The Madison Scouts are members of Drum Corps International and they compete within DCI Division I. The Scouts Executive Director id Jeff Spanos and Corps Director is Mark Dunton. The corps is organized by the Madison Drum and Bugle Corps Association. They are one of two remaining all-male drum corps in DCI, the other being The Cavaliers.
The corps was founded in 1938 after a group of Madison businessmen saw the Racine Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps perform and felt that Madison should have its very own corps comprised of Boy Scouts. C. H. Beebe led as executive director soon after the corps was conceived and continued in that position until his death in 1968.
In 1951, the corps split into the Madison Explorer Scouts and Madison Junior Scouts. The Junior corps served as a "feeder" group for the Explorer corps. The Explorers were the first recognized musical post in the Boy Scouts of America and evolved into the current-day Madison Scouts. In 1995, the Juniors merged with the Capitolaires Drum and Bugle Corps (an all-female corps) to form the Capital Sound Drum and Bugle Corps.
The corps is a founding member of DCI. During the 1971 season, both the Explorers and Chicago Cavaliers (now The Cavaliers) performed shows that pushed the envelope of creativity. The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) circuits imposed strict rules on competition that no competing corps had a say in. To overcome this, several youth corps, including the Madison Scouts, banded together to form the Midwest Combine circuit in 1971 and later DCI in 1972. The first DCI world championships were held in 1972 in Whitewater, Wisconsin's Perkins Stadium.
The corps was DCI World Champion in 1975 and 1988. In addition, it placed second in 1974 and 1976 and third in 1981.
The Fleur-de-lis was originally a symbol used in French heraldry ("lilly flower"). The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) incorporated it as one of their official symbols. Known as the "Seal of Peace", the BSA's version is usually enclosed within a circle or an olive wreath. The Madison Scouts have used the circle-enclosed version until 2003, when it was changed to a two-toned green fleur-de-lis, shaped after the older Medieval French symbol. Although the corps does not actively continue in traditional scouting activities, they retained this symbol as a means of acknowledging their roots within the BSA.
- The members of the Madison Scouts are Venture Scouts. Although they do not continue to participate in traditional scouting activities, they are still "scouts".
- The corps has begun every summer since 2003 learning the show on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and performing its dress rehearsal in Perkins Stadium in tribute before going on its national tour.
- The corps has employed the use of a single female in the color guard in 1971 and in 2005 for the roles of Alice (Alice in Wonderland) and Carmen, respectively. Neither female was technically admitted as a full member of the corps.