Top Scouting Organizations for Kids

Scouting organizations are a great way to get children involved in their community. Through scouting, children make friends, develop a variety of life skills, and learn how to give back to their community. They also learn how to set goals, hone leadership skills, and develop self-confidence—all while having a lot of fun.

When you think about scouting, you probably think of Boy Scouts of America or Girls Scouts of the USA. As the best-known scouting organizations in the United States, they have a lot to offer children and are widely available in most communities.

But there are more scouting options than you may realize. Following is an overview of the top six scouting organizations in the U.S. This list will help you determine which organization is the best option for your child.


Boy Scouts of America

International Boy And Girl Scout Meeting
Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is not only one of the largest scouting organizations in the country, but it's also one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S. With more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers, BSA offers a variety of opportunities to both boys and girls.

As a founding member of the World Organization of Scout Movement, BSA's goals include developing character, teaching responsible citizenship, and instilling self-reliance through the use of outdoor activities, educational programs, and career explorations. The organization offers a variety of programs for kids, teens, and even young adults. Here is an overview of the BSA programs.

  • Cub Scouting: Traditional scouting program with troops for boys and girls in kindergarten through fifth grade
  • Scouts BSA: Traditional scouting programs with troops for boys and girls ages 11 through 17
  • Venturing: An intense and challenging co-ed scouting program for boys and girls ages 14 through 20
  • Sea Scouting: A co-ed scouting program focusing on water and boat safety that is designed for boys and girls ages 14 through 20
  • Exploring: A co-ed career exploration program to help boys and girls ages 10 to 20 experience a wide variety of career options and network with professionals in those areas

All of the BSA programs promote responsibility and leadership and are great places for your child to meet other children. Kids also learn values and skills that help them grow into adults.


Girl Scouts of the USA

Girl Scouts At The Chocolate Expo
Chuck Fishman / Getty Images

Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low—long before women could even vote—Girls Scouts of the USA prepares young girls for a variety of leadership roles.

In fact, the Girl Scouts organization describes itself as a leadership development program for girls with proven results that empowers girls to take the lead not only in their own lives but in the world around them.

Through Girl Scouts, girls will develop a strong sense of self, learn values, explore challenges, form healthy friendships, and solve problems. Overall, the program focuses on STEM activities, the outdoors, life skills, and entrepreneurship.

Girl Scouts offers a variety of programs for girls from kindergarten through 12th grade. Following is an overview of the age breakdowns for Girl Scouts:

  • Daisies: Kindergarten and first grade
  • Brownies: Second grade through third grade
  • Juniors: Fourth grade through fifth grade
  • Cadettes: Sixth grade through eighth grade
  • Seniors: Ninth grade through 10th grade
  • Ambassadors: 11th grade through 12th grade

Girl Scouting not only gives girls the opportunity to develop confidence in themselves, but the program also is not limited to traditional activities like sewing and cooking. The organization also strives to include various technology and science activities and teaches girls responsibility, leadership, ​and values.


Frontier Girls

Frontier Girls

Courtesy of Frontier Girls

Frontier Girls is a scouting organization designed to provide girls across the United States with an alternative to Girl Scouts. Founded in 2007 by Kerry Gordy, Frontier Girls combined Gordy's passion for scouting and her love for homeschooling.

The organization serves girls and women of all faiths from preschool through adulthood and focuses on the traditional elements of scouting including community service, patriotism, leadership, and character development.

Frontier Girls offers a large range of badges for everything from outdoor skills like camping and kayaking to character traits like leadership and teamwork. Following is an overview of the age levels for Frontier Girls:

  • Penguins: Scouting program for preschool girls
  • Otters: Scouting program for girls in kindergarten through second grade
  • Dolphins: Scouting program for girls in third grade through fifth grade
  • Butterflies: Scouting program for girls in sixth grade through eighth grade
  • Eagles: Scouting program for girls in ninth grade through 12th grade
  • Owls: Scouting program for girls 18 and older

Girls interested in participating in Frontier Girls can do so as individuals or part of a troop. For those interested in participating as individuals, they purchase a family membership and earn badges at home as a Pioneer.


SpiralScouts International

Kids playing tug of war / Getty Images

SpiralScouts International offers scouting programs for boys and girls ages three to 18 and was originally based on Wiccan symbolism and values. Although Sprial Scouts began as a pagan scouting organization, it's open to children of all faiths.

Their activities include all of the traditional scouting activities with a focus on respect for the earth and others. Here is an overview of their curriculum:

  • Raindrops: Recommended for kids ages three to five years old, participants learn about social and environmental responsibility
  • Fireflies: Recommended for kids ages six to nine years old, participants learn about personal responsibility as well as build on the social and environmental responsibility they have already learned
  • SpiralScouts: Recommended for kids ages 10 to 12 years old, participants continue to build upon the principles they learned as Fireflies
  • Pathfinder: Recommended for kids ages 13 to 18 years old, participants exemplify the skills they have mastered through larger projects

Overall, SprialScouts sets itself apart from other scouting organizations with special program elements, ceremonial aspects, and spiritual advancement. The organization also strives to maintain strong ecological practices.


Camp Fire

Little girl by tent

Markus Bernhard / Getty Images

Originally Campfire Girls and later Campfire USA, the Camp Fire program was expanded in 1975 to include both boys and girls. As an innovative leader in youth development, Camp Fire is committed to diversity and inclusion.

Additionally, the organization encourages its members to identify their sparks, develop growth mindsets, manage goals, and make time to reflect. Camp Fire offers programs and camps that emphasize service, self-reliance, and leadership.

Unlike other scouting programs that focus on developing future leaders, this organization strives to help kids thrive now with its unique "Thriveology" curriculum.

According to the organization's website, this research-based program is based on social emotional learning (SEL) and has experienced tremendous success. In fact, 94% of participants in Camp Fire feel heard, happy, and supported.

Additionally, 82% of the youth involved in their programs said Camp Fire empowers them to solve problems, rather than telling them what to do.

A Word From Verywell

Scouting provides kids and teens with an opportunity to develop leadership skills, problem solve, meet new people, and learn new skills. No matter which program you select, your child will have an opportunity to experience the world around them in a new and fresh way.

10 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Boy Scouts of America. About the BSA.

  2. Boy Scouts of America. Scouting programs.

  3. Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Our history.

  4. Girl Scouts of the United States of America. The Girl Scout Difference.

  5. Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Grade Levels.

  6. Frontier Girls. Raising women of honor to be mothers and leaders of the future.

  7. Frontier Girls. Frontier Girls age levels.

  8. SpiralScouts International. Spiral curriculum.

  9. Camp Fire. The legacy.

  10. Camp Fire. The experience.

By Heidi Coghlan
Heidi A. Coghlan is a mom of six and grandmother of three who is active in her children's clubs and leads a Girl Scout troop.