BSA renews alliance with National Park Service

Some of the best Scouting happens in National Park Service sites — including national parks, national monuments, national battlefields and more.

So it’s only, well, natural for Scouting and the National Park Service to become close friends.

That makes it nice but unsurprising to learn that the Boy Scouts of America and the National Park Service have signed a memorandum of understanding, renewing the groups’ commitment to educate young people about camping, the outdoors and the environment.

The BSA and the National Park Service share an impressive origin story.

In 1916, Congress established the National Park Service to preserve the country’s natural and cultural resources.

In 1916, Congress chartered the Boy Scouts of America (which was established in 1910) to provide development programs for the country’s youth.

These days, Scout packs, troops, teams, posts, ships and crews venture to NPS sites to complete advancement requirements, perform service projects and have a ton of fun.

The renewed memorandum of understanding lasts five years, with an automatic five-year renewal clause. It was signed by Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, and Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the BSA.

Here’s what each group promises to do.

What the National Park Service will do

  1. Assist local Boy Scout councils, units, and groups associated with conservation to develop projects related to national parks
  2. Advise the BSA on land conservation exhibits for national and local environmental conferences, fairs, and events
  3. Provide opportunities for local Scouting units to participate in the NPS improvement projects and interpretive programs
  4. Participate in relevant Boy Scout national and regional conventions and meetings
  5. Encourage national parks to provide local Boy Scout councils with opportunities for earning conservation-oriented awards
  6. Provide recognition to Scouting units and individual Scouts participating in the NPS Scout Ranger Resource Stewardship Program

What the BSA will do

  1. Make its personnel available to consult on Boy Scout program requirements and for joint development of informational materials associated with the national joint program initiative and other environmental and outdoor education activities promoting NPS leadership, mentoring, and internship opportunities
  2. Promote Scout unit awareness of the Scout Ranger Resource Stewardship Program
  3. Share in the publicity and marketing of the partnership and Scout Ranger Resource Stewardship Program
  4. Encourage participation in NPS age-appropriate service projects for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Ventures and Scout leaders


  1. We sent a high adventure crew down to Mammoth Cave National Park this summer, and the scouts earned the Ranger Resource Stewardship Program patch while there. It was a nice way to top off a great week.

  2. Worked there during arrow corps 5. Awesome place to be. Scouts did 10 years work in one week for the Forestry department. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Remove miles of fence.

  3. The NPS does not currently make backpacking easy for scout troops. It would be nice if the park group size rules were adapted to make it practical for a patrol to go backpacking. With 6 people maximum in normal camp sites, by the time two adult leaders are included, only four scouts can go. If you take between 7-12 people, you are restricted to only a few group camping sites. That means you can take ten scouts – provided you book your campsites and route months and months in advance. The only way around this is to bend the rules so much that it is difficult to look a young scout in the eye and say you are doing the right thing. I hope this is addressed in the next MOU.

  4. I grew up in the BSA scouting program and now am a leader, and I would like to see the program of scouting remain as it is for boys.

    I don’t have a problem with females earning Eagle Scout. If they were to complete the requirements just as the boys do, I don’t have a problem sharing the award with a Girl Scout organization that functions as a BSA troop does.

    Part of the magic of a scout troop is that it runs in age from 10 1/2 – 18th birthday. Boys learn from boys. Older boys teach them. Our best scouts including our Eagles model the characteristics that we strive to instill in our scouts.

    If someone wanted to start the GSA and license the program, I would be willing to help those Girl Scout troops get that magic. Maybe that’s an idea for the BSA. Many of our leaders have daughters too.

    Maybe I’m old school. I went to an all boys high school and I was in an all boys scout troop and am doing fine. Plenty of my female friends went to all girls high schools and all girls scout troops and they are fine. I think having the issue of self-discovery, dating, etc. would provide a distraction to the program and its goals.

    Beat me up if you want.

  5. Has anyone figured out how to get the certificate and patch? The link shows the requirements and steps involved to receive the awards, but doesn’t explain how to get them.

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