Similarities and Differences between
Boy Scouting, Venture, Varsity Scouting, and Venturing

  • VENTURE was a program for older boys (only) within Boy Scout Troops  The term "Venture Patrol" has been replaced with "Older Scout Patrol"
  • VARSITY was a program in a different type of unit for older boys (only) - separate from Troops.   The Varsity program was discontinued at the end of 2017.
  • VENTURING is a program for older boys and/or older girls, also separate from Troops
  • EXPLORING was, until 1998, a program for older boys and girls within the BSA.  In 1998, EXPLORING became a separate, career oriented, organization operated by LEARNING FOR LIFE, with other programs retained by BSA and reorganized as the VENTURING program.
  • SEA SCOUTING for a number of years was a specialized program within EXPLORING, then within VENTURING, but is now an independent program area.
Program Boy Scouting Venturing and Sea Scouting
(Click on picture for more info)

  varsity.gif (14640 bytes) venturing.gif (3963 bytes)
Unit Type Boy Scout Troops Older Scout Patrols within Boy Scout Troops Varsity Scout Teams
(Discontinued as of 1/1/2018)
Sea Scout Ships Venturing Crews
Uniform Boy Scout tan uniform shirt with forest green shoulder loops Boy Scout tan shirt with forest green shoulder loops Boy Scout tan uniform shirt with orange shoulder loops and Varsity strip above pocket Sea Scout uniforms Crew decides uniform, recommended uniform spruce green shirt and spruce green shoulder loops
Members are called Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts

Varsity Scouts

Sea Scouts


Membership Boys 11-17*

Boys 13-17

Boys 14-17

Boys and Girls

Boys and Girls

Adult Leader Scoutmaster

Assistant Scoutmaster

Team Coach



Youth Leader Senior Patrol Leader

Patrol Leader

Team Captain



Activity Area

Boy Scout Program

Boy Scout program with high adventure / sports activities added.

Boy Scout program with high adventure / sports activities added.

Sailing, Boating, Seamanship

Crew determines in an area within outdoor / high adventure, sports, youth ministries, or arts & crafts

Youth Leader Training ILST, NYLT, AND NAYLE NYLT, NAYLE,
NYLT, NAYLE, ILSC, Kodiak Challenge

Rank Advancement

Merit Badges, Tenderfoot thru Eagle and Palms

Apprentice, Ordinary,
Able, Quartermaster

Summit ***

Merit Badges, Star, Life, Eagle and Palms ****
Recognitions and Awards All Boy Scout Recognitions All Boy Scout Recognitions All Boy Scout Recognitions
plus Varsity Letter & activity pins and
Denali Award

(All were discontinued as of 1/1/2018)

Ranger, Quest and TRUST
Venturing Leadership Award

Small Boat Handler
Qualified Seaman
Long Cruise
Religious, Lifesaving, Meritorious Action, Hornaday, Council Achievement, BSA Lifeguard, Snorkeling, Mile-Swim, Fifty-Miler, Historic Trails,
World Conservation, Interpreter, Firem’n Chit, Totin’ Chip, Paul Bunyan Woodsman, Den Chief Service Award and others
Order of the Arrow Members eligible for election Not eligible for election
Can participate in program if already elected in a troop.
National Jamboree Can participate as contingent members if over age 12
Can serve on Youth Staff if over age 16
Can participate as contingent members
Can serve on Youth Staff if over age 16


* Boys who have graduated the 5th grade or have Arrow of Light and are at least age 10 may also join.
**Youth who are 13 and have graduated the 8th grade may also join. Venturers and Sea Scouts registered in a crew or ship prior to their 21st birthday may continue as members after their 21st birthday until the crew or ship recharters or until they reach their 22nd birthday, whichever comes first
***Per BSA's National Bylaws, Sea Scouting advancement levels are considered to be ranks. The Venturing awards listed are not officially ranks, but serve a similar purpose.
****Only boys under 18 who have earned First Class rank in a Troop or as a Lone Scout may earn Boy Scout advancements in a Ship or Crew.
  • The terms "Varsity Team" (as a group within a Troop), "Venture Crew", and "Venture Patrol" are no longer valid. Those terms have all been replaced by the "Older Scout Patrol."
  • The term "Venture Scout" is not valid for any program of the BSA.
    • Members of an Older Scout Patrol are just older "Boy Scouts".
    • Members of a Venturing Crew are "Venturers".
  • The Varsity Scout Team (as a separate unit) and the term "Varsity Scout" have been discontinued.
  • No one should wear spruce green shoulder loops on a khaki Boy Scout shirt.
    Scouts in an Older Scout Patrol wear forest green shoulder loops as do all the other Scouts in the Troop.
  • Venturers should not wear a khaki Boy Scout shirt.

This chart was created by Bill Nelson,
based upon one supplied by Michael R. Brown,
and then further modified by Paul Wolf

Page updated on: May 08, 2022

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