A Boy Scout is a boy, usually 11 to 18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group in a junior and a senior section. Boy Scouts are organized into troops averaging twenty to thirty Scouts under guidance of one or more Scout leaders. Troops subdivide into patrols of about six Scouts and engage in outdoor and special interest activities. Troops may affiliate with local, national, and international organizations. Some national Scouting associations have special interest programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands, and rider scouts. Some troops, especially in Europe, have been co-educational since the 1970s, allowing boys and girls to work together as Scouts.
The Boy Scout program is designed to develop youths who have a high degree of self-reliance, initiative, courage, helpfulness, integrity, and resourcefulness. Boy Scouts should be helpful; understand their society, heritage, and culture; have respect for the rights of others; and be positive leader-citizens.
Over time, the Boy Scout program has been reviewed and updated in many of the countries where it is run, and special interest programs developed such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands, and rider scouts, but the same core values and principles as Baden-Powell originally envisaged still apply.
While most Boy Scouts may join a troop after finishing Cub Scouts, this is not required. As Scouts get older, they often seek more challenging and diverse activities. He may later join another affiliated program for older boys, such as Exploring, Venturing, or Rovering.
A Boy Scout learns the cornerstones of the Scout method, Scout Promise, and Scout Law. These are designed to instill character, citizenship, personal fitness, and leadership in boys through a structured program of outdoor activities. Common ways to implement the Scout method include spending time together in small groups with shared experiences, rituals, and activities, as well as emphasizing good citizenship and decision-making that are age-level appropriate. Cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors and outdoor activities are key elements. Primary activities include camping, woodcraft, first aid, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports.
Scouts are known throughout the world for performing acts of public good and sometimes acts of heroism. For example, a boy Scout foiled a 2008 assassination attempt on Maldives' President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by "grabbing an attacker's knife as the man leapt from a crowd and lunged at the leader. The scout, Ibrahim Jaisham, a male member of the co-educational The Scout Association of Maldives, sustained minor injuries during the intervention and was subsequently treated.
For many Scouts and Scouters, the highlight of the year is spending at least a week in the summer as part of an outdoor activity. This can be a long event such as camping, hiking, sailing, canoeing, or kayaking with the unit or a summer camp operated on a council, state, or provincial level. Scouts attending a summer camp, generally one week during the summer, work on merit badges, advancement, and perfecting scoutcraft skills. Some summer camps operate specialty programs, such as sailing, backpacking, canoeing and whitewater, caving, and fishing.
Most Scouting associations have a highest badge that require mastering scoutcraft, leadership, and performing community service. Only a small percentage of Scouts attain them.
The troop is the fundamental unit of the Boy Scouts. This is the group a Boy Scout joins and via which he participates in Scouting activities, such as camping, backpacking, and canoeing. The troop leadership, youth and adult, organizes and provides support for these activities. It may include as few as a half-dozen boys, or as many as seventy or more. Troops usually meet weekly.
Uniforms have become much more functional and colorful since the beginning and are now frequently blue, orange, red, or green, and shorts are replaced by long trousers in areas where the culture calls for modesty, and in winter weather. T-shirts and other more casual wear have also replaced the more formal button-up uniforms in many Scouting regions.
To show the unity of all Scouts, the World Membership Badge (World Crest) or another badge with a fleur-de-lis is a part of all uniforms. Neckerchiefs and Woggles (slides) are still quite common, but some Scouting associations do not use them. Patches for leadership positions, ranks, special achievements, patrol- animals, colors or names, troop- or group- numbers or names, and country or regional affiliation are standard.