weather camping is offered only at the Ely base camp.

Outdoor Code As an American, I will do my best to- Be clean in my outdoor manners. I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others. I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways. Be careful with fire. I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only when and where they are permitted and appropriate. When I have finished using fire, I will make sure it is cold-out. I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire. Be considerate in the outdoors. I will treat public and private property with respect. I will follow the principles of Leave No Trace for all outdoors activities. Be conservation-minded. I will learn about and practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.

 Outdoor program The total scope of outdoor activities offered by the Boy Scouts of America, in which youth members’ differing skill and experience levels are accommodated. Includes Cub Scout overnighters, day camp, council-organized family camps, and resident camp; Webelos Scout overnight camping; Boy Scout overnight, resident, and long-term camping; Venture patrol and Varsity activities; jamborees; council and national high adventure; and wilderness camping.

Outdoor skills Skills for living in the outdoors: using shelter for protection, building fires for food preparation, knowing the skills of field sanitation, and properly using woods tools.

Philmont Scout Ranch Western high adventure happens here for older Scouts and Venturers in almost 140,000 acres of rugged northern New Mexico. The ranch also has a center for volunteer and professional training.

Project COPE A Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience that may include problem-solving exercises, low-course activities (conducted from ground level up to 6 feet above ground), and high-course events (several combined activities that require each participant to be belayed, conducted 30 feet or more above ground).

Safe Swim Defense An eight-point plan of recommended procedures for conducting group swims. The eight points are (1) qualified supervision, (2) physical fitness, (3) safe area, (4) lifeguards on duty, (5) lookout, (6) ability groups, (7) buddy system, and (8) discipline.

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

Short-term camping A camping experience consisting of one to four days and at least one night outdoors.

Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve Located near Beckley, West Virginia, this new BSA property will be a multipurpose, year-round destination for Scouting activities and adventures. It will become the permanent home for the national Scout jamboree beginning in 2013 and also feature a high-adventure base, a national flagship Scout camp, and a leadership training center.

Swimmer test The minimum level of swimming ability required for deep-water swimming. The test is as follows: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth, swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating. All youth and adult participants are designated as swimmers, beginners, or nonswimmers based on swimming ability confirmed by standardized BSA swim classification tests, which should be renewed annually. Swimmers: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be completed in one swim without stops and must include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating. Beginners: Jump feet first into water over the head in depth, level off, and swim 25 feet on the surface. Stop, turn sharply, resume swimming and return to the starting place. Nonswimmer: Anyone who has not completed either the beginner or swimmer tests.

Totin’ Chip A recognition given to Scouts who subscribe to the Outdoor Code and understand and can demonstrate the proper handling, care, and use of woods tools.

 Order of the Arrow

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.

Ordeal membership The induction phase of membership in the Order of the Arrow. A candidate becomes an Ordeal member upon completion of the Ordeal and Ordeal ceremony.

Arrowman A youth or adult member of the Order of the Arrow.

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