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April 7, 2010 > Founders of Scouting and the Boy Scouts of America

Founders of Scouting and the Boy Scouts of America

Lieutenant-General The Right Honorable The Lord Baden-Powell, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, KStJ (1857-1941) returned to England from the Second Boer War in South Africa to find several of his military books, written for military reconnaissance and scouting, were being read by boys. He decided to re-write his original works for a younger audience and tested his ideas at a camp on Brownsea Island with 22 boys on August 1, 1907 which is regarded as the birth of Scouting. The camp's success led to "Scouting for Boys," published in 1908.

Ernest T. Seton (1860-1946), originally from Scotland, was an author, wildlife artist and founded the Woodcraft Indians, an American youth program, in 1902. He was one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and a great influence on Baden-Powell. He was elected first Chief Scout of the BSA in 1910. His Scouting-related books include The Birch Bark Roll and The Boy Scout Handbook. Seton is responsible for the strong influence of Native American Indian culture in the BSA.

Daniel Carter "Uncle Dan" Beard (1850-1941) was an illustrator, author, youth leader, and social reformer who founded the Sons of Daniel Boone, a youth program based on the American Frontiersman, in 1905. Almost 60 years old when he became a founder of the BSA and the first National Scout Commissioner in 1910, he merged his group with the BSA. Beard helped design the original Scout uniform and introduced the elements of the First Class Scout badge.

William D. Boyce (1858-1929) was a Chicago publisher. When visiting London in 1909, he lost his way in dense fog. A boy came to his aid, took him to his destination and refused a tip, explaining that as a Scout he would not take a tip for doing a Good Turn. This gesture by an unknown Scout inspired a meeting with Baden-Powell. Consequently, Boyce incorporated the BSA on February 8, 1910. In 1915, he also founded the Lone Scouts of America, a Scouting organization for American Boys which merged with the BSA in 1924.

James E. West (1876-1948) was an orphan and disabled by tuberculosis but became a lawyer and an advocate of children's rights. He was the BSA's first professional Chief Scout Executive, serving from 1911-1943, and was instrumental in expanding the third part of the Scout Oath. On retiring from the BSA, he was given the title of Chief Scout to recognize his role in building Scouting into the largest and most successful youth organization in the world.

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