Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jun mo. Jun mo Wonders, “How was the boy scout is made up?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jun mo!
What do you think of when you hear the words "boy scout"? If you're like many people, certain images may come to mind, such as tents, campfires, hikes in the woods, merit badges, and young boys learning the basics of good citizenship.
But what about spies? Most people probably don't think about espionage when they hear "boy scout," but maybe they should. After all, the man responsible for starting the Boy Scouts was a British spy named Robert Baden-Powell.
He became known for his ability to hide secret information in drawings of insects. For example, the patterns on a butterfly's wings could be used to transmit information about the elevation contours of an area to be invaded.
While stationed in India, Baden-Powell became dismayed when he realized most of the men under his command did not know basic first aid or how to survive in the wilderness. To teach his men basic frontier skills, Baden-Powell wrote a small handbook called Aids to Scouting.
Years later, Baden-Powell returned to England and discovered that his handbook had become popular among young boys who used it to play a game they called scouting. Kids loved the lessons about tracking and observation.
In August 1907, Baden-Powell took a group of boys to Brownsea Island off the southern coast of England. Over the course of a couple of weeks, he taught them how to camp, as well as basic survival skills and fun games. This experiment would form the groundwork for what would become the Boy Scouts.
Baden-Powell published a new book, Scouting for Boys, in 1908, and scouting continued to grow. By the end of 1908, over 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally at the Crystal Palace in London, and thousands more began joining Boy Scout groups all throughout England.
At the same time, similar organizations were growing in the United States, including Ernest Thompson Seton's Woodcraft Indians and Daniel Carter Beard's Sons of Daniel Boone. But the Boy Scouts would not officially begin until Chicago businessman William D. Boyce would have a chance encounter in England.
While on business in England, Boyce got lost in the fog. A young boy came to his rescue. When Boyce tried to tip him for his help, the boy refused, explaining that he was a Boy Scout who couldn't accept payment for a simple good deed.
Boyce was impressed and learned all about scouting, including meeting Baden-Powell himself. Upon his return to the U.S., he incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910. The Boy Scouts soon incorporated the Woodcraft Indians and the Sons of Daniel Boone. Seton became the first Chief Scout, and Beard became the first national commissioner.
Today, there are millions of boys and adult volunteers involved in the Boy Scouts and other related programs, including Tiger Scouts, Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.