Boy Scouts Day
Also known as
Boy Scout Day
Boy Scouts' Day
National Boy Scouts Day
annually on February 8th
Boys Scouts Day commemorates the birth anniversary of Scouting in America. In 1909, William Dickson Boyce, a Chicago publisher, was lost in thick fog in London when a boy came up to him and helped him find his way. The boy, who became known as the "Unknown Scout," refused a tip and told Boyce he was a Scout doing a good turn. It was this good deed that influenced Boyce to bring Scouts to the United States. He thought boys in the United States should have the same type of training that the boy who helped him had received. On February 8, 1910, Boyce filed incorporation papers in the District of Columbia for the creation of Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Scouting got its start in Britain a few years earlier. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army officer and expert scout and mapmaker, wrote a book for soldiers called Aids to Scouting, which focused on survival skills and the need for a strong character. After returning to Britain in 1903, Baden-Powell found that the book was very popular with boys. He rewrote the book with them in mind, and Scouting for Boys was published in 1908. Meanwhile, in 1907, Baden-Powell organized what is seen as the first "Scout camp," which about 22 boys attended. This is seen as the beginning of the Scouting movement.
BSA is one of the largest scouting and youth organizations in the United States. As of 2020, there are over 2.4 million youth participants and almost 1 million adult volunteers in the program. Since its inception in 1910, over 110 million Americans have participated in BSA. It is part of the international Scout Movement and is a founding member organization of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.
The goals of BSA are to "train youth in responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance through participation in a wide range of outdoor activities, educational programs, and, at older age levels, career-oriented programs in partnership with community organizations." The BSA age levels are as follows: those in kindergarten through 5th grade take part in Cub Scouts, members between the ages of 11 and 17 take part in Scouts BSA, and those between the ages of 14 (or 13 if 8th grade has been completed) and 20 may take part in Venturing and Sea Scouting.
Local organizations like clubs, churches, civic associations, and educational organizations are chartered by BSA to implement the program in their communities. Units are led by volunteers appointed by the chartering organization. Local councils support the units with volunteers and paid professional adult leaders, who are known as Scouters.
Boy Scouts of America members mark Boy Scouts Day in numerous ways. Cake is often served at a weekly meeting or at a campout. There also are often flag ceremonies, the presentation of advancement awards, parents' nights, and Cub Scout blue and gold banquets. Scout Sunday is held on the Sunday before February 8, which is often marked with a church service followed by a pancake breakfast.
How to Observe
The following are some ideas on how to celebrate the day:
- Have your child join Boys Scouts of America. Both boys and girls can join.
- If you or one of your children are in BSA, participate in the day through the organization. Some ideas are to eat cake at a meeting or campout; attend a flag ceremony, presentation of advancement awards, or blue and gold banquet; or attend a Scout Sunday.
- Volunteer for BSA or get a job with them.
- Visit the National Scouting Museum in Cimarron, New Mexico.
- Visit the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum and William Dickson Boyce's gravesite in Ottawa, Illinois.
- Read a timeline about the history of the BSA.
- Visit one of the BSA High Adventure Bases.
- Learn how to tie Scouting knots.
- Read Scouting for Boys or Aids to Scouting.
- Read a book about the history of the Boy Scouts of America.