The Story of a Good Turn
One day in 1909 in London, England, An American publisher from Chicago, William D. Boyce, lost his way in a dense fog. He stopped under a street lamp and tried to figure out where he was. A boy approached him and asked if he could be of help.
“You certainly can,” said Boyce. He told the boy that he wanted to find a certain business office in the center of the city.
“I’ll take you there,”said the boy. When they got to the destination, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket for a tip. But the boy stopped him. “No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won’t take anything for helping.”
“A Scout? And what might that be?” asked Boyce.
The boy told the American about himself and about his brother Scouts. Boyce became very interested. After finishing his errand, he had the boy take him to the British Scouting office. At the office, Boyce met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who had founded the Scouting movement in Great Britain. Boyce was so impressed with what he learned that he decided to bring Scouting home with him. The boy disappeared.
On February 8, 1910, Boyce and a group of outstanding leaders founded the Boy Scouts of America. From that day forth, Scouts have celebrated February 8th as the birthday of Scouting in the United States. What happened to the boy who helped Mr. Boyce find his way in the fog? No one knows. He had neither asked for money nor given his name, but he will never be forgotten. His Good Turn helped bring the scouting movement to our country.
In the British Scout Training Center at Gilwell Park, England, Scouts from the United States erected a statue of an American Buffalo in honor of this unknown scout. One Good Turn to one man became a Good Turn to millions of American Boys. Such is the power of a Good Turn. Hence the Scout Slogan known all over the world: “Do a good turn daily.”
Founders of Scouting and the BSA
The son of a university professional, General Robert Baden-Powell greatly enjoyed the outdoors, learning about nature and how to live in the wilderness as a soldier serving with distinction in the British Army. After returning as a national military hero from service in Africa (he was known as “The Hero of Mafeking”), Baden-Powell discovered that English boys were reading his manual on stalking and survival in the wilderness, which 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.
Using the outdoors as a method to stress the importance of what he knew to be essential to good citizenship and character, Baden-Powell’s teachings continue to be at the core of the international Scouting movement.
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.
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.
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 was appointed the first Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America in 1911. Although orphaned and physically handicapped by tuberculosis, 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.