Old Lone Scouting BSA shoulder patch emblem

On the Fence About Lone Scouting?

Content added by Mike Walton

Lone Boy Scout

Lone Boy Scout...

Jenny wrote and asked:
I am still on the fence about whether to go with "Lone Scouts" or the traditional group. Can any of you tell me benefits of joining the Lone Scout group...
Also, once I make this decision...how do I go about registering my son? And myself for his "leader"?

Hi Jenny!

"Lone Scouts" isn't a group. It is you and your son together working through the Scouting program. I'm going to make some assumptions here -- please excuse me but it's the only real way I know to respond to your questions right away.

Lone Scouting is not for everyone; it is a National program OPTION which is offered through the Boy Scouts of America through their local Councils to meet the needs of your son and your family. Note that I stated this is an OPTION. Lone Scouting works in a different forward circle than the traditional Cub Scout Pack, the traditional Boy Scout Troop and the traditional Varsity Scout Team does.

In those traditional programs, groups of boys form Dens, Patrol and Squads which are the nucleus for a Pack, Troop or Team. Without five or more of those boys, Packs, Troops and Teams cannot be formed.

The natural advantage of being a part of those traditional programs is that your son's friends and schoolmates are eligible to be a part of those units. This is how Scouting became so popular -- because it's not a "group of boys" somewhere -- it is a "group of your neighborhood boys" with adult supervision, again coming from your neighborhood. That's the way Scouting is designed on the grander scale.

Those neighborhood boys work together as they advance from stages in Cub Scouting through Boy Scouting. In the process, they grow together as friends and the community bonds together somewhat as well. Boys take turn serving as led and leader; adults cycle through in assisting the boy leaders in managing their unit. Graduation from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting -- and from the earlier ranks to the highest Boy Scout rank, Eagle -- becomes truly a community event and well worth the aggrevation, frustration, changes in family plans, and personal sacrifice on the part of the Scout himself.

However, that's the way things were.

The way things are today, is, well, different. Some families don't "live like we live", even though they may live on the same block that we live on. Other families' concept of child rearing and discipline isn't the same as the way we raise our children or those we have contact with. This has extended to school, church and social circles as well.

Lone Scouting allows for those families to participate in Scouting on more or less their "own timetables" -- their son's and their timetable.

In Lone Scouting, the Scout is the sole member of the "unit" -- there is no other young person there to "show", "demonstrate" or "present" to -- which means as the "friend", YOU parent, will become that "other Scout" for your son. He will work through the various projects and requirements which request that he do things with "others", with you as his "friend and counsellor". That is the biggest difference which makes Lone Scouting different from "traditional unit Scouting".

Many Lone Scout families have found other Lone Scouts (through this forum or other means) to "serve as that other Scout" in order to make those requirements work. I have been told by many "traditional Scouters" that Lone Scouts "lose a lot of what Scouting is all about" by being a Lone Scout -- in my own personal experience, I agree with them to a point. However, unlike in the "old days" whereby you may be the *only* Lone Scout in the county, state or COUNTRY (in my personal case; I was the only Lone Scout in Luxemburg for a half-year in the early 70s) , technology and social networking keeps many Lone Scouts from being, well, "lone".

They work on the SAME requirements (there's no "substitutions" or "allowances" just because a Lone Scout is registered as such) and they have the SAME opportunities to go to District and Council encampments, day camp as part of a provisional Pack, summer camp as part of a provisional Troop, and all National events and activities just like those in "traditional units." The work is a lot harder, however, on both you and your son - just like homeschooling. There's more of a paperwork drill although there are resources to help you along those areas. The biggest benefit is that the Scout learns how to work with a LOT of different people early in his life when a lot of "traditional Scouts" learn those things when they are high-school aged and are working through the demanding requirements toward Eagle.

Which is better? I think BOTH are better, based on my personal experience as a Lone Scout and later Lone Scouter. Which should YOU and YOUR SON do? I can't recommend either one until you answer some questions with your son:

  • - if Scouting was a youth sporting program, would you sign your son up for a local team? Why or why not?

  • - if his best friend from school or the neighborhood was in the Scout unit in your neighborhood, would you allow him to go and participate with him? Why or why not?

  • - if you have a relationship with a local faith family, and they also have a "scouting" group as a component of their outreach, witness and community service, would you place your son into that group or organization?

  • Take those answers into consideration while you are making your decision about being a part of a local BSA unit or becoming a Lone Scout.

    If you and your son desire to become a Lone Cub Scout or Lone Boy or Varsity Scout, you need only to contact the local BSA Council office. You want to talk with the professional serving your community (he or she is called a "District Executive" or in larger areas, a "District Director" or "Senior District Executive"). Keep in mind that their roles in Scouting in a large part are to create UNITS and those units must contain at least five or more youth in order to "make them work." So there will be some pressure to place your son and yourself as a part of an existing or brand new Scouting unit. If that's what you decide to do, fine; but it's not "that way or the highway". If you still want to become a Lone Scout, you need to let him or her know this and insist upon this status.

    If he or she says something like "our Council doesn't support Lone Scouting..." then you need politely but firmly ask to make an appointment to talk with the Council's Scout Executive (the senior-most employee/manager in that Council. You don't want to talk with anyone else other than he or she. More information).

    As I mentioned at the top, Lone Scouting is not for everyone and not every BSA local Council treats it as the national option it is...they don't want to deal with the additional paperwork, the additional management, and the additional coaching over the year. That's why groups like this one is important because it provides additional resources well above those that many local Councils have or can afford.

    The BSA wants to place your son and you as a part of our Scouting programs, but we also want you to enjoy the program and not be frustrated nor constantly having to "work through" things just because you want your son to progress without a lot of "conflict and drama." I tell people that if you are trying to do things like Lone Scouting to get away from "conflict and drama", the opposite is going to occur: you will have "dramatic episodes" similar to the ones my family had when I became a Lone Boy Scout.

    A lot of people will ask you "how can he be a Scout without the rest of the boys" and "aren't you sheltering him from life"? Be prepared to answer those questions...and answer them honestly. I can tell you that Lone Scouting is a great experience for a family and a Scout; but my experiences within several Troops before I became Eagle and one after I became Eagle are just as great.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for asking!!


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