Catholic Scouting

girl runs by barn with American flag montage

Scouting and Catholic Youth Ministry

Ministering to young people is a vital aspect of the Catholic Church’s life and mission. In their pastoral framework on youth ministry, the U.S. Bishops state: “Ministry with adolescents (is) a concern for the entire church community, especially for leaders in parishes, schools, and dioceses."

The Church endeavors to minister to young people in a variety of ways, among which are: Catholic education and religious formation, youth ministry, and scouting programs for young men and women across the United States. All of these are excellent opportunities for the Church to pass on the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children and youth through her life and rich tradition of faith, morals, leadership development, pastoral care, prayer and worship, and service. Over the years, the Catholic youth ministry community and scouting programs have enjoyed a shared mission and a collaborative relationship, one that continues to this day.

As Pope Francis notes, "Nature holds a special attraction for many adolescents and young people... Such is the case with the scouting movement and other groups that encourage closeness to nature, camping trips, hiking, expeditions, and campaigns to improve the environment. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, these experiences can be a real initiation into the school of universal fraternity and contemplative prayer." (Christus Vivit 228)

There are various Catholic organizations and committees across the United States that work with scouting and which provide helpful resources for parishes, parents, and young people in the Church.

At the national level, these include the following

National Catholic Committee on Scouting (Boy Scouts of America)

The NCCS is a church committee of concerned Catholic lay people and clergy who see as their mission the constructive use of the program of the Boy Scouts of America (inclusive of Scouts BSA and other programs) as a viable form of youth ministry with the Catholic youth of our nation.

Episcopal Liaison: Most Rev. Daniel Conlon, Bishop Emeritus of Joliet

National Catholic Committee for Girl Scouts USA and Camp Fire USA

The NCCGSCF oversees, develops, implements, and evaluates religious recognition programs and training opportunities for diocesan and parish leadership and for Catholic leaders in Girl Scouting and Camp Fire.

Episcopal Liaison: Most Rev Nelson Perez, Archbishop of Philadelphia (as the Episcopal Liaison to the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry)

American Heritage Girls National Catholic Committee

American Heritage Girls (AHG) was founded by a group of parents wanting a faith-based, scout-type character development program for their daughters in 1995. The AHG Program is dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. AHG girls across the nation and the globe participate in badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities, and outdoor experiences, all with an emphasis on Christian values and family involvement.

Episcopal Moderator: Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln

Federation of North American Explorers

National Catholic Committee of Trail Life USA

Troops Fully Alive is the national association of the Catholic troops of Trail Life USA—those chartered by parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions. Our purpose is to promote Trail Life USA among the Catholic faithful as an effective form of youth ministry.

Troops of Saint George

Various scouting arrangements have developed over the past century, all with the purpose of forming and empowering young people as they mature. Within the Catholic Church, each diocesan bishop oversees arrangements with scouting organizations in his diocese.

For more information about scouting in your local area, please contact your diocese, parish, and/or organization listed above.

Conversations with Girl Scouts of the USA

The USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (LMFLY) has been in dialogue with GSUSA over the past decade. The purpose of this dialogue has been to gather information and to further mutual understanding, with a goal of providing considerations and guidance to bishops, pastors, youth leaders, and parents. Ultimately, diocesan bishops will utilize the information as they see fit within their particular diocese.

A special Q&A resource produced from these USCCB-GSUSA conversations (first issued 2014) is available online.

For more details, see the page on the background and purpose of this dialogue.

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