Scout leader

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Leaders welcome a boy into Scouting, March 2010, Mexico City, Mexico Leaders welcoming boy into Mexico Scouting.jpg
Leaders welcome a boy into Scouting, March 2010, Mexico City, Mexico

A Scout leader or Scouter generally refers to the trained adult leader of a Scout unit. The terms used vary from country to country, over time, and with the type of unit.

Scouting World-wide movement for the education of youth, founded by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907

Scouting or the Scouts The Scout Movement is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people open to all without distinction of gender, origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by the Founder, Baden Powell. The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.



There are many different roles a leader can fulfill depending on the type of unit. Positions are usually voluntary and are often divided between 'uniform' and 'lay' roles. For many, this volunteerism is an avocation.

Avocation calling, which may or may not provide employment

An avocation is an activity that someone engages in as a hobby outside their main occupation. There are many examples of people whose professions were the ways that they made their livings, but for whom their activities outside their workplaces were their true passions in life. Occasionally, as with Lord Baden-Powell and others, people who pursue an avocation are more remembered by history for their avocation than for their professional career.

Uniformed Scout Leaders are primarily responsible for organizing the activities of the group, and training the youth members through the Scout program. Other roles include liaison with parents, districts, or other parties such as the unit's sponsoring (chartered) organization.

Lay supporters are not always termed Scout Leaders; although they may assist with activities and training, they do not always hold a formal position and may not have received training. Beyond the Scout programme, lay supporters may take responsibility for administrative tasks such as budgets, managing properties, recruitment, equipment, transport, and many other roles.

The roles of leaders in senior units like Venture Scout, Explorer Scout and Rover Scout sections tend to be consultative, with much of the administration and activity planning in the hand of older Scouts, while in junior units like Cub Scout and Scout sections, the adult leaders need to take a more central role.

Cub Scout

Cub Scouts, Cubs or Wolf Cubs are programs associated with Scouting for young children usually between 5 and 12, depending on the national organization to which they belong. A participant in the program is called a Cub. A group of Cubs is called a 'Pack'.

Beyond the group are further uniformed positions (sometimes called Commissioners) at levels such as district, county, council or province, depending on the structure of the national organisation. They also work along with lay teams and professionals. Training teams and other related functions are often formed at these levels. Some countries appoint a Chief Scout or Chief Commissioner as the most senior uniformed member.

Training, screening and appointment of leaders

Scout Leaders participate in a series of training courses, typically aiming for the Wood Badge as the main qualification of an adult leader in Scouting. [1] In most countries, Wood Badge holders can wear a Gilwell scarf, Turk's head knot woggle, and Wood Badge beads. [2]

Wood Badge

Wood Badge is a Scouting leadership programme and the related award for adult leaders in the programmes of Scout associations throughout the world. Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scout movement. Courses generally have a combined classroom and practical outdoors-based phase followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement. The first Wood Badge training was organized by Francis "Skipper" Gidney and lectured at by Robert Baden-Powell and others at Gilwell Park in September 1919. Wood Badge training has since spread across the world with international variations.

Gilwell Park UK camp site and activity centre for Scouting and Guiding groups and other youth organizations

Gilwell Park is a camp site and activity centre for Scouting and Guiding groups, as well as schools and other youth organisations. The site also houses a training and conference centre, including the hosting of social events such as weddings and birthday parties. The 44 hectare (109 acre) site is in Sewardstonebury, Epping Forest, close to Chingford, London.

Neckerchief square or strip of linen or other material folded around the neck, often worn as part of a uniform

A neckerchief, sometimes called a necker, kerchief or scarf is a type of neckwear associated with those working or living outdoors, including farm labourers, cowboys and sailors. It is most commonly still seen today in the Scouts, Girl Guides and other similar youth movements. A neckerchief consists of a triangular piece of cloth or a rectangular piece folded into a triangle. The long edge is rolled towards the point, leaving a portion unrolled. The neckerchief is then fastened around the neck with the ends either tied or clasped with a slide or woggle.

Scout Leaders are given a formal appointment (called a warrant in many countries). Before appointing an adult leader, most associations perform background checks on candidates to ensure their suitability for working with children. [3] [4]


Robert Baden-Powell initially used the terms Scoutmaster and Cubmaster for adult leaders (coming from the English usage of the word "master" as a synonym for "teacher"), and these terms are still used in some countries and units, including the United States. As the word master picked up old-fashioned connotations,[ clarification needed ] it was replaced by other terms such as Scout Leader or Scouter in many Commonwealth countries, following The Scout Association in the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.

The Scout Association scouting organisation in the United Kingdom

The Scout Association is the largest Scouting organisation in the United Kingdom and is the World Organization of the Scout Movement's recognised member for the United Kingdom (UK). Following the origin of Scouting in 1907, the association was formed in 1910 and incorporated in 1912 by a Royal Charter under its previous name of The Boy Scouts Association.


In Scouts Australia, all five sections have a Leader, although a Joey Leader has a much more driving role than a Venturer Leader, who should be standing back and assisting the elected Unit Chair. Rover Leaders stepped back during the 1970s, becoming Rover Advisors, the responsibility for the Crew passing to the elected Crew Leader.

There are several different types of Leader in Australia, all of them (and all members of the Rover Section) have the opportunity to complete the Wood Badge training scheme

Sectional Leaders

Run a Troop, Pack, Unit or Mob each week. They are the ones who go away every weekend with the Scouts and sign off badgework each week.

Group Leaders

Run the Group as a whole, liaising between the Committee, who see to the needs of the Group, hall, power, gear, etc. and the Sectional Leaders.

Activity Leaders

Have qualifications in activities from Water Activities to Abseilling to Radio and Four Wheel Driving and First Aid, who put these skills at the disposal of a Region or Branch. These leaders often have another role in Scouting at the same time.

Leader Trainers

Provide the Training to other Leaders and usually have been in Scouting for several years. Training is not usually their only role in Scouting.

District Leaders

Provide help and assistance to local groups. Most Districts try to have at least one District Leader for each Section, as well as Public Relations, Adult Training & Development and Water Activities.


are responsible for the management of an aspect of Scouting and/or the leadership of other adults, as opposed to sectional leaders who run the youth program.

The Scout Fellowship

Is a group of former Leaders who no longer have the time or desire to be a part of Scouting every week. They have the opportunity to help out occasionally when leaders are needed temporarily because of hospital or travel, at large camps such as Jamborees and are still covered by Scout Insurance.

All Leader positions are appointments for three years, when the appointment is reviewed and the Leader is renewed, reassigned or resigns. When a new Probationary Leader begins, they are presented with a Certificate of Adult Membership and complete a three-hour seminar called Intro to Scouting (or Rovering) which outlines the basic structure and procedures. After this comes the Basic Sectional Techniques course, which gives the Leader the right to wear the two-strand Turks Head or "Gilwell" Woggle. After the 2007 review of the Venturer Section, Venturer Scouts will soon be allowed to complete Venturer Basic. Leaders are then presented with a Certificate of Adult Leadership, and this is where most people stop their training, but after at least six months, Leaders then are eligible to complete the Advanced Sectional Techniques Course, which allows them to conduct more advanced activities, network with other experienced Leaders and then after successful completion of the Course be presented with the Wood Badge.

Scouts Australia is an Enterprise Registered Training Organisation (RTO:5443) and Leaders can apply to be granted a Certificate III in Business after completing the Basic Course, and a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management after the Advanced Course. Later they can also complete a Diploma of Leadership and Management or Certificate Qualifications in Outdoor Recreation through the Scouts Australia Institute of Training.


A uniformed adult member of Scouting Ireland who commits to the Scout Promise and Law is known as a "Scouter". [5] Rover Scouts can also be adults, and an eligible member can be a Scouter or Rover or both. Adult members are subject to police vetting (in either jurisdiction). Scouters who provide Youth Programme are known as "Programme Scouters". Various Group, County, Provincial and National appointment holders in general need to be Scouters. Associate members are adult members who do not take the Scout Promise, and may include supporting Officers such as Group Secretary or County Treasurer.


In the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, all uniformed adults, including office employees, are "Scouters." Not all Scouters are Unit Leaders, but all Unit Leaders are Scouters. The generic term for an adult in charge of a Scout unit is "Unit Leader." There are five types:

1. A "Langkay Leader" takes charge of KID Scouts.
2. A "Kawan Leader" takes charge of KAB Scouts.
3. A "Troop Leader" takes charge of Boy Scouts.
4. An "Outfit Advisor" takes charge of Senior Scouts.
5. A "Circle Manager" advises Rovers and Roverettes.

Langkay Leaders and Kawan Leaders are women. Troop Leaders, Outfit Advisors, and Circle Managers may be men or women, and are often informally called "Scoutmasters." [6]

South Africa

Scouts South Africa (then called Boy Scouts of South Africa) decided in the early 90s to change the name of a Scoutmaster to Scouter. The reason for this change was due to negative connotations of the word master. The terms Troop Scouter and Pack Scouter are used for adult leaders of Scout Troops and Cub Packs. [7] Rover Crews are mentored by a Rover Scouter. [8]

United Kingdom

The Scout Association

The Scout Association used the term Scoutmaster originally, but the term Scout Leader is now used. Other adult leaders in the Scout Troop are called Assistant Scout Leaders. Terms used in other sections are Beaver Scout Leader, Assistant Beaver Scout Leader, Cub Scout Leader, Assistant Cub Scout Leader, Explorer Scout Leader, Assistant Explorer Scout Leader, and so on. The Scout Group is led by a Group Scout Leader and who may be assisted by an appointed Assistant Group Scout Leader. When Rover Scouts existed, there were Rover Scout Leaders and Assistant Rover Scout Leaders. Collectively all adult leaders are called Scouters. One of the leaders may take on the role of Quartermaster, although this role can also be taken on by a parent or other member of the Group Committee. [9] At District level a District Commissioner may appoint a District Beaver Scout Leader, District Cub Scout Leader and a District Scout Leader to assist the Assistant District Commissioners for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. A District Explorer Scout Leader may also be appointed to assist a District Explorer Scout Commissioner. A District Scout Network Leader may be appointed to lead a District Scout Network. At County Level a County Commissioner may appoint a County Beaver Scout Leader, County Cub Scout Leader and a County Scout Leader to assist the Assistant County Commissioners for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. A County Explorer Scout Leader may also be appointed to assist an Assistant County Commissioner for Explorers. A County Scout Network Leader may be appointed to assist a County Scout Network Commissioner. The most well-known active scout leader is author John Hemming-Clark. [10]

Explorer Scouts can help out at younger sections as a Young Leader.

Baden-Powell Scouts' Association

Adult leaders

The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association continue to use the traditional title of Scoutmaster. Other adult leaders in the Scout Troop are called Assistant Scout Masters. Other titles include Cub Scout Master, Assistant Cub Scout Master and so on. The Group is led by a Group Scout Master. In common with The Scout Association, adult leaders are sometimes referred to as Scouters. [11]

Youth leaders

In the Scout and Senior Scout sections, youth leaders include Senior Troop Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leaders, Assistant Patrol Leaders, Quartermaster, and Instructor.

United States

In the Boy Scouts of America, in all Scouting units above the Cub Scout pack, units serving adolescent Scouts, leadership of the unit comprises both adult leaders (Scouters) and youth leaders (Scouts). In fact, this is a critical component of the program. In order to learn leadership, the youth must actually serve in leadership roles. Adult leaders may be either men or women in all positions.

A properly run Boy Scout troop is run by the Senior Patrol Leader, who is elected by the troop, and his assistant, who may either be elected or appointed. These and the other youth leaders are advised and supported by the adult leaders.

Adult leaders

Among the volunteers who provide troop level adult leadership and support (in the United States, collectively called Scouters), there are Scoutmasters and their uniformed adult leadership (including assistant Scoutmasters and unit chaplain), and committee members. All positions require adults to join the troop by registration. The registration process for adult leaders includes a personal reference and criminal background check, nomination by the committee chairman, followed by appointment by the chartering organization and concluding with acceptance by the district executive (a professional Scouter who is an employee of the local Scout council). A Scouter may be a registered member of more than one unit. Example: a Webelos den leader in a Cub Scout pack also volunteers as an advancement committee member in an older son's Boy Scout troop.

Both Scoutmasters and committee members are encouraged at specific events to wear their uniforms. Scoutmasters are normally required to be at least twenty-one years of age, although there have been some notable exceptions. E. Urner Goodman (the founder of the Order of the Arrow) was appointed as a Scoutmaster when he was still nineteen.[ citation needed ] Assistant Scoutmasters are often older Scouts who have turned 18 and can no longer serve in a youth capacity.

There is a training continuum for both Scoutmasters and committee members. The training continuum for both positions includes "Youth Protection", "Fast Start" and "New Leader's Essentials". At this point the two continuums divide. In order to be "trained" (and entitled to wear the "Trained" patch on their uniform) Committee Members must complete a fourth course "The Troop Committee Challenge." In order for Scoutmasters/Assistant Scoutmasters to wear the "Trained" patch they must complete "Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specific Training" and "Introduction to Outdoor Leadership." Within 12–18 months of obtaining the status of "Trained", both Committee Members and Scoutmasters are encouraged to enroll in "21st Century Wood Badge" training.

Scoutmasters are responsible for developing and delivering the "program" or the training of youth leadership in how to plan and run a Scout troop's activities. The members of the committee are responsible for "service" or provisioning the troop with the necessary goods and services that allow the Scoutmasters to focus solely on the program.

Committee members may interact with Scouts. For example, they may be assisted by youth leaders (see quartermaster) or they may provide technical training to the Scouts as merit badge counselors. Committee members most important direct interaction with Scouts occurs during boards of review. Committee members assemble in groups of 3 to 6 in order to constitute boards of review. After a Scoutmaster has conducted a Scoutmaster conference with the Scout and determined he is ready for advancement, a Scout must meet with a board of review. An important function of the board of review is to allow the committee to collect data from the individual Scouts about the success of the Program and deliver that feedback to the Scoutmasters. In this role, a board of review may also meet with a Scout whose advancement progress has stalled.

The Scoutmaster for a troop is first nominated by the committee, then appointed by the chartering organization and then finally accepted by the district executive. The committee members elect a committee chairman. In the event that the Scoutmaster is unavailable, the committee chairman steps in until a new Scoutmaster is obtained. The committee also accepts the troop schedule and budget as developed each year by the patrol leader's council advised by the Scoutmaster.

While it is true that in some troops, the Scoutmaster may be the person with the most tenure and committee membership may be transitory and in other cases the opposite may be true, effective troops work to ensure there is balance of experienced adults working together as a team to deliver both the best possible service and program to the troop.

There are similar service and program splits for adult leadership in Cub Scouts, Venturing and Varsity. While there is only limited opportunity for youth leadership in Cub Scouting (see den chief), youth leadership takes an even stronger role in providing both service and program in Venturing.

The leader of a Cub Scout pack is referred to as Cubmaster and he or she may be assisted by assistant Cubmasters. Since almost all program leadership at the Cub Scouting level is adult, the Cubmaster is also assisted by any number of den leaders.

Varsity Scout teams have a Coach, Venturing crews have an Advisor, and Sea Scouting ships have a Skipper. All of these terms are used for the men or women who fill the role as the adults responsible for maintaining the program by advising the unit's youth leaders on how to plan and lead the unit's activities.

Youth leaders

In the Boy Scout troop, youth leaders include Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leaders, Assistant Patrol Leaders, scribe, quartermaster, librarian, chaplain aide, bugler, historian, den chief, Troop Guide, Order of the Arrow representative and instructor. There have even been cases of co Senior Patrol Leaders in the case of a tie during an election, or on purpose to manage a large troop. In an ideal setting, the Scoutmaster will give a command to the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, or the Senior Patrol Leader(s). The Senior Patrol Leader gives the command then to Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders, who give it to the Troop Guides. The Troop Guides in turn go to the Patrol Leaders, who finally give the command to their patrols. The Senior Patrol Leader can serve a quarter to full year term, depending on the troop.

In many troops, the ASPL has little or no responsibility while the SPL is present. However, when the SPL is not present, the ASPL takes over all of the SPL's responsibilities. In most troops, the SPL is the ultimate authority on nearly all troop matters, while many times he will take input from other troop members, just as a senator should listen to his constituents. The Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and Adult Leaders' main roles are to give advice to the SPL, supervise the scouts, and deal with paperwork. Remember this: "Boy Scouts is boy-led."

Other countries

In other countries, Scouter refers to any adult leader, professional Scout employee, or any Scout alumnus.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia

Persekutuan Pengakap Malaysia is the largest youth organisation in Malaysia and member of World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM).

Cub Scouting (Boy Scouts of America) coed program of the Boy Scouts of America for kids in grades K-5

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The Scout Association of Guyana

The Scout Association of Guyana had its origin as a branch of The Boy Scouts Association of the United Kingdom in 1909 and joined the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1967. In 2008, it was reported that the association had 424 members.

Singapore Scout Association

The Singapore Scout Association is one of the oldest youth movements in Singapore.

Scouts South Africa is the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) recognised Scout association in South Africa. Scouting began in the United Kingdom in 1907 through the efforts of Robert Baden-Powell and rapidly spread to South Africa, with the first Scout troops appearing in 1908. South Africa has contributed many traditions and symbols to World Scouting.

The Cub Scouts are part of the Singapore Scout Association (SSA). They were earlierly known as "Wolf Cubs" in the pre-1966 era when Singapore Scouting was still under the jurisdiction of the Scout Association, UK.

Bangladesh Scouts

The Bangladesh Scouts is the national Scouting organization of Bangladesh. Scouting was founded in 1914 in East Bengal now Bangladesh as part of the British Indian branch of The Scout Association, and continued as part of the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association until the country's divided sections split in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Following its independence, in 1972, the Bangladesh Boy Scout Association was officially formed as successor of the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association. Bangladesh became an independent member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1974. The organization changed its name to "Bangladesh Scouts" in 1978. The organization has 1,474,460 members as of 2015.

National Youth Leadership Training

National Youth Leadership Training, often called NYLT, is the current youth leadership development training offered by the Boy Scouts of America. The program is conducted by councils over six days for Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts. The program became co-ed in 2010. This training is a part of the national organization's leadership training program.

Scouts BSA main coed program of the Boy Scouts of America for ages 11 to 17

Scouts BSA is the flagship membership level of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17. It provides youth training in character, citizenship, and mental and personal fitness. Scouts are expected to develop personal religious values, learn the principles of American heritage and government, and acquire skills to become successful adults.

Commissioner Service

Commissioner Service is the group within the Boy Scouts of America that provides direct service to each Scouting unit. Commissioners are experienced Scouters who help chartered organizations and unit leaders to achieve the aims of Scouting by using the methods of Scouting. They help to ensure that each unit has strong leadership and they encourage training, promote the use of the unit committee and encourage a relationship with the chartering organization.

History of the Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was inspired by and modeled on the Boy Scout Association, established by Baden-Powell in Britain in 1908. In the early 1900s, several youth organizations were active, and many became part of the BSA.

Scout group

A Scout Group is a local organizational structure in some Scouting organizations that consists of different age programs, gender units and/or multiple units of the same age program.

Scout troop

A Scout troop is a term adopted into use with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Scout Movement to describe their basic units. The term troop echoes a group of mounted scouts in the military or an expedition and follows the terms cavalry, mounted infantry and mounted police use for organizational units.

Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) is a unit-level training program within the Boy Scouts of America led by the Scoutmaster and the Senior Patrol Leader. It is designed to improve the leadership skill of all boy leaders within a Boy Scout troop. This training is one of several programs available within the youth leadership training program.

<i>The Chief Scouts Advance Party Report</i> book by The Scout Association

The Chief Scout's Advance Party Report was a publication produced in 1966 by The Boy Scout Association in the United Kingdom, intended to modernise the Scout Movement. The report was attempting to address falling numbers within the Movement.

Leadership training in the Boy Scouts of America includes training on how to administer the Scouting program, outdoor skills training for adults and youth, and leadership development courses for adults and youth. Some of these courses like Youth Protection Training are mandatory. Most of the courses are offered by the local council, while a few are hosted at the national level, currently at Philmont Training Center in New Mexico. They are available to members of all of the Boy Scout programs, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorer Posts, and Venturing Crews.

The Scouter's Training Award is an adult recognition of the Boy Scouts of America. This award is available across several different program areas and can be earned more than once.

The Scouter's Key Award is an adult recognition of the Boy Scouts of America. This award is available across several different program areas and can be earned more than once.

Baden-Powell Service Association (United States)

The Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA) is a traditional and inclusive co-ed scouting organization in the United States that takes its name from the Scouting movement founder, Robert Baden-Powell. The BPSA is a member of the World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS).


  1. B-PSA Ireland: Leader Training Archived 2009-02-21 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR): Adult Leader Training (PDF). The South African Scout Association. 2008 [1979]. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-13.
  3. Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR): The Appointment Process (PDF). The Scout Association. 2008 [1979].
  4. BPSA British Columbia: Leader Screening Archived 2010-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Scouting Ireland Constitution" (PDF). section 18. Retrieved 6 March 2015.[ permanent dead link ]
  6. Published BSP references: Langkay Leader's Manual. Kawan Leader's Manual. Troop Leader's Manual.
  7. Introduction to Adult Leadership. Cape Town: South African Scout Association. 1995.
  8. "Job Description: Rover Scouter" (PDF). Scouts South Africa. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  9. Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) (PDF). The Scout Association. 2008.
  10. or empty |title= (help)
  11. Policy, Association & Rules (PAR). Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. 2007.