What is a Scouter? The ‘by the book’ answer and your definitions

For those of us who have been in Scouting for the majority of our lives, the answer seems obvious.

But recently I got an email from a Cub Scout parent who shall remain nameless, asking, “What is a Scouter? I see this word all the time but am unclear about what exactly you’re referring to.”

I realized we use this word all the time in Scouting magazine, on my blog and on social media. And I suppose we just assume that all those new adult leaders out there know the word through some type of magic.

Let’s fix that today. First, the simple definition. The BSA’s Language of Scouting defines this noun as “A registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America who serves in a volunteer or professional capacity.”

That’s the by-the-book definition, but we can do better. So I asked our Facebook friends to weigh in on the subject. I’ll share two of my favorite answers and then present a word cloud I created from the responses, all after the jump. 

My Scouting colleague Gary Scott said, “A Scouter is one who knows it’s not about them but about the youth we serve, who knows it’s not about building campfires in the rain and tying square knots but it is about sharing leadership skills and opportunity with others, who knows that Scouting is not perfect but is a safe environment for youth to learn lifelong skills, who knows we are blessed by the opportunity of doing our small part to support the Scouting movement.”

Excellent, Gary.

And Gwen Druckrey added her short but sweet definition: “one who started because of their sons and stayed because of yours.”

I love that.

In fact, all of the responses were great, and I was inspired to throw them into Tagul, a free word cloud maker. Loyal readers may remember two years ago when I created this word cloud in honor of National Volunteer Week.

Click the image below to view high-res, and thanks to all who were a big part of this little project.


29 thoughts on “What is a Scouter? The ‘by the book’ answer and your definitions

    • That definition doesn’t fit everyone. I do not have sons and therefore did not join because of them. However, I joined because I was a scout myself and believe in the program and therefore wish to pass that along to other peoples sons.

      • I have to agree with Darrell. I don’t have my own kids as well and quite frankly probably won’t ever have my own kids but then again that may change. I personally am a Scouter because I believe in the program, I believe in its methods, I believe in its values, and I believe our youth are the most important resource to cultivate.

        However, you could say at least in an indirect sense that I have many boys, even though they are not my flesh and blood, their still mine and therefore deserve to be treated as much.

  1. A Scouter is a lifelong long learner who loves giving young men the lessons of life that he has already experienced. He/She is also the person who as the definition stated joined because of their sons and stayed long after because of everyone elses!!

    In light of the Utah State Park issue, a Scouter is someone who understands his role in Scouting is to inform and not to destroy that what God has put out for all to enjoy.

    • We as Scouters need to look beyond the problems, beyond the shortfalls, beyond the short term consequences and realize that while what these BSA members did is horrible does not represent what the majority of Scouts and Scouters stand for. Focusing on this dreadful situation only continues to perpetuate Scouting in a negative light and by doing so only serves to further the negative image that has surrounded us.

      Move on and focus on the good of Scouting, we especially as Scouters, now more than ever must show not only to the US but the entire world that the Scouting Movement can be a movement of good and a movement of youth who can and will change the world.

  2. A registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America who serves in a volunteer and pays money for that privilege.

      • Just like the phrase “Happy as a clam” is only half of the phrase “Happy as a clam at high tide”, “One hour a week” is only half of the phrase “One hour per week times the number of scouts in your troop”. I have 44 scouts in our troop and that works out about right

  3. I want to share this as well: While at this past summer’s June advancement conference at Philmont, Chris Hunt said something like “It’s not for the boys; it’s about the aims and methods of Scouting; that’s why we’re here’. I have always maintained it was “for the boys”. Ever since hearing that, I’ve passed that along to many local volunteers. Once they have gotten over the initial reaction, many are in agreement – it’s about the aims and methods of Scouting.

  4. 1. A Volunteer is one who gives their time to help Scouting.
    2. A Professional is one who is PAID to do Scouting.
    3. A Scouter is one who PAYS to do Scouting.

    • My favorite. The quote I use at the bottom of my signature block relates to this and goes as follows:

      If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a Professional. If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to do Scouting, then you are called a Scouter.

      Okay it isn’t an officiably quotable quote but it gets the point across.

        • I’m pushing twice middle age; that’s what I was when I had kids. Son joined Cubs and then I did. Then a troop. Later my daughter joined Venturing, and then I did. I joined because of my kids. I stayed because of my Scouting friends. And then OA, and the circle widened.
          No coffee for me, but I’ve met Mike Walton.

    • In 1999 I was at the World Jamboree in Chili. A comment from a European Scouter was American Scouters are too Gray and too round. Broken English for OLD AND FAT. At the time I was round, but not gray.

  5. “The purpose of life is the planting of trees in whose shade one does not expect to sit.”
    I always liked the quote from Dr. Forest Witcraft entitled “WIthin my Power”. I direct you to the original, because I have seen so many adaptations…. SCOUTING magazine October 1950 p. 2 seehttp://www.scouter.com/forum/open-discussion-program/6376-forest-witcraft for a good discussion about this “original” Scouter.

    • I also really really enjoy the quote entitled “Within My Power”, it helps to remind me when I’m down or negative why I am a Scouter and why I plan on staying a Scouter for life.

  6. I am going through some very back logged emails and found this. I absolutely love it. How did it go with getting it on a transparency?

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