Boy Scouts of America Historical Highlights

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History of the BSA
:Adapted from Boy Scouts of America Historical Highlights

1910s

1910
  • The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated on February 8 under the laws of the District of Columbia by W. D. Boyce.
  • On June 21, a group of 34 national representatives of boys' work agencies meet, develop organization plans, and open a temporary national headquarters in a YMCA office in New York.
  • Board members include the Boy Scouts of America's founding fathers: Daniel Carter Beard, national Scout commissioner; and Ernest Thompson Seton, Chief Scout.
  • James E. West is appointed executive officer.
1911
  • The first edition of the Handbook for Boys is published. Some 300,000 copies are printed.
  • The National Council office is established at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York City on January 2, 1911, with seven employees.
  • The Scout Oath, Scout Law, badges, and fundamental policies are adopted.
  • The first awards for heroism are presented by the National Court of Honor.
1912
  • By 1912, Scouts are enrolled in every state.
  • The first Eagle Scout Award is earned by Arthur Eldred in Troop 1 in Oceanside, New York. A few weeks after becoming the first Eagle Scout, Eldred helps save another Scout from drowning and is awarded the Honor Medal for his actions.
  • Scouts mobilize for the first of a series of national civic Good Turns, including the promotion of a safe and sane Fourth of July. Other community Good Turns begin.
  • Sea Scouting for older Scouts starts.
  • Boys' Life is purchased to become an official BSA magazine.
1913
  • Norman Rockwell is hired as an illustrator for Boys' Life magazine. He is soon promoted to art director.
  • Scouting, the official magazine for Scouters, is first published.
1914
1915
  • The Department of Education establishes a national office to train all Scouters.
  • The Order of the Arrow (OA) is founded by Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson at the Treasure Island Camp of the Philadelphia Council.
1916
  • Congress grants the Boy Scouts of America a federal charter on June 15, giving special protection to the name and insignia and limiting membership to American citizens.
1917
  • The day after war is declared on Germany, under the slogan "Every Scout to Feed a Soldier," BSA members are urged to plant vegetable gardens. In two plant-growing seasons, 12,000 Scout farms are established. At the same time, the BSA pledges to aid the American Red Cross and promises cooperation with the U.S. Navy by organizing Scout coastal patrols to watch for enemy ships.
  • Scouting's full resources are placed at the service of the government as part of the war effort. From 1917 to 1918, Scouts sell 2,350,977 Liberty Loan bonds, totaling $147,876,902; and war savings stamps, to a value of $53,043,698. More than 300 million pieces of government literature are distributed, and services rendered include food and fuel conservation and Boy Scout war gardens.
1918
  • After the signing of the armistice, the slogan "The War Is Over, But Our Work Is Not" is adopted. Scouts render nationwide service during the influenza epidemic.
  • The first service club sponsorship of troops is inaugurated by Rotary International.
1919
  • A systematic method of developing cooperation with religious organizations is adopted.
  • The first gold Honor medals are awarded by the National Court of Honor for saving life at risk of the rescuer's own.

1920s

1920
  • The First World Jamboree is held in England; Boy Scouts from 32 of 52 countries are present. The Boy Scouts of America sends 301 members.
1921
  • Outstanding civic Good Turns are rendered in forest conservation and in connection with the floods at Pueblo, Colorado, and San Antonio, Texas.
1924
  • The Every Scout a Swimmer program is inaugurated.
  • The first achievement badges are earned by physically disabled Scouts.
  • The Lone Scouts of America merges with the Boy Scouts of America.
1926
  • The first Silver Buffalo awards for distinguished service to boyhood are presented.
  • The National Executive Board authorizes development of a program for younger boys, which will eventually become Cub Scouting.
1927
  • Eagle Palms are added to the list of awards.
  • The National Council office moves to 2 Park Avenue, New York City.
  • Three Scouts--David R. Martin, Douglas Oliver, and Dick Douglas--accompany the Martin Johnson Expedition to Africa.
  • Sea Scout Paul A. Siple accompanies Commander Richard E. Byrd to the Antarctic.

1930s

1930
  • The Cub Scout program is formally launched. There are 5,102 Cub Scouts at the end of 1930.
1931
  • The first Silver Beaver awards are presented for distinguished service to boyhood within a council.
1933
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes honorary president, and former President Herbert Hoover becomes honorary vice president.
  • The Mortimer L. Schiff Scout Reservation is formally opened and dedicated.
1934
  • In response to the request of President Roosevelt in a radio address delivered February 10, Boy Scouts perform a nationwide Good Turn, collecting 1,812,284 items of clothing, household furnishings, foodstuffs, and supplies for the distressed and needy.
  • The Order of the Arrow becomes an approved part of the Scouting program.
1935
  • The entire Scout membership celebrates the Silver Jubilee of Scouting.
  • Membership in the Boy Scouts of America passes the 1 million mark.
  • Boys' Life marks its 25th anniversary in March.
  • The 5-millionth copy of the Handbook for Boys is published.
  • The proposed national jamboree is canceled because of a polio epidemic.
1937
  • The First National Jamboree is held in Washington from June 30 to July 9, at the invitation of President Roosevelt, with an attendance of 27,232.
1938
  • Waite Phillips donates Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp (later to become Philmont Scout Ranch--see 1941) consisting of 35,857 acres of land on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, near Cimarron, New Mexico.
1939
  • Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp opens for advanced Scout camping.

1940s

1941
  • With the declaration of war, the government requests Boy Scout service for the distribution of defense bonds and stamp posters; collection of aluminum and wastepaper; defense housing surveys; victory gardens; distribution of air-raid posters; cooperation with the American Red Cross; and, by joint agreement with the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, services in three capacities--messengers, assisting emergency medical units, and firewatchers.
  • Waite Phillips makes another large gift--land, residence and ranch buildings, livestock, operating ranch equipment--contiguous to Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp, bringing total acreage to more than 127,000 acres. The area is renamed Philmont Scout Ranch.
  • Webelos rank created for 11-year-old boys with the Lion badge.
1942
  • Scouts continue in war service. Twenty-eight projects are requested by the government, including the collection of 30 million pounds of rubber in a two-week drive; all-out salvage based on the government-issued pamphlet Scrap and How Scouts Collect It; distribution of pledge cards for war bonds and savings stamps; victory gardens; work on farms and in harvest camps; and government dispatch bearers.
1943
  • Scouts render war service at the request of the government in four general classifications: collections--aid in salvage drives; distribution, as official dispatch bearers for government pamphlets and posters; production; and conservation.
  • The first Silver Antelope awards are presented for distinguished service to youth within a region.
  • Long trousers and the Scout cap become part of the official uniform.
1945
  • The total Boy Scout war service includes 69 requests from the government during 1941 through 1945.
  • General Dwight D. Eisenhower's outstanding Wastepaper Campaign culminates in the General Eisenhower Award; a gold medal is presented to him in December by the Boy Scouts of America in appreciation. Other service includes collections in many communities, distribution of circulars on conservation projects, and the Green Thumb program.
  • Twenty thousand Scouts earn the General Douglas MacArthur Medal for growing food.

1950s

  • The Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 40th anniversary.
  • The Second National Jamboree, held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, June 30-July 6, brings 47,163 Scouts and leaders from around the nation and the world.
  • Philmont Scout Ranch begins offering training courses.
  • The U.S. Post Office Department issues the first Boy Scout stamp.
1951
  • Scouts collect 2 million pounds of clothing for domestic and foreign relief.
1952
  • Scouts distribute more than a million posters and 30 million Liberty Bell doorknob hangers in a get-out-the-vote campaign.
  • Scouts cooperate in a national campaign to secure blood donor pledges, collect clothing for worthy causes, distribute seeds for Asia, and aid in conservation projects and civil defense.
1953
  • The Third National Jamboree is held at the Irvine Ranch in Southern California, July 17-23, with 45,401 Scouts and leaders from around the nation and the world participating.
  • Scouts assist in the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • First pinewood derby held in California.
1954
  • The Boy Scouts of America conducts a National Conservation Good Turn, distributing 3.6 million conservation posters. In parks, rural areas, and wilderness areas, Scouts plant 6.2 million trees, build and place 55,000 bird-nesting boxes, and arrange 41,000 conservation displays.
  • Boys' Life circulation passes the 1 million mark.
  • The Webelos den is created to provide a means of maintaining the interest of Cub Scouts 10 years of age in Scouting and to provide a bridge for crossing over to Boy Scouting.
1956
  • In a nationwide nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign, Scouts distribute more than a million posters and 36 million Liberty Bell doorknob hangers.
  • Boys' Life magazine is among the top 17 American magazines.
1957
1958
  • National Safety Good Turns are conducted. The BSA delivers 40 million emergency handbooks prepared by the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization. Also, 50,000 posters are placed in post offices.
  • Richard Lee Chappel of Eggertsville, New York, accompanies the National Academy of Sciences team on the International Geophysical Year Arctic Expedition.

1960s

1960
  • During Scouting's Golden Jubilee year, thousands of boys earn the 50th Anniversary Achievement Award.
  • Some 56,378 Scouts and leaders attend the Fifth National Jamboree, held at Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 22-28.
  • The U.S. Post Office Department issues a Boy Scout commemorative stamp in February.
  • The third national get-out-the-vote campaign is conducted.
1963
1964
  • The Sixth National Jamboree is held at Valley Forge July 17-23, with 52,000 Scouts and leaders participating.
1965
  • The Inner-City Rural Program is launched.
  • The 500,000th Eagle Scout badge is presented.
  • The BSA's 40 millionth youth is registered.
1967
  • The Boy Scouts of America hosts the 12th World Jamboree at Farragut State Park, Idaho.
1968
1969
  • Young women are accepted as participants in special-interest Exploring posts.
  • The Seventh National Jamboree is held at Farragut State Park, Idaho. More than 35,000 Scouts and leaders attend.

1970s

1970
  • Project SOAR (Save Our American Resources) is initiated as an ongoing BSA service project. It is estimated that during the year, 60,000 BSA units take part in SOAR-related conservation projects.
1971
  • Scouting Keep America Beautiful Day is held on June 5, and Scouts collect more than a million tons of litter.
1972
  • Nearly 4 million Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts take part in Scouting Keep America Beautiful Day.
  • The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) is launched.
1973
  • The 1973 National Scout Jamboree is held at two sites--Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania and Farragut State Park in Idaho--with more than 64,000 participants.
1974
  • Scouting Environment Day is held April 27.
  • The Cub Scout Safe Bicycle Driving program and Cub Scout Physical Fitness program are introduced.
  • New Scout merit badges are introduced for Orienteering and Wilderness Survival.
1976
1977
1978
  • Mark W. Leinmiller, Marietta, Georgia, is selected for the Antarctic Scientific Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Reader's Digest Association.
  • A public service advertising campaign is introduced featuring former President and Eagle Scout Gerald R. Ford.
1979
  • The national office is moved to Irving, Texas, after 25 years in New Jersey.
  • New editions of The Official Boy Scout Handbook and Wolf Cub Scout Book are published.

1980s

1980
  • The Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 70th anniversary.
  • Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorers pass out fliers across the country urging participation in the 1980 National Census.
  • Cub Scouting celebrates its 50th anniversary and registers its 30 millionth Cub Scout since 1930.
1981
1982
  • Alexander M. Holsinger becomes the millionth Eagle Scout registered.
  • "Shaping Tomorrow," a project aimed at addressing critical issues of the1980s, is initiated in January.
  • The Tiger Cubs BSA program is field tested and implemented.
1984
1985
  • The Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • The 11th National Scout Jamboree is held July 24-30 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. First lady Nancy Reagan pays a visit.
1986
  • The BSA is touched by the Challenger disaster, as two of the space shuttle crew members were active in Scouting as youths. Lt. Col. Ellison S. Onizuka attained the Eagle Scout rank in 1964 in Holualoa, Hawaii. Dr. Ronald E. McNair reached Star rank as a youth in Lake City, South Carolina.
  • Boys' Life magazine celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • The BSA conducts a nationwide Donor Awareness Good Turn to inform American families of the urgent need for donated human organs and tissue. An estimated 600,000 youth members distribute 14 million brochures to families, informing them of the need for donated human organs and tissue and urging them to make a commitment to donate.
  • Webelos program expands to two years to include fourth-grade and fifth-grade boys.
1987
  • The Boy Scouts of America begins to address five "unacceptables" in American society: drug abuse, hunger, child abuse, illiteracy, and unemployment.
  • The nation's largest anti-drug abuse education campaign is launched with the release of a booklet titled Drugs: A Deadly Game.
1988
  • The first annual Scouting for Food drive collects more than 65 million containers of food.
  • The campaign "Drugs: A Deadly Game" receives the 1988 Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives.
1989
  • The 12th National Scout Jamboree, at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, draws 33,000 Scouts and leaders.
  • The second annual Scouting for Food drive nets 72 million containers of food for the nation's needy.
1990s

1990

  • Pope John Paul II is presented with the BSA's Distinguished Citizen of the World Commendation.
  • The new 10th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook is published. The initial demand for a million copies of the manual brings the total circulation of the Handbook since 1910 to 33,860,000.
1991
  • The BSA funds training leaders from the former Soviet Union and the writing of the Russian Scout handbook.
1992
  • A focused initiative in Urban Emphasis encourages the formation of Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, and Explorer posts in low-income and minority communities. The bilingual publication of Scouting literature is increased to serve Spanish-speaking parents and leaders.
  • Scouts collect food and clothing, and offer a helping hand in the wake of Hurricane Andrew.
1993
  • Nearly 26,000 youth attend the 1993 National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
  • The Scouting movement in the former Soviet Union turns to the BSA for help in producing the first Russian Scout handbook; 20,000 copies are distributed.
1997
  • The 14th National Scout Jamboree, held at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, is attended by 35,000 Boy Scouts and leaders.
1998
  • The 11th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook is published. Its first printing yields 750,000 copies, bringing the total circulation of the Handbook since 1910 to nearly 36 million.
  • The coed Venturing program is launched. Venturing quickly becomes the fastest growing Scouting program, with a membership of more than 288,000 young men and women by the end of 2003.
  • Scouts collect more than 41 million cans of food to help feed the hungry.
1999
  • The new Venturer Handbook is introduced. A record number of Boy Scouts and Venturers earn Eagle Scout awards, with 47,582 young men attaining the prestigious rank.

2000s

2000
  • The Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 90th anniversary.
  • The BSA's 100 millionth youth is registered.
  • Scouts complete more than 214 million total hours of service for "America's Promise--The Alliance for Youth," surpassing the four-year goal of 200 million service hours by the end of 2000.
2001
  • The 15th National Scout Jamboree, held at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, is the largest single-site jamboree since 1964, with more than 40,000 participants and an estimated 275,000 visitors.
  • In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Scouts respond to our nation's call for assistance by collecting gloves, socks, toothbrushes, bottled water, and other necessities requested by rescue workers and victims.
2002
  • The National Scouting Museum reopens in a new 50,000-square-foot facility next door to the National Council office in Irving, Texas. The museum was formerly housed in Murray, Kentucky.
  • A total of 49,328 young men earn the rank of Eagle Scout--the largest one-year number ever in the history of the Boy Scouts of America.
  • Leave No Trace Frontcountry Guidelines and Leave No Trace Award introduced.
2003
  • Venturing introduces the Quest Award for participants to learn about good nutrition, fitness, and sportsmanship.
2004
  • The BSA launches Good Turn for America, a national initiative to address the problems of hunger, homelessness/inadequate housing, and poor health. The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity join as national partners.
  • Some 200 Scouts come to the aid victims in the wake of Hurricane Charley.
  • The Boy Scouts of America helps kick off September as National Preparedness Month. Eagle Scout Tucker Barbour of Troop 500, chartered to the Capitol Hill Scouts in Washington, D.C., introduces Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge at the kickoff event on the grounds of the United States Capitol.
2005
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