One million! That’s a mighty big number, especially for celebrating high points of Scouting.
Did you know that canoers setting off from BSA’s Northern Tier High Adventure Base can explore a million acres of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness? Or that Boy Scouts of World War Two gathered 30 million pounds of old tires for recycling in just a couple of weeks? Or that since 1953, Cub Scouts have built 100 million Pinewood Derby cars?
Scouts canoeing the million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
By any measure, a million matters. For starters, Scouting celebrates a big million milestone this summer at Philmont Scout Ranch.
A MILLION PHILMONT CAMPERS
In 1939, 196 campers arrived at the new Philturn Rocky Mountain Scout Camp. They loaded their grub and gear on horses, swung their packs onto their shoulders, and made their way into the spectacular mountains and valleys of Northern New Mexico that Waite Phillips had given the Boy Scouts of America the previous year.
Waite Phillips and Philturn patches
Scouts continue to thrive in the backcountry of what soon became Philmont Scout Ranch. Their adventures have been life-changing events full of challenge, friendship, and remarkable outdoor possibilities.
Philmont trekkers photographed atop Mt. Phillips
Recently the one millionth Scout trekked into the Philmont backcountry. That is a tremendous tribute to the success of the Scouting program and to the vision of Waite Phillips.
SCOUTING BY THE MILLIONS
When the Boy Scouts of America started in 1910, boys by the dozen signed up to join. Then there were hundreds and soon thousands. They were drawn by opportunities to be leaders and to be of service, but mostly by the promise of outdoor adventure.
Harris & Ewing Collection-Library of Congress
1912 Boy Scouts Practice First Aid
As Scouting celebrated its first quarter of a century, the organization boasted three million members. Hiking and camping still ranked very high among the reasons they were buttoning up their Scout shirts and setting off with their troops.
Scouts Enjoy a 1935 Troop Hike
Membership numbers continued to rise through the decades. By 1952 there had been 20 million Scouts. That had doubled by 1965. In 2000, the 100 millionth youth member joined the BSA.
Mario Castro, the BSA’s 100-millionth youth member
Along the way, there have been other millions to celebrate. Alexander Holsinger became the millionth Eagle Scout in 1982. Thirty years later, Anthony Thomas received the two millionth Eagle Scout pin.
MILLIONS OF COOK KITS
Among the treasures in the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas, is a bronzed BSA cook kit – the 5 millionth produced by Regal Ware and marketed through Scouting distributors.
5,000,000th Cook Kit – June 1, 1976
Early Boy Scout Handbooks urged campers to make do with ordinary kitchen pots, large tin cans, cast iron fry pans, and Dutch ovens. In the late 2930s, The Official Boy Scout Cook Kit appeared the Handbook and in Boys’ Life magazine where it would be a standard item for decades to come.
1939 BSA Handbook
Boys Life – February 1952
The big brother of the personal cook kit is still around today, available from scoutstuff.org as the Trail Chef Cook Kit. It has enough pots and pans for many patrol meals, and plates and cups for four.
Scouts prepare a tasty dinner with a Trail Chef Cook Kit
Cook sets for backpackers have gone through a revolution in recent years. Compact, lightweight cooking systems provide the heart of efficient wilderness kitchens. The JetBoil Flash Cooking System combines a burner and cooking vessel in one unit. The super-efficient Optimus Solo Cook System unites the Optimus Crux Lite Stove and Solo Cook Set to create the best ultralight 3-piece cook system around.
It might be awhile before these cook kits hit the 5 million mark, but they are well on their way to transforming backpacking for Scouts eager to go fast and light.
Ultralight cooking and camping gear eases the way into great adventures
More than a million volunteers currently provide leadership for BSA programs. Among them are this summer’s 1,100 Philmont staff members offering every Scout the best possible experience. A first-ever photo of the entire Philmont staff shows the strength of Scouting and the quality of staffers – each of them truly one in a million.
2014 Philmont Staff
(This edition of the Be Prepared Newsletter was developed and written by Robert Birkby, author of the current editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, Fieldbook, Scout Stuff, The Conservation Handbook, and Eagle Scouts: A Centennial History.)