Are you ready to learn some amazing fun facts about Scouts BSA? If so, you’re in the right place! From the Scouting movement’s history, to accomplishments made by Scouts, and secret lore that almost seems unbelievable, get prepared to discover the fascinating world of Scouting! 😀
When researching and writing this article, I did my best to cite sources and ensure everything is accurate. So, make sure to check out the links to see cool pictures or even more detailed information about these awesome Scouting facts. Happy reading!
In just a minute, we’ll delve into some of the craziest, most interesting facts in the history of the BSA! Whether it’s wacky community campaigns, Scouting projects, famous Scouts, Scouting world records, or odd Scouting initiatives, get ready to impress your troop buddies by sharing these little-known Scouting facts.
My Favorite Fascinating Fun Facts About Scouting
- Neil Armstrong, the first man to ever set foot on the moon, holds the impressive honor of being an Eagle Scout. His declaration, “The Eagle has landed,” wasn’t only referring to his spacecraft! In the year 1969, Armstrong achieved another notable milestone by becoming the first Eagle Scout to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp. It was aptly named, “The Man on the Moon.”
- During both World War I and II, Scouts were actively encouraged to star what were known as “victory gardens.” These gardens served a dual purpose: easing food shortages and making a valuable contribution to the overall war effort.
- The Scout handshake is done with the left hand, symbolizing trust and friendship.
- The Boy Scouts of America played a role in promoting conservation early on, with President Theodore Roosevelt serving as the organization’s honorary president from 1910 to 1915.
- In 1972, the BSA broadened its membership by introducing girls through the establishment of the “Exploring” program. Subsequently, in 2019, girls were accepted into all BSA programs.
- In 2021, the United States celebrated its first female Eagle Scout!
Curious about what it means for girls to join Scouting? Check out this article: Girls In Scouts BSA? Integrated Scouting’s Benefits In Action!
- The “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty” initiative spanned two years, starting in 1949. Throughout this period, numerous scaled-down models of the Statue of Liberty (each standing at a remarkable height of over 8 feet!) were set up by troops across our nation. 😮 Crafted from copper, these replicas were procured for $350 apiece during that era (which is approximately $3,800 in 2020). Quite the interesting, expensive, and random project, wouldn’t you agree? If you’re curious about their appearance, you can view the images of them!
- The term “Scout” has its roots in Old French, where it was originally spelled ‘escoute,’ meaning “to listen, meaning to spy or watch.”
- In 1908, the founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, authored a renowned book titled “Scouting for Boys,” which served as the catalyst for initiating the movement.
Are you familiar with the magazine, Scout Life (originally called Boy’s Life)? Currently, it goes out to over 1 million Scouts each month!
However, Scout Life comes from humble beginnings. It was actually started by an 18-year-old Scout, Joseph Lane, in 1911.
Just a year later, the Boy Scouts of America bought the magazine for $6,100—about $1 per subscriber.
Even fun-er fact: $6,100 in 1911, with inflation taken into account, is over $175,000 in today’s money! Go Joseph!!
- The “International Day of Scouting” is celebrated on February 22nd each year, commemorating Baden-Powell’s birthday.
- Have you heard of the chess grandmaster, Bobby Fischer? Well, he was actually the author of a chess column in Boys’ Life Scouting magazine from 1966 until 1969! The name of his column: “Checkmate.”
- In 1916, the BSA introduced the prestigious “Eagle Scout” rank, an accolade bestowed upon Scouts who demonstrated exceptional skill and leadership. Before that, the highest Scouting rank was only First Class!
- The youngest person to become an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America was just 11 years old!
What’s so special about making Eagle? Find out in my article, The Advantages And Value Of Earning Your Eagle Scout Rank!
- The “Squirrels” in the United Kingdom holds the distinction of being the world’s youngest Scout group, made up of children ages 4 to 6 years old.
- Scouting is represented in over 216 countries and territories worldwide.
- The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) functions as the international governing body overseeing the realm of Scouting.
- During his youth, the iconic George Herman “Babe” Ruth held the rank of Tenderfoot Scout in Troop 23.
- The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910, by a newspaper publisher, William D. Boyce. Legend has it that Boyce was lost in the dense London fog and a Boy Scout helped guide him to his destination and refused a tip – a random act of kindness that would have immense ripple effects through history!
To hear the full, exciting story of the origins of Scouts BSA, check out my video (2:47) below!
We all know that there’s a lot of Scout merchandise out there like shirts, hats, and water bottles.
But, I bet you haven’t heard of the wildest Scouting-related item of them all… Action figures!
That’s right, in the 1970’s Kenner products (The toy company that created play doh) created 2 Boy Scout action figures.
They were called Steve Scout and Bob Scout, and they were even able to do the Scout Salute!
- Steven Fossett, a remarkable Eagle Scout, achieved incredible feats including completing a solo nonstop global voyage in both a hot air balloon and an ultralight airplane. Notably, he triumphed in the Chicago to Mackinac boat races, engaged in the challenging Iditarod dog race, and conquered multiple IronMan triathlons. Beyond these achievements, he truly embraced the Scouting mottos both in Cub and Boy Scouts: consistently striving to do his best and being thoroughly prepared.
- The BSA’s “ScoutReach” initiative is dedicated to expanding Scouting opportunities to underserved communities and youth facing challenging circumstances.
- Did I mention that I grew up in Hawaii and was blessed enough to do most of my Scouting there? It’s true! While I wasn’t there to see this myself 😛 , following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Scouts on Oahu selflessly leaped into action. Reacting to the crisis, they established initial medical aid centers and contributed to the evacuation of civilians throughout the entire island. Their roles extended to serving as messengers, overseeing 58 air-raid sirens in the vicinity of Honolulu, and even arranging makeshift kitchens to address emergency needs.
- That was far from the only time that Scouts worked together to serve our nation during crisis! In the aftermath of 9/11, Scouts hailing from New Jersey and New York united to gather an impressive quantity of more than 150,000 water bottles destined for the rescue workers at Ground Zero!
- In 1988, Scouts undertook a remarkable effort by amassing over 65 million containers of food in the Inaugural Scouting for Food campaign.
- Amidst World War II, in June 1942, Time magazine bestowed upon the BSA the moniker “Public Scavenger Service #1” in recognition of its remarkable efforts in organizing collection drives.
Scouting has always had a connection to the military – it was founded by a General, after all! Learn more about Scouting’s history with the military in my article, Boy Scouts And The Military: Scouting’s Connection With Our Armed Forces.
- Robert Baden-Powell’s original Scout law only had nine points! However, the Boy Scouts of America added three more to our Scout Law. Can you guess what they are? The BSA added the points: a Scout is brave, clean, and reverent.
- The first World Scout Jamboree occurred from July 30 to August 8, 1920, in London, uniting Scouts from across the globe. An impressive turnout of 8,000 Scouts representing 34 nations participated in the event.
- The largest-ever attended Jamboree in history transpired in 1973, drawing an astounding total of 73,610 attendees. Notably, this event was hosted across two locations: Farragut State Park in Idaho and Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania.
- The biggest single-site jamboree occurred in Colorado Springs, CO, in 1960, amassing an impressive attendance of 56,377 participants.
Way back in WWI times (specifically, 1917-1918), did you know that Scouts sold Liberty Bonds? This was waaay different from today’s fundraising!
Liberty bonds were basically government loans to fund the war effort.
Well, the interesting story around this is that Theodore Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss) was a Scout at the time, AND he sold a ton of these bonds.
When he was to be recognized along with 9 other scouts by then-former president Teddy Roosevelt, disaster struck.
Roosevelt was only given 9 medals, and loudly exclaimed, “What’s he doing here?” when Geisel came up last. Poor Dr. Seuss!
- Ever shop at Walmart? Haha, silly question, I know. Well, fun fact — the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, was also an Eagle Scout! Pretty neat, right? But that’s not all… At the time, in his home state of Missouri, Sam was recognized as the youngest Eagle — ever! He was only 13, in eighth grade, when he Eagled out! (If you want to earn your Eagle in 2 years too, check out my article!) Later, Sam became quite wealthy and even received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award due to his charitable giving. 🙂
- Established on January 26, 1908, the 1st Glasgow Scout Group claims the distinction of being the oldest Scout group in continuous operation.
- World Scout Scarf Day, observed annually on August 1st, is a special occasion during which Scouts globally proudly don their neckerchiefs as a symbol of unity and camaraderie.
Curious about the meaning behind those stylish neckerchief scarfs? Check out my article, Why Do Scouts Wear Neckerchiefs? (And Their Symbolism)!
- The Scout emblem, a fleur-de-lis, symbolizes the commitment to three essential pledges: serving others, upholding the Scout Law, and pursuing the truth.
- In 1937, the Boy Scouts of America dispatched a delegation of Scouts to the Netherlands, where they represented the United States at the World Jamboree. This gesture of international camaraderie transpired during a period of global turmoil.
- During the 1920s, an English youth movement named the “Kibbo Kift Kindred” emerged, amalgamating aspects of Scouting, an appreciation for nature, and artistic endeavors.
- The BSA’s “National Youth Leadership Training” (NYLT) program is centered on cultivating leadership skills among older Scouts.
- The identity of the first BSA troop founded remains uncertain due to the existence of numerous unofficial troops that predated the official establishment of the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.
- Within its domain, the BSA boasts its own array of high-adventure bases, encompassing the Florida Sea Base, the Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases, and the Philmont Scout Ranch.
- Established in 1915, the “Order of the Arrow,” the national honor society of the BSA, centers its mission on fostering a spirit of cheerful service and brotherhood among Scouts.
Ever hear of the Crime Prevention merit badge? Well, this insane historical fun fact takes that badge to the next level!
According to the NY Times, the FBI actually encouraged local police departments to recruit scouts as informants to look for unusual activity.
This program went by the codename Operation SAFE (which stood for Scout Awareness for Emergency) and aimed to provide 20,000 “extra eyes and ears for the police department.”
However, to be honest, it sounds a bit creepy… According to the document, Scouts would be watching for and reporting “unusual activity in neighbors’ homes, loitering, and criminal acts.”
- The original Invention merit badge (1911-1918) required a Scout to file for and obtain an actual patent on their invention. Talk about a difficult merit badge (link is to my article on 5 other super-hard badges)!
- Founded on April 19, 1925, the “Knights of Dunamis” emerged as a Scouting movement comprising 10 pioneering Eagle Scout members united by their commitment to service. The organization merged with the BSA National Council in 1972, and today it is more commonly recognized as NESA (National Eagle Scout Association).
- The BSA holds the position as the second-largest Scouting organization globally, with the largest being located in Indonesia.
- Located in Irving, Texas, the BSA’s central hub is recognized as the “Scouting Heritage Center,” serving as its national headquarters.
- The BSA has partnerships with various organizations, including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the American Red Cross, to provide unique Scouting experiences and service opportunities.
- In 1922, Leon Wallace became a trailblazer by being the first Eagle Scout to accomplish the remarkable feat of earning all available merit badges.
Curious about conquering as many merit badges as you can? Check out my article, The Value Of Merit Badges And How To Earn Them FAST!
- On Scouting Keep America Beautiful Day in 1971, Scouts undertook an extraordinary effort by collecting over one million tons of litter.
- The first Scouts to reside in the White House were John and Calvin Jr., the sons of the 30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
- During Scouting’s first decade, numerous composers contributed to the creation of Boy Scout sheet music. Among them was John Philip Sousa, who composed the “Boy Scouts of America March” in 1916.
Neil Armstrong, the first person to ever walk on the moon, was an Eagle Scout!
But, did you know that Neil Armstrong isn’t Scouting’s only connection to NASA?
In fact, in May of 1964, 29 astronauts visited the Philmont Scout Ranch for a two-week training! But, they weren’t there to earn merit badges…
Instead, they learned geological mapping and seismographic studies in preparation for the Apollo space exploration programs!
- The only documented Tyrannosaurus Rex footprint was uncovered at the Philmont Scout Ranch.
- In 1950, Ralph Bunche became the first Boy Scout to achieve the distinction of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- While discrimination and segregation was prevalent nationwide until the 1960’s, the BSA was quite inclusive when it came to African-American members. The first Black troop was formed in 1911 in Elizabeth City, NC, and the first Black Eagle Scout was Hamilton Bradley, who received his Eagle Dec. 19, 1919!
- The hours dedicated by a Scout who actively engages in weekly patrol and troop meetings, monthly weekend troop outings, and an extended summer camp experiences, collectively match the annual time a Scout typically spends in a classroom.
- Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys has sold over 150 million copies since 1908, making it one of the top 10 bestselling books in history, even beating out novels like Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland!
Now that you know all of these fascinating Scouting facts, I challenge you to share them with your troop buddies during your next meeting! By understanding the rich history and exciting achievements of the Scouting movement, you can be better prepared to make the most of your journey to Eagle Scout! 🙂
Thanks for reading, and for being awesome! If you enjoyed learning these cool Scouting facts, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- The Essential Camp Packing List: A Scout’s Trek Gear Checklist
- How To Tie The Required Scouting Knots (With Practical Uses)
- Everything To Know Before Joining Scouts BSA
- 99 Epic BSA Activities: Scouts Share Their Favorite Troop Adventures
- Clean Boy Scout Jokes: The 17 Funniest Jokes To Tell Your Troop
With that, I hope you learned some awesome things in this article! Until next time, I’m wishing you all the best on your Scouting adventures! 🙂