Sir Robert Baden-Powell began the Boy Scout movement in England in 1908, and two years later, the Boys Scouts of America was incorporated, Feb. 8, 1910.
Robert Baden-Powell was educated at Charterhouse, London, and joined the English hussars in 1876. As a soldier for in British Empire, which was the largest empire in world history, Robert Baden-Powell served in India, Afghanistan and South Africa. In 1895, he commanded native troops in Ashanti, and later served in the Matabele campaign.
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During the South African Boer War, Baden-Powell's 1,200 men were besieged for 217 days by an overwhelming Boer army of 8,000 at Mafeking. In spite of famine and sickness, his resourcefulness succeeded in defending his position and saving his men until help arrived, May 12, 1900. He was promoted to the rank of major general. In 1912, he married Olave St. Clair Soames, and in 1939 they moved to a cottage in Kenya.
Sir Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scout organization in 1908 to promote morality and good citizenship in the rising generation. He helped his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell found the Girl Guides in 1910.
Sir Robert Baden-Powell's works include:
- "Cavalry Instruction"
- "The Matabele Campaign"
- "Scouting for Boys"
- "My Adventures as a Spy"
- "Indian Memories"
- "The Wolf Cub's Handbook"
- "Girl Guiding"
- "Rovering to Success"
- "Scouting and Youth Movements"
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The Boy Scouts, being originally founded on Christian values, grew into the largest voluntary youth movement in the world, with membership over 25 million.
In a 1917 pamphlet on Scouting, Baden-Powell wrote an introduction, "Scouting & Christianity," stating: "Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity."
Robert Baden-Powell wrote in "Scouting for Boys," 1908: "We aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of its theology on Sundays. ... There is a vast reserve of loyal patriotism and Christian spirit lying dormant in our nation to-day, mainly because it sees no direct opportunity for expressing itself. ... In this joyous brotherhood there is vast opportunity open to all. ... It gives every man his chance of service for his fellow-men and for God."
Baden-Powell wrote in "Scouting for Boys," 1908: "No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws. ... First: Love and serve God. Second: Love and serve your neighbor."
Baden-Powell wrote in "Aids to Scoutmastership," 1919: "Development of outlook naturally begins with a respect for God. ... Reverence to God and reverence for one's neighbor and reverence for oneself as a servant of God."
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"The Scout Handbook," 5th edition (1948) explained "A Scout is Reverent": "The Scout shows true reverence in two principal ways. First, you pray to God, you love God and you serve Him. Secondly, in your everyday actions you help other people, because they are made by God to God's own likeness. You and all men are made by God to God's own likeness. You and all men are important in the sight of God because God made you. The 'unalienable rights' in our historic Declaration of Independence, come from God. That is why you respect others whose religion and customs may differ from yours."
"The Scout Handbook," 5th edition (1948), in the section "Duty to God," a scout was admonished to be "faithful to God's Commandments":
You worship God regularly with your family in your church or synagogue. You try to follow the religious teachings that you have been taught, and you are faithful in your church school duties, and help in church activities. Above all you are faithful to Almighty God's Commandments.
Most great men in history have been men of deep religious faith. Washington knelt in the snow to pray at Valley Forge. Lincoln always sought Divine guidance before each important decision. Be proud of your religious faith.
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Remember in doing your duty to God, to be grateful to Him. Whenever you succeed in doing something well, thank Him for it. Sometimes when you look up into the starlit sky on a quiet night, and feel close to Him – thank Him as the Giver of all good things.
One way to express your duty and your thankfulness to God is to help others, and this too, is a part of your Scout promise.
On May 1, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation of a National Boy Scout Week: "The Boy Scout movement should not only be preserved, but strengthened. It deserves the support of all public-spirited citizens. ... Every nation depends for its future upon the proper training and development of its youth."
On July 25, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge addressed a gathering of Boy Scouts in New York headed to Copenhagen: "The three fundamentals of scouthood are reverence for nature ... reverence for law. ... The third is a reverence for God. It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. ... Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics to not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is part of an unending plan."
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Honoring Sir Robert Baden-Powell, May 1, 1926, before the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Washington, D.C., President Calvin Coolidge said a scout binds himself to be "morally straight": "We are delighted to honor this evening, Sir Robert Baden-Powell. This distinguished British general is now known all over the world. ... It has been dignified by a federal charter granted by the Congress to the Boy Scouts of America in 1916, and thereby ranks in the popular mind with the only two other organizations which have been similarly honored, the Red Cross and the American Legion. ... The boy on becoming a scout binds himself on his honor to do his best. ...
1. To do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the scout law.
2. To help other people at all times.
3. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."
Calvin Coolidge continued: "The 12 articles in these scout laws are ... affirmative rules of conduct. Members must promise to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. How comprehensive this list! What a formula for developing moral and spiritual character! ... It would be a perfect world if everyone exemplified these virtues. ... Boys are taught to practice the basic virtues and principles of right living and to act for themselves in according such virtues and principles. They learn ... self-control. ...
"We hear much talk of the decline in the influence of religion, of the loosening of the home ties, of the lack of discipline – all tending to break down reverence and respect for the laws of God and man. ... There is no substitute for the influences of the home and of religion. These take hold of the innermost nature of the individual and play a very dominant part in the formation of personality and character. ... Nothing else can ever take its place. ..."
Coolidge added: "The Boy Scout movement can never be ... a substitute but ... an ally of strict parental control and family life under religious influences. ... The last item in the scout 'duodecalogue' is impressive. It declares that a scout shall be reverent. 'He is reverent toward God,' the paragraph reads. 'He is faithful in his religious duties, and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.' In the past I have declared my conviction that our Government rests upon religion; that religion is the source from which we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. ..."
Coolidge concluded, warning the "wages of sin is death": "The Boy Scout movement designed that the various religious denominations have found it a most helpful agency. ... We know too well what fortune overtakes those who attempt to live in opposition to these standards. They become ... outlaws. However much they may boast of their freedom from all restraints ... they are immediately the recognized foes. ... Their short existence is lived under greater and greater restrictions, in terror of the law, in flight from arrest, or in imprisonment.
"Instead of gaining freedom, they become slaves of their own evil doing, realizing the scriptural assertion that they who sin are the servants of sin and that the wages of sin is death. The Boy Scout movement has been instituted in order that the youth, instead of falling under the domination of habits and actions that lead only to destruction, may come under the discipline of a training that leads to eternal life."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt emphasized "moral responsibility," Feb. 8, 1939: "These boys, so full of promise for the future ... should be regarded as a national trust. Ours is the duty to inculcate in the Scout mind those simple but fundamental principles which embrace strength of body, alertness of mind and, above these and growing out of them, that sense of moral responsibility upon which all sound character rests."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated greeted the Boy Scouts, Feb. 8, 1940: "Boy Scouts ... is ... truly American. God grant that it may ever remain so. ... Our 12th scout law effectively expresses the spiritual ideals of scouting... It affirms the importance of religion in the life of the individual and the life of the nation and emphasizes the necessity of respect for the convictions of other people. Religious freedom is basic in Americanism. It is a tradition upon which our country is founded."
On Feb. 7, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed appreciation for those help make boys "morally straight": "Certainly those who help to make boys physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight in these times deserve the appreciation of all who are leaders in America."
Broadcast over radio, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Feb. 10, 1934, led the Scouts in their oath to stay "morally straight": "I am happy to participate in the 24th anniversary celebration of ... the Boy Scouts of America. ... I ask you to join with me. ... All stand! Give the Scout sign! Repeat with me the Scout Oath! 'On my honor I will do my best: To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.'"
President Dwight Eisenhower stated on the 50th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, June 1, 1960: "That is the great thing about Scouting. ... We read in our Bibles the parable of the Good Samaritan. ... They individually and collectively begin to think of their nation in part as a 'good Samaritan,' doing the decent thing in this world. Scouting is indeed doing something ... vital to our vigor as a nation based upon a religious concept."
President Dwight Eisenhower being "morally straight" in his remarks to the 44th national council of the Boy Scouts of America, May 29, 1954: "It would be difficult for any political party or any government to state its purposes ... in better terms than ... the Scout Oath – 'To do my duty by my God and country.' One of my great heroes of American history is Robert E. Lee, and he said ... 'We cannot do more than our duty. We would not wish to do less'. ... Was there ever a time ... when we needed to be more ... morally straight? This government, represented in its Legislature and its Executive departments and its Judiciary, has but one great purpose in its relationships with all other nations: to be morally straight."
President Gerald Ford remarked at a question and answer session at the annual convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, Phoenix, Arizona, Nov. 14, 1974:
Q: "Mr. President ... Senator Dole suggested that you shed your Boy Scout image and get tough with Congress and, if necessary, go over their heads. ... What will be your tactics?"
The president: "Well, let me preface the answer ... I was a Boy Scout. I am proud of that experience. I have no apologies for it. I think they have done a great deal of good for lots of young people, and I am not going to back off from the five or six years that I enjoyed being a Boy Scout and doing the things that I think are good for America. Now, to answer your other question. I wish there would be a lot more Boy Scouts."
Gerald Ford remarked at the Boy Scouts annual awards dinner, Dec. 2, 1974, that the "goals" of the president should include being "morally straight": "It has recently been said that I am too much of a Boy Scout in the way I have conducted myself as president, and so I reviewed the Boy Scout laws and Boy Scout oath. They say that a Scout is 'trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent'. ... And the Boy Scout oath is, 'On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout laws, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.' Well, if these are not the goals of the people of the United States, what they want their president to live up to, then ... either you have the wrong man or I have the wrong country."
President Gerald Ford stated at a Q & A session at Lenoir Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, March 20, 1976: "I am proud of the fact that I was an Eagle Scout, and I am proud of the Boy Scouts of America. You know, the Scout oath, the Scout laws are the best guidelines I know to give you the right direction in school, in marriage, in your career, to make your life happy and prosperous. So, if you live up to the Scout oath and the Scout laws ... you can't go wrong."
President Ronald Reagan remarked on private sector initiatives at a White House briefing for National Service Organization leaders, April 27, 1982: "After being told for decades that government is the answer, some people's reluctance to try a different approach is understandable. What if, for example, the Boy Scouts of America were a government program instead of a voluntary activity? Well, someone's worked out what the answer to that would be. It's been estimated that just doing what the Boy Scouts are doing now ... if run by the government, would cost about $5 1/2 billion a year."
President Ronald Reagan remarked at a White House luncheon commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, Feb. 8, 1985: "Former Scouts have walked on the moon, become president, and won the Heisman trophy. Today they serve as cabinet secretaries, as my press secretary, and in the Congress. In fact, about two-thirds of the members of the Congress have been in the Boy Scouts ... how nice it would have been if the Boy Scouts had a merit badge for a balanced budget amendment."
President Ronald Reagan issued Proclamation 5421 – 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, Dec. 15, 1985: "The Boy Scouts of America, our nation's largest organization for young people, has served our youth since 1910. Thanks to dedicated adult volunteers, more than 70 million young people have learned Scouting's lessons of patriotism, courage, and self-reliance over the past 75 years."
President George H.W. Bush remarked at the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Bowling Green, Virginia, Aug. 7, 1989: "The Boy Scouts has played a leadership role in preparing a generation for space exploration. It's no coincidence that half of all astronauts were once Scouts: Admiral Richard Truly, who ably heads NASA, is an Eagle Scout; Gus Grissom, an American hero who lost his life in the early space program, was a Scout; David Scott, who operated that first lunar rover, was a Scout; And Jim Lovell, another lunar explorer, whom I'm told is with us today. And I guess, Jim, if you're here, it's true what they say: Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout. ... Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong, who made man's first step on the moon and later sent his greetings to the Jamboree from deep space. ... God bless the Boy Scouts of America."
President George H.W. Bush stated at James Madison High School, Vienna, Virginia, March 28, 1989: "People wonder and talk about ... the Thousand Points of Light? ... Helping some kid that may be tempted to use narcotics. ... A church group doing something. ... It's the Red Cross. ... It is the Boy Scouts. ... It is Christian athletes. ... Voluntarism."
On Feb. 16, 2002, Dr. James Dobson addressed approximately 3,500 people at the National Religious Broadcaster's on the topic of his book, "Bringing Up Boys": "The world into which children are born now has become a very dangerous place. It's changed tremendously. ... There is an attack on childhood. ... I don't think I can overstate it there are many people out there today who see in children an opportunity to change the culture. ... They hate the Judeo-Christian value system. And children are the vulnerable ones. And if they can get control of children ... they can change the whole culture in one generation. And there is now a tsunami coming our way ... and boys especially are in the bull's eye. They're in the cross-hairs. ..."
Dr. Dobson continued: "The National Education Association announced ... every classroom of every school of every year is being taught homosexual propaganda. So they're teaching them that bisexuality is normal and that homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent. ... Of course, Christians can't come in and counter that. ... Can you imagine these children, 5-years old, sitting in a circle around the teacher who's telling them about adult perverse behavior? And we're not concerned about that? ... 42 percent of the fourth-grade boys in this entire country can't read, and yet, we're going to teach them that? ..."
Dr. Dobson concluded: "All these things are coming to your school. ... There is a concerted effort to manipulate the minds of kids. ... A stem cell is a cell in the human being ... that in the very early stages of development it is undifferentiated. In other words, it's not yet other kinds of tissue, but it can go any direction depending on the environment that it's in. ... Do you understand that children are the stem cells for the culture? The environment that you put them in is what they grow up to be...
"I saw a video the other day of children in Afghanistan and they were teaching these children how they could slit the throats of Israelis. If you teach that to 6-year-old boys, you will have violent men when they grow up. That's why there is this effort to control the minds of kids. It's what's behind the attack on the Boy Scouts."
President Herbert Hoover addressed the 20th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, March 10, 1930: "The boy ... is a complex of cells teeming with ... curiosity. ... The problem ... is what to do with him in his leisure time that will ... contribute to ... his morals. ... What will direct his interests to constructive joy instead of destructive glee. ... His is the plastic period when indelible impressions must be made."
Sir Robert Baden-Powell left a "farewell note" found after his death, but written before in 1929: "The hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are learning our ideals today will be the fathers and mothers of millions in the near future, in whom they will in turn inculcate the same ideals – provided that these are really and unmistakably impressed upon them by their leaders of today ... helping in practical fashion to bring to pass God's Kingdom of peace and goodwill upon earth. So, from my heart, I wish you God-speed in your effort. – Robert Baden-Powell"
Sir Robert Baden-Powell warned not to let the Boy Scout organization grew to have a large salaried staff, as he stated in his farewell note: "Don't let it become a salaried organization: keep it a voluntary movement of patriotic service."
Nevertheless, the Boy Scouts grew to have a large staff with a sizable financial overhead.
In 2009, Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president and honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America. At the same time, organized pressure began to be applied for the Boy Scouts to embrace the gay agenda. Faced with declining membership and revenues, talk circulated that more money would come if the Boy Scouts abandoned its century-old definition of "morally straight" and allowed entrance of those engaging in homosexual behavior.
After an orchestrated campaign with heated public debate, the 1,400 voting members narrowly passed the change on May 23, 2013, leaving many volunteer leaders feeling betrayed. A new adventure organization for young men, Trail Life USA, was begun in 2013, offering exciting camping, physical and mental challenges, with awards. With nearly 20,000 members in over 500 troops nationwide, Trail Life USA is committed to developing Christian character and leadership skills.
"Our vision is to be the premier national character development organization for young men which produces Godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens."
Trail Life's mission statement is: "Our mission is simple and clear: to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure."
Trail Life's motto is "Walk Worthy."
Colossians 1:10 "... that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. ..."
The Trail Life oath is:
On my honor, I will do my best,
To serve God and my country;
To respect authority;
To be a good steward of creation;
And to treat others as I want to be treated.
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