Boy Scouting

Boy Scouting was founded in England by British war hero Robert Baden-Powell in 1908, the same year that Theodore Roosevelt left the presidency. Two years later, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) joined the international Scouting movement. Boy Scouting drew on Baden-Powell’s military scouting techniques, Ernest Thompson Seton’s woodcraft movement in the United States, and prevailing attitudes about good citizenship, patriotism, and the importance of a stellar moral character.

Roosevelt took a great interest in Boy Scouting. He wrote in 1915 in a letter to Philadelphia Scouting leader Charles D. Hart, that Boy Scouting was of “unquestioned value to our country.” He approved of Scouting’s emphasis on “manliness in its most vigorous form [which] can be and ought to be accompanied by unselfish consideration for the rights and interests of others.” Roosevelt knew and corresponded with BSA’s first Chief Scout Executive James West.

In Oyster Bay, New York, Theodore Roosevelt served as a troop committeeman for his local Boy Scout Troop 39 and was the first commissioner of the Nassau County Council. He often entertained Boy Scouts at Sagamore Hill, awarded medals to deserving Scouts, and aided both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in their scrap and war bond drives during World War I.

For his public support of the mission and goals of Boy Scouting, Roosevelt was elected the first honorary vice president of BSA and he is the only person ever to have been awarded the title of Chief Scout Citizen.

Today Boy Scouts still honor Theodore Roosevelt, especially in the Nassau County Council which has been renamed the Theodore Roosevelt Council. Every year, Boy Scouts march from Sagamore Hill to Youngs Memorial Cemetery to place a wreath on Roosevelt’s grave, and Boy Scouts there can earn the Theodore Roosevelt Medal.