Varsity Scouting began in 1974 as an experimental program in the Western Region. It was limited to boys aged 14 and 15, and designed to stop attrition by offering a more challenging scouting program much like the older Explorer Scout program. Boys reaching 16 were automatically transferred to Venturing Crews. During this experimental period, the members were not allowed to wear the BSA field uniform, instead wearing their own uniform consisting of a beige collared sports shirts with dark brown shorts or slacks. It was opened officially as a National program in 1984 for boys 14 to 17.

Varsity Scouting provides options for young men who are looking for rugged high adventure or challenging sporting activities and still want to be a part of a Scouting program that offers the advancement and values of the Boy Scouts of America.

The use of sports team terminology was to make the program more appealing to older boys would had never been involved in scouting, and might not be interested in joining a program with younger boys.

The five fields of emphasis are Advancement, High Adventure/Sports, Personal Development, Service, and Special Programs and Events.