February 10, 2010

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF GOOD TURNS

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

"By sponsoring many useful physical, mental, and social activities designed to promote self-responsibility, the Scouts strengthen the cornerstone of individual freedom in our nation."
-President Ronald Reagan

"[Scouting] has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys, and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future."
-President John F. Kennedy

The history of Scouting in America began with a single good turn 100 years ago in England, when American businessman William D. Boyce got lost in the fog. After a young boy helped guide him through, Boyce offered to pay the boy for his efforts. The boy refused, saying he was a Scout and simply doing a good turn. Boyce inquired further about Scouting and learned of its origins with British Army Officer Robert Baden-Powell. While serving in India, Baden-Powell was surprised to learn that his men lacked skills in outdoor survival and first aid so he wrote a handbook called "Aids to Scouting" to teach them the basics. This handbook became popular with young boys in England, and in 1907 he took 20 boys camping to an English island where he taught and tested them with the ideas of Scouting. The following year, he wrote another book, "Scouting for Boys," and the Scouting movement started to grow.

Greatly impressed by the young Scout who helped him through the fog, Boyce sought more information about Scouting and met with Baden-Powell in England before returning to America. On February 8, 1910, Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Scouting movement in America was born. Throughout its 100 years, Scouting has done much for the benefit of America's youth, and, in turn, the Scouts have gone on to do much to benefit America. From the Pine Wood Derby to the Eagle Scout Project, and everything in between, the values taught by Scouting are seemingly endless: personal responsibility; self-reliance; confidence; character; leadership; loyalty; integrity; honor; service; citizenship; and more.

As an Eagle Scout and former volunteer leader, I am proud to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. Scouting has proven to be instrumental in training new generations of leaders. Many of my colleagues in Congress were Scouts. Currently, there are 23 members of Congress who have achieved the rank of Eagle. I am proud to see so many young men and women from Idaho participating in the scouting programs, and I greatly enjoy receiving and reading letters from Scouts working on the citizenship merit badge, which requires knowing details about your community and how the federal government works.

I have many fond memories of my own years in Scouting, both as a Scout and as a leader. Camping and outdoors activities contributed to my strong love of the outdoors. The leadership opportunities helped me develop self-confidence and direction in my life. And the progression through the various ranks made me learn to work at setting and achieving goals. I am extremely proud of my affiliation with the Boy Scouts.

Few organizations have had so profoundly and positively affected America and the world. Of the Scouting program, President Coolidge said, "…it seems to embrace in its code almost every virtue needed in the personal and social life of mankind." President Eisenhower said, "The Boy Scout movement merits the unstinted support of every American who wants to make his country and his world a better place in which to live." I couldn't agree more, and anticipate another great century of honor and excellence from the Boy Scouts of America.

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