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Here are the basics about the Boy Scouts of America:

The BSA offers four traditional Scouting programs based on grade or age (Cub Scouts, Scouts, Sea Scouts, & Venturers), plus three non-traditional subsidiaries (Exploring, Learning for Life, & STEM Scouts). The traditional programs also include the BSA's national honor society called the Order of the Arrow (open to Scouts, Sea Scouts, & Venturers, but not to Cub Scouts). Membership numbers are from the 2019 BSA Annual Report to Congress (released each year after the BSA Annual Meeting in late May). Note that the annual report is getting progressively lighter on details.

Traditional Programs

Cub Scouts BSA (boys and girls, Kindergarten through grade 5)

Scouts BSA (boys and girls, age about 10-1/2 until 18)

Sea Scouts BSA (coed, age about 14 until 21)

Venturing BSA (coed, age about 14 until 21)

Order of the Arrow (coed, for elected youth & adults in the Scouts, Sea Scouts, & Venturing programs)

Non-Traditional Programs

Exploring (coed, for ages 10-20)

Learning for Life (LFL) (coed, for grades K-12)

STEM Scouts (coed, for grades 3-12)

Names and Numbers

Program Names

The BSA has not been very consistent in naming their programs. For example, the Sea Scout program is called 'Sea Scouts, BSA' (notice the comma), while the Scout troop program is called 'Scouts BSA' (no comma). Most programs are named after their participants (Cub Scouts BSA, Scouts BSA, Sea Scouts BSA), but Venturers belong to 'Venturing BSA'. And more often than not, we can just call them Cub Scouting, Scouting, Sea Scouting, and Venturing, though the term 'Scouting' in reference to 'Scouts BSA' can be confusing since it also can refer to the overall BSA and all its programs (not to mention Girl Scouting).

Unit Names

While the Girl Scouts of the USA call all their units troops, the BSA identifies its units by the program they conduct (which can be confusing for parents as their children move up through the programs):


Unit identification (pack, troop, etc) is more confusing in the US than in many countries. Outside the US, units often are part of a Scouting "group". Each group would include one or more program "sections" such as a pack, a troop, and a crew. The group would have a number associated with its town or area (for example, the "2nd Brixton Scout Group"), and often all group members wear a common neckerchief. In the US, which doesn't use the "group" approach, each pack, troop, etc, is separately numbered, and there is no link to the unit's location. For example, in our town, we've had both a Pack 97 and a Troop 97, each with its own operating committee and different chartered organizations. And, since unit numbers are repeated in each of the roughly 261 local Scout Councils, there could be hundreds of Troop 97's in the US. Actually, due to the many Scout Council mergers over the past 25 years (there used to be over 500 Councils), some Councils (like ours) could have two Troop 97's. Note that if a chartered organization sponsors both a boys' troop and a girls' troop, both troops typically share the same number!


Age Requirements/Advancement/Highest Awards—

For more information on BSA-related topics, see:

For information about US Girl Scouting (Guiding), see Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).

For information about girls in the BSA, see Women and Girls in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

For information on Camp Fire and other alternatives to Scouting, see our Scout-like Organizations page.

For names and pictures of the highest rank/achievement/advancement in other countries, see our Highest Rank in Scouting page.