The very first thing you need to do is read thoroughly our Introduction to Traditional Scouting PDF to familiarize yourself completely with our program and group structure.
Joining the Baden-Powell Service Association is easy. If you are interested in Traditional Scouting, we encourage you to start up your own BPSA Scout Group in your local area! Scouting was referred to as a “game” by Robert Baden-Powell, to be played by all who were interested; so gather up a group of interested friends, parents, and youth and just start playing the game of Scouting! Once your group is chartered, you will also all need to register yourselves in your various scout sections using our online Individual Registration form. Each member of your group MUST register, including all Scouts from each section, as well as the Group Scoutmaster and all other Group Leaders (called “Scouters”). All Group Leaders should register themselves as adult Rover Scouts, and they may choose the Lifetime Member option for $100, too, if they’d like. You can use the resources on our website here to get you moving and you can always use our Contact form to inquire about more resources.
Background Checks for Adults (age 18 and over)
Because we are a youth-oriented organization, along with an adult program section, safety of children in our program is a primary concern. Our Code of Ethics & Youth Protection Guidelines addresses many of the methods and resources that encompass our policies and goals in this area. This document is available for download on this web site and is required reading for any volunteer leader and suggested to be presented to parents by local groups as well. As part of our effort to help ensure safety, BPSA US requires a background check on all adults registering as members, whether or not they intend to be working directly with youth. Scouting is about service and community, and any adult Rover in our program will at some point be in contact with youth in our program, whether through helping other Lone Scouts under age 18, volunteering with groups for community service or even working on event or activities as staff.
If you can not agree to a background check, or your background check is determined to be detrimental, BPSA-US will decline your membership in the association. BPSA-US will never reveal or make public the contents of the background check to anyone for any reasons, as required by state and federal law. If the applicant was registering with an existing group, however, BPSA will contact the group to let them know this person’s registration was declined. BPSA-US reserves the right to terminate membership for any reason, pursuant to our organization Bylaws.
HOW TO START:
The first thing to do is look to see if there already is a registered Scout Group or Rover Crew in your area. You can do that on our ScoutFinder app, which allows you to connect with other BPSA groups, Scouters, and other interested folks. If you find one, we recommend using the contact information we have for them to try and contact their current organizer/leader about registering through that group. There are three ways to register with the BPSA-US (click the option link for more details):
- Option 1: If there is an existing Scout Group or Rover Crew in your area, you can register with them using the Individual Registration option and filling in their group name in the form.
- Option 2: If there is no existing group in your area, and if you have at least two members for a Section (Otter Raft, Timberwolf Pack, Pathfinder Troop, or Rover Crew) and two adult leaders, we encourage you to charter a new Scout Group.
- Option 3: If you don’t have enough local interest yet to start a group, join our 1st Lone Scouts Group in the appropriate-aged section by using the Individual Registration option.
Then, start Scouting and start encouraging others to join you in Scouting as well!
View a current list of all chartered BPSA Scout Groups.
Yearly Registration Fees:
- Individual Registration, Lone Scout/Pathfinder/Timberwolf/Otter ($20.00/yr)
- Group Charter Application ($35.00/yr).
- Lifetime Membership (Rover only) ($100.00)
Renewals for registration are due October of each year.
Downloadable Form(s): These forms are needed if you are starting a new group, as each parent or adult guardian should receive a copy of these; and complete the Medical Release & Liability Waiver to be kept by the local group. These are NOT turned into the BPSA.
- Medical Release & Liability Waiver Form (pdf) – Required for all registrations (youth and adult). Please print and fill in neatly for legibility.
- Code of Ethics & Youth Protection Guidelines (pdf) – Required reading for each registering adult leader/parent.
Registering with an existing Scout Group, if one exists in your area, is the ideal way to join BPSA and get Scouting! Existing groups are always looking for new members. Using our ScoutFinder app, you can check to see if one exists in your local area or state. On that page we provide not only the group’s name, but a list of contact information, including the GSM’s (Group Scoutmaster) name, phone, or email address and any website the group might maintain. You can download the needed forms from above, but the GSM for the existing group will want a copy of that form on record and will need to send in all the forms for their group together. To begin the process, click here to register yourself with that group.
In BPSA, Scouting units are referred to as “Groups,” not “Troops” (which only applies to the Pathfinder section). If you’ve looked and can’t find an existing group in your area—and you have at least two members for each of your Sections—you can register (or “charter”) a new Scout Group with the BPSA. Chartering a new group is easy! Use our Group Charter Application Form to register a new BPSA Scout Group. You’ll need to fill in all the information on that form, which includes a list of each registering member of your group; and each registering member of the group will need to fill out and sign the Liability Waiver & Medical Release Form. A copy of each of these items should be mailed in with the application and kept on file in your records.
To understand this process, the organization of a Scout Group is like an umbrella. Each Scout Group will have under it one or more sections: either an Otter Raft, Timberwolf Pack, Pathfinder Troop, or Rover Crew. If you are registering a new group, you’ll have at least one of these sections, depending on the age of the interested members. A Scout Group also has a unique number (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 66th, etc.) and a name. The number 1 (ordinal 1st) is reserved for the BPSA HQ Lone Scouts (1st Lone Scouts Group); but once you register your group, no other group can use that number for as long as your group is chartered with us. So take a look at our existing groups on the ScoutFinder map and see which numbers are available. Typically, the name of the group is taken from something meaningful to the group itself, such as a local name (or nickname) of the city or community, a geographical landmark, or possibly something related to the history or culture of the area that the group resides. Here are some examples from existing groups in our association:
- 4th Surf City
- 14th Treaty Oak
- 66th Confluence
- 91st Sojourners
Once you’ve determined your group’s unique number and name, each individual section’s full title would be something similar to “14th Treaty Oak Rover Crew” or “66th Confluence Timberwolf Pack,” etc., depending on the section(s) you are registering. Please do not include the words “Scout,” “Scouting” or “Council” in your group or section names. “Scout Group” is always implied after the group’s name, e.g., 55th Cascadia Scout Group. Therefore you shouldn’t use the word “scout” or “group” in your name as it would be redundant. Remember, in order to have a fully registered Group and Section, you’ll need a minimum of two (2) members. For non-Rover sections, registering a new group will also require two (2) registered Rover Leaders because of our 2-deep leadership policies in BPSA. And, if co-ed, at least one (1) female leader and one (1) male leader.
Another unique aspect for each Scout Group in the BPSA is the group’s necker colors. The scarf or neckerchief (called a necker) is worn with the uniform by all members of all sections of a particular Scout Group. Its design and colors are unique and make that Scout Group distinct among other Scout Groups in the BPSA. The traditional necker designs were very subdued in color, and the designs were kept simple and BPSA recommends keeping with the traditional style for the neckers. Our neckers also follow those used by Traditional Scouting organizations around the world in that they are square, not triangular. There are a couple of places you can go to design your group’s necker online:
- ScoutNeckers.com (UK) – you can design your own on their site, but do not order from them (they only make triangular neckers).
- Even more necker information can be found here, including how to make your own!
- Once you have your design ready to go, you can order them from our Quartermaster Store.
Once you’ve designed your necker—especially if using the online design tools—you can use your browser and right-click and do “Save Image As…” to save an image of your final necker design and send that along with your contact information (see below) so we can keep it on file with our active, registered Scout Groups.
Complete the Group Charter Application Form, along with a Medical Release & Liability Waiver form for each member you are registering for your section(s). Each of these will need to be sent in to BPSA for proper registration and approval.
Along with your registration forms, please also send in the following information so that we can keep track of your new group on our Find a Group page:
- Group Scoutmaster’s or Primary Contact’s Full Name
- Mailing address
- GSM (or other contact) phone & email
- URL to your group’s website (if you have one)
- An image of your group’s necker colors
Next, start recruiting! Unless you’re already at the maximum number of members for a group, you should try to recruit as many others as you can from your local community. Network with other parents, family members, friends, and neighbors in your area. Use social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and our own Base Camp site to find interested people. Make some posters advertising your group and the BPSA program and hang them up at local coffee shops, churches, libraries, and community centers (wherever community bulletin boards can be found). You will also need to find an adequate meeting place for your group. Many community centers, churches, and public libraries have meeting rooms that you may be able to reserve. Give them a call!
Download the Medical Release & Liability Waiver form for each member you are registering for your section(s). Each of these will need to be completed and turned into your Group Scoutmaster to keep on file for your records. Remember, each member needs to complete the online “Register 1-Year” individual registration option above to register with the BPSA.
If you don’t have enough interest to start a group and there isn’t one existing in your area, you can register under the BPSA’s 1st Lone Scouts Group. The 1st Lone Scouts Group is organized under the BPSA HQ Council, and is for those Scouts who are in remote, rural or other locations where there is not enough interest to support forming a fully organized Scout Group. Members can register as a Lone Otter, Lone Timberwolf, Lone Pathfinder, or Lone Rover depending on their age for the appropriate section.
To register as a Lone Otter, Timberwolf, or Pathfinder, you must also have a parent or legal guardian register as a Rover member and act as your primary Leader. In this case, the Individual Membership Application contains spots for both the youth member’s information and the registering parent or guardian’s information. Rovers, 18 and over, need only fill in the “Registering Scout Information” portion of the application and do not need a parent or guardian signature.
Once you have some more interest in your area and are able to recruit new members, your Den, Six, Patrol or Crew would then need to register as a new Scout Group (see Option 2, above) using the guidelines from Option 2: Registering a New Scout Group, moving you out from under the 1st Lone Scouts Group and into one of your own.
Thanks for your interest in BPSA, and good Scouting to you!