The world of Scouting began in about 1907 and hit the shores of the United States in 1913. Throughout its history, many famous people have been involved with Scouting. None, however, were more famous than the young men who went on to become Presidents of the United States.
Presidents of the United States and Scouting
Since Scouting began in the United States, five Presidents have been actively involved. They are:
Since its inception, however, every President has held the post of Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. The Presidents speak fondly of Scouting.
President Kennedy was the first Scout to become President in 1961. Kennedy said about Scouting, “It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future.”
President Kennedy served as the 35th President between 1961 and November, 1963, when sadly, he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
President Gerald Ford is the only President to date to have reached the highest level in Scouting, Eagle Scout, 1970. He became vice-president in 1973 and President in 1974. He maintained his affiliation with Scouting, being awarded the Scout of the Year Award in 1974.
President Ford said, “One of the proudest moments of my life came in the court of honor when I was awarded the Eagle Scout badge. I still have that badge. It is a treasured possession. The three great principles which Scouting provides—self-discipline, teamwork, and moral and patriotic values—are the basic building blocks of leadership. I applaud the Scouting program for continuing to emphasize them.”
President Bill Clinton who was a Cub Scout, held the post as the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton commended Scouts “for promoting the importance of service to others. The Boy Scouts of America have helped to make volunteer service an American ideal.”
President Clinton was impeached in 1998.
President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was a Cub Scout like President Bill Clinton before him. In 2005, Bush attended the National Jamboree, where he said, “On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank the Boy Scouts for serving on the front line of America’s armies of compassion. Every day, Scouts are showing that the greatest strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens.”
During the latter part of his childhood in Hawaii, President Obama was a Cub Scout. Addressing the 2010 Scouting Jamboree, Obama referred to the work of the Scouting movement during the Second World War. They delivered messages and sold war bonds. He commented, “Scouts have served their communities and nation in ways both large and small.” He concluded describing, “…Scouts’ work today to help in their communities (by) reaching out to those less fortunate, and… In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals.”
Scouting has been an important part of the lives of many famous people. Five Presidents of the United States participated from Cub to Eagle Scout. The Scouting movement has remained close to their hearts. All have served as Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America with pride and compassion.