Scouting and Guiding in the United States

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Scouting in the United States can refer to Scouting associations that are recognized by one of the international Scouting organizations, as well as independent groups that are considered to be "Scout-like" or otherwise Scouting related.


Scouting for boys

The progressive movement in the United States was at its height during the early twentieth century. With the migration of families from rural to urban centers, there were concerns among some people that young men were no longer learning patriotism and individualism. Starting in the 1870s, the YMCA was an early promoter of social welfare and other reforms involving young men around a program of mental, physical, social and religious development. Early corn clubs for farm boys began to develop into the 4-H around 1902.[1]

Ernest Thompson Seton started the Woodcraft Indians in 1902 and published The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians in 1906.[2] Daniel Carter Beard started the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905. When Baden-Powell created the first Scouting program in 1907, he used elements of Setons' work in his Scouting for Boys.[3] Several small local Scouting programs started in the U.S. soon after, most notably the Boy Scouts of the United States, the National Scouts of America and the Peace Scouts of California— these later merged into the BSA soon after it was formed.[4] The YMCA in Michigan was organizing Scout troops based on Scouting for Boys as early as 1909.[5]

Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce was visiting London, England in 1909 where he met the Unknown Scout and learned of the Scouting movement.[6] Boyce secured the rights to the Scouting program in the U.S., and soon after his return, Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.[7] Edgar M. Robinson and Lee F. Hanmer became interested in the nascent BSA movement and convinced Boyce to turn the program over to the YMCA for development. Robinson enlisted Seton, Beard and other prominent leaders in the early youth movements. After initial development, Robinson turned the movement over to James E. West who became the first Chief Scout Executive and the Scouting movement began to expand in the U.S.[1]

The BSA's stated purpose at its incorporation in 1910 was "... to teach [boys] patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred values ...".[8]:7 Later, in 1937, deputy Chief Scout Executive George J. Fisher expressed the BSA's mission, "Each generation as it comes to maturity has no more important duty than that of teaching high ideals and proper behavior to the generation which follows".[9]

Other Scouting organizations were also started around 1910 and continued for some time. These include the Rhode Island Boy Scouts (merged 1917), the Salvation Army Life Saving Scouts (merged 1929),[10], and the YMMIA Scouts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (merged 1913).[11]

Boyce created the Lone Scouts of America in 1915 and merged them into the BSA in 1924. The Boy Rangers of America, an organization for younger boys, was created with help from the BSA and mainly merged in 1930.[4]

The American Boy Scouts were organized by William Randolph Hearst in 1910. The New England Boy Scouts split from the American Boy Scouts in 1911 and later merged with the BSA. The ABS changed their name to the United States Boy Scouts in 1913 after pressure from the BSA, then changed it to American Cadets in 1919 after a lawsuit by the BSA. The ABS survived for a few more years under various names before fading away.

Seton restarted Woodcraft after departing from the BSA in 1915, but the program faded after his death in 1946. After helping to create the BSA and seeing it grow into a successful rival, the YMCA began the Indian Guides in 1926 using some of Seton's material.[1]

Other groups used the Scout name, but did not provide the Scouting program. Colonel Cody’s Boy Scouts were formed in 1909 and continue as the American Cadet Alliance.[12] The Michigan Forest Scouts were organized in 1912 as auxiliaries for forest fire service.[13]

Scouting for girls

Template:Expand Scouting for girls began when the Camp Fire Girls were incorporated in 1910 with help from the BSA. Again, Seton's influence was established with the use of his awards scheme and Indian ceremonies. The Girl Scouts of the USA were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and were granted a congressional charter in 1950.

Scouting today

The main national Scouting organizations in the U.S. are the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA. The BSA is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement while the GSUSA is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the two main international Scouting associations. "Scouting" [14] in the United States is the exclusive [15] trademark [16] of the Boy Scouts of America. There are a number of other youth programs in the U.S. that are not recognized by any international Scouting associations, but use many methods of Scouting. Some of these programs are explicitly religious, while others are breakaway organizations formed in response to the policies of the BSA and GSUSA.

The International Scout and Guide Fellowship is an alumni association open to former members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the World Organization of the Scout Movement and to adults who believe in the Scouting ideals; the ISGF has a number of members in the U.S.

The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association, a UK Scouting organization and part of the World Federation of Independent Scouts, have had a small presence in the U.S. since 1998.[17]

In 2006 the Baden Powell Scouts were formed, operating groups in Florida, Missouri and Connecticut,[18] with lone Scouts supported by them in 12 states. They are members of WFIS and claim to be affiliated to the "Baden-Powell Scouts' Association of England".[19]


The Związek Harcerstwa Polskiego (Polish Scouting Association) also has some presence in the U.S. Külföldi Magyar Cserkészszövetség (Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris) has also some presence in the U.S.[20][21] There are also some other Scouts-in-Exile groups in the U.S.: Organization of Russian Young Pathfinders,[22] Latvian,[23][24] Lithuanian[25][26] Estonian[27] and Ukrainian groups. Some of them are also members of the Boy Scouts of America.

Scout-like organizations

Pathfinders are a community service oriented uniformed youth organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, formed in 1907. Awanais an international evangelical youth organization founded in 1950. The Royal Rangers were founded in 1962 as a program of the Assemblies of God.

Some small elements of Seton's Woodcraft program survive as the Woodcraft Rangers.[28]

After much success, the YMCA Indian Guides program declined until it was dissolved in 2001 and reformed as the YMCA Adventure Guides, no longer using American Indian themes. The Indian Guides program was reformed outside the YMCA as the Native Sons and Daughters in 2002.[29]

The Camp Fire Girls are now a co-ed organization known as Camp Fire USA with about 750,000 youth members.[30]

Breakaway organizations

The American Heritage Girls are a Christian Scouting group formed in 1995 by a group of parents who were unhappy that the Girl Scouts accepted lesbians as troop leaders, allowed girls to substitute another word more applicable to their belief for "God" in the promise, and allegedly banned prayer at meetings.[31] The group currently has troops in many states of the continental United States; membership as of 2007 is about 6,000 girls in 33 states.[32]

Frontier Girls are another organization for girls ages 5–18; membership numbers are unknown.[33]

In response to the BSA membership policies that limit participation by girls and exclude atheists, agnostics, and known or avowed homosexuals, some youth organizations using Scouting principles have formed.

The BSA converted its In School Scouting program to Learning for Life in 1992. LFL uses no Scout emblems and has no policies on religion, gender or sexuality. The BSA's career-oriented Exploring program was moved to LFL in 1998.

SpiralScouts International was founded in 1999 after the BSA declined recognition of a religious emblem program developed for the Wiccan faith.[34] It is a program for girls and boys of all faiths and serves youth throughout the USA, as well as in Canada and Europe.

Other new organizations with inclusive policies include Adventure Scouts USA (formerly StarScouting America),[35] and Navigators USA.[36]

Scouting-related organizations

There are several organizations related to but not part of any Scouting organizations.

Alpha Phi Omega is a co-ed service fraternity organized to provide community service, leadership development, and social opportunities. It was founded by students who were former Boy Scouts and Scouters as a way to continue participating in the ideals of Scouting at the college level. Epsilon Tau Pi is another fraternity whose membership is open only to Eagle Scouts.

Scouting for All and the Coalition for Inclusive Scouting and were formed to promote tolerance and diversity within the BSA in the face of its policies that exclude non-theists and homosexuals. The Coalition is now defunct, but its ideological successor appears to be ScoutPride.[37]

In response to opposition to the BSA's policies, organizations such as the Scouting Legal Defense Fund—a project of the American Civil Rights Union—and Save Our Scouts were formed to support the BSA.[38][39]

There are several organizations that offer resources for Scouting— the U.S. Scouting Service Project is one of the largest.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Macleod, David L. (1983). Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA and Their Forerunners, 1870–1920. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-09400-6. 
  2. Anderson, H. Allen (1986). The Chief: Ernest Thompson Seton and the Changing West. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 0-89096-239-1. 
  3. Beardsall, Jonny (2007). "Dib, dib, dib... One Hundred Years of Scouts at Brownsea". The National Trust Magazine (National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty) (Spring 2007): 525–55. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Peterson, Robert W. (1984). The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure. American Heritage. ISBN 0-8281-1173-1. 
  5. Rowan, Edward L. (2005). James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America. Las Vegas International Scouting Museum. ISBN 0-9746479-1-8. 
  6. Peterson, Robert (2001). "The Man Who Got Lost in the Fog". Scouting (Boy Scouts of America). Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  7. Rowan, Edward L (2005). To Do My Best: James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America. Las Vegas International Scouting Museum. ISBN 0-9746479-1-8. 
  8. Townley, Alvin (2007). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  9. The National and World Jamborees in Pictures. New York: Boy Scouts of America. 1937. p. 131. 
  10. Sloan, Bill. "Partners in Service". Scouting (September 2001). Retrieved 2008-07-0/. 
  11. "The Story of Scouting in the L.D.S. Church". L.D.S. Relationships, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  12. "History". American Cadet Alliance. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  13. Oates, William R. (1914). Forestry Report: A Supplement to Amplified Report 1912. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford. pp. 8. 
  14. United States Trademark #73282546 SCOUTING, First Used: April 30, 1913
  15. US House US Code Title 36 CHAPTER 309 - Boy Scouts of America gives the BSA "the exclusive right to use emblems, badges, descriptive or designating marks, and words and phrases [the BSA] adopts."
  16. Partial List of BSA Trademarked Properties
  17. "1st Tarrant Group, Baden-Powell Scouts". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  18. "3rd Charter Oak Rover Crew". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  19. Baden-Powell Scouting in USA
  20. "Our Troops, by Region and City". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  21. "The Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris-Külföldi Magyar Cserkész Szövetség". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  22. "Druzhina "Putivl", Washington, DC, USA". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  23. "Latviešu skauti un gaidas" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  24. "Chicago Latvian Girl Guides and Boy Scouts". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  25. [ "Welcome to the website for the Washington, DC-area Lithuanian Scouts!"]. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  26. "LSS Atlanto Rajonas". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  27. "Fact-sheet January 2004 Estonia Today-Estonian Culture and Language abroad" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  28. "Woodcraft Rangers". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  29. "National Longhouse Programs". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  30. "Campfire USA – All About Us". Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  31. Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest, Spokane WA
  33. Frontier Girls Contact Page
  34. Michael L. Betsch. "Wiccans Offer Alternative to Boy Scouts". Retrieved 2006-11-08. 
  35. "Adventure Scouts USA — Adventure Has a New Name. Yours. Welcome, fellow Adventurers!". Adventure Scouts USA. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  36. "Navigators". Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  37. ScoutPride
  38. Scouting Legal Defense Fund
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