Decades Fact Sheet

In 1909, William D. Boyce, an American newspaperman and entrepreneur, became lost in London and was rescued by a Scout. The Scout declined a tip, saying he was doing his Good Turn as a Scout. Intrigued, Boyce visited Scouting headquarters to learn more about the program. On February 8, 1910, Boyce filed incorporation papers in Washington, D.C., and the Boy Scouts of America was born.

Boyce enlisted the help of Ernest Thompson Seton and Daniel Carter Beard—both of whom had founded their own boys’ organizations—to create an Americanized Scouting program. Young people quickly adopted that program, described in the 1911 Handbook for Boys, across America.

Among the milestones of Scouting’s first decade were the BSA’s first national Good Turn (promoting a safe and sane Fourth of July), the creation of Sea Scouting for older boys and the Order of the Arrow as a brotherhood of honor campers, and the hiring of a young artist named Norman Rockwell at the fledgling
Boys’ Life magazine. Among the growing pains were battles with competing organizations, including William Randolph Hearst’s militaristic United States Boy Scouts. (It took an act of Congress in 1916 to get Hearst and company out of the Scouting business.)

As America headed toward war in Europe, Scouts sprang into action. In support of the war effort, they planted 12,000 victory gardens, collected 100 railroad cars of nut hulls and peach pits for gas-mask manufacture, located 21 million board feet of black walnut trees for gunstocks and airplane propellers, distributed more than 300 million pieces of government literature, and sold more than $355 million worth of Liberty Loan bonds and war savings stamps. (That’s more than $5 billion in 2010 dollars.)

In 1910 when the Boy Scouts of America was founded, Bradenton, including all of Manatee County, had a population of 2874. Sarasota 840, and Fort Myers, 2463. These, together with Arcadia, Punta Gorda, and Naples were not only small; they were difficult to get to. Yet the first troop formed in this area occurred in September 1910 in Bradenton. The Scoutmaster was a schoolteacher and the troop had 8 Scouts; they met in the old high school at 9th Ave. and 14th St. Bradenton.

A second troop was formed in June 1911 in the village of Manatee and a third troop formed in Arcadia in July 1911. From 1912-1914 3 more troops were formed (Sarasota, Bradenton, Palmetto).

South Florida Council located in Lakeland, FL served these troops