FAQ: Scouting & the Northeast Illinois Council

Why is Scouting beneficial to my child and to my family?

We’re glad you asked. Scouting instills Values for Life and gives your child the tools to become an active, contributing member of their community, all while learning useful skills, having fun, and seeking outdoor adventure along the way. Scouting is a family program, and is designed to allow you to spend one-on-one time with your child during their formative years. Youth who partake in Scouting programs leave Prepared for Life. For a comprehensive guide to the many benefits and skills your child can gain from Scouting, click here.

I want to join Scouts but I don’t know what the different programs are or where to start. What’s a Troop versus a Pack?


We were all new to Scouting once, and we are here to guide you along the way. Below is a quick overview of our different programs, and you can click here to find a program near you. You can click the program names below to view more detailed information about them.

Each group of Scouts, or unit, is sponsored by a Chartered Organization – a community organization or group that collaborates with the unit on service projects, provides meeting space when available, and supports the unit in the aims of the Scouting program. Common Chartered Organizations are places of worship, community centers, and Rotary Clubs/other service organizations.

Cub Scouts – open to youth ages 5-11 years of age. A group of Cub Scouts and their adult leaders are known as a Pack and they are split up into Dens by grade level. Cub Scouts go outdoors, serve the community, have fun, and are constantly learning new and useful skills.

Boy Scouts – open to boys ages 11-18 (note: a program for girls will begin in 2019. Stay tuned for more information!) A group of Boy Scouts and their adult leaders are known as a Troop and they are split up into youth-led Patrols. Boy Scouts camp, perform community service, participate in high adventure activities, and earn merit badges for learning and demonstrating advanced skill sets, all along their path to becoming Eagle Scouts.

Venturing – open to boys and girls ages 14-20. A group of Venture Scouts and their adult leaders are known as a Crew. Venture Crews are youth-led and youth-designed programs where a specific, often high-adventure based focus is chosen as the group’s main interest. From horseback riding to mountaineering, Venturing means adventure.

Exploring – open to boys and girls ages 14-20. A group of Explorer Scouts and their adult leaders are known as a Post. The Exploring program partners with local agencies, businesses, and organizations to provide a platform for career mentoring and hands-on exploration in a variety of employment fields.

Sea Scouts – open to boys and girls ages 14-20. A group of Sea Scouts and their adult leaders are known as a Ship. Sea Scouting teaches the skills and values of seamanship, water safety, and navigation, along with leadership and service to others.


I’d like to become an adult volunteer. What's my first step?


Thank you for stepping up to the plate! To volunteer with us, click here and we will find the best role for you. Please note that all adult volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. If you are already a member of a Scouting unit, check with your adult leadership to see which roles they need filled. You will need to fill out an adult application and take Youth Protection Training before you are an official adult leader.

What geographic area does the Northeast Illinois Council serve?


We serve over 12,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in Lake County and Northern Cook County, from the Skokie/Evanston area north to the Illinois-Wisconsin state line. This area is divided into 3 districts – you can find yours here.

How much does it cost to join Scouting?


Scouting is one of the most cost-effective extra-curricular activities you and your child can participate in. Our Membership Fees are $33 per year. You can also add a subscription to Boy’s Life, our nationally-awarded magazine full of fun and compelling content for young readers, for $12 a year. Your Scouting Unit may also charge yearly dues to cover the cost of some activities and supplies.


I just joined a Scouting unit, and I need to purchase a uniform. I don’t know where to go or what my child needs. Help!


Welcome to the family! We are happy to have you, and don’t worry, our Scout Store professionals are here to help. Click here to visit the Scout Store page, where you will find information on uniform requirements, patch placement, as well as store hours and directions. The Northeast Illinois Council also offers uniform assistance to families who may find the uniform cost prohibitive. If you would like more information or to utilize this program, please click here to contact us.

You guys use a lot of acronyms, and I’m confused about what some of the Scouting terminology means. Do you have a guide to help me?


We sure do. We know that our jargon can sound like gibberish to a new parent, and we want to make sure that you and your child have the best Scouting experience possible. Click here for a Scouting Glossary. If you are a new Cub Scout parent, you can also pick up a complimentary Cub Scout Parent Orientation Guide at our Scout Store.

My child has special needs. Can they still join a Scouting program?


Absolutely. Scouting is open to youth of all abilities, and youth with special needs bring a unique and welcome dynamic to all of our programs. Click here to learn more about the Northeast Illinois Council’s Special Needs programs.

I’m becoming a new adult leader and I need to take my online training. Where do I start?


Congratulations! We hope you are as excited as we are, but we know that Scouting can seem overwhelming at first. Your first step is online Youth Protection Training, our program designed to protect youth and adults. Click here to visit our training page.

Where does the Council fit in to the Boy Scouts of America’s organization?


The Boy Scouts of America is overseen by the National Council in Irving, Texas, but is broken down into smaller geographical structures.  The BSA is broken into 5 large geographic Regions; Illinois is part of the Central Region. Regions are then broken down into smaller territories, called Areas. We sit in Area 7, which includes Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin. Areas are broken down into Councils, and Councils are then divided into Districts. Districts serve all scout units and volunteers within their designated boundaries.

Who works for the Northeast Illinois Council?


We are staffed by a team of around 16 full-time professional staff members who are responsible for delivering the promise of Scouting to all youth in our Council. If you are looking for a specific member of our staff, you can find our staff directory here.

I have a question not answered here. Help!


We apologize that you could not find what you needed. If you are looking for specific information, try using the search function at the top right of this page. Otherwise, you can give us a call at 847.433.1813, or contact us using the form below.