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In The Country

On My Honor…

Kay Deardorff
Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

(2/2012) Do you know someone trustworthy, honest, and fair? Does that person promise to serve God and country and help others at all times? Perhaps that individual also displays characteristics such as courtesy, respect, courage, obedience, and strength. Well, these are some promises made by Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts throughout America. If you have ever listened to a Scout proclaim his or her promise and recite the law of the organization, you know the intensity of the words that are goals each of us should adopt as our own.

Whether you have gone through the ranks of Scouting or are a person who chooses to live by the Golden Rule, you can find these qualities appealing. Who wouldn’t want their closest neighbor to be kind, helpful, and considerate? At Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve we want to help those youngsters attain each goal in acquiring their merit badges. Scouts who strive to "make the world a better place" are an important part of our community and we can provide the resources needed for help them grow.

The history of Boy Scouts dates back to the turn of the 20th century when Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, a British Army officer, was stationed in India. He realized the need for his men to know basic first aid and rudimentary outdoor survival techniques. The lack of frontier skills inspired Baden-Powell to write a small handbook entitled Aids to Scouting. The handbook stressed resourcefulness, adaptability, and qualities of leadership necessary in frontier settings. To his surprise, Baden-Powell’s manual gained popularity among English boys. Returning from the Boer War, he discovered them using his book to play a game of scouting.

The British Army officer tried his ideas with boys in England. In August 1907 Baden-Powell assembled about 20 boys taking them to an improvised camp for 12 days. Located on the Brownsea Island, in a shielded bay off England’s southern coast, they had a perfect location for the trial.

The wonderful island experience provided the campers an education while having fun. They played games; hiked; learned to cook outside without utensils; and learned stalking and pioneering skills. Through the activities on the island the thrill of scouting spread around the globe within a few years. The next year, Baden-Powell published another book, Scouting for Boys. Within two years the membership of Boy Scouts tripled in their country.

Meanwhile, the concept of Scouting was beginning to take root in the United States. Ernest Thompson Seton, a naturalist and author, was on a farm in Connecticut gathering a group of boys that they called the Woodcraft Indians. Simultaneously, an artist and writer, Daniel Carter Beard, assembled the Sons of Daniel Boone. These two groups were similar, but not connected. However, inevitably they would eventually become Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America were incorporated on February 10, 1910 by Chicago businessman and publisher William D. Boyce after he had an experience in England which had a great impact on him. While in England he got lost in the fog. Faltering through the haze, he was approached by a boy who offered him help finding his journey's end. When reaching the destination successfully Boyce offered to tip the young man, but the boy refused payment stating that he "was a Scout and could not accept payment for a Good Turn". So impressed with the values of this youngster, Boyce returned to America with a suitcase full of information and went on to establish the Boy Scouts of America. He never heard from the "unknown Scout" again, but his Good Turn transported Scouting to our country.

Upon its conception in 1910, Scouting consisted of about 2,000 Boy Scouts and leaders. Now it is millions strong. Humble beginnings comprised of only Boy Scouts. However, the program has now incorporated Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Webelos Scouts, Boys Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers.

The boys in America are not the only ones which proclaim a promise of honor, courtesy, and loyalty. Girls also had their chance to shine in society. Founded by Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts of the USA recently celebrated their 100th anniversary.

Born Juliette Gordon she was fondly named Daisy by family and friends. From the time of her childhood, she was athletic; being a strong swimmer, captain of the rowing team, and avid tennis player. She was also a lover of the arts: writing poetry; sketching; writing and acting in plays; and, as an adult, painting and sculpting.

Gordon married a wealthy Englishman, William Mackay Low, in Savannah, Georgia and then moved to England. Juliette traveled periodically between the British Isles and America. During the Spanish-American war, she stayed in America and helped the war effort by aiding the wounded soldiers coming back from Cuba. However, following the war, Juliette returned to England.

After William Low’s death in 1905, Juliette spent 6 years in search of something beneficial to do with her life. In 1911 she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell and developed an interest in the youth organization in which he was involved. She decided to direct all her efforts into this new organization.

Nearly a year from that date, Low came back to the United States and made a historic telephone call to her distant cousin. She said, "I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!" Therefore March 12, 1912 marked the date when Juliette Low assembled 18 girls to enroll the first troop of American Girl Guides with her niece, Margaret "Daisy Doots" Gordon being the first registered member. In 1913 the name was changed to Girl Scouts.

Girls from all backgrounds were brought outdoors and given the chance to develop self-confidence and creativity. Passing on her love of the arts and sciences, Low encouraged them to learn traditional homemaking as well as skills for professional roles for their futures as professional women. There was no discrimination of the disabled as was the case in much of society at that time.

Within the past century, the Girl Scouts have increased their numbers from the original 18 to the current 3.7 million members. Proudly noted, the group is the largest girls’ educational organization in the world.

Teaching morals and overall strong characteristics, the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA are two teams you can be honored to have in your neighborhood. If your child wants to become a scout, be encouraging and be proud. There are a large variety of merit badges to be earned by the scouts. At Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, we can satisfy many of those requirements. Check our website at or call the office at 717-642-5840 to obtain information regarding programs to meet the needs of your scout troop. We can work with you to produce or design the right package for you. As we approach Maple Sugaring season, scout leaders will be able to coordinate with the staff to do programs with the organized group.

We can all learn from the scout who offers a "Good Turn". Maybe we should seek our own opportunity to pay forward the good turn to another in need.

Read other articles by Kay Deardorff