Scouting and Guiding in Pennsylvania

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Scouting in Pennsylvania has a long and rich tradition, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live.

Early history (1910-1950)

Scouting in Pennsylvania formally began in 1911 with the founding of the Delaware & Montgomery County Council in 1911. This council eventually became the former Valley Forge Council, now part of the Cradle of Liberty Council

Sixteen councils were chartered in America between 1910 and 1913. The seventeenth was the Warren County Council headquartered in Warren, Pennsylvania. This Council later changed its name to Chief Cornplanter Council and is still in operation. It is currently the oldest existing, continuously registered council in America. The other preceding 16 councils either went out of business or merged with another Council at some point in their history. The information for this paragraph was provided by the Registration Department of the National Office of the BSA, Irving, TX in October of 2007.

Also in 1913, the Philadelphia Council opened the first American scout camp, Treasure Island Scout Reservation, near Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Two years later, Dr. E. Urner Goodman and Carrol Edson founded the Order of the Arrow, which inducted its first members on July 16, 1915 at Treasure Island.

In 1914, the Allegheny County Council, forerunner of today's Greater Pittsburgh Council, was chartered. Also in 1914, the Philadelphia council was chartered.

In 1915 charters were first granted to the councils headquartered in Erie, Wilkes-Barre, and Oil City, Pennsylvania.

In 1916, councils were chartered in Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Scranton, among others. The Council in Harrisburg is still currently registered as the Keystone Area Council.

In 1917 Meadville, State College and Bethlehem were granted charters by the National Office, along with nine other councils.

1919 saw the councils in Williamsport, Altoona and Chester County formed. Like Chief Cornplanter, the Chester County Council is still in operation today and they represent only a handful of small one-county councils left in America. The other one in PA, Bucks County Council, received its first charter in 1927.

By 1920, forty-six Councils had been chartered in Pennsylvania. Most of these were small Councils no larger than the town they were named after. Some of these were known as "Second Class Councils".

In the following years, other currently chartered councils were started: Juniata Valley Council in 1929; Bucktail Council in 1930; Columbia-Montour Council in 1931; and York-Adams Council in 1932.

1937 saw the formation of the current Westmoreland-Fayette Council in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

All other current Councils in Pennsylvania are the result of mergers which began to occur in the 1960s through present day.

Among the claimants for First Boy Scout Troop in the United States is Troop 1 in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is also home to the oldest annual Scouting event in the nation, the Valley Forge Pilgrimage and Encampment.

In 1928, Eagle Scout (and Erie native) Paul Siple was one of the first Scouts to travel to Antarctica with Admiral Richard Byrd]]. Byrd had held a national contest to invite worthy Eagle Scouts along with the expedition. Paul Siple later went on to develop what is now known as the "Wind Chill Factor"

The 1921 and 1931 National Order of the Arrow Lodge Meetings were held at Philadelphia, the 1922 and 1927 National Lodge Meetings were held at Reading, Pennsylvania, and the 1940 National Lodge Meeting was held at Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

The 1950 National Scout Jamboree was held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Recent history (1950-1990)

Outside of the few small Councils mentioned above, the history of Pennsylvania Councils over the past 50 years has been one of mergers.

Beginning in 1962, the Mid-Valley Council, headquartered in Peckville merged with the former Dan Beard Council in Scranton to form the Forest Lakes Council. Meanwhile, in 1970, the former Anthracite Council (Hazleton, Pennsylvania) merged with the former Wyoming Valley Council (Wilkes-Barre) to form the Penn Mountains Council. In 1984, the area comprising the former Anthracite Council removed itself from the Penn Mountains Council and joined neighboring Minsi Trails Council. Forest Lakes Council and Penn Mountains Council merged in 1990 to form the current Northeastern Pennsylvania Council, in Moosic, PA.

In 1967, the former Nemacolin Trails Council in Washington, Pennsylvania merged with the Allegheny Council in Pittsburgh to become the former Allegheny Trails Council. This Council merged again in 1993 with East Boroughs Council to become the current Greater Pittsburgh Council.

In 1969, the Lehigh County Council (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Bethlehem Area Council (Bethlehem) and Delaware Valley Area Council (Easton, Pennsylvania) merged to form the current Minsi Trails Council in Allentown.

In 1970, the former Appalachian Trail Council and Daniel Boone Council merged to form the current Hawk Mountain Council in Reading.

In 1971, the Lancaster County Council and Lebanon County Councils merged to form the Lancaster-Lebanon Council. This council changed its name in 1995 to Pennsylvania Dutch Council and is headquartered in Lancaster, PA. 1971 also saw the merger of Blair-Bedford Area Council (Altoona), William Penn Council (Indiana, Pennsylvania) and Admiral Robert E. Peary Council (Johnstown, Pennsylvania) into the current Penns Woods Council in Ebensburg.

In 1972, the Washington Trail Council (Erie), Colonel Drake Council (Oil City) and Custaloga Council (Sharon, Pennsylvania) merged to form the current French Creek Council, headquartered in Erie.

1973 saw the merger of the former Lawrence County Council (New Castle, Pennsylvania) with the former Pioneer Trails Council (Butler, Pennsylvania), forming the current Moraine Trails Council. Host to two National Jamborees (see below).

Also in 1973, the former Elk Lick Council, in Bradford, PA merged into Allegheny Highlands Council headquartered in Falconer, NY.

In 1974, the former West Branch Council (Williamsport) and Susquehanna Valley Area Council (Sunbury, Pennsylvania) merged to form the current Susquehanna Council in Williamsport.

Other notable happenings in Pennsylvania Scouting at this time include:

The 1957 National Scout Jamboree and 1964 National Scout Jamborees were held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Half of the 1973 National Scout Jamboree (Jamboree East) was held at Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania, where the 1977 National Scout Jamboree was also held.

During 1975 and 1976, Scouts in the Philadelphia area could earn a Colonial Philadelphia merit badge. It could only be counted towards palms, not any rank, and came in a green border and a very yellow-green border. This was the only time BSA National approved a regional merit badge for any such use.

Boy Scouting in Pennsylvania

Twenty-four Boy Scouts of America local councils serve portions of Pennsylvania.

Girl Scouting in Pennsylvania

As of January 2007 there are 13 Girl Scout council offices in Pennsylvania; however, they are in the midst of a realignment which will result in three councils. In addition Bradford and Tioga Counties will remain part of Seven Lakes Council whose council office is in New York.

Scouting museums in Pennsylvania

The World of Scouting Museum is in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. World Of Scouting Museum

International Scouting units in Pennsylvania

In addition, there are Homenetmen Armenian Scouts in Philadelphia, and Külföldi Magyar Cserkészszövetség Hungarian Scouting maintains two troops in Philadelphia and one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Scout Activities by County

Allegheny / Berks / Blair / Dauphin / Delaware / Franklin / Lackawanna / Lancaster / Lycoming / Philadelphia /