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Boy Scouts of America - History of Scouting

2010: Celebrating 100 Years - Today, more than 112 million young Americans are involved in Scouting!

Boy Scouts of America - On My Honor1910: Boy Scouts of America incorporated by William D. Boyce, though the organizational name is transferred within months to a national executive board.

1911: Organizational dynamo James E. West becomes chief Scout executive and opens the national office in New York City. First BSA manual published by Ernest Thompson Seton: Boy Scouts of America: A Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting and Lifecraft.

1912: BSA publishes its first issue of Boys’ Life magazine. Sea Scouting becomes an official program. First Eagle Scout badge awarded to Arthur R. Eldred of Troop 1, Oceanside, N.Y.

1913: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints becomes first religious body to charter Scout troops.

1915: First Order of the Arrow members inducted. Congress grants BSA a federal charter protecting its name and insignia, an action that helps BSA absorb competing organizations. First 57 merit badge booklets published. Pioneer Scouting adopted for rural boys.

1917: BSA begins its “Help Win the War” home-front service. By the end of WWI, Scouts sell $200 million in Liberty Loan bonds, collect 100 railroad cars of nut hulls and peach pits for gas mask manufacture, and plant 12,000 Victory Gardens. Rotary International becomes the first service club to charter Scout troops.

1920: BSA sends 301 Scouts and leaders to the first International Jamboree in England.

Boy Scout Oath - BSA1924: First achievement badges awarded to physically handicapped Scouts.

1927: Inter-Racial Service established to promote Scouting among African Americans and other minorities, though segregated troops continue.

1930: Charters are issued for the first Cub Scout packs.

1931: Boy Scouts adopt Depression relief work programs by collecting clothing and food.

1933: Explorer Scout program authorized.

1934: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt requests a “national good turn” for the needy, resulting in Scouts collecting 1.8 million articles of clothing, food, and furnishings.

1936: BSA membership exceeds 1 million.

1937: First National Jamboree held in Washington, D.C.

1940: The Irving Berlin Fund finances projects to bring Scouting to urban, low-income areas, using royalties from Berlin’s song, “God Bless America.”

1941-45: BSA’s home-front service during WWII responds to 69 requests from government authorities, including scrap and paper drives, distribution of posters, planting of Victory Gardens, and other activities. BSA establishes World Friendship Fund to aid Scout organizations in war-torn nations.

1949: Membership age minimums lowered to 8 for Cub Scouts, 11 for Boy Scouts, and 14 for Explorers.

1950: Second National Jamboree at Valley Forge, PA, is attended by more than 47,000 members and adults. National membership tops 2.7 million and more than doubles during the next two decades: the “golden era” for Scouting.

1954: Thousands of Scouts participate in conservation projects as part of a National Conservation Good Turn program.

1959: Special-interest Exploring begins, with an emphasis on career exploration.

1967: BSA hosts the 12th World Jamboree at Farragut State Park, Idaho. Cub Scout programs revised, including Webelos Scouting for 10-year-old boys.

1969: Girls permitted to join special-interest Explorer posts. BSA membership drops by 65,000 from the previous year, beginning a pattern of membership declines that will continue through the next decade.

Boy Scouts of America1970: First National Explorer Olympics held at Colorado State University.

1971: Operation Reach, a national program to combat drug abuse, is started.

1972: Sweeping changes in Boy Scout program include elimination of some outdoor skills for advancement to First Class. Though Boy Scout memberships continue to decline, Cub Scout enrollments reach an all-time high of nearly 2.5 million.

1976: Nearly 750 Eagle Scouts and leaders camp all summer on the Mall in Washington to observe the nation’s bicentennial.

1978: Boy Scout advancement plans modified again to restore outdoor skills as a requirement for a First Class badge. New handbook published in 1980 returns emphasis to outdoor skills.

1979: National BSA office moves to Irving, Texas. Cub Scout membership has declined from a high of 2.5 million in 1972 to 1.7 million.

1980: Erosion of memberships ends following the best growth year on record, resulting in 4.3 million boys involved in BSA programs. Varsity Scouting, a program emphasizing challenging activities, is started for boys between the ages of 14 and 17.

1981: Hispanic Outreach program initiated.

1982: Tiger Cubs program begins for 7-year-old boys and their families. “Prepared for Today” program started for latchkey children. More than 600,000 older teenagers are enrolled in Exploring program, with half of all posts devoted to specific career areas.

1987: BSA launches “Good Turn” programs aimed at the “Five Unacceptables” - drug abuse, hunger, child abuse, illiteracy, and unemployment. Scouts collect 72 million containers of food - the largest single food drive in American history.

1990: Kellogg Foundation provides a three-year grant to fund training programs to place Hispanic professionals in top leadership posts in California and Texas.

1991: World Jamboree in South Korea includes Scouts from former Soviet republics.

1998: Venturing, which began in the early 1990s as Outdoor Exploring, becomes an official BSA division, emphasizing challenging activities for older teenagers, including high-altitude rock climbing, skiing, and surfing. First-year membership tops 188,000, growing to 250,000 within a decade.

2000: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of BSA excluding gay persons, saying the private organization has the right to set membership rules and standards. The case involves New Jersey Eagle Scout James Dale, who was identified through his membership in a college group. As part of its 90th anniversary, BSA identifies the 100 millionth Scout as 12-year-old Mario Castro of Brooklyn, N.Y.

2001: Scouts distribute bottled water and blankets to ground-zero workers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. The Greater New York Councils provide 500 cots for the workers and a nation-wide collection is launched to
help victims and others.

2002: Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert of Port Orchard, Wash., is expelled for declaring that he doesn’t believe in God, a policy later upheld by courts as constitutional. The National Scouting Museum opens at BSA national headquarters in Irving, Texas.

2004: The “Good Turn for America” program, launched with the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and thousands of smaller groups, provides 3 million collective hours of service for the nation’s neediest people.

2007: After three years, “Good Turn for America” has involved 1.5 million Scout and adult participants in 70,000 service projects.

2010: Boy Scouts of America celebrates 100 years of involving more than 112 million young Americans in Scouting. Internationally, the World Organization of the Scout Movement has reached 250 million youth.

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