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The A-Z of Scouting Terms

What does it all mean?

We always try to explain ourselves simply but if we’ve left you trying to work out what a Woggle is or what all these abbreviations mean you’ve come to the right place…

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Activity badges – Specialist optional badges that extend a young person’s interest or skills.

Air scouts – Branch of scouts that has a clear focus on air activities in their programme.

Akela – Traditional name used in some cub packs for the cub scout leader. Akela is the Leader of the wolf pack in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.


Baden-PowellLord Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941) was the founder of the scout movement and serves as Chief Scout of the World.

Be Prepared – The motto of The Scout Association originally introduced by Baden-Powell.

Beaver scout – An invested member of the movement aged between 6 and 8 years.


Chief scout – The chief scout leads Scouting in the UK. The present chief scout is Bear Grylls.

Colony – The name given to a grouping of beaver scouts.

County – Geographical area in England and Northern Ireland which provides administrative support to scout districts and groups – In Wales, counties are called Areas.

Cub scout – An invested member of the movement aged between 8 and 10½ years.


District – A collection of scout groups within an identifiable boundary, led by a district commissioner.

District badge – A badge worn by members of each scout district to identify where they come from.


Explorer scout – An invested member of the movement aged between 14 and 18 years.


Flag break – A ceremony traditionally held at the beginning of meetings or events. The national flag is ‘broken’ and saluted by those present.


Gang show – Form of scout entertainment similar to a variety show.

Gilwell Park – The UK national headquarters of The Scout Association, national training centre and activity centre.

Grand howl – A traditional ceremony of welcome based on the Jungle Book theme. A grand howl is usually used to open and/or close a cub scout pack meeting or event. Grand howls differ from pack to pack.

Group scout leader – The person appointed by the scout district responsible for the leadership and management of a scout group


Helper – An adult who helps with a section but does not hold a leader appointment.


Investiture – The ceremony at which a member takes the promise when they join the movement or move sections.


Jamboree – A large, international gathering of scouts. World Scout Jamborees are normally held every four years.


Leader – All adults who run or help run a section are called leaders.

Left handshake – A special handshake used by most scouts across the world as an act of friendship. This goes back to when Baden-Powell was a soldier in Africa. He saw a large number of tribal chiefs who carried spears and shields and noticed that it was a sign of great trust to offer your left hand when shaking hands. This was because you had to put down your shield and yet leave the other person holding a spear.

Lodge – The name given to a small group of Beaver Scouts within a Beaver Colony.


Membership award – This is the award given to members upon their investiture into a section.

Motto – The motto of Scouting is ‘Be Prepared.’


Necker/Neckerchief – See Scarf.


Pack – The name given to a grouping of cub scouts.

Patrol – The name given to a small group of scouts within a scout troop, led by a Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader.

Patrol Leader – A more experienced scout who is responsible for a patrol, assisted by an Assistant Patrol Leader. Some troops also have Senior Patrol Leaders who assist troop leaders with running the troop.

Programme – The programme is the term used to describe the entire scout experience, including awards, activities and badges for all young people aged 6-25.

Promise – A public statement each member makes at their investiture and on other occasions. It states that they will do their best to follow the principles and values of Scouting. Variations of the Promise are available for different religions.


Queen’s scout – A member who has gained the highest youth programme award: the Queen’s scout award.


Residential experience – Any stay overnight during an activity that takes young people away from home.


Scarf – Coloured neckerchief worn by Members. Scarves clearly identify members with a particular scout group, district or county/area.

Scout – An invested member of the movement aged between 10½ and 14 years. This is also a generic term used to describe any member of the scout movement.

Scout active support – Formed at group, district, county/area or national level, scout active support units are groups of adults aged 18+ who provide active support to Scouting.

Scout group – A number of sections that are united by the same group name. Traditionally scout groups consist of a beaver colony, cub pack and scout troop but combinations of these or multiple sections are possible.

Scout information centre – Located at Gilwell Park, the scout information centre is a one stop-shop for members wishing to obtain Scouting information, resources and merchandise. Tel: 0845 300 1818 or email:

Scout law – The code which all members of the movement follow. (There is no formal beaver scout law; the concepts expressed in the scout law are presented to Beavers through games, storytelling and other activities.

Scout Shops Ltd. – The Scout Shops Ltd. website – – stocks products from scarves and woggles and other uniform to camping equipment and souvenirs and toys.

Seconder – This is a cub scout who assists a sixer with the running of a Six in the Cub Pack.

Section – This is a unit of a scout group or district – beaver scouts, cub scouts, scouts, explorer scouts and the scout network.

Six/Sixer – In cub scout packs, young people are often grouped in sixes, which are lead by a sixer, who is a cub scout that has more experience and helps look after the cubs in their six.


Troop – The collective name for scouts (10½ -14 years old) meeting together as a section.


Uniform – The set of clothing that young people wear in scouting. This differs for each section.

Unit – The name given to a grouping of explorer scouts or scout active support members.


Woggle – Device used to hold up the scarf, worn around the neck.

World membership badge – A badge worn by many scouts which tells people they belong to a worldwide movement. This is normally given to a member at their investiture.


Young People First – The Scout Association’s policy on child protection.

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