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The Greatest Show on EarthIndian Nations Council

The History Of Scouting

In 1910, newspapers featured Model T Fords chugging along rutted roads at 8 miles an hour; Detroit's center fielder, Ty Cobb, batting .385; and Tom Swift hitting the book market with a bang. Buried deep in one newspaper, it was reported: "William D. Boyce, a Chicago publisher, incorporated the Boy Scouts of America in Washington, D.C. on February 8." That was all it said.

We can't blame reporters for missing the biggest story of the day, because who could have guessed that from such a small beginning, Scouting would become the giant it is today? From about 2,000 Boy Scouts and leaders in 1910, Scouting in the United States has grown to nearly 6 million strong. Although changes have been made in Scouting over the years, the ideals and principles have remained the same since its beginning--service to others and duty to God and country.

Our Founder

Scouting's history really goes way back to the turn of the century with a British Army officer, Robert S. S. Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell, who was stationed in India at the time, found that his men did not know basic first aid or the elementary means of survival in the outdoors. They couldn't follow a trail or tell directions, read danger signs, or find food or water. Baden-Powell, who had earned a reputation as a courageous soldier and able army scout, felt a need to teach his men resourcefulness, adaptability, and the qualities of leadership demanded by frontier conditions, so he wrote a small military handbook called Aids to Scouting. While serving in South Africa in 1899, Baden-Powell became world famous during the Boer War by holding, for 217 days, the small town of Mafeking, which was being besieged by an enemy force 10 times greater than his own. He returned to London as a national hero, was promoted to major general, and was amused to find that his little handbook had caught the interest of English boys. They were using it to play the game of scouting. Baden-Powell had the vision to see some new possibilities and he decided to test his ideas on boys. In August 1907, he gathered together 20 boys from all parts of England. Some were from exclusive schools and others were from the slums, the shops, and the farms. He took them to Brownsea Island, in a sheltered bay off England's southern coast, and there along the shore they set up a makeshift campsite which would be their home for the next 12 history making days. The boys had a great time! they divided into patrols and played games, took hikes, learned stalking and pioneering. They learned to cook outdoors without utensils. And in the evenings, in the magic of the campfire, they were spellbound by Baden-Powell's stories of his army adventures. The next year Baden-Powell published his book Scouting for Boys which revealed a warm understanding of boys and what they liked to do. He didn't dream that this book would set in motion  a movement that would affect the boyhood of the entire world. That same year, more than 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally held at the Crystal Palace. This was living proof of how quickly Scouting was establishing itself. Two years later, the membership had tripled.

American Origins

In 1909, a Chicago businessman and publisher, William D. Boyce, was lost in a London fog. As he groped his way through the fog, a boy appeared and offered to take him to his destination. When they arrived, the American reached in his pocket for a shilling tip. But the boy stopped him by courteously explaining that he was a Scout and could not accept payment for a Good Turn.

Intrigued, the publisher questioned the boy and learned more abut Scouting. The boy took him to Baden-Powell's office, and once there, disappeared into the fog. No one knows what happened to him. He was never heard from again, but he will never be forgotten. At the Scout Training Center at Gilwell Park, England, a statue of a buffalo was erected in honor of this "Unknown Scout." His good Turn is what

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