Founders of Scouting and the BSA
Robert S. S. Baden-Powell
As a youth, Robert Baden-Powell greatly enjoyed the outdoors, learning about
nature and how to live in the wilderness. After returning as a military hero
from service in Africa, Baden-Powell discovered that English boys were reading
the manual on stalking and survival in the wilderness he had written for his
military regiment. Gathering ideas from Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter
Beard, and others, he rewrote the manual as a nonmilitary nature skill book
and called it Scouting for Boys. To test his ideas, Baden-Powell brought
together 22 boys to camp at Brownsea Island, off the coast of England. This
historic campout was a success and resulted in the advent of Scouting. Thus,
the imagination and inspiration of Baden-Powell, later proclaimed Chief Scout
of the World, brought Scouting to youth the world over.
Ernest Thompson Seton
Born in Scotland, Ernest Thompson Seton immigrated to America as a youth
in the 1880s. His fascination with the wilderness led him to become a naturalist,
an artist, and an author, and through his works he influenced both youth and
adults. Seton established a youth organization called the Woodcraft Indians,
and his background of outdoor skills and interest in youth made him a logical
choice for the position of first Chief Scout of the BSA in 1910. His many
volumes of Scoutcraft became an integral part of Scouting, and his intelligence
and enthusiasm helped turn an idea into reality.
Daniel Carter Beard
Woodsman, illustrator, and naturalist, Daniel Carter Beard was a pioneering
spirit of the Boy Scouts of America. Already 60 years old when the Boy Scouts
of America was formed, he became a founder and merged it with his own boys'
organization, the Sons of Daniel Boone. As the first national Scout commissioner,
Beard helped design the original Scout uniform and introduced the elements of
the First Class Scout badge. "Uncle Dan," as he was known to boys and leaders,
will be remembered as a colorful figure dressed in buckskin who helped form
Scouting in the United States.
William D. Boyce
In 1909, Chicago publisher William D. Boyce lost his way in a dense London
fog. A boy came to his aid and, after guiding the man, refused a tip, explaining
that as a Scout he would not take a tip for doing a Good Turn. This gesture by
an unknown Scout inspired a meeting with Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder
of the Boy Scouts. As a result, William Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of
America on February 8, 1910. He also created the Lone Scouts, which merged with
the Boy Scouts of America in 1924.
James E. West
James E. West was appointed the first Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts
of America in 1911. Although orphaned and physically handicapped, he had the
perseverance to graduate from law school and become a successful attorney. This
same determination provided the impetus to help build Scouting into the largest
and most effective youth organization in the world. When he retired in 1943, Dr.
West was recognized throughout the country as the true architect of the Boy
Scouts of America.