Buddhism is one of the largest religions in the country behind ChristianityJudaism and Islam with an estimate of practitioners at 1.2 million people in the USA. Of those, 75 to 80 percent are of Asian descent and often inherited Buddhism as a family tradition. 20 to 25 percent are non-Asians.

Scouting helps develop youth in the Buddhist community. Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturing crews chartered to Buddhist organizations can be found throughout the United States. Scouts can participate within those units. 

In 2010, the United States had about 1,500 Buddhist Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Buddhist youth have participated in Scouting for more than 95 years. Since 1920, with the formation of Troop 4 by the Fresno Buddhist Church, young Buddhists in America have enjoyed the benefits of Scouting.

The Buddhist Churches of America administers the religious emblems program for all the religion’s denominations in America. Founded in 1899, the organization is affiliated with Jodo Shinshu Hongwanjiha in Kyoto, Japan.

  • Buddhist Churches of America is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of:
    • Bishop
    • Board President
    • Ministerial Association Chairperson
    • District-level board members
    • Board members-at-large
    • Representatives 
  • Buddhist Churches of America National Committee on Scouting works with the community Buddhist religious leaders to develop the religious program. The National Buddhist Committee on Scouting works closely with the religious relationships director of the Boy Scouts of America to promote a harmonious relationship between all religious denominations and organizations.

Religious Emblems

Buddist AwardsAny registered Scout who has fulfilled all of the requirements for the Metta emblem or Sangha emblem can receive the recognition appropriate to his course of study.

Metta Emblem.
Metta is a Buddhist term meaning loving kindness and goodwill. This word was selected as the name for the Cub Scout religious emblem with the hope of nurturing boys to relate to all things with loving kindness and goodwill.

Sangha Emblem
Sangha means brotherhood. The Sangha emblem program gives the Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, and Venturer practical guidance in achieving the spiritual pledge made in the Scout Oath and Law, through the application of Buddhism. The program teaches the basic tenets of Buddhism as they relate to the activities of daily life. The program stresses the importance of both harmonious relationships and the universal brotherhood of all living beings.

Bodhi Emblem
This emblem recognizes adults who demonstrated the highest level of dedication, commitment, and self-sacrifice of the spiritual development of Buddhist members of the Boy Scouts of America

Buddhist Principles and Key Terms

  • The goal of Buddhism is enlightenment through understanding of the reasons and causes of suffering. Awareness of impermanence and of oneself and compassion toward others are basic and essential elements of the religion.
  • Essential elements: Awareness of impermanence and of oneself and compassion toward others.
  • Fundamental doctrine of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths, which are:
    • Noble Truth of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
    • Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering
      The last of the Four Noble Truths is also referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path, and includes the practice of:

      • Right Views
      • Right Thoughts
      • Right Speech
      • Right Conduct
      • Right Livelihood
      • Right Effort
      • Right Mindfulness
      • Right Meditation


For more information, contact: National Buddhist Committee on Scouting
1710 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

Darryl Alder
Darryl is a retired career Scouter with more than 30 years of service. However, his pride in Scouting, is his volunteer service as an Associate Advisor, Varsity Scout Coach, Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, Chartered Organization Representative and Commissioner.

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