The Karpeles Manuscript Library

Duluth, Minnesota

April 28, 2011 to August 31, 2011

The Boy Scouts Exhibit

Directions and HoursExternal Link

In 1907, after learning that his military textbook "Aids to Scouting" (1899) was being used for training boys in woodcraft,, British school officials asked Baden-Powell to adapt his program for boys. After much preparation, he conducted the first Boy Scout camp on Brownsea Island in 1907.  The following year he published "Scouting for Boys",  a book that introduced the Scout's Oath,  the Scout Law,  and the official motto,  "Be Prepared."  Some qualities for Boy Scouts outlined in the book include  obedience,  honor,  thrift, and a willingness to help others.  Typical scouting activities are camping,  nature study, and first aid training.

In the United States the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) had been running camps for boys since 1884.  In 1902 Ernest Thompson Seton founded the Tribe of Woodcraft Indians as an organization for boys.  Three years later Daniel Carter Beard started a similar society called the Sons of Daniel Boone. These two groups, along with the YMCA camps, laid the foundation on which the Boy Scout movement developed in the United States in conjunction with Baden-Powell's work in England.  The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910.  On June 15, 1916, Congress granted a charter to the organization.  In England the Boy Scouts had been formally started on Jan. 24, 1908.

The Scouting program in the United States has three phases: Cub Scouting is for boys 8 through 10 years old;    Boy Scouts  are 11 through 15 years of age;  and Venturers are 15 through 20.  Cub Scouts are organized into dens of seven or eight boys, and local dens make up one scout pack.  Boy Scouts are organized into patrols,  and patrols are parts of troops.  Each troop is headed by a Scoutmaster. 

Each Scout, by meeting specific requirements, advances through grades called Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class.  A First Class Scout may earn merit badges to qualify as a Star Scout, Life Scout, and Eagle Scout.  There are other awards given for outstanding achievements. Eagle palms are given for merit badges earned beyond the Eagle requirements. The Order of the Arrow is a national brotherhood of Scout campers.  The Medal of Merit and the Honor Medal are awarded by scouting's National Court of Honor.  The Medal of Merit is presented for outstanding acts of service. Scouting's highest award, the Medal of Honor, is bestowed upon Scouts who save, or attempt to save, lives at the risk of their own.

More than 10 million boys and men throughout the world participate in the movement. Scouts from many nations meet, usually every four years, in a world jamboree.  At these gatherings as many as 50,000 Scouts set up camp, demonstrate woodcraft skills, and work for better international understanding.  The first world jamboree was held in England in 1920. National jamborees are held between the international events.