Scouting Glossary

This glossary is from the now defunct ScoutersAttic.com web site.

This is a general glossary on the subject of Scouting. It is not an official Web Page, in part or whole, of either the Boy Scouts of America or Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Although these official organizations have not been consulted on its preparation, many long term scouters have been. Every effort has been made to be sure that the definitions accurately reflect the current U.S. Scouting programs.

It is not the purpose of this page to provide world scout definitions, although we hope it is of world value. Our main objective is to help those new to U.S. Scouting with new jargon so they can learn and understand the program. It is intended to supplement other official publications of the different programs. Basic Leader Training courses are highly recommended for those who need more information, for these definitions are not intended to be the last word on Scouting.

Advisor, Explorer or Venturing- A mature person, man or woman 21 years or older, who is appointed to lead an Explorer or Venturing Post.

Akela- A name of respect for a good leader in Cub Scouting, such as Cubmaster, Den Mother, Den Chief, school teacher, or parent

Alpha Phi Omega (APO)- A college service organization made up primarily of former and current members of BSA.

American Girl magazine, The- Once the official magazineof the Girl Scouts of the USA, but is now discontinued its association with GSUSA.

Arrowhead- see SCOUT BADGE.

Arrow of Light- The highest rank in U.S. Cub Scouting. It's the only Cub Scout rank that a Scout can wear on his Scout uniform.

B-P - Short for Lord Baden-Powell.

Baden-Powell, Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth (1857-1940)- Founder of the world-wide Scout Movement. As a British officer, he was sent to South Africa to defend Mafeking. To help teach the poorly prepared troops under his command how to live in the out-of-doors, he made up games he called "Stunts for Scouting." When he returned he wrote them into a book called Aids to Scouting that found their way into boy's hands. Thus started the Scout movement. See image to right.

Baden-Powell patrol star- An award earned by passing quality tests by a patrol, that is worn by all members round their patrol medallion.

Bear- the third rank in Cub Scouting.

Beard, Daniel Carter (1850-1914)- Author, artist, conservationist, and naturalist, and one of the organizers of the Boy Scouts of America. He found the " The Sons Daniel Boone" and brought them into the scout movement. He was Mark Twain's illustrator. See image to left.

Be Prepared- The Boy Scout Motto. When B-P was asked, "Be prepared for what?" He said "Why, for any old thing." One of the distinctive features of the scout movement introduced by B-P.

Be Square- Be fair and honest in all dealings with people. Part of the Cub Scout promise until 1970, when it became a derogatory remark.

Board of Review- One of the steps needed for advancement, where a boy scout is questioned, but not re-examined, by a group of scouts and scouters usually connected with the scout's own troop.

boatswain- The elected youth leader of a Sea Explorer ship.

Bobcat- The first rank of Cub Scouting; a newcomer to the Cub Scout program who is generally seven or eight-years-old.

Boyce, William D. (1858-1929)- The man who brought Scouting to America, and the main organizer of the Boy Scouts of America. He knew how to work with boys for he ran weekly publications that employed over 20,000 sales boys. And when he was helped in a London fog, by a Boy Scout who would not take pay for his service, he was impressed. He was so impressed that after talking with Baden-Powell, he brought the idea back to America. He also founded the "Lone Scouts."

Boy Scout- A registered male member of a nationally recognized Scout Program. In America, he is a registered member, at least eleven years, but not yet eighteen years of age. "Scout" is synonymous. Also see SCOUT.

Boy Scouts of America- A national organization chartered by Congress to teach boys to become good citizens. Founded and incorporated on February 8, 1910. See image of 1911 Boy Scout to right.

Boys' Life Magazine- Official magazine, published monthly for all scouts belonging to the Boy Scouts of America. Began in 1912 by Joseph Lane as a part of a reading program for boys.

Brownie Girl Scouts- A registered member of the Girl Scouts of the USA who is six to eight years of age or in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Grades.

Bronze Award- The highest Award that can be earned by a Junior Girl Scout.

Brownsea- In order to test his theory on Boy Scouting, B-P selected twenty-one boys from every economic level to camp for one week on Brownsea Island off the southern coast of England in July, 1907. In this first scouting experiment B-P tried his ideas of scouting aims and methods. Now BSA calls a youth training "Brownsea" in honor of this event.

BSA- Short for the Boy Scouts of America.

Cadette Girl Scouts- A registered member of the Girl Scouts of the USA who are eleven to fourteen years of age or in the 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grades.

Camp Fire- An evening activity where scouts gather for relaxation, fun, and song. There may be an actual fire, or not.

Camp Fire Inc, Camp Fire Girls- Founded in April 10 1910 by Luther and Charlotte Gulick, it is a National Society for youth. The aim of the organization is to "provide outdoor activities for Girls (and now boys) corresponding to those furnished to the boys by Boy Scouting."

camporee- A demonstration of camping by troops and patrols in which they camp for one or more days and nights.

Canadian Boy Scouts Association- A boy scout program in Canada that operates under a Royal Charter granted by King Edward VII. It was a branch of the British Boy Scouts Association for many years.

charter- Written permission given by a youth program or governing body to an sponsoring institution to form, organize and maintain a unit of the movement.

chartered organization- An entity chartered by a national scout organization to operate a unit of the movement.

commissioner- A volunteer Scouter who is the quality control person for the program at the unit, district, or council level.

Court of Honor, Court of Awards- A public ceremony at which a scout is awarded the rank or badges he or she has earned.

Coach- A man, 21 years or older, who works with Varsity Scouts, just a Scoutmaster does with Boy Scouts.

council, local- A unit responsible for a number of districts in the same geographical area. It organizes training courses, summer camps, and other events as needed. It responsible membership, advancement, and records for its units and members.

cracker barrel- A scout term for a gab session and refreshment session after a meeting or activity.

crew- The working group within Explorer or Venturing Posts of BSA, like a den or patrol.

Csatari, Joseph- He is the current illustrator for BSA. Has worked for BSA since 1953. He under-studied Norman Rockwell and has a style that is reminiscent of him.

Cubmaster- An adult leader of a Cub Scout Pack, who usually runs a pack meeting.

Cub Scout- A registered male member of the Boy Scouts of America who is six to ten years of age.

Daisy Girl Scouts- A registered member of the Girl Scouts of the USA who five or six years of age, or who is in kindergarten or the 1st grade.

den- A small neighborhood group of Cub Scouts, who meet weekly. See image to right.

den Chief- A Boy Scout who leads Cub Scouts in their den activities and helps the Den Mother.

den mother, den leader - A leader of a den who plans and conducts den meetings, whose back yard or home the Den commonly meets.

denner- A cub Scout who is the leader of his den, generally selected by the den members.

Distinguished Eagle Award- Presented to Eagle Scouts who has distinguished themselves in a career of public life at least 25 years after earning their rank. Some who have earned it are; President Gerald Ford, Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong and Astronaut James Lovell Jr..

district- A geographical entity within a local council, that meets monthly to over see the operation of local units.

district executive- A professional Scouter responsible for district (or districts) within a local council.

ditty bag- A small bag carried on a hike that holds things needed on the trail, such as Band-Aid and gorp.

Eagle Scout- The highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America. The scout has earned 21 Merit badges, planned and conducted a service project, has learn to be equipped to take care of others, has lived the scout ideals and has essentially learned to take care of himself. First Eagle Badge, 1911, show in image on right.

Earned Age-Level Awards- These were once call Proficincy Badges in the Girl Scouts of the USA Program. Each level has they own name for them now; Daisy Girl Scouts earn Petals, Brownies earn Try-its, Juniors earn Badges, and Cadettes and Seniors earn Interest Project Awards.

Explorer- A registered member of the Boy Scouts of America, sixteen years of age or older that is in a special interest post. Can be of either gender.

Fast Start- A video training tape for U.S. Boy Scout Leaders.

field signals- Signals that a scout leader makes with his arms and hands to form formations and request order from his unit without using his voice. Most common one in Boy Scouting is the Scout Sign when used to request quiet or attention in a meeting room.

First Class Scout- The third rank in the Boy Scout program of the Boy Scouts of America; also scout lingo for a Scout who has scored high in scoutcraft.

Fleur-de-lis- Lily or iris flower; the shape of the Scout Badge. See SCOUT BADGE.

Gilwell Training Center- An international Scout Training Center in England founded by Lord Baden-Powell. Woodbadge Training was started here, and where ever one is held world wide, it's honorary called "Gilwell."

Girl Scout- A registered female member of a nationally recognized Girl Scout program. See SCOUT.

Girl Scouts of the USA- A national organization chartered by Congress to teach girls to become good citizens, organized by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12, 1912. It was first known as Girl Guides. See image of a 1950's Girl Scout to left.

Gold Award- the highest achievement in the Girl Scouts of the USA, but can only be earned by Senior Girl Scouts.

Gold Quill Award- An award given to registered U.S. boy Scouts for outstanding journalism.

Good Turn- An act of service to someone else without expecting a reward or praise. It is the main part of the scout slogan, "Do a good turn Daily," which is one of the distinctive features of the scout movement introduced by B-P.

Good old Boy- A derogatory remark for a long time Scouter who resents change in the boy Scout program.

gorp- A trail mix consisting of dried fruit, hard candies, nuts, chocolate, sweet cereal, and other small high energy foods.

Grand Howl- A ceremony that Cub Scouts use to open or close a meeting, or honor a visitor, in which they form a living circle and then do the Akela howl.

Green Bar Bill- William Hillcourt's nick name, because he wrote the Patrol Leader's column in the Official Boy's Life magazine for five decades. The Green bars are from the two green bars found on the patrol leaders patch. See WILLIAM HILLCOURT.

Grubmaster- A scout who buys, stores and distributes the food for a patrol activity.

GSUSA- Short for "Girl Scouts of the United States of America."

handclasp- The scout handshake is made with the left hand, the hand nearest the heart. Known as the hand of friendship. Whether in uniform or not, all scouts and guides world wide use it as a form of greeting.

Hikemaster- A member of a patrol appointed by the Patrol Leader to locate and lead hikes.

Hiking Staff, Hiking stave- A walking tool used for outdoor travel.

Hillcourt, William (1900-1992)- A native of Denmark, author of 12 scouting handbooks. Became National Director of Scoutcraft. See GREEN BAR BILL.

Hornaday Award- An award given to Boy Scouts or Scouters who have devoted their life to conservation and the preservation of wildlife.

International Conference- A conference for leaders involved World Scouting. Held every two years to maintain the high standards of Scouting, and exchange methods and techniques.

Interpreter strip- A badge that scouts or Scouters can wear who are proficient in more than one language, including the sign language for the deaf.

Investiture Ceremony- A ceremony that new scouts use to mark their entry onto Scouting, in witch they promise to live the ideals of Scouting.

jamboree- A big world or national camping event which brings together Scouts from every corner of the world or nation. Each is held every four years.

junior assistant scoutmaster- An older youth, who may still be working on rank, that aids the scoutmaster as an assistant.

Jungle Book, The- Written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli and the wolf pack, and is the story the B-P used as the basis for Cub Scouting. See image to the right, of Mowgli before Akela and the pack.

Junior Girl Scout- A registered member of the Girl Scouts of the USA who is eight to eleven years of age, or in the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grades.

Kim's Game- A game requiring a keen eye and memory. Played by first studying twenty or so articles on a tray, then retiring to make a list of what's on the tray. From Rudyard Kipling's story Kim.

Koodoo Horn- A long spiral horn from an African deer like animal, made into a wind instrument. First used on Brownsea Island to call the patrols together, its use is now traditional.

Law of the Pack- Four ideals for U.S. Cub Scout s to try to follow every day.

leadership corps- An optional subdivision of a troop for 14 and 15 year-old scouts.

Learning for Life- A BSA program that is classroom and worksite based. This new program helps youth of both genders to successfully handle the problems of life.

Life Saving Awards- A committee call the National Court of Honor, awards the following awards for saving or attempting to save a life; Honor Medal, Medal of Merit, Medal for Heroism, and the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms.

Life Scout- The fifth rank in the BSA.

Lion scout- The old fourth rank in U.S. Cub Scouting that was replaced in 1967 by the Webelos badge.

Living Circle- A den ceremony in which Cub Scouts form a circle, while their left hands hold the thumbs of the scout on their left and they make a cub Scout sign with their right hands.

Lone Scout, Lone Cub- A boy who follows the Scout program as an individual with out membership in a troop or pack.

Low, Juliette Gordon (1860-1927) - Organizer and founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Born in Savannah, Georgia, she was called "Daisy" by her friends. See image of Juliette Low at left.

Merit Badge- An award for U.S. boy scouts for completing requirements in one of more than 100 career and hobby fields.

Merit Badge counselor- An expert in the field of a merit badge that helps a scout complete the badge.

National Council- The corporate entity of the movement, that has been given rights by a national governing body to administer the Scout program.

National Office- 1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, Texas, 75015.

National Eagle Scout Association (NESA)- An association for Scouts and former Scouts who have earned the Eagle Award.

Neckerchief- A bandana that is smartly worn around the neck of a scout, which is secured by a neckerchief slide. One of the distinctive features of the scout movement introduced by B-P.

noggin- A natural drinking cup made of wood, and carried on the belt. See image on right.

Order of the Arrow (OA)- BSA's national brotherhood of honor campers which promotes Scouting's outdoor programs. Found in 1915, by E. Urner Goodman. To be eligible for membership, a scout must prove his camping and scouting ability. They are known for their Indian costumes.

pack- A group of dens in Cub Scouting; the unit that conducts the Cub Scout program for the chartered organization.

patrol- Subdivision of a Boy Scout troop, usually with five to ten members. It meets together for activities and elects its own boy leaders.

patrol leader- The elected leader of the patrol.

Paul Bunyan's Axemen- A double-bitted axe patch that can be earned in BSA by those boys skilled in using and caring for an ax.

Pedro- The burro mascot of Boy's Life.

Phillips, Waite (1883-)- A Wealthy Oklahoma oil man who is best known for giving BSA Philmont Scout Ranch. He also provided income for maintaining the property from the Philtower office building in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Philmont Scout Ranch- It's 137,000 acres of wild country was gift to BSA by Waite Phillips. Later he gave 91,000 acres more so that the scouts could have best backpacking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and other outdoor adventures around. There are more than 10 base camps, and fourteen trail camps that individuals or troops can enjoy. Training courses are held for Scouters, both volunteers and professionals. Families are welcome along for a businessman's holiday. A trek at Philmont is called a Philtrek.

post- The unit that conducts the Explorer or Venturing program for the chartered organization. A unit of 16 to 21 year old male (or female) scouts.

pow wow- A one-day training conference, held annually, for Cub Scout leaders.

President-elect - The top elected volunteer of the Boy Scouts of America.

Proficiency Badge- An older award for U.S. Girl scouts for completing requirements in one of more career, hobby, and others fields. They are now called Earned Age-Level Awards.

Quartermaster- A troop or Patrol officer who looks after the equipment and meeting place; The highest award in Sea Scouting.

Queen Scout, King Scout- The highest rank in Boy Scouting in Canada and Great Britain.

rank- In scouting, positions of degrees earned by passing tests.

region- one of the geographical administrative units of a national program.

registration- All individuals of the movement must be listed in an entry in a register of members. Generally done by form.

Religious Awards- To aid a Scout in his duty to God, churches and synagogues have developed awards for the Scouts of their faith. These are not Scout awards or metals but may be worn on the Scout uniform, along with a special Knot patch issued by BSA. Some of them are; "Ad Altare Dei" for the Catholic Faith, "Ner Tamid" for the Jewish, "Pro Deo et Patria" for the Lutheran, "God and Country" for the Protestant, and the Mormon's have their "Faith in God," and "On my Honor Awards."

Rockwell, Norman (-1978)- He was the main illustrator for BSA for over 60 years. He became the visual spokesman for the movement, defining scouting for the nation. He started with BSA in the fall of 1920, with a commission to do an illustration for Boys Life. Nearly every year from 1925 to 1976, he illustrated the annual Boy Scout calendar. He was honored with the Silver Buffalo. He was famous for his art outside Scouting too.

roundtable- A program-planning and morale-building meeting of adult leaders, usually held monthly on a district level.

Schiff, Mortimer (-1931)- One of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. He was an International Commissioner and National President of the movement. His mother gave the land for the Schiff Scout Reservation to BSA as a memorial to him and his father John M. Mortimer.

Scout- The word means one who listens, from the French word "to listen." B-P said that the term Scout means "the work and attributes of Backwoodsmen, explorers, seaman, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersman." So with a scheme to make his new program with character building appeal to boys (and girls), he gave it a name to draw them. "Scout" is now synonymous with his program. The Image to the left is his drawing of a Boy Scout in 1908.

Scout Badge- The design of the Scout Badge is the north sign on the mariner's compass. It is used by all scouts, with only slight changes. Called by many names, the Fleur-de-lis, trefoil, or arrowhead shape was one of the distinctive features of the world scout movement introduced by B-P. It means that a Scout can point the right way in life as truly as a compass can in the field.

Scoutcraft- The act of being a scout.

Scouter- a registered member of a scout group, who is 18 years-of-age or older, who serves as a leader for the movement.

Scout executive- A full-time professional director of a local council.

Scouting- The activities of the scout program.

Scoutmaster- The registered adult leader of a Boy Scout Troop. This volunteer is the key man in a Boy Scout Troop.

Scout Motto- see BE PREPARED.

Scout Oath and Law- Two of the codes of conduct expected of a Scout.

Scout-O-Rama- A fair like activity where Scouts demonstrate their skills and scoutcraft for the general public.

Scout Participation- Needed for rank in BSA, it means a scout attends scout meetings, wears his uniform correctly, and shows Scout spirit.

Scout signs- The signs that show you belong to the world brotherhood of Scouting; the Scout sign, the Scout salute and the Scout handclasp.

Scout Slogan- see GOOD TURN.

Scout spirit- The way a scout tries to live up to the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, and motto in his everyday life.

Scout Week- A week that brackets the birth date of scout program. BSA's is observed in February (Feb. 8) each year, with window displays of Scoutcraft and Blue and Gold Banquets for the Cub Scouts. GSA's is observed in March (Mar. 12) each year.

Scribe- The keeper of the patrol or troop records or log.

Sea Explorer- A registered member of a U.S. Sea Explorer ship; first termed Sea Scouting in 1912. It was the first branch of Scouting for the older boy, and was started by Arthur A. Carey. See image of a Sea Explorer using a sextant to "shoot the sun."

Second Class Scout- The second rank in BSA; Sometimes used as a derogatory term referring to scout who is poor in Scoutcraft.

Senior Girl Scout- A registered member of the Girl Scouts of the USA who is fourteen to seventeen years of age, or in the 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades.

Senior Patrol Leader- The key elected boy leader over a troop. His duties include Troop administration, and those assigned to him by the Scoutmaster.

Seton, Ernest Thompson (1860-1946)- One of the Organizers for the Boy Scouts of America. English born, he immigrated to Canada, then moved to the United States. He was an artist, illustrator, naturalist, and fiction writer. He organized the " Woodcraft Indians" and brought them into the scout movement, but because of a clash of personalities, he left scouting in 1916. He wrote the First U.S. Handbook for Boys.

Ship- A chartered Unit of five or more Explorers specializing in seamanship.

Silver Award- The highest award that a Venturer or male Explorer can earn in the Boy Scouts of America and the highest award that a Cadette Girl Scout can earn.

Silver Beaver Award- An award to Scouters made by the National Council for noteworthy service to boyhood by a registered Scouter within a Council.

Squad- a patrol of about eight Varsity Scouts.

Star Scout- the fourth rank in BSA.

sunshine scout- A derogatory term referring to a scout that only shows up to scout activities when the weather is good or when he feels like it.

Swappin'- A scout term for trading at Jamborees and other Scout events.

team- The unit that conducts the Varsity Scout program for the sponsoring organization.

Tenderfoot- It's boy and girl scout lingo for someone who has just started out in Scouting. It's also the first rank in Boy Scouting. Sometimes used in a derogatory manor. Image to right is Tommy Tenderfoot Builds a fire; found in B-P's 1910 guidebook for boys.

Thinking Day- This Girl Scout activity, held on the birthday of Lord Baden-Powell (Feb. 22), is to celebrate the friendship which exists among the countries that have Scouts and Guides. Many U.S. troops learn international folk dancing, games, songs, and exchange recipes from other countries to learn about different backgrounds.

Tiger Cub Scout- A registered male member of the Boy Scouts of America who is six or seven years of age, who with an adult partner participates in a monthly activity with other Tiger Cubs.

Torch Bearer- Highest rank in Camp Fire Inc.

Totem- An emblem or design indicating the name or nick of the patrol, den or person. First used by American Indians for a person or clan.

trefoil- see SCOUT BADGE.

troop- The unit that conducts the Boy Scout Program for the chartered organization. See image to left.

Troop Leaders' Council- A program-planning and morale-building meeting for all the youth leaders of a unit or troop.

unit committee- A group of adults appointed by the sponsoring organization to administer the affairs of the unit.

Unknown Scout- The unidentified Scout of England who performed the Good Turn which brought Scouting to America.

Varsity Scout- A registered male member of a BSA Scout Team, 14-17 years-of-age.

Veteran Scout- A registered Scouter who has been active in BSA, either as a youth or adult, for at least five years.

Webelos- The Cub Scout den for ten year-old boys, that prepares them to become Boy Scouts. It means "We'll be loyal Scouts," and comes from the words Wolf, Bear, Lion, and Scout, the earlier ranks of Cub Scouting.

Webelos Scout- A cub Scout who is 10 years-of-age and is preparing to become a Boy Scout.

West, James E. (1876-1948)- He was the first Chief Scout Executive, who first took the job on a temporary basis but stayed for 32 years. He was orphaned at age six and crippled at age seven while in the orphanage. He worked his way through law school and became a crusading attorney for the rights of children. He is credited with building BSA from a struggling organization into a household name.

whifflepoof- A log with nails in it, used to practice tracking.

Wo-He-Lo- Stands for Work, Health, and Love, Camp Fire Inc.'s objectives.

Wolf- The universal Cub Scout symbol; the second rank in U.S. Cub Scouting. See images to left, of B-P's own 1916 sketches of his Wolf Badge and Wolf Cub Sign.

Woodbadge Training- A training course adapted from the famous Gilwell Wood Badge Course by B-P. The badge is two beads on a thong worn around the neck.

World Friendship Fund- Funds administered by BSA to aid Scout associations around the world.

World Scout office-Box 241, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland. Tel. (+41 22) 705-1010.

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