110 years ago: First “official” Boy Scout Troop, January 24, 1908?

January 25, 2018

From the archives.

There are those who argue that the the first Boy Scout Troop was organized on January 24, 1908.

History is not so clear on that point, however.  There may have been earlier troops organized, but records were unclear, or lost.

From Wikipedia: Front cover of the first part of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell, published in January 1908. Illustrations by Baden-Powell himself.

From Wikipedia: Front cover of the first part of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell, published in January 1908. Illustrations by Baden-Powell himself.

We do know that the the first installment of the serialized Scouting for Boys was published on January 24, 1908.  By April of that year all installments were published, and we can say that the first Boy Scout handbook had arrived.

Either way, January 24 holds some historical significance for the Scouting movement.

Do a good turn in honor of the day, even if it’s a day or two later. (Scouts in the U.S. work to do a good turn every day.)

Who was really first?  Unfortunately, the records don’t exist to settle that issue.

Scouting, in England, arose from the popular clamor by boys after the 1899 publication of Col. Robert Baden-Powell’s handbook for the scouts he trained for the British Army in southern Africa, Aids to Scouting.  Though not written for a youthful audience, the book became a best seller among boys who wished to emulate the adventures of soldiers and rangers in the British Army.

By 1907, Baden-Powell seriously worked to translate his experience and wisdom in a book aimed at boys.  In the summer of 1907 he gathered a collection of boys to camp, to try out his ideas for outdoor activities for boys.  With aid of the YMCA and other organizations, troops were planned and organized at the end of 1907 and in early 1908; then the program skyrocketed, with 60,000 boy members by the end of 1908.

Which was the “first” troop?

In England, where history and firsts might understandably be taken more seriously for Scouting, a number of groups can make the claims — and it’s almost impossible to choose from among them.  Wikipedia explains the claims of each, without much blood (I’ve left in most of the links and footnote links):

The first Scout Troops were formed in the United Kingdom in 1907, and registered in 1908. There are a number of claimants to be the first troop. However, due to poor record keeping when the Scouting Movement started, The Scout Association does not acknowledge any single troop as being the first. The Scout Association maintains a list of all the Scout Troops who claim to have started in 1908.[1]

The Scout Troops with the strongest claims are listed below:

The 1st Glasgow Scout Group in Scotland holds the earliest known registration certificate, dated 26 January 1908, issued by the Scouting Association. The Group was formed from the Glasgow Battalion of the Army Cadet Corps; its Adjutant was Captain Robert E Young. In June 1907, they formed the ‘Cadets’ Winter Recreation Training Club’. The club was a success from the beginning, as ‘Boss’ Young related: “At first we met at my house, signalled up and down the stairs, tied knots around the banisters and always finished with a good tuck-in.” ‘Boss’ Young met B-P during Autumn 1907 who suggested that the Club could experiment with the ideas contained in ‘Scouting for Boys’. On 16 January 1908, the Club was formally disbanded and the First Glasgow Troop of Boy Scouts was registered with Scout HQ in London.[1][2]

The first Scout Troop to receive a visit from Baden-Powell was the Vaux’s Own Scout Troop in Sunderland. This visit was made on 22 February 1908, so it is assumed by The Scout Association “that it had already been in existence for some days at any rate”.[1] This was also the first Scout Troop listed in the Imperial records. The 1st Crystal Palace Patrol (now known as the 2nd Croydon, 1st Crystal Palace) is documented as being in existence on 28 February 1908. The group is still in existence.[3]

In 2007, 1st Henfield Scout Troop was named as the oldest surviving Scout Troop in the world for the centenary of Scouting. They were the hosts of the only place that the centenary flame stopped in England for the night before reaching its goal of Brownsea Island. However, it is not the oldest Scout Troop, as others were set up before Henfield. It is said that the boys that went to Brownsea Island on the first ever scout trip were from Henfield.[4]

The 1st Birkenhead (YMCA) has a claim to be the oldest Scout Troop as it was founded on 24 January 1908 when B P attended a meeting at the YMCA. Documents at the District Headquarters confirm this fact. Baden-Powell at the 1929 Coming of Age Jamboree in Birkenhead said “Here in Birkenhead that I first mooted the idea of Scouting”.

The 1st Croydon Scout Group (Addiscombe) were founded in the latter months of 1907. The Group was officially registered by Imperial Scout Headquarters on 16 June 1908 and can claim to be one of the earliest Groups.

1st Church Kirk, Church near Accrington Lancashire. Formed 1907. Baden Powell formed a link with Accrington during his opening of the Ambulance Drill Hall in 1904.

There is an entry in Baden-Powell’s diary on 4 February 1908 which mentions a Scout Troop in Nottingham.

1st Alsager, Cheshire were formed before 24 February 1908.

A troop from Hampstead was involved in various events in the first half of 1908.

The 1st City Of Aberdeen Scouts existed in 1908. 1st Arbroath Scout Troop (2nd Angus) dates back to June 1908.[5]

The 1st Norwich “Capt. Bower’s Own” Sea Scouts started in January 1908.[6] The group is one of few which has continuously run for 100 years and, remarkably, had just 4 Group Scout Leaders during that time. To celebrate their centenary year, the group published a book entitled, “It Can Be Done: The Hundred Year History of the 1st Norwich Sea Scout Group.” drawing from their extensive archives.[7]

In Poole, Dorset, there are strong claims from 3 current Scout Groups, that all have separate newspaper articles back to 1908 listing Patrols or Troops practicing Scouting. 1st Parkstone has got a registration number back to February 1908 for a Scout Troop. Hamworthy are listed as having a Boat patrol at the Local Church in November 1908 and Broadstone having an Ambulance Scout at the Gathering on Brownsea Island in December 1908.

Wycliffe Scout Group (Gloucestershire) claims to be the oldest continuously active school-based Scout group in the world (active September 2013). It is listed in the Scout Association database with a registration date of 1 February 1909, although the Group celebrated their centenary in 2008, implying that there had been Scouting activity at the school before the Group was registered.

Who was first?  The question remains, not yet satisfactorily answered for history.

How would you decide the controversy?

Scouts from several nations around a campfire -- photo from the website of the World Scout Organization.

Scouts from several nations around a campfire — photo from EraScouting page [replacing photo from the website of the World Scout Organization]. “Leave this world a little better than you found it” — Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. There are over 40 million Scouts in the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

More:

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.


Boy Scouts greet Col. Theodore Roosevelt, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1932

April 13, 2014

Interesting photograph.

1932 photograph of U.S. Army Col. Theodore Roosevelt III, being greeted in St. Paul, Minnesota by a group of Boy Scouts.  Minnesota Historical Society collection.

1932 photograph of U.S. Army Col. Theodore Roosevelt III, being greeted in St. Paul, Minnesota by a group of Boy Scouts. Minnesota Historical Society collection.

Found it at the site of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Col. Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, is nearly center, in civilian clothes.  He would go on to command troops at the Battle of Normandy on D-Day, winning the Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously.  His father would later be awarded the Medal of Honor.  Is this the only father-son MoH duo?

MHS records identify Col. Roosevelt and 13 other people in the photo, mostly the Scouts; alphabetically, they are:  Baker, Curtis; Baker, Robert (brothers?); Haas, Frank; Hagman, R. J.; Jungwirth, Robert A.; Kehne, Clyde; Menz, C. J.; Nyman, David; Polanick, Alexander; Robertson, Donald; Roosevelt, Theodore [III]; Sommers, Charles; Torgerson, Gordon; White, Charles.

It would be interesting to know what the event was in 1932 that brought Roosevelt to St. Paul.  It would be interesting to know what happened to those Scouts.

Update: Mr. Higginbotham found an account of Roosevelt’s trip in the April 1932 issue of Boys’ Life (see comments).  Roosevelt was on his way to the Philippines, where he served as Governor-General, a post held earlier by William Howard Taft, Leonard Wood, and Henry L. Stimson, among others.  Roosevelt was a member of the National Board of Boy Scouts of America; Scouts saw him off from New York, and greeted him at stops all the way to Seattle, where he boarded ship for the Philippines.

Account of Col. Theodore Roosevelt III's trip from New York to Seattle, in 1932 -- with Scouts meeting him at almost every stop.  Boys' Life, April 1932, page 58.

Account of Col. Theodore Roosevelt III’s trip from New York to Seattle, in 1932 — with Scouts meeting him at almost every stop. Boys’ Life, April 1932, page 58.


First “official” Boy Scout Troop, January 24, 1908?

January 24, 2014

There are those who argue that the the first Boy Scout Troop was organized on January 24, 1908.

History is not so clear on that point, however.  There may have been earlier troops organized, but records were unclear, or lost.

From Wikipedia:  Front cover of the first part of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell, published in January 1908. Illustrations by Baden-Powell himself.

From Wikipedia: Front cover of the first part of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell, published in January 1908. Illustrations by Baden-Powell himself.

We do know that the the first installment of the serialized Scouting for Boys was published on January 24, 1908.  By April of that year all installments were published, and we can say that the first Boy Scout handbook had arrived.

Either way, January 24 holds some historical significance for the Scouting movement.

Do a good turn in honor of the day.

Who was really first?  Unfortunately, the records don’t exist to settle that issue.

Scouting, in England, arose from the popular clamor by boys after the 1899 publication of Col. Robert Baden-Powell’s handbook for the scouts he trained for the British Army in southern Africa, Aids to Scouting.  Though not written for a youthful audience, the book became a best seller among boys who wished to emulate the adventures of soldiers and rangers in the British Army.

By 1907, Baden-Powell seriously worked to translate his experience and wisdom in a book aimed at boys.  In the summer of 1907 he gathered a collection of boys to camp, to try out his ideas for outdoor activities for boys.  With aid of the YMCA and other organizations, troops were planned and organized at the end of 1907 and in early 1908; then the program skyrocketed, with 60,000 boy members by the end of 1908.

Which was the “first” troop?

In England, where history and firsts might understandably be taken more seriously for Scouting, a number of groups can make the claims — and it’s almost impossible to choose from among them.  Wikipedia explains the claims of each, without much blood (I’ve left in most of the links and footnote links):

The first Scout Troops were formed in the United Kingdom in 1907, and registered in 1908. There are a number of claimants to be the first troop. However, due to poor record keeping when the Scouting Movement started, The Scout Association does not acknowledge any single troop as being the first. The Scout Association maintains a list of all the Scout Troops who claim to have started in 1908.[1]

The Scout Troops with the strongest claims are listed below:

The 1st Glasgow Scout Group in Scotland holds the earliest known registration certificate, dated 26 January 1908, issued by the Scouting Association. The Group was formed from the Glasgow Battalion of the Army Cadet Corps; its Adjutant was Captain Robert E Young. In June 1907, they formed the ‘Cadets’ Winter Recreation Training Club’. The club was a success from the beginning, as ‘Boss’ Young related: “At first we met at my house, signalled up and down the stairs, tied knots around the banisters and always finished with a good tuck-in.” ‘Boss’ Young met B-P during Autumn 1907 who suggested that the Club could experiment with the ideas contained in ‘Scouting for Boys’. On 16 January 1908, the Club was formally disbanded and the First Glasgow Troop of Boy Scouts was registered with Scout HQ in London.[1][2]

The first Scout Troop to receive a visit from Baden-Powell was the Vaux’s Own Scout Troop in Sunderland. This visit was made on 22 February 1908, so it is assumed by The Scout Association “that it had already been in existence for some days at any rate”.[1] This was also the first Scout Troop listed in the Imperial records. The 1st Crystal Palace Patrol (now known as the 2nd Croydon, 1st Crystal Palace) is documented as being in existence on 28 February 1908. The group is still in existence.[3]

In 2007, 1st Henfield Scout Troop was named as the oldest surviving Scout Troop in the world for the centenary of Scouting. They were the hosts of the only place that the centenary flame stopped in England for the night before reaching its goal of Brownsea Island. However, it is not the oldest Scout Troop, as others were set up before Henfield. It is said that the boys that went to Brownsea Island on the first ever scout trip were from Henfield.[4]

The 1st Birkenhead (YMCA) has a claim to be the oldest Scout Troop as it was founded on 24 January 1908 when B P attended a meeting at the YMCA. Documents at the District Headquarters confirm this fact. Baden-Powell at the 1929 Coming of Age Jamboree in Birkenhead said “Here in Birkenhead that I first mooted the idea of Scouting”.

The 1st Croydon Scout Group (Addiscombe) were founded in the latter months of 1907. The Group was officially registered by Imperial Scout Headquarters on 16 June 1908 and can claim to be one of the earliest Groups.

1st Church Kirk, Church near Accrington Lancashire. Formed 1907. Baden Powell formed a link with Accrington during his opening of the Ambulance Drill Hall in 1904.

There is an entry in Baden-Powell’s diary on 4 February 1908 which mentions a Scout Troop in Nottingham.

1st Alsager, Cheshire were formed before 24 February 1908.

A troop from Hampstead was involved in various events in the first half of 1908.

The 1st City Of Aberdeen Scouts existed in 1908. 1st Arbroath Scout Troop (2nd Angus) dates back to June 1908.[5]

The 1st Norwich “Capt. Bower’s Own” Sea Scouts started in January 1908.[6] The group is one of few which has continuously run for 100 years and, remarkably, had just 4 Group Scout Leaders during that time. To celebrate their centenary year, the group published a book entitled, “It Can Be Done: The Hundred Year History of the 1st Norwich Sea Scout Group.” drawing from their extensive archives.[7]

In Poole, Dorset, there are strong claims from 3 current Scout Groups, that all have separate newspaper articles back to 1908 listing Patrols or Troops practicing Scouting. 1st Parkstone has got a registration number back to February 1908 for a Scout Troop. Hamworthy are listed as having a Boat patrol at the Local Church in November 1908 and Broadstone having an Ambulance Scout at the Gathering on Brownsea Island in December 1908.

Wycliffe Scout Group (Gloucestershire) claims to be the oldest continuously active school-based Scout group in the world (active September 2013). It is listed in the Scout Association database with a registration date of 1 February 1909, although the Group celebrated their centenary in 2008, implying that there had been Scouting activity at the school before the Group was registered.

Who was first?  The question remains, not yet satisfactorily answered for history.

How would you decide the controversy?

Scouts from several nations around a campfire -- photo from the website of the World Scout Organization.

Scouts from several nations around a campfire — photo from EraScouting page [replacing photo from the website of the World Scout Organization]. “Leave this world a little better than you found it” — Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. There are over 40 million Scouts in the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

More:


One Boy Scout’s story: Kazimierz Piechowski, “I escaped from Auschwitz”

April 14, 2011

Good reading:  An article by Homa Kahleeli in The Guardian from Tuesday, April 12, 2011:

I escaped from Auschwitz

Kazimierz Piechowski is one of just 144 prisoners to have broken out of the notorious Nazi camp and survive. Today aged 91, he tells his extraordinary story

Kazimierz Piechowski, Boy Scout who escaped Auschwitz - Guardian photo

Guardian caption: "Kazimierz Piechowski in 2011. 'We just planned that I would play the role of an SS officer so well that the guards would believe me.' Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian"


Portrait of Lord Robert Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting

December 11, 2010

HERKOMER Hubert von | Sir Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941). | 1903

Hubert von Herkomer's 1903 portrait of the founder of Scouting, Sir Robert Baden-Powell - California State University's World Images Kiosk

Before Boy Scouting, Sir Robert Baden-Powell was the hero of the Siege of Mafeking, during the Boer War.  This image of the founder of Scouting does not appear often, but deserves some audience, here in the Centennial of Scouting in the U.S.


Boy Scouts talk with President Obama in the White House

July 13, 2010

President Obama and Boys Scouts in Oval Office, July 12, 2010

President Barack Obama shakes hands with a young Cub Scout, during a meeting with representatives from the Boy Scouts, in the Oval Office, July 12, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

I suspect this was a press release from BSA, which I found at the Cracker Barrel, a blog for Scouting Magazine:

BSA representatives meet with Obama to discuss top concerns for nation’s youth

A group of Boy Scouts of America youth members and executive leaders met with President Barack Obama today to discuss top priorities for the organization’s next century of service.

During the White House meeting, the president and the BSA delegation shared their mutual goals for addressing key concerns for our nation’s youth: healthy living, service to the community, and environmental stewardship.

Obama has shown his support for each of these issues by introducing three relevant programs: Let’s Move!, United We Serve, and America’s Great Outdoors.

As has been the case with every U.S. president since William Howard Taft, Obama serves as the Honorary President of the BSA and helps recognize the achievements of more than 50,000 Eagle Scouts each year by signing their Eagle Scout cards.

Obama’s three initiatives match several concerns not just for the BSA but also for the entire country, said Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca.

“Health, community service, and preserving our environment are priorities for all Americans,” Mazzuca said. “Our first 100 years in Scouting taught us the importance of these issues to America’s youth; our next century of Scouting will focus on creating programs to expand our efforts in these areas.”

To show its commitment to these issues and in honor of the BSA’s 100th Anniversary, the organization presented Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, with two camperships for Scouts in their home councils. These scholarships will help two Scouts attend summer camp: one each from the Aloha Area and Chicago Area councils.

While at summer camp, these two deserving Scouts will see first-hand how much fun it is to stay active in the outdoors and learn how preserving our environment is critical in today’s world.

The camperships were presented by the youth members of the BSA’s delegation. This group was made up of young people who represent several of the BSA’s programs. Eagle Scout Brad Lichota, national Order of the Arrow chief, led the youth members.

Others were Cub Scout Raphael Cash from Bowie, Md.; Venturer Shannon Hoff from Falls Church, Va.; Sea Scout M. Robert Marks Jr. from Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Boy Scout Arnold Mears from Parkville, Md.

The photo came from the White House‘s website, separate from the press release.

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Scouts in stained glass: St. Barnabas Church, Heigham

June 16, 2010

Let the light shine through:

South aisle window by Alfred L Wilkinson, 1956, in St. Barnabas Church, Heigham, Norwich.  Photo from Flickr, by Simon K:

Scouts and Girl Guides, at South aisle window by Alfred L Wilkinson, 1956, in St. Barnabas Church, Heigham, Norwich. Photo from Flickr, by Simon K

The photographer has additional photos of window details at his Flickr site.

Just a reminder that 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouting in the United States.


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