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History of the Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts of America – The History of Scouting

2021: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the scheduled National Boy Scout Jamboree was postponed until the summer of 2023.

2019: The 24th World Scout Jamboree was held at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in West Virginia from July 21, 2019 to August 2, 2019. This Scout Jamboree is unique because it is a team effort by the 3 host countries: Scouts Canada, Asociación de Scouts de México, and the Boy Scouts of America.

2017: The 2017 National Scout Jamboree was the 19th national jamboree held by the Boy Scouts of America. The event was during the summer of 2017, from July 19th to July 28th. This was the 2nd National Scout Jamboree held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, the new permanent camp for Scout Jamborees.

2015: In the summer of 2015, more than 30,000 Scouts and leaders from 161 countries around the world met in Kirarahama, Yamaguchi, Japan for the 23rd World Scout Jamboree.

2013: The 18th Boy Scout National Jamboree was held at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. This location is to be the permanent home for the BSA National Jamboree.

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.
2007: After three years, “Good Turn for America” has involved 1.5 million Scout and adult participants in 70,000 service projects. The 21st World Jamboree is held in the United Kingdom.
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.
2002: Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert of Port Orchard, Washington is expelled for declaring that he does not believe in God, a policy later upheld by courts as constitutional. The National Scouting Museum opens at BSA national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
2001: Scouts distribute bottled water and blankets to ground-zero workers in the aftermath of the September 11th 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.
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.
1998: Venturing, which began in the early 1990’s 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.
1991 World Jamboree
1991 World Jamboree

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

1990: Kellogg Foundation provides a three-year grant to fund training programs to place Hispanic professionals in top leadership posts in California and Texas.
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.
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.
1981: Hispanic Outreach program is initiated within the Boy Scouts of America troops.
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.
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.
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.
1976: Nearly 750 Eagle Scouts and leaders camp all summer on the Mall in Washington to observe the nation’s bicentennial.
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.
13th World Jamboree

1971: Operation Reach, a national program to combat drug abuse, is started. The 13th World Jamboree is held in Japan.

 1970: First National Explorer Olympics held at Colorado State University.
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. The 1969 National Jamboree is held in Idaho.
1967: BSA hosts the 12th World Jamboree at Farragut State Park, Idaho. Cub Scout programs revised, including Webelos Scouting for 10-year-old boys.
1959: Special-interest Exploring begins, with an emphasis on career exploration.
1954: Thousands of Scouts participate in conservation projects as part of a National Conservation Good Turn program.
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.
1949: Membership age minimums lowered to 8 for Cub Scouts, 11 for Boy Scouts, and 14 for Explorers.
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.

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

1937 National Jamboree Neckerchief
1937 National Jamboree Neckerchief
1937: The First Boy Scout National Jamboree held in Washington, D.C.
1936: BSA membership expands and enrollment exceeds 1 million.
1935: The First National Jamboree is scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. but is cancelled due to an outbreak of polio earlier in the year. (The rescheduled jamboree was held in 1937)
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.
1933: Explorer Scout program authorized.
1931: Boy Scouts adopt Depression relief work programs by collecting clothing and food.
1930: Charters are issued for the first Cub Scout packs.
1927: Inter-Racial Service established to promote Scouting among African Americans and other minorities, though segregated troops continue.
1924: First achievement badges awarded to physically handicapped Scouts.
1920: Boy Scouts of America (BSA) sends 301 Scouts and leaders to the first International (World) Jamboree in England.
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.
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.
Arthur R. Eldred - 1st Eagle Scout
Arthur R. Eldred – 1st Eagle Scout

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

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.
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”.
1910: Boy Scouts of America incorporated by William D. Boyce, though the organizational name is transferred within months to a national executive board.