The Boy Scouts have become a symbol for the spirit of the great outdoors, and is a group which quickly grew into the largest youth organization in the United Sates. Here we look at the history of the Boy Scouts of America to see how they grew into the organization we have come to know and love today.
History of Boy Scouts of America
1896 – War gives rise to a new inspiration.
In 1886, Robert Baden-Powell was assigned as Chief of Staff to General Frederick Carrington in the Matabeleland region in Southern Rhodesia. It was here that he met Frederick Russell Burnham, an American born Chief of Scouts for the British, and a life long friend. In command of countless reconnaissance missions into enemy territory, Baden-Powell was keen to have Burnham teach him about woodcraft, as it was virtually an unknown practice to the British. He derived a great deal of enjoyment from the lessons, learning about the codes and practices of frontiersmen and the Indigenous peoples from those American West regions.
1899 – Robert Baden-Powell publishes a field manual – Aids to Scouting.
These lessons were carried out in the dusty heat of the African bush, amongst the giant boulders of the Motobo Hills. They were destined to form the basis of what is known today as scoutcraft, and also became the cornerstone for the code of honour for the Boy Scouts. It was also here that the hat Baden-Powell always wore, which was one like Burnham’s, became a signature of his image. Incidentally, the Kudu horn, (an Ndebele war horn), that he took a fondness to, was the same horn that he was eventually to use every morning on Brownsea Island, for waking up the young boys on the very first Boy Scouts camp that was to take place some years later.
The importance of creating and including a training program for the young and inexperienced British soldiers, covering tracking and fieldcraft skills became evident. Robert Baden-Powell began to gather material for an instruction book that he first published as a field guide for soldiers.
1900 – A hero rises.
It was just a few years later, during the Siege of Mafeking, that the Cadet Corps, under the guidance of Baden-Powell, played an important role in helping the British survive the siege. It was on this badge of honor that the international symbol of Scouting was to be based. Due to the triumphant survival of the Siege of Mafeking, Baden-Powell was heralded a hero. It was a result of his fame that the military scouting book he had written, Aids to Scouting, began to enjoy popularity. Young boys bought copies of his military instruction manual. Robert Baden-Powell, now a lieutenant general, noticed the increasing interest in his instruction book, and set about writing another book called Scouting for Boys. Setting out a code of honor that encouraged good deeds, provided practical tips on tracking, guidance on survival and camping and compiled it specifically for young adolescent boys. Games were set up, and badges were earned with completed tasks. It rapidly gathered popular support, both among the British, and well as in America.
1907 – July 25th, the first trial run.
It became an organized movement, and thousands of young boys flocked to register. Deciding to give his idea a trial run, he selected a group of boys to go on the first Boy Scout camp, which was to last a fortnight, on Brownsea Island on July 25, 1907. Teaching them boating, camping, how to survive, observation, and practical tasks (as well as chivalry) it turned out to be a huge success.
1908 – The first official publication.
The Boy Scouting Association had been formed, and an official magazine that was issued fortnightly, was now in circulation. It had become a full time occupation for Baden-Powell, as he developed programs and expanded the organization to include the Cubs for the younger boys, and the Girl Guides. It continued to grow at a rapid rate, resonating with the youth and an excellent vehicle for education, which was put to good use as Robert Expanded his lessons to encompass skills and virtues that held international approval and appeal.
1909 – the first national meeting.
In 1909 the first national Boy Scout meeting was held at Crystal Palace, London. It was a movement that had officially changed the world.
Camping Supplies & Military Surplus
If you need to stock up on any supplies for your Boy Scout or Girl Scout outings, come visit Uncle Sam’s or give us a call at (877) 849-8777 for all your Discount Camping & Military Surplus needs.