The History of Boy Scouts in America

Posted by Sarah Seippel on

The History of Boy Scouts in America

The Boy Scout Movement Begins

On January 24, 1908, the Boy Scout Movement was created when Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell published his first installment of Scouting for Boys.  The book described a variety of games and contests that the Lieutenant General used to train his Calvary troops in scouting.  At this time, the author was already commonly known by many English boys, so thousands of copies of his handbook were bought immediately.  The idea behind the publication of this literary piece was that boys should be capable of organizing themselves into small groups of about six or seven plus an additional boy deemed as the leader, the “patrol leader” to learn skills.  Within the groups, the boys would train in areas applicable to outdoor activities: tracking, mapping, signaling, knotting, first air, and all other camping skills.  By the spring season, the series was complete, and Boy Scout troops started to form arise in Britain.  It was not until a year later that the movement made its way to America.

The America version of Boy Scouts was created after publisher William Boyce was rescued from being lost in the fog by a Boy Scout.  The Boy Scout refused to accept any form of compensation for his good deed, which inspired Boyce to organize his own youth organization in the United States.  After meeting with Baden-Powell, Boyce took the already existing Woodcraft Indians and the Sons of Daniel Boone and transformed it into the Boy Scouts of America.  The official founding date for this event is February 8th, 1910.

The Development of the Organization

The Boy Scout Movement was intended for boys eleven to fifteen years of age; however, it became apparent that boys of all ages could benefit from the principles of the organization.  In 1916, Baden-Powell founded a parallel organization for younger boys.  This organization is called the “Wolf Cubs”, which is the identical organization in America, the “Cub Scouts”. Additionally, in 1980, girls were permitted to join the Boy Scouts, and in the past year, girls have been granted permission to join cub scouts.  Alternatively, the Girls Scouts of America program was inspired by the start up of the Boy Scouts of America.

Why Do Boy Scouts of America Sell Popcorn?

Something you may not understand the purpose of is “why do boy scouts sell popcorn?”.  Not only is this practice a fundraising event, but it teaches boys the art of selling.  This act offers boys a chance to earn a badge in Salesmanship and Entrepreneurship. Not only is learning to sell something a useful skill but learning how to deal with people who say “no” is also a useful skill.  Through this fundraising event, the boys also learn to set SMART goals, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time-bound.  This is a vital life skill because it is apart of success.  Creating a plan and following through with the plan teaches a person to prioritize and to value hard work.  Lastly, selling popcorn is a huge lesson in perseverance.  If you are unable to sell any popcorn at one house, you put your happy face on and move on to the next home.  Being tenacious is important- and it doesn’t stop with selling the product.  The perseverance and optimism that comes with selling door-to-door, and being rejected door-to-door, shines in the learning environment, as well as the work environment.

 Boy Scouts in America Today

Today in America, the Boy Scouts are no longer referred to as “Boy Scouts”.  Effective in February 2018, the program was renamed as “Scouts BSA”.  This is because the organization’s leaders are trying to change the face of the Boy Scouts due to the integration of allowing females to apart of the troops.  The parent organization will remain as the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts will also keep its name.  This change reflects the shifting social and cultural norms that expect social groups to be exclusive based on gender.  To further this shift, the Scouts also permitted transgender children to join its programs as of January 2017.  The primary reason for this being that the leaders want all youth to have a fair opportunity to be apart of the scouts.

 Our Photograph

Almost as if he were a statue, the assistant patrol leader stands with perfect posture and a stern expression. His hands lay firmly at his sides, and he looks directly at the photographer with an intense, yet stoic, expression. He wears the standard assistant patrol leader uniform of the time: a long-sleeved shirt with four pockets, trousers gathered at the calves, and a hat. He stands on a grassy field in Kennebunkport, Maine with lush trees lining the area. The branches of the trees are abundant with leaves and cast dense shadows along the back of the field. Fortunately, there was sufficient sunlight that allowed the patrol leader to have such a handsome portrait taken.


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