Happy 100th Birthday to the Boy Scouts

100 Years of Scouting Cartoon by Dave Granlund from Daryl Cagle's Poltical Cartoonists Archive

The Boy Scouts of America celebrate the 100th anniversary of their founding on Monday February 8, 2010.

Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in England as an organization in 1908 from an idea from his experiences with the British Army in South Africa.  Entrepreneur, publisher and adventurer William  Boyce brought the scouting program to the US and incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.  You can learn more about the history of scouting in America from this timeline on the Scouting.org website.

While scouting has declined from its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, there are still more than 2.5 million boys and adults involved in all of the various scouting programs.  Plus, more than 100 million boys and leaders have been involved in scouting over the last 100 years.  What could be more All-American than an image of a Boy Scout doing his duty and many of these scenes have been captured by Norman Rockwell over the years.  Many leading figures and more than 2 million boys have gone on to attain the rank of Eagle Scout which is scouting’s highest achievement.  There is even a Wikipedia page compiled with notable Eagle Scouts which includes many politicians, judges, astronauts and other well-known figures.

I’m proud to say that I have been a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout and now a Cub Scout Leader for my son.  Plus, I have participated in many fine experiences and built lifelong memories because of scouting – camping on weekends and at summer camp, building fires, whittling, playing outdoor games, hiking, getting dirty, building confidence and participating in two high adventure activities through backpacking at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing in the Boundary Waters National Park in Northern Minnesota and Canada.

The 12 Boy Scout Laws are ideals for all to strive for and can probably still be recited by any boy who spent even a year or two in scouting – a Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Thank you William Boyce for bringing scouting to the United States, and thank you to all of the men and women who have provided guidance and leadership to millions of boys through the years.  The tagline from the Scouting 100th Anniversary website sums up the future of scouting in this 100th year of existence:

Celebrating the Adventure…Continuing the Journey

"Happy Birthday Merit Badge" from Scouting.org

What are your memories of scouting?  I look forward to seeing your memories in the comments below.  Thank you.

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Memorial Day Flag Planting

Planting Flags at LA National Cemetary

My Son Henry Planting Flags at Los Angeles National Cemetary

Memorial Day is a day to remember men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.  It was initially started in 1868 to honor Union soldiers from the Civil War and was known as Decoration Day.  After World War I, the holiday was expanded to include American casualities of any war.

Our Cub Scout Pack were among several thousand Los Angeles Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts who helped place flags at LA’s National Cemetary on Saturday, May 23rd.  LA’s Cemetary has been in operation since 1887 and includes more than 70,000 graves sites including 13 graves of Medal of Honor recipients.

In a span of 30 minutes on Saturday, all of the grave sites were decorated with an American flag.  Our boys would place a flag near the grave marker, say the soldier’s name and unit out loud, solemnly salute the flag and say “thank you for your service”.   This drill was repeated by our 35 Cub Scouts until we covered our assigned area with American flags.

It was a moving sight and a great way to spend part of our Memorial Day weekend.  I am sure it is a memory that my son will have for the rest of his life.  If you ever have a chance to participate in this great ceremony, do not hestitate to join – you will be glad that you experienced this touching reminder to those who have served our country.

In Search of Eagles

I happened to see this request on the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) website today.  Being an Eagle Scout and a new Cub Scout leader, I knew that I had to send a letter to Connor.

Hi! My name is Connor and I am a Bear in Den 1, Pack 293 in Spring, Texas. I am writing to you because this year is the 100th year of Scouting. To celebrate, the boys in my Den are writing to Eagle Scouts across the United States in the hopes that we will receive 100 letters back.

Here is the letter I sent to Connor today:

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September 26, 2008

Dear Connor,

I am writing to you because I saw that you were looking for former Eagle Scouts to share their favorite memories. Your request made me think about Scouting again as my second grade son Henry is starting out in Cub Scouts this year and I’m going to be his Den Leader.

I was a Boy Scout in Troop 1666 in Oregon, Ohio and received my Eagle Scout award on May 12, 1976 in the Bicentennial Year. My certificate was signed by former President Gerald Ford who was also an Eagle Scout. I’ve enclosed a copy of my Eagle certificate and a picture of me with my brother at my Eagle Scout ceremony. You can see the Eagle pinned on my shirt pocket. I also thought you should know that I almost didn’t make Eagle. I progressed rapidly to Life Scout and held that rank for 2 years before becoming an Eagle Scout. My Dad pushed me to finish up the requirements and I am so glad he did as it would have been a shame to be so close and not finish.

My Brother Gary and Me at My Eagle Ceremony

I had a great time in Scouts and have many memories. My memory from Cub Scouting is the first time I participated in the Pinewood Derby. My car wouldn’t go down the track and I remember being very upset about it. What I learned is that it was more important to spend the time with my Dad then worry about how my Pinewood racer performed.

In Boy Scouts, my favorite times were mostly around the campouts I attended. I remember Camp Igloo in February (outside), our local Boy Scout Camp (Camp Miakonda) and summer camp at Camp Pioneer. I also had the special fortune of going on two Boy Scout High Adventure trips. I got to go to Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico when I was 15 and to the Charles L. Sommers Canoe Base in the Boundary Waters International Park near Ely, Minnesota when I was 16. Those two trips were the pinnacle of my scouting career and made all of the effort I put into Scouting worth it.

I have also copied a picture of my son Henry and me in our new uniforms. We are members of Pack 713 in Manhattan Beach, California. Our Pack is notable as a Cub Master from our pack founded and held the first Pinewood Derby in 1953. Henry is so excited to be a Cub Scout and our first campout is next Saturday, and we get to spend the night on the aircraft carrier USS Midway in San Diego.

Good luck with your project and best wishes on your scouting career!

Yours in Scouting,

Tom Humbarger