An Introduction to Scouts BSA

This is the third article in our Guide to Family Scouting series. In the previous article we discussed Family Scouting in Cub Scouts.

In this article we will explain the changes coming to the Boy Scouting program this February as a part of Family Scouting.


Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts, is a year-round leadership development and outdoor education program for youth in the sixth through twelfth grade (or who are 11-17 years old, or 10 years old and have earned the “Arrow of Light” in Cub Scouting).

Scouts learn by planning their own troop activities and leading their peers in the troop.  Pitch a tent.  Climb a rock wall.  Ride mountain bikes.  Hike through the backcountry.  Scouts develop their own exciting outdoor program in their troop, and are responsible for achieving their own goals.

The Troop Structure

Scouts BSA Troops are single-gender, either boys or girls, and divided into Patrols of 6-12 youth. The Patrols are led by an elected youth member known as the Senior Patrol Leader. The Senior Patrol Leader is advised by the adult Scoutmaster and a committee of adult volunteers.

The Patrols are the building blocks of a Scout troop. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility for the patrol’s success. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership. All patrol members enjoy the friendship, sense of belonging, and achievements of the patrol and of each of its members.

Advancement and the Eagle Scout Rank

Scouts work at their own pace to complete the requirements for the seven ranks of Scouting. Their ultimate goal is the Eagle Scout Rank, which requires a cumulative total of 21 Merit Badges, 18 months of leadership experience, and a service project designed and executed by the Scout.

Two Scouts pitch a tentWho can Join Scout Troops Now?

In 2018, boys in the sixth grade and up (ages 11 through 17) can join Boy Scout Troops (also boys age 10 who have earned the “Arrow of Light” in Cub Scouting).

When can Girls join Scouts BSA Troops?

Starting February 1, 2019, Scouts BSA Troops can be formed for girls and accept registration from girls in the sixth grade and up (ages 11 through 17, also girls age 10 who have earned the “Arrow of Light” in Cub Scouting).

Until then, families can contact local Troops and find out about plans for the creation of girl Troops within that Chartered Organization.

Different Kinds of Troops Starting in 2019.

After February 1, there will be separate Troops for boys and separate Troops for girls. Troops under the same Chartered Organization may formally “link” by sharing the same Troop Committee, or may informally link, if an existing Troop pairs up with a new “sister” Troop as it gets started.

Scouts BSA Troops for Boys

A Scouts BSA Troop for boys is made up of Patrols of 5-12 boys and is advised by a Scoutmaster and their volunteer committee of registered adult leaders, male and/or female.

A group of Scouts go on a hikeScouts BSA Troops for Girls

A Scouts BSA Troop for girls is made up of Patrols of 5-12 girls and is advised by a Scoutmaster and their volunteer committee of registered adult leaders, male and/or female.

These Troops must have an adult leader team that includes at least one registered female leader over 21 (male adult leaders can be on the team too).

In addition, a registered female adult leader over 21 must be present for any activity involving female Scouts.

Who Leads Scouts BSA Troops?  Will Troops Do Activities Together?

Scouts in a Troop choose their own youth leaders through regular elections.  Those youth leaders lead the Troop, as advised by the Scoutmaster.

Each Troop should have its own leadership structure, but Troops can do activities and hold meetings together, if the youth leaders (advised by the Scoutmaster) agree to do so.

Some may have many common activities and meetings – some may “go their own way” if that’s what the youth leaders of the Troop plan to do.

What if There is No Nearby Unit for Girls at the Start of 2019?

If existing Chartered Organizations do not create Troops for girls, and if volunteering to be leaders of a new Troop doesn’t change the choice of the Chartered Organization, you and other families can seek to start a new Troop with a new leadership team at a new Chartered Organization.

Contact your District Executive or the Family Scouting Committee and you will be connected to someone who knows your neighborhood and options.

What About Summer Camp in 2019?

If an existing Troop for boys has made a reservation for 2019, the Atlanta Area Council will honor your new Troop of girls joining you that week in 2019 – just give your best estimate of overall numbers, like you do when you’re estimating how many new “crossovers” you’ll have from Cub Scout Packs. Then update the camp team when you form the Troop for girls.

If you are forming a Troop for girls, that is not affiliated or linked to a Troop for boys, contact the camping team at 770-956-5687 to make a reservation for summer camp in 2019.


Contact the Family Scouting Committee if you need assistance in starting a new program near you.

In the next article in this Guide to Family Scouting we’ll be sharing some tips and best practices for how to start a new Unit for girls or boys when Scouts BSA launches in February.