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0124 BoyScouts

Today In History : January 24, 2022

On This Day In History

On January 24, 1908, the Boy Scouts movement began in England. The publication and serialization of “Scouting for Boys” by Robert Baden-Powell inspired dozens of impromptu Boy Scout troops to spring up across Britain.

Robert Baden-Powell was already a national hero in Britain for his defense of Mafeking in the South African War in 1900. He had earlier written a military field manual, “Aids to Scouting,” which gained a youthful audience after Baden-Powell’s exploits in South Africa. Boys loved the lessons on tracking and observation. This persuaded Baden-Powell to write a nonmilitary field manual for adolescents that would also emphasize the importance of morality and good deeds.

First, however, he had to try out some of his ideas in the field with actual boys. In 1907, he took a diverse group of 21 adolescents to Brownsea Island where they set up camp for two weeks. He taught the boys about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism, and chivalry. He and the other instructors used inventive games to teach these lessons. It was the first Boy Scouts meeting and it was successful.

Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. Within the first year there were 60,000 Boy Scouts, and troops began springing up not only in Britain, but also in British Commonwealth countries everywhere in the world. . In 1910, Baden-Powell organized the Girl Guides as a separate organization.

The American version of the Boy Scouts began when Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost in the London fog. A Boy Scout came to his aid and refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed. This inspired Boyce to organize several regional U.S. youth organizations into the Boy Scouts of America.It was incorporated in 1910 and in 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah, Georgia.

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