Figure 1.--This American boy in the 1900s appears to be wearing a new Scout uniform, although there are no insignias. As a resuilt we are not sure if he is actuaslly a Scout. Boys had to be 12 years old to join the BSA. Yhis boy looks much younger. Perhaps he is just dressing up in a Scout uniform rather like a costume to have his portrait taken. I'm not sure about the ABS. Note the kneepants and stockings rather than knickers and kneesocks.
The BSA has dominated American Scouting. This has, however, involved Federal legislation and extensive legislation. They were not the only contenders. And there were also rival association in the 1910s. There were several loosely-structured outdoor-oriented youth organizations in America in the early 20th century. There were earlier attempts at Scouting, two of which were very important influences on the Scouting movement. Some of these groups used the name "Boy Scout". A few Scout were already functioning using varied approaches based on Baden Powell's Scout program before the BSA was founded in 1910. The most serious competition was launched by the American Boy Scouts (ABS), at first powerfully supported by newpaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst like William D. Boyce who founded the BSA were both newspaper publishers. There were several other small associations, but only the ABC was ever a serious challenge. America unlike Scouts in European countries was to have one single monolithic association--the BSA.
Seveal youth organizations were launched in America in the late 19th and 20th century. Some were based on a Scouting program. Two were especially important and greatly influenced Baden-Powell who incorporated, if not out right stole many of their ideas. None of these groups, however, were able to muster the organizational skills to create a genuinely national mass organization.
American Daniel Carter Beard founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905. The name for this organization was obvious. More than any other man, Daniel Boone was responsible for the exploration and settlement of Kentucky--the western frontier of 18th century America. The Sons of Daniel Boone was in the 1900s, the larfest boys organization in America. Beard was an advocate of Scouting and eventually his organization joined the Scouting movement.
The American author and illustrator, Ernest Thompson Seton, created the Woodcraft Indians in 1902. It was designed for boys aged 12 to 15 years and was based on North American Indian lore and outdoor life. In 1906 he added the Little Lodge of Woodcraft Indians for younger boys and girls, which in many ways was the fore runner of Cubbing, even though it took the Boy Scots many years to establish Cubbing--well after most other countries had established the program. Seton visited London in 1906 and met with Baden Powell to exchange ideas. Baden Powell eventually incorporated some of Seton's ideas and later credited Seton with being one
of the fathers of Boy and Cub Scouting. His many volumes of Scoutcraft became an integral part of Scouting, and his intelligence and enthusiasm helped turn an idea into reality.
The BSA has dominated American Scouting. This has, however, involved Federal legislation and extensive legislation. They were not the only contenders. There had been earlier attempts at Scouting. And there was a rival association in the 1910s. The most serious contention was launched by the American Boy Scouts (ABS), at first powerfully supported by newpaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. There were several others, but only the ABC proved to be a serious challenge. In this regard BSA leader Edgar Robinson and Ernest Seaton suvcceded in absorbing and neutralizing the more militaristic appraoches to Scouting. [Macleod, p. 146.]
The BSA has dominated American Scouting. This has, however, involved Federal legislation and extensive legislation. They were not the only contenders. There had been earlier attempts at Scouting. And there was a rival association in the 1910s. The most serious contention was launched by the American Boy Scouts (ABS), at first powerfully supported by newpaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst soon disowned the ABS. Considerable acrimony developed between the two associations, in part over the issue of soliciting funds from the piblic. The ABS continued operating for several years under different names, but disappeared in the 1920s.
See United States Boy Scouts.
One threat to the BSA came from militaristic imitators. William Verbeck was the head of a boys' military school. He formed National Scouts of America. They could not compete successfully with the better organized and funded BSA and took and eventually joined the BSA and accepted an honorary posts with BSA. [Macleod, p. 147.]
A group called the United States Boy Scouts (USBS) was briefly active in the 1910s. In actuality it was the Hearst ABS under a new name. After the BSA received an exclusive Federal charter in 1916, the USBS was forced to change its name again. They renamed themselves the American Cadets. It was managed by men with a right-wing political agenda of "100-percent Americanism". In a country composed of large numbers of immigrants this significantly limited the groups appeal. The American Cadets seemed less interested in youth work and developing a program appealing to boys. While this had some appeal during World War I, this feeling declined rapidly after the War. The Ameican cdets, according to one historian "followed the crest of postwar nativism into oblivion." [Macleod, p. page 157.]
Peter Bomus, a retired U.S. Army colonel, fonded a miliarized Scouting group. I'm not sure what it wasalled. started a similar group. He could not compete successfully with the better organized and funded BSA and took and eventually joined the BSA and accepted an honorary posts with BSA. [Macleod, p. 147.]
MCA Executive Edgar M. Robinson played a major role in the early Scout movement. Surprisingly, his name is often not included on a list of American Scouting founders despite the key role that he played. Actually Boy Scouting in America began a makeshift YMCA arrangement that had never been planned. This was a rather surprising beginning for
America's most centarlized youth organization. [Macleod, p. 146.] Robinson was an experienced YMCA summer camp director. He had 20 years' experience in youth work when the BSA was founded in 1910. At that time few if any Scouters had any experience at all with youth work. Robinson did not have the chaismatic personality of other early Scouting leaders like Seaton and Beard. But he proved a highly effective manager. A few YMCAs set up troops even before the BSA was founded. The YMCA began establishing its summer camping program in the late 19th century. When Robinson learned in early May 1910 that William D. Boyce had actually incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) months earlier, he was concerned about the potential impact on the YMCA. Robinson urged Boyce to work with the YMCA, which had the experience and organizational skills to turn the BSA into an actual functioning organization. Not only vould the Y set up Scouting, they could provide a source of Scoutmasters. Not only did Boyce do so, but he agreed to turn over the management of the BSA to Robinson and the YMCA. [Peterson] Robinson had struck up a frienship with Ernest Thompson Seaton as part of his Y summer camp work. Seaton played a critical role in the first years of the BSA. Robinson James West to replace him so he could return to the YMCA. He proved to be an able administrator. West was a strong leader and in desire to direct the BSA he alienated some of the founders like Boyce and Seaton, but he soon established his authority and served until 1943.
All the early Scouting groups in America and Europe were single gender organizations. There was much discussion at the time as to wheter Scouting was appropriate for girls. Mixing boys and girls in such activities would have been unheard of. American girls were to have two options if they were interested in Scouting activities.
The Camp Fire Girls were founded in 1911. Camp Fire began operating almost immediately after the Boy Scouts. The founders included Julia Seton (Ernest Thompson Seton's wife), Lina Beard (Daniel Beard's sister), and James E. West, appointed the BSA's Chief Scout Executive in 1911. Camp Fire was for many years for girls only. The program is now coed, though its membership is still overwhelmingly made up of girls. Some younger boys participate, but they have generally had difficulty recruiting boys and retaining older boys.
The Girl Scouts of America (now the Girl Scouts of the USA) were founded in 1912. The founder was Juliette "Daisy" Low. The Girl Scouts are the only U.S. youth organization, other than the BSA, to obtain a Congressional Charter. It was, however, granted years after the BSA charter. The Girl Scouts did not manage to gain their charter until 1950. The term Girl Scout was an American inovation, due primarily because Low wanted girls to match the boys. In other countries girl Scouts were called girl Guides to differentiate themselves from the boys. The Scout/Guide distinction has been ended in many countries, where boys and girls now participate in coed associations troops. In other countries, the Boy Scout and Girl Guide programs have common national organization, but with separate troops for Scouts and Guides. In still other countries (such as the United States), the boys' and girls' organizations are entirely separate. Actually the BSA in the 1980s gave some thought to combining, but the Girl Scouts dismissed the very idea of it.
Macleod, David I. Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy
Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920 (The University of Wisconsin Press,
Peterson, Robert. "The BSA's 'forgotten' founding father," Scouting Magazine.
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