Scouting in The United States - Origins - Scouting For Boys

Scouting For Boys

The progressive movement in the United States was at its height during the early twentieth century. With the migration of families from rural to urban centers, there were concerns among some people that young men were no longer learning patriotism and individualism. Starting in the 1870s, the YMCA was an early promoter of social welfare and other reforms involving young men around a program of mental, physical, social and religious development. Early corn clubs for farm boys began to develop into the 4-H around 1902. In 1896, years before the Scouting movement was founded by Baden-Powell he met the American born Chief of Scouts in British Africa, Frederick Russell Burnham, and learned from him the fundamentals of scouting, inspiring him and giving him the plan for the program and the code of honor of Scouting for Boys, and thus restoring the old traditions of American Youth.

Ernest Thompson Seton started the Woodcraft Indians in 1902 and published The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians in 1906. Daniel Carter Beard started the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905. When Baden-Powell created the first Scouting program in 1907, he used elements of Setons' work in his Scouting for Boys. Several small local Scouting programs started in the U.S. soon after, most notably the Boy Scouts of the United States (BSUS), the National Scouts of America (NSA) and the Peace Scouts of California— these later merged into the BSA soon after it was formed. The YMCA in Michigan was organizing Scout troops based on Scouting for Boys as early as 1909. Salvation Army founder William Booth met with Baden-Powell for discussion about a possible Salvationist Scouting program. The Salvation Army thus began its Life Saving Scouts of the World. The BSUS was started by the National Highway Protective Association and led by Peter S. Bomus. William Verbeck, Adjutant General of New York State, was leader of the National Scouts. Both the BSUS and NSA were both more military in style.

Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London, England in 1909 where he met the Unknown Scout and learned of the Scouting movement. Boyce secured the rights to the Scouting program in the U.S.., and soon after his return, Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910. Edgar M. Robinson and Lee F. Hanmer became interested in the nascent BSA movement and convinced Boyce to turn the program over to the YMCA for development. Robinson enlisted Seton, Beard and other prominent leaders in the early youth movements. After initial development, Robinson turned the movement over to James E. West who became the first Chief Scout Executive and the Scouting movement began to expand in the U.S.

Other Scouting organizations were also started around 1910 and continued for some time. These include the American Boy Scouts, the Polish National Alliance Scouts of Chicago, and the Rhode Island Scouts, the YMMIA Scouts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (merged 1913), United Boys' Brigade of America's Scout program and California Boy Scouts. The American Boy Scouts were organized by William Randolph Hearst in May and June 1910 but by the end of the year Hearst had left followed by the New England Department as the New England Boy Scouts and the following year the Rhode Island Boy Scouts.

The ABS changed their name to the United States Boy Scouts in 1913 after pressure from the BSA.

Boyce created the Lone Scouts of America in 1915 and merged them into the BSA in 1924. The Boy Rangers of America, an organization for younger boys, was created with help from the BSA and mainly merged in 1930.

Seton restarted Woodcraft after departing from the BSA in 1915, but the program faded after his death in 1946. After helping to create the BSA and seeing it grow into a successful rival, the YMCA began the Indian Guides in 1926 using some of Seton's material.

Other groups used the Scout name, but did not provide the Scouting program. Colonel Cody’s Boy Scouts were formed in 1909 and continue as the American Cadet Alliance. The Michigan Forest Scouts were organized in 1912 as auxiliaries for forest fire service.

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA's rights to the "Scouting" service mark, several scouting organizations were forced to change their names. In 1918, the Life Saving Scouts changed its name to LifeSaving Guards-Boys which led to many Life Saving units transferring to the BSA. LifeSaving Guards leader began to press for affiliation with the BSA. United States Boy Scouts then changed its name to American Cadets in 1919. The ABS survived for a few more years under various names before fading away.

In 1929, a special charter was granted to the LifeSaving Guards-Boys from the BSA to join the two organizations together.

Read more about this topic:  Scouting In The United States, Origins

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