Aims & Methods

The scouting scheme as laid out and brought into practice by the Baden-Powells relies on using the natural curiosity and imagination of young people as a guide to outdoor activities that will attract and hold their attention.

OSG’s practice of the patrol method provides youth with the opportunity to craft and develop their own adventures, skill-building, trips, and service projects. The moral code of the scout law provides a framework for growth and development of character.  The outdoors is our stage.

Within this framework, our scouts gain the following:

  1. Character Development and Independence – Scouts are trained in habits of observation, obedience (self-discipline), and self-reliance

  2. Understanding the Importance of Service – Scouts focus on service over self and learn to be loyal and thoughtful to others

  3. Personal Wellbeing – Promoting physical, mental, and moral health

  4. Proficiency in Skills and Crafts – Teaching self-reliance, confidence, and leadership through progressive responsibility and training in scoutcraft and public service skill. Confidence in the ability to approach and learn new skills.

  5. Community and Teamwork – Scouts form bonds and develop lifelong connections and a sense of self.

We accomplish these aims by a traditional scouting method, a system of progressive self-education that uses these tools:

  • A scout uniform, motto, promise, and law
  • A hands-on approach to “learning by doing”
  • The patrol method of group work
  • A program of activities that focuses on individual growth and takes place largely in the outdoors
  • An advancement program based on personal challenges, growth mindset, and acquisition of useful skills
  • An emphasis on traditional outdoor abilities and scoutcraft
  • An ethic of service and citizenship that begins with knowledge and awareness of one’s own community

The Uniform

The uniform is simple, utilitarian, and designed to be tough and worn in the outdoors. It is also designed to be relatively uncluttered. You’ll find that the uniform is not covered from one side to another with badges and other items but is designed to showcase an individual’s scouting work while still looking neat.

The uniform is an integral part of the Scout Method. Wearing a uniform helps scouts feel part of the group and makes it easier to identify your scouts in the woods. Most scouts enjoy having and wearing their uniforms and take pride them.

If a group, scout, or family—due to finances, environment, or other reasons—find purchasing a uniform to be inaccessible, they are still scouts.

Should barriers to purchasing and wearing a scout’s uniform exist, we’d collectively work to help them. Whether it’s a matter of income, circumstance, neurodiversity, etc., the focus of the scout group or section will be on the program itself. The camaraderie of the group is the goal; good uniforming as a matter of group pride is one facet of this esprit de corps.

We also have practical reasons for being in uniform: visual identity. The uniform helps us stand out as scouts in our communities. It helps promote our organization throughout the US. And it identifies us as members of an international youth movement.

The Motto, Promise, and Law

Our scouting motto, promise, and law help us to solemnize our involvement in OSG scouting. The versions may vary according to section, but the intention is the same: that scouts, on their honor, will do their best. Speaking these words aloud, with their accompanying handsign, helps show our shared unity in scouting. Over time, scouts of all ages come to think even more of what these words mean to them, and how their lives have been changed as a result. To an OSG scout, honor is everything.

Learning by Doing

Learning works best through a “hands-on” approach— not by reading a book or watching a web video. In the OSG, skills are demonstrated and taught by one who already possesses the skills. The learners practice until they, too, can demonstrate the technique, and then they, in turn, become teachers. “Each one see one, do one, teach one” describes our approach to learning in OSG.

It’s also worth noting that both youths and adults serve as teachers. The patrol method creates a structure through which members teach and learn from one another. In OSG, a teacher may equally be a youngster as an adult: all have a chance to share their knowledge and skills.

The Patrol System

The patrol system is the one essential feature in which scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where properly applied, is absolutely bound to bring success.

A patrol is a small group of scouting peers who are close in age. In OSG Pathfinder Troops are separated into patrols, and Rover Crews may also form patrols. Otter Rafts mimic this same structure by forming dens, in Timberwolf Packs by forming sixes. The patrols and patrol-like structures form the small units in which scouts work together, whether for work or play.

The patrol system places responsibility on each individual. Each small unit is led by a single scout serving as the leader; members then work with their leader to accomplish the group’s goals. Spirited competition between patrols adds fun and enthusiasm and develops increased proficiency as the scouts teach and learn from one another. Each scout in the patrol realizes that they are important to the group’s success, and through shared collaboration, the patrol, six, or den succeeds. They learn first-hand about reliability and have a chance to both cooperate and lead.

Program and Activities

In OSG, section leaders work with scouts to develop and implement a rich program of varied activities that supports the organization’s aims and methods. A strong OSG program focuses on interesting activities that support advancement, service, and personal growth. Each scout advances at their own pace, and every program considers both individual and group needs.

Whenever possible, programing takes place in the outdoors and includes specific outdoor skills and activities. You’ll find OSG scouts of all ages outside in all kinds of weather, even rain and snow: as one of our leaders put it, “Challenging weather gives us a great chance to test our gear and our scout skills!”

Advancement Program

Each section has its own advancement program designed to track a scout’s growing proficiency in a number of skill areas. Advancement may be completed, at least in part, individually, but it is also part of a rich scouting program, and it’s traditional for scouts to teach and learn from one another.

Our advancement system varies from other scouting programs in three key ways:

1. In other scouting programs, scouts earn “ranks,” e.g., Tenderfoot, First Class, etc.  In OSG, we use the term “rank” to describe assigned positions such as Patrol Leader, Troop Leader, and Quartermaster. Badges earned to show mastery of skills and competence are known as “proficiency badges.”

2. In OSG, we don’t award badges on a “first try,” i.e., the first time a scout demonstrates a skill. We allow some time to pass, showing that the skill is retained, practiced, and increasingly perfected before it’s checked off in a scout’s advancement record. This is true for OSG scouts of all ages.

3. We expect scouts to retain advancement skills over time. A scout may be retested on an earned skill at any time and is expected to be able to demonstrate the skill. Failing to demonstrate upon retest may mean removing the badge until the skill is remastered. Some advancements actually require retesting at certain intervals.

Outdoor Focus

Scouting is “a school of the woods.” Spending time in the outdoors built strength, awareness, and competence in ways that could not be achieved in the home, school, or community setting.

Today, scientists have proven that time spent in the outdoors has measurable benefits on human health and well-being. The outdoors calms our spirits, lowers our blood pressure, stabilizes mood, and may lift depression. It also heightens our sense of awareness and may make us more innovative. Scouts in OSG spend as much time in the outdoors as possible, whether camping, hiking, exploring, swimming, boating, or engaging in other pastimes.

Service and Citizenship

According to the US Citizen and Immigration Services, a citizen’s responsibilities include:

  • Staying informed of the issues affecting one’s community
  • Participating in the democratic process
  • Respecting and obeying federal, state, and local laws
  • Participating in one’s local community

Through community activities and service, these activities form a central part of the OSG program. Our scouts may visit local fire stations and City Halls, study and learn to handle the flag, march in community parades, help remove invasive weeds from city parks, find out about local laws, or pack boxes in local food banks. These are only a few examples of the ways we interleave service and community with scouting.


Outdoor Service Guides is founded upon the original aims and methods of scouting. All adults and youth— regardless of age, gender, class, or other variables– who live in the US are welcome to join us. The more who come together to play the game of scouting, the better

We Believe In

Outdoors – Nature is central to human health and well-being.
Inclusion – An active welcome and an active engagement to make OSG a place where people feel they belong.
Volunteerism – We are a group of passionate and committed individuals who scout for the sake of scouting.
Self-reliance & Interdependence – Being responsible and capable as part of a larger group.
Confidence – Knowing that you can learn new things and you are equipped to problem-solve.
Servant Leadership – Leading by valuing and elevating everybody to be their best selves.
Service – Applying the knowledge, skills, and capacity for learning fostered in scouting to the greater good of our communities.