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The BSA’s goal is to train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations. For younger members, the Scout method is part of the program to instill typical Scouting values such as trustworthiness, good citizenship, and outdoors skills, through a variety of activities such as camping, aquatics, and hiking. In order to further these outdoor activities, the BSA has four high-adventure bases: Northern Tier (Minnesota, Manitoba, and Ontario), Philmont Scout Ranch (New Mexico), Sea Base (Florida), and Summit Bechtel Reserve (West Virginia).
The traditional Scouting divisions are Cub Scouting for children in grades K-5, Scouts BSA for youth ages 11 to 17 and Venturing and Sea Scouting for young men and women ages 14 (or 13 and having completed the 8th grade) to 20.
The BSA operates traditional Scouting by chartering local organizations, such as churches, clubs, civic associations, or educational organization, to implement the Scouting program for youth within their communities. Units are led entirely by volunteers appointed by the chartering organization, who are supported by local councils using both paid professional Scouters and volunteers.