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  Chapter Seven:
 
ACTIVE LEISURE
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ACTIVE LEISURE

Boy Scouts of America

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The steady increase in membership in the Boy Scouts of America peaked in the early 1970s and then fluctuated during the last quarter of the century.
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The Boy Scout movement was founded in Great Britain in 1908 by Sir Robert Baden-Powell and exported to the United States in 1910, where it absorbed two organizations for boys that combined pioneer and outdoor skills with character-building exercises. These forerunner organizations were Daniel Beard’s Sons of Daniel Boone and Ernest Thompson Seton’s Woodcraft Indians. All three founders remained active in the Boy Scouts organization for many years and contributed to its considerable success. 

Scouting was originally intended for boys aged twelve to fifteen, but over the course of time, membership was extended to younger boys through the Cub Scouts and to older boys through the Explorers and Sea Scouts. Scouts at each level progressed through a hierarchy of rank that is based on specific accomplishments, signified by merit badges and other insignia. The participation of adult volunteers was always very high. At the end of the century, there were about four adult leaders for every ten scouts. 

The Golden Jamboree of Scouting held at Colorado Springs in 1960 attracted scouts from all over the world and perhaps marked the apogee of the movement. Membership peaked at 6.5 million in 1972 and then declined sharply; it increased through much of the 1980s and then declined again. In 1998, the Boy Scouts had 4.8 million members, down 26 percent from the organization’s 1972 peak. In 1972, about 31 percent of the 19 million boys aged ten through nineteen were in Scouting. In 1998, about 25 percent of the 20 million boys in that age group were Boy Scouts.


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Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

Boy Scouts of America at www.scouting.org/nav/about.html (accessed May 7, 2000). For information on the history of Boy Scouts, see Columbia Encyclopedia, 3d ed., s.v. “Boy Scouts.”

 

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