In the BSA’s early days, councils assigned numbers to new troops numerically. The first troop in a council was Troop 1, the second was Troop 2 and so on.
Today, Cub Scout packs, Scouts BSA troops, Sea Scout ships and Venturing crews get to pick their own one- to four-digit number.
The only rule, in most councils, is that two units from the same program and in the same district can’t have the same unit number. So you won’t see two Troop 57s in the Thunderbird District, for example.
The exception is linked troops, where a Scouts BSA troop for girls and a Scouts BSA troop for boys share a chartered organization and troop committee. Linked troops have the same troop number but are actually separate troops.
Over the years, we’ve heard from a number of packs, troops, crews and ships with the fascinating story behind their unit number. I’ve collected 17 such stories below and would encourage you to share the reason behind your unit number in the comments section at the end of the post.
Let’s get to the numbers.
1. Some historical humor
Scouts BSA Troop 927’s founding chartered organization was the Los Angeles Police Department.
At the time, 927 was the radio code for “investigate unknown trouble.”
“The number still fits!” says commenter Jenson C.
2. A nod to a university
Sea Scout Ship 1876 of College Station, Texas, is chartered to A&M United Methodist Church. Its number was selected to recognize Texas A&M University.
The university opened in 1876.
3. Some wordplay
Venturing Crew 820 of Minnesota is a scuba-focused crew.
Its founders wanted the crew’s number to be H2O, but you can’t use letters in a unit number.
So they picked 8, for the eighth letter of the alphabet, and a 0 to represent the O. Thus, 820 was born.
4. A high school throwback
Scouts BSA Troop 1632, according to troop legend, selected its number to match the locker combination of one of its members.
5. A world geography lesson
Boy Scout Troop 38 (which is no longer in operation) of the BSA’s Far East Council was formed in South Korea by a volunteer who was stationed there with his family.
The number is in reference to the 38th parallel, which was the pre-Korean War boundary between North Korea and South Korea.
6. A Scouting history lesson
Scouts BSA Troop 28 of Missouri is named after the anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
The BSA was founded on Feb. 8, or 2/8.
7. A U.S. history lesson
Scouts BSA Troop 1920, an all-girl troop from Montgomery Village, Md., is named after a significant moment for women’s rights in this country.
The Scouts selected 1920 because that’s the year the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote.
8. A favorite passage from the Bible
Scouts BSA Troop 4031 of Lexington, Tenn., is named after a verse in the Bible: Isiah 40:31. The Scouts in the troop recite this verse at the end of every meeting.
That passage reads: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Wings as eagles”? How fitting.
9. One of the 613 commandments given in the Torah
Scouts BSA Troop 611 of Brooklyn, N.Y., is named after the 611th commandment in the Torah.
The commandment encourages people of the Jewish faith to “walk in His ways,” which sounds a lot like the Scout Law.
10. A reminder that all Scouts can use
Scouts BSA Troop 247 of Concord, Ala., selected its number as a persistent reminder that Scouts should live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
They should act like Scouts 24/7.
11. The month and year of the unit’s founding
Scouts BSA Troop 498 of Orlando, Fla., like many BSA units, was named after the month and year it was formed.
The troop began operations in April 1998, or 4/98.
12. A bit of amateur radio lingo
Venturing Crew 73 of Gwinnett County, Ga., is a ham radio-focused crew.
So the Venturers chose Crew 73 because “73” in ham radio lingo means “best regards.”
13. The numbers on a keypad
Scouts BSA Troop 577 of Clifton, Va., is named after its chartered organization: the Little Rocky Run Homeowners Association.
The nickname for the neighborhood is LRR, so just guess how you’d dial “LRR” on a phone number pad.
Yep, it’s 577.
Here’s another example: Scouts BSA Troop 4673 of Atlanta was formed to serve under-represented families in the Korean American community.
On a phone keypad, that number spells out H-O-P-E, which is “what they have a lot of for their next generation of kids,” commenter Shawn says.
14. The answer to the most important question ever
Venturing Crew 42 of the Transatlantic Council selected the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.”
According to the 1979 science fiction novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, that answer is 42.
15. The uniting of Scouts from two other units
Scouts BSA Troop 1221 of Amarillo, Texas, was formed when Scouts from Pack 12 and Pack 21 moved from Cub Scouts into Scouts BSA.
So it only made sense to combine the two pack numbers into a single number that honored both units.
16. A chartered organization
Scouts BSA Troop 1187 of Rapid City, S.D., like a number of units across the country, honors its chartered organization by sharing its number.
The troop is chartered to Elks Lodge 1187. Both Troop 1187 and Lodge 1187 celebrated their 50th birthday last year.
17. The last three numbers of a ZIP code
Scouts Troop 422 of Montgomery County, Pa., was named after the last three digits of its ZIP code.
The troop’s ZIP code is 19422.
What’s the best way to pick a number?
There’s no single answer.
The best pack, troop or crew number is one that’s memorable and has some type of significance to your unit.
Commenter Phu Tran says that “when I was a BSA professional staffer, I used to suggest new units to use numbers that are associated with their chartered organizations. If not, they should pick a number that reminds them of the time their unit was formed. That way, they could remember their anniversary.”
So a unit formed on Aug. 1, 2019, could be Troop 81, troop 819 or even troop 8119.
Share the story behind your unit number!
How did your Scout unit select its number? Leave a comment below.
Include a photo (just click the little photo icon when leaving a comment), and your troop’s story could be featured on our Instagram.