Most everyone wants to be involved in something greater than themselves, and for many boys and young men in the United States it has historically been the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). On August 1, 1907, Robert Baden-Powell gathered 20 young boys together for a weeklong camping trip. This adventure evolved into the Scouting movement, which in turn came to the United States around 1910 as the BSA. Throughout the last century, the BSA has played an important role not only in the lives of many boys and men, but also in US political history. A journey through the early years of the BSA using objects from the Bowers Museum’s collections demonstrates the progression of the BSA, as well as the ways in which it linked American childhoods to the world of politics.
The history of the Boy Scouts of America is inseparable from that of the United States. What is particularly special about this history, however, is how deeply it is ingrained in Scout ephemera. The fact that both personal and political history are imprinted on these objects is what makes them so important. These are not only objects that shaped millions of childhoods – they also changed the history of a nation.
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