The Scout Association's Chief Scout is the head of its youth programmes. The role is now merely a nominal and titular ceremonial figurehead. The association's present Chief Scout is the British adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls.
Robert Baden-Powell made himself Chief Scout of his own Scouting organisation, The Boy Scouts Association. Following his death, the association appointed Chief Scouts of the British Empire, then of the British Commonwealth and Empire, then of the Commonwealth and, since 1972, of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories.
British Empire and Commonwealth
- Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, died 8 January 1941
- Arthur Somers-Cocks, 6th Baron Somers, March 1942, The Boy Scouts Association's Chief Scout of the British Empire
- Thomas Corbett, 2nd Baron Rowallan, April 1945, The Boy Scouts Association's Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire
- Sir Charles Maclean, later Lord Maclean, September 1959, The Boy Scouts Association's Chief Scout of the Commonwealth. He resigned as The Scout Association's Chief Scout of the UK in September 1971, but continued as The Scout Association's Chief Scout of the Commonwealth until August 1975.
United Kingdom and overseas territories
- Sir William Gladstone, July 1972
- Major-General Michael J. H. Walsh, February 1982
- Sir Garth Morrison, May 1988
- George Purdy, March 1996
- Peter Duncan, 5 September 2004
- Bear Grylls, 11 July 2009
The association's first Chief Scout, Robert Baden-Powell made himself the Chief Scout and chairman for life. The association's charter and by-laws made no provision for his removal, retirement or the appointment of a successor in either role. The association's subsequent Chief Scouts have been appointed by its council, which council elects its own members including office bearers, while others are appointed by the board of trustees (formerly committee of the council), with others nominated as representatives from councils around the United Kingdom (the majority of whose members are appointed by the board or headquarters) and overseas branches controlled by headquarters.
Once the powerful leader of the association, the role of the association's Chief Scout was fundamentally diminished when the holder ceased to also be chairman of the Committee of the Council (now Board of Trustees) following Baden-Powell's death in 1941. Baden-Powell had made himself Chief Scout and chairman for life but, upon his death, the committee determined that it had the power to appoint subsequent Chief Scouts and chairmen. Not only were the roles separated but the committee assumed power over the roles. The role was further diminished with appointments of Chief Scouts for limited terms and diminished further still in 2009 with the functions split with the appointment of a UK Chief Commissioner (Deputy Chief Scout). The UK Chief Commissioner took over most of the administrative duties and now heads the adult leaders and administrators of the association. Reducing the capacity of the Chief Scout to make decisions on their own, a committee was appointed to work alongside them. Working alongside the association Chief Scout's Committee, the association's Chief Scout is nominally responsible for the appointment of County Commissioners and County Presidents, but this is merely ceremonially formal. The association's Chief Scout is now merely an iconic figurehead for publicity promotion of the association's youth programmes.
Each section of The Scout Association has an award meant to come from the association's Chief Scout; in Beavers, the award is the Chief Scout's Bronze Award, in Cubs it is Silver, in Scouts it is Gold and in Explorers, Platinum and Diamond. The only award higher than this is the Queen's Scout Award.
- "The Chief Scout - Peter Duncan". The Scout Association. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- "Bear Grylls announced as new Chief Scout" (Press release). The Scout Association. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "The Council of the Scout Association". POR: Chapter 6: The Structure of the Headquarters of The Scout Association. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
- "Bear Grylls announced as new Chief Scout". The Scout Association. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
Working in partnership with Bear will be Scouting volunteer Wayne Bulpitt, who takes on the new role of UK Chief Commissioner.
- "The Chief Scout's Committee". POR: Chapter 6: The Structure of the Headquarters of The Scout Association. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
- "Awards, Decorations and Recognition of Service". Badges. Retrieved 17 January 2009.