On Feb. 8, 1910, Chicago publishing tycoon William D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America. Boyce had earned his fortune at the Chicago Ledger, where he employed the first newspaper boys.

William BoyceBoyce came across scouting while in London in 1909. After getting lost in the London fog, Boyce was aided by a young British Boy Scout. Once the boy had led him to his destination, Boyce offered to tip the boy but the boy refused. The boy stated that he was a Scout and could not accept a tip for Good Turns. Boyce was impressed and set out to learn more about scouting.

Boyce gathered scouting literature from the founder of the British Boy Scouts, Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell decided to develop the British Boy Scouts after being stationed in India with the Army, where he discovered that his troops did not possess basic means of survival outdoors or first aid skills.

Once Boyce returned from London, he set about founding the Boy Scouts of America. Stamp US 1960 4c Boy Scouts of America

There were two other groups in the United States that had sought to train boys in scouting. After the Boy Scouts were incorporated, the leaders of those groups joined the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America.

Boyce donated $4,000 to the Boy Scouts of America and partnered with groups like the YMCA to recruit members. The purpose of the Boy Scouts was “to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods which are in common use by Boy Scouts.”

The Boy Scouts of America grew quickly. In 1910 there were 2,000 Boy Scouts and today there are millions.

Scouts saluteIn 1930, the Boy Scouts of America formally launched Cub Scouting. Over 5,000 boys registered within the first year. Cub Scouts would meet weekly to play games and make crafts in a member’s home. This differed from programs in other countries because of the American focus on activities in the home and neighborhood.

Today there are more than 2.4 million participants in the Boy Scouts of America making it the largest scouting organization in the United States.