The BPSA’s Scout program is known as Pathfinders. This section is open to boys and girls beginning at age 11 and going through age 17 (grades 6 through 12). The emphasis will be in training through hands-on, outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, canoeing, and backpacking, as well as community-service projects. Pathfinders are organized into Troops that operate in Patrols of 6 to 8 members, led by a (youth) Patrol Leader who shares responsibility with an adult leader (called the Scoutmaster) for discipline, activity planning, and training the less-experienced members.
The Pathfinder Troop should meet as a unit once per month along with the rest of the Scout Group (not counting outdoor excursions and community service outings), and be led by the Troop Leader (Scoutmaster) with help from the Assistant Scoutmaster (these should be of the opposite sex if the Troop is co-ed). At the Troop Meetings, the Pathfinders are encouraged, after the opening ceremony, announcements, etc., to break out into their smaller units (Patrols) to work on whatever it is they’re learning at the time or to plan their next outing. Patrols should also meet separately once or twice per month, separate from the Troop meeting. All Pathfinder meetings (Troop or individual Patrols) should be done with as minimal adult interference or interaction as possible. The adult Scoutmasters are there to supervise, but not to lead, the Pathfinder Scouts.
All adult leaders (SMs and ASMs) will need to register with BPSA as Rover Scouts and will need to complete a Brownsea Training Course within their first year of membership. A minimum of two registered adult leaders is required per section. Parents from the Troop may step up to help lead on occasion, but they may only do so if accompanied by a registered leader (SM or ASM). These leaders will need to be of the opposite sex if the Troop or Patrol is co-ed.
The Pathfinder program is based upon Robert Baden-Powell‘s book, Scouting for Boys, and is similar in appearance to programs that were in common use nearly 100 years ago. The highest award a Scout can earn at the Pathfinder level is the George Washington Scout Award (see the Pathfinder Handbook linked below for more details).
When a Pathfinder turns 18, s/he is encouraged to continue their Scouting career by becoming Rover Scouts.
Golden Arrow Patrol – How to get your Pathfinder Troop started
Pathfinder Handbook – BPSA-developed handbook for the Pathfinder section. Click here to order a coil-bound version.
Scouting for Boys – The definitive manual for Scouts. This is the book that started Scouting. Complete with illustrations by B-P. Originally published in installments every other Wednesday from January 15, 1908. The book consists of introductions for Scouters, 28 “Campfire Yarns” for Scouts, and a summary. Also available in paperback.
Further required reading for Scoutmasters:
Scoutmaster’s First Year – The 1948 edition of this popular and informative manual for new Scout Leaders
Aids to Scoutmastership – The fundamental manual for Scout Leaders. Describes the purpose and methods of Scouting. Complete with original illustrations. (1945 “Brotherhood Edition”)
How to Run a Troop – Gilcraft’s guide to running a Scout Troop
The Patrol System – The 1917 book by Capt. the Honourable Roland Philipps regarding the most important topic in the Scout section – the Patrol.
Golden Arrow Training Handbook – Patrol Leader Training Manual for Scoutmasters (1960 first edition)
Introduction to Traditional Scouting – Detailed information about our program and group structure