Baden-Powell Service Association (Canada)

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BPSA Canada
B-PSA Federation of Canada.svg
Age range
  • Otters: 5-7
  • Timber Wolves: 8-11
  • Explorers: 11-15
  • Senior Explorers: 15-17
  • Rovers: 18+ (no upper limit)
Country Canada
Founded 1996
Affiliation World Federation of Independent Scouts
 Scouting portal

The Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA) in Canada is a Traditional Scouting organization. Like all Scouting organizations it traces its roots back to the movement developed by Lord Baden-Powell and the first scout camp at Brownsea Island. The BPSA in Canada was established in Victoria, British Columbia in February 1996, rejecting the perceived modernization of the Scout method by Scouts Canada and sharing its aims with the other branches of the B-PSA.[1] It is affiliated with the World Federation of Independent Scouts.


The BPSA in Canada has no national body but instead is a collection of independent provincial Traditional Scouting councils.[2] Each provincial council is typically organized as a legal entity within that province's Societies Act or equivalent.[3] The following councils are currently operating:

  • BPSA Alberta (BPSA-AB)
  • BPSA British Columbia (BPSA-BC)
  • BPSA New Brunswick (BPSA-NB)
  • BPSA Ontario (BPSA-ON)

The British Columbia council acts as the de facto "head" association as it holds the trademark for the BPSA name and all other provincial councils use the name with their permission.[4] The BPSA-BC operates (on a cost recovery basis only[5]) an online market (Quartermaster Store) selling badges, uniforms, and some equipment. All provincial councils are able to utilize this market which negates the need for them to have their own and avoids duplication of effort. Additionally, the BPSA-BC deals with and obtains the insurance policy which provides coverage to all BPSA members in Canada, irrespective of which council they belong to. Each individual group within the provincial councils registers its members annually and submits at least a portion of its fees to the BPSA-BC as their share of the insurance costs.

Membership is restricted to independent Canadian Scouting councils who follow the training programmes, ethics and morals of Robert Baden-Powell, and who accept the association's by-laws and child protection policy.

The BPSA in Canada is operated entirely by volunteers with no paid staff. This allows it to charge an annual membership fee to the individual member that is substantially lower than is seen in other scouting organizations.


Each group within the BPSA is divided into sections based on the members age range.[6] A group may have all or some of the following sections:

Section Age Unit Name Smaller Group Name / Youth Leader Positions Activities
Otters 5-7 Raft Den / N/A Program Summary
Timber Wolves 8-11 Pack Six / Sixer and Second Rank Requirements
Explorers 11-15 Troop Patrol / Patrol Leader and Second Rank Requirements
Senior Explorers 15-17 Troop Patrol / Patrol Leader and Second Rank Requirements
Rovers 18+ (no upper limit) Crew N/A - typically operates as a unit; can be divided into patrols as needed Program Guide

The BPSA is open to males and females in mixed and/or separate sections. For groups that have the desire, the Explorer/Senior Explorer section can be replaced with Seafarer/Senior Seafarer (Sea Scouts) which uses a nautical themed program.[6]

Aims, Methods and Ideals[edit]

The aim of the programme is "to promote good citizenship and wholesome physical, mental development; and training in habits of observation, discipline, self-reliance, loyalty, and useful life skills".[7] The Scout Method is the system utilized to accomplish the aim.

Law and Promise[edit]

The principles and practices of the Association are founded on the basis of the Scout Promise and the Scout Law. Each section has a separate promise and law that shows deeper commitment as the youth gets older.

Otter Law and Promise[edit]

A youth member joining the Otter section makes the following promise:
I promise to do my best,
to obey my leaders and my parents
and to be a good Otter.

The Otter Law is: An Otter is always busy and bright and helps other people, by doing a good turn every day.

Timber Wolf Law and Promise[edit]

A youth member joining the Timber Wolf section makes the following promise:
I promise to do my best
To do my duty to ‘God’, and the Queen;
To keep the Law of the Timber Wolf Pack;
And to do a good turn to somebody every day.

The Timber Wolf Law is:
The Cub gives in to the Old Wolf.
The Cub does not give in to himself.

Scout Law and Promise[edit]

A youth member joining the Explorer section makes the following promise:
On my honour I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to ‘God’, and the Queen;
To help other people at all times, and
To obey the Scout Law.

The Scout Law is:

  1. A Scout's honour is to be trusted.
  2. A Scout is loyal.
  3. A Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others.
  4. A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.
  5. A Scout is courteous.
  6. A Scout is a friend to animals.
  7. A Scout obeys orders of his/her Parents, Patrol Leader or Scouters without question.
  8. A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.
  9. A Scout is thrifty.
  10. A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed.

Rovers as well as adult leaders also make the Scout Promise and are expected to live according to the Scout Law.

Training Programme[edit]

The training programme of the BPSA in Canada follows the scheme developed by Baden-Powell in Scouting For Boys (1908), The Wolf Cub's Handbook (1916) and Rovering to Success (1922).

The main focus is Traditional Scouting[8] – which is following Baden Powell’s 10 Scout Laws and using the same rank system. While basing the programme on the traditions of the past the BPSA also believes in "progressing with the times and keeping up to date with the very latest technology, child protection legislation, first aid standards, and safety in outdoor education."[9]

Each section follows a programme that is appropriate to the age of its members, but is still designed to follow the values and aims of traditional Scouting. Traditional Scouting uses training in small groups that allow youth to learn teamwork as well as providing room for individual development. Each section is typically subdivided into a small group of 4 to 8 youth, where most of the training takes place. Each smaller group has its own youth leader as well as an adult leader helping them with their work. The exception to this is the Otter section which has no youth leadership positions but has at least one adult leader to supervise each Den.[10]

The advancement programme for members of the BPSA in Canada is symbolised by the earning of staged proficiency badges. Typically some combination of badges allows a youth to earn progressively higher ranks. Traditional Scouting associations around the world often use badges, ranks and awards with the same name but there is no global standardization of the requirements for them.

In Timber Wolves the ranks consist of Tenderpad, First Star and Second Star – working towards the final award of Leaping Wolf. The First and Second Stars are worn on the cap, this positioning leading them to sometimes be referred to as one, then both, eyes open.

Explorer Ranks[edit]

The Explorer sections use the same ranks as outline in Scouting for Boys with Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, and the Explorer Cord. Senior Explorers can earn the Bushman's Thong and the St. George's Scout award. Rovers are able to earn the Baden-Powell Award.[11][12]

Tenderfoot Explorer is the first rank a youth earns in the Explorer section. The rank emblem is worn centered on the left breast pocket of the uniform.

At present, the Tenderfoot requirements include:

  1. Know the Scout Law and Promise and their meaning.
  2. Know the story of B-P and the history of Scouting.
  3. Know the Scout Motto and its meaning.
  4. Demonstrate the Scout Salute, Sign, and Handshake.
  5. Make a Scout Staff.
  6. Describe the composition of, and the history of the Canadian Flag. Demonstrate how to hoist, break, and fold it.
  7. Make, and know the meaning of the woodcraft signs given in Camp Fire Yarn 4 in Scouting for Boys.
  8. Demonstrate with rope how to tie a (1) Reef Knot, (2) Sheepshank, (3) Clove Hitch, (4) Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, (5) Bowline, and explain their uses.
  9. Whip the end of a natural fibre rope and properly fuse the end of a plastic or nylon rope.
  10. Take part in a Patrol or Troop outdoor activity, such as a day hike, service project, good turn, or a weekend camp.
  11. Be Invested in your Troop.

Second Class Explorer is second rank a youth earns in the Explorer section. The rank emblem is worn centered on the left sleeve of the uniform just above the elbow.

At present, the Second Class requirements include:

  1. Show how to deal with the following common minor accidents: minor cuts and scratches, nosebleeds, insect bites and stings, burns and scalds.
  2. Know how to stop serious bleeding.
  3. Demonstrate the uses of a triangular bandage.
  4. Demonstrate artificial respiration.
  5. Demonstrate the importance of, and how to summon help, and treat for shock.
  6. Know the general rules for health as given in Scouting for Boys - Campfire Yarn No.18, including Personal Hygiene, Eating Habits, Water Purification, 3 Pan Dishwashing System, Personal Fitness, Using a Kybo.
  7. Describe in writing 16 out of 24 well-assorted items, following one-minute’s observation.
  8. On a hike, or at camp, identify 6 common trees, and known the value of 3 of them for cooking and building. Be able to identify 6 local wild birds.
  9. Tie the following knots and know their uses: (1) Timber Hitch, (2) Fisherman’s Knot, (3) Rolling Hitch.
  10. Demonstrate Square and Diagonal lashings by constructing a trestle of Scout Staffs. Demonstrate Sheer and Tripod lashings.
  11. Know the safety rules for using axes, saws and knives.
  12. Know the 8 points of the compass. Know how to set a map. Be able to read the common map symbols. Understand map scales.
  13. Lay, and light a fire out of doors with natural material using no more than 2 matches. Cook a meal over this fire.
  14. Show you understand the Highway Code as per pedestrian and bicycles. Know how to keep a bicycle in good working order.
  15. Follow a minimum one kilometre of woodcraft signs in 25 minutes.
  16. Demonstrate local knowledge. Know local landmarks, your communities’ main roads, public transport facilities and public utilities in your area.
  17. With another Explorer pitch, strike, and pack a tent in approximately 30 minutes. Know how to choose the following items of personal equipment: Jacket, boots, clothing, sleeping bag, and backpack.
  18. Know the phonetic alphabet. Pass a message on a two way radio. Know about FRS Radio. Know Morse Code, Semaphore or the ASL Finger spelling sign for every letter of the alphabet with accuracy, but not necessarily speed.
  19. Know how to load a toboggan for a winter camp.
  20. Have camped with your Patrol or Troop a minimum of six nights. Two weekend camps must be included consisting of a minimum of two nights each. A detailed log- book must be kept of these camps.
  21. Understand the use of the layered clothing system.
  22. Make a personal emergency and first aid kit.
  23. Have no less than 4 months satisfactory service as an Explorer.
  24. Re-pass the Tenderfoot tests.
  25. Go by day, on foot with another Tenderfoot qualified Explorer on a 13 Km journey.

First Class Explorer is highest rank a youth in the Explorer section may earn. The rank emblem is worn centered on the left sleeve of the uniform just above the elbow, replacing the Second Class rank emblem.

At present, the First Class requirements include:

  1. Have camped as an Explorer no less than 12 nights.
  2. Demonstrate the proper methods of dealing with the following emergencies: Fire, Drowning, Breaking through Ice, Frostbite, Heatstroke, and Hypothermia.
  3. Understand the Cardiovascular System, and how to stop external bleeding from veins and arteries.
  4. Understand the difference between open and closed fractures and how to treat them.
  5. Recognise and apply First Aid to arm, and collarbone fractures.
  6. Pass one of the following proficiency badges: Camper, Handyman, Pioneer, Backwoodsman, Observer, or Athlete.
  7. On a hike, or at camp, identify 10 trees and know the industrial use of 5 of them. Identify 10 local wild birds.
  8. Demonstrate how to choose, and set up a winter campsite for your Patrol.
  9. Demonstrate how to coil a rope. Throw a line a distance of 8 metres. Demonstrate how to get tension on a rope with a Spanish Windlass. Ensure any tree used for this is protected from rope damage.
  10. Know how to care and maintain camping equipment. This should include: Tents, Sleeping bag, Stoves, and Lanterns.
  11. Know how to choose a campsite and plan a Patrol static camp, including program and menu.
  12. Demonstrate how to operate camp stoves and lanterns (White gas, Propane, Butane etc.) and know their safety requirements. Using a camp stove, cook a simple 2-course meal.
  13. Know the precautions necessary before undertaking adventurous activities. This should include: Heatstroke, Mountain Safety, Stream Crossings, and the use of the Buddy System for swimming.
  14. Demonstrate the proper use of an axe and chain saw for falling, and trimming. If this is not practical, make a “pioneer” model of a bridge, derrick, or tower etc of a type approved by the examiner.
  15. Using improvised apparatus, such as a Staff, or personal measurements, estimate three distances up to 800 metres, and three heights up to 30 metres. In each case the estimate must not vary more than 10% from the actual measurement.
  16. Earn a restricted Air or Marine Radio license, or an Amateur Radio license.
  17. Plan and lead a day hike.
  18. Re-pass the Second Class tests (this is to be the second from last test).
  19. The First Class Journey. Go on foot with three other Second Class Explorers, on a 24 hour journey of at least 24 Km. In the course of the journey you must cook your own meals, one of which must contain meat; Find your own campsite and camp for the night. You must carry out the instructions of the examiner regarding things to do and to be observed en-route. Each must, independently, make a detailed log of the journey. (This is to be the last test)

Explorer/Sr. Explorer Awards[edit]

The Explorer Cord is the highest award within the Explorer section and may only be earned by an Explorer who has achieved the rank of First Class.

The award consists of a green corded lanyard worn looped around the left shoulder with the end (traditionally with a whistle attached) tucked into the left breast pocket of the uniform. The award continues to be worn when a youth moves up to the Senior Explorer section but it is removed once the Bushman's Thong is earned.

At present, the Explorer Cord requirements[13] include:

  1. Hold the First Class Badge.
  2. Have camped as an Explorer no less than 22 nights.
  3. Hold 6 proficiency badges, one of which must be selected from Backwoodsman, Explorer, or Pioneer. One must be selected from Camper, Cook, Observer, Canoeist, Boatswain’s Mate, or Signaller. You must also hold the First Aid Badge.
  4. Be under 15 years of age.

The Bushman's Thong is the highest award within the Senior Explorer section and may only be earned by a Senior Explorer who has previously achieved the rank of First Class Explorer.

The award itself is unique to each individual as it is physically made as part of the requirements for earning it. It must be some type of lanyard however as it is worn looped around the right shoulder with the end (traditionally with a whistle attached) tucked into the right breast pocket of the uniform. If an Explorer previously earned the Explorer Cord it is removed once the Bushman's Thong is awarded.

At present, the Bushman's Thong requirements[14] include:

  1. Hold the First Class Badge.
  2. Hold the Venturer Badge and two of the following badges: Senior Coxswain, Camp Warden, Quartermaster, Hiker, Leading Cook, Advanced Winter Camper, Map Maker, Senior Pioneer, or Boatswain.
  3. Have camped as an Explorer no less than 30 nights.
  4. Make your own Thong.

Comparable awards[edit]


The Explorer sections wear the traditional uniform designed by Baden-Powell, with allowances made for climate and health or safety reasons.

  • Headwear: Khaki Stetson worn without cap badge or green beret worn with cap badge over left eye NOTE - All members of the Troop, other than Leaders, must wear the same type of headwear.
  • Neckerchief: Of the group colour worn with a woggle
  • Shirt: Khaki or Green, long or short sleeve, as selected by the troop
  • Shorts or trousers: Olive Green or Tan
  • Belt: Black or Brown
  • Socks: Lovat Green for wear with shorts

Child Protection[edit]

The BPSA in Canada requires all adult volunteers to complete a police record check, provide four personal references and complete a personal interview before appointment. Once appointed, volunteers must complete a four-month probationary period where they may only work with young people under supervision of a warranted leader. Adults are also required to complete training appropriate to their role in the group and report to their respective provincial council anyone who they consider may pose a danger to young people.[15]


Initially, the organization was formed as the Baden-Powell Scouts Association but in 1999, it was ordered by Industry Canada "to take the word 'scout' out of its title." [16] Scouts Canada also sought for the removal of the name Baden Powell. [17]

According to the BPSA, Baden-Powell's original intention was for Scout Patrols to operate in a range of organizations [18] and that there are two WOSM Scout associations in Canada. Scouts Canada contests[citation needed] the existence of two WOSM associations in Canada, clarifying their relationship with Association des Scouts du Canada to be one of an affiliation. Scouts Canada is the official WOSM organization which affiliates with the francophone organization.[19]

Although the BPSA of Canada, in accord with Baden-Powell's 4th Scout Law, aim to recognise and work with all like-minded Scouting associations,[20] Scouts Canada forbade their members to join activities with members or groups of the BPSA, citing missing insurance coverage, or permit them to use Scouts Canada properties.[21]


  1. ^ "Association History". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Canadian Scout Associations". Scoutdocs. March 1, 2009. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Questions?". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ "BPSA Traditional Scouting". BPSA Canada. Retrieved July 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to the Quartermaster Store". BPSA Alberta. Retrieved July 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Section information". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Welcome!". BPSA Alberta. Retrieved July 30, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Policies". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Scouting the Way B.P. Intended". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  10. ^ "For Youth". BPSA Ontario. Retrieved July 30, 2017. 
  11. ^ "How Old Are You?". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Explorer Requirements" (PDF). BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  13. ^ "For Youth" (PDF). BPSA Ontario. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  14. ^ "For Youth" (PDF). BPSA Ontario. Retrieved August 1, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Leader Screening". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Scouts organization ordered to change name". CBC News. December 8, 1999. Retrieved March 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Breakaway Boy Scouts". CBC News. June 12, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Lord Baden Powell, Founder of the Scout Movement". the Spruce. March 4, 2017. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  19. ^ "National Scout Organizations". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  20. ^ "About Us". BPSA British Columbia. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  21. ^ "BPSA letter" (PDF). Scouts Canada. September 10, 2003. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 

External links[edit]