How well do you know basic Boy Scout skills?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Scouting might sound nerdy in an age where pre-teen boys are either skaters or hackers ... but someday, these skills, or knowing someone who knows them, could save your life. How much do you know about the essential skills taught in Boy Scouting? Take our quiz and find out!

What is the Boy Scouts' motto?

The Boy Scouts' motto resembles that of the Coast Guard, which is "Semper paratus" or "Always ready." The focus on preparedness shows up in Scout priorities, like learning first aid and natural-disaster preparedness.


The marker of learning a new skill is called a ______.

At present, there are more than 135 possible merit badges. These include badges in STEM disciplines and the arts.


What is tinder?

It's a paradox of outdoor life: Idiots start forest fires without even meaning to, but careful campers often have to struggle to start one. Light dry stuff (grasses, leaves, etc) make great tinder, which can help a fire get going.


What is a fire ring?

Almost synonymous with "fire pit," a fire ring is a circle of sheet metal around bare ground that lets campers build a fire with minimum risk of it spreading. It's one of the advantages of staying in a campground, as opposed to open-country camping.


What is a compass used for?

Compasses use magnetism to find magnetic north, and let the hiker/camper discern the other three headings. Maps and compasses are the main tools in orienteering.


The skill of map reading and wildland navigation is called?

The use of maps and compasses is important to boy scouting, much of which involves being outdoors. Maps have a more complicated language than many casual users know.


In the wilderness-survival acronym "STOP," what does the "S" stand for?

The "S' is "recursive," meaning it stands for itself. But it makes sense in light of the entire acronym, which is Stop, Think, Observe, Plan.


Which of these teaches respect for wildland areas when camping or hiking?

"Leave No Trace" and "Tread Lightly" are programs that teach Scouts how to keep the wilderness wild. It's related to the old adage "Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints," though much more detailed.


Is building an open fire acceptable under "Leave No Trace" rules?

"Leave No Trace" recommends using a fire pan -- or a stove, if cooking is all that is desired. Bear in mind, fires at established campgrounds are fine, just not in open country.


True or false: Are computer skills part of Boy Scouting?

Computing skills are a more recent addition to scouting. They start with simple security rules, like creating a strong password and knowing who you're dealing with online.


What is the opposite of "car camping"?

"Car camping" doesn't mean you literally sleep in the car; it just means you drive to the campsite and have your car handy there for storage. Backpackers, on the other hand, carry everything they need on their backs, hiking in to the site where they'll make camp. (If you were wondering, "glamping" is an unfortunate 2000s word for "glamorous camping," or camping with all sorts of luxuries).


True or false: Are emergency preparedness and good citizenship covered under the same category?

Though a good citizen should be ready to take care of himself and others in an emergency, these are separate categories in Scouting. The citizenship category's full name is "Citizenship in the Nation."


What is geocaching?

In geocaching, participants use GPS devices, including smartphones, to find coordinates and then storage containers. Often the containers just hold logbooks, which geocachers sign to prove they found the container. Boy Scouts of America offers a badge in geocaching.


True or false: Is "Dutch oven care and use" a skill?

Why do Scouts need to care for a Dutch oven? Because these durable, thick, two-handled pots will let you cook about anything over a fire.


How do you properly clean a Dutch oven?

Anyone who thinks only women are fussy about cleaning have never seen men clean and season their cast iron cookware. Want to start a fight among serious campers? Suggest scrubbing a Dutch oven with Palmolive and steel wool.


What is lashing?

Lashing is a skill used to make ladders, tripods, and even basic fencing. It's useful for someone who wants to spend a long time in the wild and to really be self-sufficient while doing so.


In which activity would you use "frapping"?

Frapping is a way of weaving a rope over-then-under (or under-then-over) two poles and drawing them tight. Urban DIctionary has a different definition: to change a friend's Facebook status, usually for comic effect, when his or her account is left unattended. We're pretty sure a Scout would never do such a thing, though!


What is a "cat hole"?

The digging and use of cat holes is part of "Leave No Trace" skills. "Leave No Trace" is so strict that it also recommends using natural substitutes for toilet paper, or if need be, packing toilet paper out when you return to civilization.


How much water is recommended for an emergency kit?

The emergency-preparedness we're talking about here is for the home, not hiking or camping trips. The Boy Scout motto is "Be prepared," and this includes being well-stocked at home, and able to help family and neighbors in times of crisis.


Which of these items is critical to a home emergency kit?

None of the other items listed are absolutely essential -- water sanitation tablets, for example, are unlikely to be useful unless you live by a large freshwater source -- but a can opener is. Don't be that person who stored a week's worth of canned food and only has an electric opener, which doesn't work with the power out.


Is shotgun shooting an acceptable Scout activity?

In 21st century America, the appropriateness of introducing youths to guns is increasingly under debate. But the Boy Scouts of America, citing the history of guns for hunting and pioneer survival, maintains a program that teaches gun safety and target shooting.


In which skill would you use top-roping?

Top-roping is anchoring a rope to a secure place at the highest point of the climb. It can't be done in all situations, but allows for greater safety during a climb.


What is the first rule of first aid?

The other three things are cornerstones of first aid and should be done very quickly. But don't forget to call 911 if you can -- good civilian skills are no replacement for trained paramedics.


The aggressive 'hug' from behind that can save a choking person is called _______.

Henry Heimlich was an American doctor who invented the famous anti-choking method. It's one of the most common first-aid techniques to be taught to civilians.


Confused behavior, cool moist skin, and bluish fingernails are signs of what?

Shock can follow many different types of injuries, and can be fatal. Victims should be allowed to lie down, with their legs elevated if there are no broken bones to worry about.


What is a carabiner?

A carabiner is a clasp, often oval or D-shaped, that secures ropes in rock climbing. Though small and light, a carabiner can hold more than two tons. Impressive!


When lost in the wild, which is more important?

Of course, both food and water are important. But survival times are much shorter for a person without water than for a person without food. Which is why carrying a canteen, as well as finding a source of fresh water, is so important.


True or false: Should you conserve water when lost in the wild?

Water should never be wasted, but it can't really be conserved. Drink whenever you are thirsty, to keep your body and brain functioning the way they need to in a crisis situation.


Is performing an emergency tracheotomy a basic first-aid skill?

Emergency tracheotomy is a method of saving a person with an obstructed airway when the Heimlich maneuver fails. It involves making a hole in the throat, below the obstructing object, and inserting something like a straw so that air can enter and exit. People in action movies do this with ease, but doctors warn it is nowhere near so easy in real life, and carries a high risk of severing a blood vessel.


How many degrees of burns are there?

Most people are familiar with the categorizing system of first-, second- and third-degree burns. The last kind is difficult to treat in the wild. First- and second-degree burns respond reasonably well to being wrapped in wet material and gently cleaned.


Which of these is the hardest method of starting a fire?

This old-fashioned method is popular in the movies (see "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks) but is much harder than it looks. The best idea: carry a fire-starter or waterproof matches.


Which constellation helps you find the North Star?

Polaris, or the North Star, isn't very bright or distinctive, so to find it, locate the Big Dipper. Then imagine two stars on the edge of the "cup" as an arrow (bottom to top). The dim star they point (not quite directly) at is the North Star -- which can help you orienteer in the wild.


The branch of Scouting that deals with sailing and water skills is called the _______.

The Sea Scouts have "ships," not "dens," as their organizing unit. They learn swimming, lifeguarding, sailing and other maritime skills.


Which of the following strokes does a Scout NOT need to master for a merit badge in swimming?

Butterfly is a vigorous two-arms-at-once stroke that you'll see performed at swim meets and the Olympics. Considered the most athletically challenging stroke, it's not necessary for a Scout merit badge. (This is according to the national BSA site. Individual dens may vary in what they teach).


Which of these is important to being rescued when lost?

Moving often lessens your chances of being found. The other two options, wearing bright clothing and starting a fire, could be useful, but you don't always have the opportunity to do them. Staying in one place, though, is something anyone can do.


Explore More Quizzes

About Zoo

Our goal at is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on