Scouts enter dens as Tigers and eventually take flight as Eagles. Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the nation's largest youth organizations, has about 2.8 million youth members and about 1 million adult leaders in its ranks. BSA offers educational and character-building programs emphasizing leadership, citizenship, personal development, and physical fitness. In addition to traditional scouting programs (Tiger, Cub, Webelos, and Boy Scouts, ranging up to Eagle rank), it offers the Venturing program for boys and girls ages 14-21. BSA generates revenue through membership and council fees, supply and magazine sales, and contributions. The organization was founded by Chicago publisher William Boyce in 1910.
BSA's group membership is supported through 300 local Boy Scout councils. Additionally, it hosts a National Scout Jamboree each year to bring all scouts together. The organization also operates a high-adventure base in West Virginia. The bases offer scouts a range of outdoor activities, including backpacking, camping, canoeing, and diving. The West Virginia location serves as the organization's permanent location for its Jamboree. BSA operates also bases in Florida, Minnesota, and New Mexico.
BSA also publishes Boys' Life monthly magazine, which boasts more than 1 million subscribers, and Scouting magazine for adults registered in Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing.
BSA's revenue in 2011 declined 35% vs. 2010. The steep drop off resulted from a drop off in fees (48% of total revenue), primarily due to the 2010 National Scout Jamboree, partially offset by fees from the world jamboree and an increase in high-adventure base fees. Membership revenue increased in 2011 due to a membership fee increase, offset by a small decline in membership. Revenue from Supply operations fell, as did proceeds from magazine publications. Contributions and bequests declined as well in 2011 vs. 2010.
BSA boasts programs that remain popular, but in recent years membership growth has slowed with the recession and other societal forces. Indeed, the group competes with popular gaming devices, such as the Nintendo's Wii system, for the attention of young boys through its more-wholesome outdoor and community activities.
In 2011 Cub Scout membership (which accounts for more than 50% of total youth membership) dipped by about 1% vs. 2010, while the ranks of the Boy Scouts grew by just over 1%. Overall, total youth membership declined by less than 1% for the year, continuing its downward trend. To boost membership and grow its organization, BSA developed a strategic plan that involves reaching out to new groups of parents and students. To this end, it has developed and maintained relationships with civic, religious, and fraternal organizations across the US, including those that serve African-American, Asian, and Latino families. It has also analyzed Generation X and Millennial parents to determine how to best bring scouting to their communities. – less