Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born February 22, 1857, in London, England. His father died when he was three years old, leaving his mother to raise seven children. He spent much of his boyhood in the outdoors with his four brothers, camping and hiking in many parts of England. He received a scholarship to Charterhouse School, a British school founded in 1611, and was the goalkeeper of the soccer team. He was dramatically and musically inclined, and had a gift for sketching.
When he graduated from Charterhouse, B-P joined the famous 13th Hussars regiment in the Crimean War in India. As he rose through the ranks of the British army, B-P gave much thought to the best ways to train soldiers. He believed that it was important for them to be able to think for themselves and to be able to act as scouts for their units. He chronicled his training ideas in a small book called Aids to Scouting. In 1899, B-P was sent to South Africa, where the British army was in conflict with the Boers, settlers of Dutch descent in the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. He soon found himself in charge of defending the small town of Mafeking with about 1,200 men under his command. However, many thousands of Boer soldiers surrounded and laid siege to the town, demanding that the British army surrender. Under B-P’s leadership and clever direction, the British soldiers led the Boers to believe that they were up against a more formidable foe and were able to hold off the Boers for 218 days.
B-P returned to England a hero, and Aids to Scouting became an inspiration for young boys. Carefully and slowly, B-P developed the Scouting idea and tested it in 1907 on Brownsea Island. The 21 boys he led that summer became the first Boy Scouts. The Scouting movement grew and, in 1910, reached such proportions that B-P knew that Scouting was to be his life’s work. In 1921, Scouts from all over the world met in London for the first international Scout gathering—the first world Scout jamboree. On the last night of this jamboree, B-P was proclaimed Chief Scout of the World. Click here for photo gallery.
In 1898, his reputation was enhanced by publication of his classic
Wild Animals I Have Known. He
bought a small estate in Cos Cob,
Out of this camp for boys grew the Woodcraft Indians. The Woodcraft
Indians offered badges for learning various skills, mostly in the
outdoors. There was no uniform but homemade Indian headdresses or sashes
served to display honors. Seton described the success of his “
His rich background of woodcraft, camping and other outdoor skills made Seton a logical choice for the position of Chief Scout for the new organization—The Boy Scouts of America. He remained Chief Scout for five years, adding immeasurably to the excitement of the Boy Scout program. In 1910, he produced the first handbook for the new program. Click here for photo gallery.
Uncle Dan Beard
was born in
In order to keep alive the traditions and activities of the “American
Knights in Buckskin” and to educate young men early in life to an
appreciation of the absolute necessity and value of our forests and natural
resources, he formed “The Society of the Sons of Daniel Boone”. In his book,
The Boy Pioneers, he suggested homemade uniforms in frontiersman style,
emblems for officers, and a red buff, and green flag with a tree, powder
horn, bird, and the initials “SDB”. The program featured camping skills and
outdoor crafts. In the Sons of
Daniel Boone eight boys made up a stockade; four stockades made a fort.
Officers bore titles such as Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, John Audubon,
Johnny Appleseed and David Crockett.
When the Boy Scouts of America came into being, Dan Beard joined it enthusiastically as National Scout Commissioner and Chairman of the National Court of Honor. He died in 1941, ten days before his 91st birthday. Click here for photo gallery.
William D. Boyce was a newspaper and
magazine publisher from Chicago, Illinois. In 1909, during a trip to
London he became lost in a dense fog. A boy came to his aid and, after
guiding him, refused a tip, explaining that as a scout he would not take
a tip for doing a good turn. This single act by an unknown scout
impressed Boyce who then sought out Baden-Powell and learned about his
Boyce returned to the United States and on February 8, 1910, he founded the Boy Scouts of America. In 1915, he founded a second program called the Lone Scouts of America in order to reach boys in rural areas not being served by the Boy Scouts of America. In 1924, the Lone Scouts merged with the Boy Scouts of America. Unlike the other “founding fathers” of Scouting, William Dickson Boyce was not a writer, an artist, a naturalist or a soldier. He did, however, have a great interest in the development of our youth and remained a strong supporter of the Scouting program. Click here for photo gallery.
James E. West was born in
Even though it was unusual that orphans were allowed to go to high school, Jimmie was granted permission to do so. He graduated at age nineteen and left the orphanage a year later. He supported himself with odd jobs while he worked for his law degree and was finally admitted to the
It was this experienced youth worker, now thirty-four years old, who was asked by the Executive Board of the newly formed Boy Scouts of America to head the movement. He was preparing to join a large