It was Feb. 8, 1910, when the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated, a day some now call National Boy Scouts Day. Since that day 106 years ago, millions of boys across the U.S. have learned ways to survive in the wild, techniques necessary to tie a whole plethora of knots and the importance of doing a good turn daily.
It was one of those daily good turns that actually brought scouting to the U.S. Chicago newspaper publisher William D. Boyce was stuck in a thick London fog in 1909, completely lost, when a boy came up to him and eventually led him to where he wanted to go, according to Scouting magazine.
The boy refused a tip offered by Boyce, saying he was a Scout doing a good turn. The efforts of the boy, now known as the “Unknown Scout,” influenced Boyce to bring the British phenomenon of the Scouts to the U.S.
The man who came up with the concept of the Scouting movement was Lt. Gen. Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army officer who had been stationed everywhere from Malta to India to Africa. An expert scout and mapmaker, Baden-Powell wrote a book for soldiers called “Aids to Scouting” while serving in the military. Upon his arrival home in England in 1903, he found the book had become extremely popular among boys.
Baden-Powell then decided to rewrite the book with a specific readership of young men in mind. Before he published the book “Scouting for Boys” in 1908, he held what is considered the first “Scout camp” in 1907 in an effort to field-test his ideas. About 22 boys attended this historic event at the start of the Scouting movement.
— Stacey Gross (@sgrosswto) January 30, 2016
The idea for merit badges came later, as did the notion of the Cub Scouts, designed for those 7 to 11 years old.