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100 Years of History: Interesting Facts About the Boy Scouts of America PDF Print E-mail

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.


• In 2008, service projects were conducted by more than 2.8 million youth members and nearly 1.2 million volunteers. 

• 35,194,360 service hours were reported in 2008

• $712,685,790 of service was provided by Scouts and leaders to communities across America (based on $20.25 Independent Sector value of volunteer time for 2008). 

• On average, each Scout conducts 167 service hours as part of his Eagle Scout leadership service project.

• Service projects most commonly reported for Good Turn for America in 2008 included:

–Food collection and distribution

–Litter cleanup/community beautification

–Conservation projects

–Serving at food shelters

–Military support/appreciation


• 1,165,828 volunteers provided leadership for Scouting programs in 2008. 

• On average, Scout volunteers give 20 hours per month in service to Scouting. This equals approximately 279,798,720 hours of volunteer time given to support Scouting in 2008. (Source: Volunteer Outcomes Study, Research & Evaluation) 

• $5,665,924,080 of volunteer time was given in 2008 to support Scouting across America (based on $20.25 Independent Sector value of volunteer time for 2008). 

• Cumulative volunteer personnel totals, from 1910 to 2008:

–Cub Scouts: 17,933,581

–Boy Scouts and Venture leaders: 14,367,727

–Total leaders: 32,301,308


• 179 U.S. astronauts were involved in Scouting (57.4 percent of astronauts).

– 39 are Eagle Scouts

–11 of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon were Scouts.  • 35.5 percent of United States Military Academy (West Point) cadets were involved in Scouting as youths.

– 13.6 percent of cadets are Eagle Scouts. 

• 30.5 percent of United States Air Force Academy cadets were involved in Scouting as youths.

–13.5 percent of cadets are Eagle Scouts. 

• 25 percent of United States Naval Academy (Annapolis) midshipmen were involved in Scouting as youths.

–14 percent of midshipmen are Eagle Scouts. 

• 212 members of the 111th Congress participated in Scouting as a youth and/or adult leader.

–22 are Eagle Scouts. 

• Total number of youths that have been involved in Scouting from 1910 to 2008:

–Cub Scouts: 60,591,445 (Cub Scouts started in 1930 

–Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers: 50,922,252 

•Famous Scouts 

–Henry “Hank” Aaron, baseball legend, Scout

–Neil Armstrong, astronaut, first man on moon, Eagle Scout 

–Robert M. Gates, Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) and Secretary of Defense, Eagle Scout – Mike Rowe, star of “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” on the Discovery Channel, Eagle Scout

–Walter Cronkite, former journalist, TV commentator, Eagle Scout

–Michael Bloomberg, New York City mayor, Eagle Scout

–Several U.S. presidents—Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama

–John Heder, actor (Napoleon Dynamite), Eagle Scout

–Ashton Kutcher, actor, Boy Scout

–Richard Dean Anderson, actor, Boy Scout

–Harrison Ford, actor, Boy Scout

Advancements and Awards 

• 52,025 youths earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2008. (Source: Program Impact Department—Eagle Scout Service) 

• From 1912 to 2009, more than 2 million Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout rank. (Source: National Eagle Scout Association)

–The 2 millionth Eagle Scout (2009) is Anthony Thomas of Lakeville, Minnesota. Anthony rode on this year’s Rose Parade float. • The Eagle Scout rank is earned by only 5 percent of Boy Scouts each year. (Source: National Eagle Scout Association) 

• The first Eagle badge was awarded in 1912. 

• The 1 millionth Eagle Scout milestone was reached in 1982. 

• In 2008, a record 52,025 Scouts earned the Eagle badge. 

• 1,913,676 merit badges were earned by Boy Scouts in 2008. 

• 115,552,627 merit badges have been earned by Boy Scouts since Scouting was established in America in 1910. 

• The following merit badges have been earned most frequently since 1910:

–First Aid: 6,445,898

–Swimming: 5,852,372

–Camping: 4,301,253

–Cooking: 4,098,133

–Citizenship in the Community: 3,119,270

(Source: 2008 BSA Local Council Index)

21st Century Scouting 

• The 12th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook is now available via an iPhone application. 

• In addition to a traditional map and compass, Scouts now also learn to use GPS devices. 

• The Boy Scouts of America National Council and many local councils use Facebook and Twitter. 

• Updated Scout uniforms include pockets for cell phones and mp3 players. The uniforms are made from a moister-control fabric, which dries quickly. The fabric also provides a 50+ SPF.

Environmental Impact 

• Scouts practice the environmental philosophy of Leave No Trace at all times. This means respecting nature and leaving the environment as you found it–or in better condition. 

• There are 122 merit badges available to earn an Eagle Scout ranking. A Scout must complete 21 to earn his Eagle Scout Award. Merit badge subjects include environmental science, fish and wildlife management, fly-fishing, forestry, gardening, oceanography, scuba diving, and soil and water conservation. 

•   The William T. Hornaday Award is Scouting’s “Olympic medal” for recognizing outstanding efforts in environmental conservation. More than 1,110 medals have been earned by Scouts over the last 80 years.

–Riding atop the Scouting float will be Trevor Osaki, 2008 award winner for his conservation work in California’s Bolsa Chica Wetlands. 

•  In 2008, thousands of Arrowmen from the BSA’s honor society, the Order of the Arrow, participated in a national service project at five of the country’s national forests. Here is what they accomplished:

–Number of participants: 3,177

–Service hours: 260,360

–Total volunteer service value: $5,196,684 (based on $19.51 Independent Sector value of volunteer time for 2009)

–Equivalent number of work years: 128 (based on one work year equaling 2,080 hours) 

•  In 2009, the BSA published the first “green” Boy Scout Handbook. Additionally, BSA magazines Boys’ Life and Scouting have been certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.