Certain circumstances make traditional Scouting an imperfect fit for certain young men.
That’s why Lone Scouts was created.
Developed in 1915, just five years after the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America, Lone Scouts is the BSA’s acknowledgment that a normal Scout troop won’t work with some young men. You could call Lone Scouts the BSA’s original outreach program.
Lone Scouts, as the name implies, do much of their Scouting alone. They wear a Lone Scout patch, seen above, in the spot where a traditional Scout wears his unit number. They’re guided by a carefully selected and trusted mentor, usually a parent.
Regular Scout-to-Scout and Scout-to-leader interaction has advantages, so Lone Scouting isn’t right for boys able to attend meetings with traditional Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops. These units have the best potential to offer a quality Scouting program, says Peter Self, team leader of Member Experience Innovation for the BSA.
“It’s in traditional Scouting units that boys learn how to get along in a den, how to use the patrol method, how to lead others or how to work as a team,” he says
Still, there are many circumstances that seem perfect for Lone Scouts, such as:
- A home-schooled Scout, whose parents don’t want him in an outside youth group
- A Scout who is a U.S. citizen and living abroad (though they should first look into the Far East Council and Transatlantic Council)
- A Scout participating as an exchange student away from the U.S.
- A Scout who has a disability or communicable illness that prevents meeting attendance
- A Scout who lives in a rural or remote community far from any unit
- A Scout whose job, night school, or boarding school conflicts with meeting schedules
- A Scout whose family travels frequently or lives on a boat, etc.
- A Scout whose living arrangements with separated parents frequently takes him from one community to another
- A Scout who lives in an environment where getting to and from meetings may put him or his family in danger
Lone Scouts may have an experience that differs from those of traditional Scouts, but they’re still part of the Scouting brotherhood. They still enjoy those experiences only Scouts — Lone or otherwise — can have.
“With the entire Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting programs open to them, they may, under the watchful eye of a Lone Scout friend and counselor, strive for the Eagle Scout rank, just as any other boy,” Self says.
For more on Lone Scouts, check out the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Guidebook here (PDF).
To register someone you know as a Lone Scout, start with your local council service center.