This month marked the 100th anniversary of when President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation adopted by Congress to officially charter the Boy Scouts of America.
While 1916 marks the official charter of the organization, the idea of scouting started years earlier when British Army Officer Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was stationed in India and discovered his men did not know basic first aid and wilderness survival skills. Baden-Powell decided to write a handbook called Aids to Scouting to begin teaching his men the necessary skills.
Soon after writing this book, it began to catch on among English children using it to make a game of scouting. By August of 1907, enough children had become interested that Baden-Powell took a group on a 12-day camping trip where they hiked, learned pioneering, and cooked outside. Baden-Powell then wrote another book entitled Scouting for Boys, and the group grew to more than 10,000 only a year later. At around the same time in the United States, Ernest Thompson Seaton and Daniel Carter Beard were also organizing similar youth programs. However, it was not until Chicago businessman William D. Boyce got lost in heavy fog in England that Scouting officially organized.
As Boyce was trying to find his way through the fog, a boy offered to help him find his way. When they successfully navigated the fog and Boyce offered to tip the boy, the boy refused saying he was a Scout and could not accept payment. The boy proceeded to explain the Scouts to Boyce, who was fascinated by group. After having the opportunity to meet Baden-Powell, Boyce organized the ideas he gathered by incorporating the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. The Boy Scouts of America is now composed of nearly 2.3 million young members and over 900,000 adult volunteers throughout the United States.
As an 11-year-old, I joined the Boy Scouts because I saw it as an opportunity to be outdoors and go camping with my friends. I stuck with it over the years, eventually working toward and earning my Eagle Scout rank. While some of my best memories growing up are of some of the trips and experiences I had with the Boy Scouts, I also discovered that being part of the Boy Scouts was about much more.
Scouting teaches young men to be leaders and to embody the motto “Be Prepared.” The skills and principles I learned from the Boy Scouts have prepared me for many stages throughout my life. Learning outdoor and wilderness survival skills set the groundwork for when I joined the military. The Boy Scouts also builds engaged citizens and helps in developing an interest in serving the community. This interest in giving back manifested in my desire to serve in the military, and later to serve you in Congress.
There is no doubt of the impact the Boy Scouts has had on my life, and the lives of anyone who has ever taken the Oath. I want to congratulate the Boy Scouts of America as they celebrate 100 years since being officially chartered, and wish them all the best as they continue preparing our nation’s youth for all of life’s challenges.
As always, if you have questions or comments about any issue facing the federal government, I invite you to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster office at (740) 654-2654 or Wilmington office at (937) 283-7049.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.