In 1955, Archbishop Michael, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Metropolitan Anthony Bashir, of the Antiochoian Orthodox Archdiocese, Bishop Orestes Chormock, of American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese, and Metropolitan Leonty, of the Orthodox Church in America met with Joseph A. Brunton, Jr., the Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. The prelates came attired in their robes of office to bestow their blessing of the Boy Scouts and to make known to their constituents that they wanted Scouting to become a part of the youth programs of the local churches. This was one of the first cross-jurisdictional enterprises of the Orthodox Churches in North America. Later they included the Girl Scouts USA. As a result of this historical meeting, the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS] was created in 1960 by the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, whose purpose is to conduct the mission of our Lord and His Church via the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts USA programs on a national level.
The “Eastern” Orthodox Church
The word “Orthodox” is derived from two short Greek words, orthos, meaning correct, and doxa, meaning belief or glory. Thus, we used the word “Orthodox” to indicate our conviction that we believe and worship God correctly. We emphasize Apostolic tradition, continuity and conservatism over a 2,000 year history.
Our Church is also spoken of as the “Eastern Church” to distinguish it from the Churches of the West. “Eastern” is used to indicate that in the first millennium the influence of our Church was concentrated in the eastern part of the Christian world and to show that a very large number of our membership is of other than Greek national origin. Thus, Orthodox Christians throughout the world use various ethnic or national titles: “Greek”, “Russian”, “Serbian”, “Romanian”, “Ukrainian”, “Bulgarian”, “Antiochian”, “Albanian”, “Carpatho-Russian”, or more inclusively, as “Eastern Orthodox”.
Founded in 1960 under the auspices of the Standing Conference of Eastern Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (S.C.O.B.A.)
Support and conduct the mission of our Lord and His church via the scouting program.
Recognize the individual youth member as our most important member.
Provide support, programs, and recognition to the scouts and scouters of Eastern Orthodox faith whether in units in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, or registered in units sponsored by other institutions, via the religious youth recognitions, adult recognitions for volunteer scouters and clergy, retreats, camp-o-rees, associated events and activities.
Provide support, guidance, programs, and consultation to the Eastern Orthodox Churches that sponsor Scouting and are partners in the scouting program.
Create, expand, enhance and project a presence of Eastern Orthodox Scouting in the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts USA, and Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
The E.O.C.S. exists to complement and supplement the youth’s program and the unit’s program. The E.O.C.S. does not exist to direct or replace a unit’s program.
Encourage the use of the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts USA, and Camp Fire Boys and Girls programs as part of the youth ministry program of the Church and community.
Develop and extend our Scouting network with our ministry partners.
The E.O.C.S. is the officially recognized Eastern Orthodox religious committee for the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts USA, and Camp Fire Boys and Girls programs.
What we offer
Is there a troop in your church?
Do you have a Boy or Girl Scout Troop as part of your over-all program? If so, is it integrated into the total Christian Educational scheme of your parish or just tolerated as a community service which has built-in hazards for church property?
Your Orthodox Church, in partnership with Boy Scouts of America/Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and the Standing Conference of Canonical Eastern Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, wholeheartedly endorses Scouting and urges parish councils and the Reverend Clergy to sponsor this program on a local level. Too often we fail to see the possibilities that this program offers in the Christian education of our youth.
Boy Scouts of America tell us in effect “Here is a program for you to use as you wish. We will provide you the resources and framework for your program and help train your leaders.” What more do we ask? The unit or units once established, belong to the church and the Boy Scouts will issue charters. The priest and Parish Council have the responsibility of appointing Christian leaders to guide the activities of the units. The Girl Scouts appoint their leaders.
There are two types of troops a parish may sponsor. On the one hand there is the closed troop whose membership is open only to Orthodox Scouts; on the other hand, there is the opened troop whose membership is not restricted in any way. Each parish is free to chose its own program.
What does Scouting offer a Church?
A program for boys/girls tailored to the local parish and administrated by the church, through the Priest and Parish Council.
An opportunity of reading, teaching and training boys & girls and thus strengthening the parish.
A cooperative program in which the Church, troop, school and home work together.
Helpful up-to-date literature and program aids for the leaders.
Assistance and guidance from competent professional and volunteer Scout leaders and also from the local Scout council office.
Scouting does not detract from existing youth programs. Rather, they provide a Church-centered program of education and outdoor activities which supplements other youth ministries in the parish
Scouting in the Parish Life
Scouting has many objectives that are common with those of our Holy, Orthodox Church. As a program devised especially for the formative years of our Orthodox youth, Scouting encourages a better Christian life; it aids in building character and developing wholesome habits and effective citizenship activities. The Scout motto “Be Prepared” implies not only physical and mental but also spiritual, moral preparedness.
Scouting works hand and hand with the Church on all levels. A properly organized and supervised Scout program in a parish can do a great deal in keeping our youth close to the Church and its many varied, wholesome, character building activities; it trains boys and girls to be of service to God, country, and fellowmen – all of which constitutes a Christian upbringing. Finally, it trains our boys/girls not only how to be contributing citizens of tomorrow, but also participating members and leaders in our Holy Faith. We have many examples of Scouts participating as acolytes, choir members, Sunday school teachers, and in various other capacities in our parish life. A number of the Boy Scouts even found themselves drawn to the Holy Priesthood as a result of the close contact they had with their priest through this program,
Scouting reaches every member of the family and leads him/her into the parish life of our churches. This program cannot be expected to cure all parish problems, but it can rally the youth around the priest with a Church-centered, wholesome program of education and fun. For this reason your national committee on Scouting urges all parish priests and interested laymen to learn more about Scouting and organize and sponsor an Orthodox Boy or Girl Scout troop wherever one does not now exist.