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Boy Scout Troop 373
(Lafayette, Indiana)
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How Scouting Began

Have you heard the story of how Scouting began and how it came to this country?  It's and interesting one, beginning in South Africa in the early 1900's. A young British army officer, Robert Baden-Powell, was stationed in the wild South Africa country to train soldiers from England in the skills of tracking, trailing, and wilderness living.

He found that men were so used to city living that they could note stand the vigorous life of the outdoors.  He recalled his own early days, his love of nature and outdoor living.  He remembered tracking wild boars and tigers in the jungle; hunting wild buffalo, elephants and rhinos in West Africa and the Sudan. 

Remembering his own training, he worked out a series of games and activities to make his men physically strong, self-reliant, and able to live comfortably in the wilderness.  The men enjoyed these games and quickly became skilled.  The idea soon went back to England.  There, boys picked it up, and started to practice Scouting for themselves.

When General Baden-Powell returned home to England he was persuaded to develop his idea into a great game for the boys.  He studied many organizations, like those of Dan Beard (Sons of Daniel Boone) and Ernest Thompson Seton (Woodcraft Indians) in the United States.  In 1907 he took a group of twenty boys to camp on the little Brownsea Island, off the coast of England to try out the new program.  That was the first  Boy Scout Camp.  In 1908 he published the first Boy Scout Handbook.

How Scouting Came to America

It was on a very foggy day in 1909, that William D. Boyce, and American Publisher, was searching for an address in old London.  All day long the city had been covered with a heavy fog and the street lights had been turned on before noon.  Now night was coming on, and it was almost impossible for the stranger to find his way.

Mr. Boyce was suprised when a boy apprached and asked if he might be of service.  He told the boy where he wanted to go, and was more suprised when the boy saluted him, and said, "Come with me, sir."

Upon reaching the address, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket and offered the boy a shilling (about $6.00 in 2009).  He was more surprised than ever when the boy refuded it.

"No thank you, sir.  I am a Scout.  Scouts do not accept tips for Good Turns."

"Good Turns? Scouts?" asked Mr. Boyce.  "What are the Scouts?"

The boy told him, and showed him the way to Maden-Powells office nearby.  There , Mr. Boyce found out about the Boy Scouts, and decided that American boys would like the great game of Scouting.

On February 8, 1910, Mr. Boyce and other interesed in the idea, formally incorporated the Boy Scouts of America.  This day, February 8th, is celebrated today as the birthday of Scouting in the United States.

So it was that Scouting began in South Africa as an idea for training young men in outdoor skills, and came to America by way of England, because of a "Good Turn".  Today, in America, there are Scouts in nearly every city, town and village, from coast to coast.

There stands in Gilwill Park, England, a Bronze Buffalo statue, in memory of the unkown British Scout.  The inscription reads:

"To the Unknown Scout whose faithfulness in the performance of the Daily Good Turn brought the Scout Movement to the United States of America."