The Boy Scouts and The U.S. Army

Developing Great Leaders

When I was a young man, I was a member of Boy Scout Troop 81 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

It was one of the greatest learning experiences in my life, and I did learn a lot about survival as well as leadership.

I had started as a Cub Scout, moved into Webelos and from there, entered Boy Scouts as a Tenderfoot.

I participated in nearly every camp, contest and other things the Boy Scouts of America had going on for us.

Now, I must tell you that the Boy Scouts of America has no relationship with the United States Army or any other military systems.

But it is my opinion that those who have went through Boy Scouts do have the ability of top leadership skills along with other traits that can aid them in military service.

Just to tell you of some of my experiences in the Boy Scouts:

  • I rose to the post of Senior Patrol Leader which is the highest position under the adult leaders.
  • I was a top member of Order of the Arrow. We often did special Native American dances and one of our best was at an Iowa State-wide function where we danced for the Governor of Iowa, Robert Ray.
  • At a camp in Wisconsin, I learned several lessons… Take plenty of mosquito repellent, when playing hide and seek, don’t hide in nettles (, and follow the “buddy system” when swimming. I neglected to do so and rescuers were combing the lake for my body while I was in my tent.
  • I learned every knot and hitch known to man.
  • I nearly became an Eagle Scout, but because of family issues, did not reach it (1 merit badge and 1 community service project short).
  • I gained the coveted below 0 patch by camping for a full weekend in below 0 temperatures. (
  • As Senior Patrol Leader, I was in charge of over 40 Boy Scouts.

And that is just a small portion of my Boy Scout experiences.

When I joined the United States Army several years later, I discovered that much of what I learned in the Boy Scouts would be of great use in the U.S. Army.

It is my belief that every single boy should experience the Boy Scouts of America.

It is a great way to become a man.

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The History of The Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts were started in England by Lieutenant General Robert Baden Powell.

It all came to light when Powell had published a military manual called Aids To Scouting.

It was a best selling book, and the primary buyers were teachers and youth organizers.

The Boy Scout movement was formed in approximately 1908.

In 1909, the great newspaperman and entrepreneur, W.D. Boyce was traveling in Europe and was assisted in London by a Boy Scout.

Boyce brought scouting to the United States where it caught on quickly.

The Boy Scouts of America focused on teaching young men:

  • Self-reliance
  • Courtesy
  • Citizenship
  • Courage
  • Resourcefulness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Patriotism
  • and Obedience

It sounds quite similar to what the U.S. Army tries to instill.

You can gain a lot of what the Boy Scouts are all about by understanding the Boy Scout Oath and the Boy Scout Law.

Here is the 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.

The Boy Scout Law reads:

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

Every part of the Boy Scout methods are also used in the United States Army, but do know that the original founders of the Boy Scouts did not desire the Boy Scouts as a stepping stone to military service.

But the Boy Scouts have played their part throughout war history:

  • During World War I, Boy Scouts were used to watch the coasts and to spy for men who had not reported for military duty.
  • Also during World War I, Boy Scouts sold over $350,000,000 worth of war bonds.
  • Eagle Boy Scout Paul Siple traveled with Commander Byrd to the Antarctic on an expedition.
  • In 1939, Boy Scouts served as honor guards, ushers and guides at the New York World’s Fair.
  • Irving Berlin donated all royalties from the song, God Bless America to the Scouting organization.

The Boy Scouts of America have been through many changes over the years, but the main emphasis on making men out of boys is still the priority.

There was a huge issue when the ACLU stepped up to file a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts over their rule that no openly atheist or homosexual could be leaders or even members.

There has been a leniency on that rule since and because of that, membership numbers dropped substantially.

Also coming to light was cover-ups of child molesting.

But there are always just a few bad apples in every barrel that make the whole barrel look bad.

All of the adult leaders I knew were strong and upright men of honor.

Leadership lessons learned from the Boy Scouts that are used in the United States Army

The Boy Scouts teach many leadership lessons that are directly in line with the U.S. Army’s leadership training.

Some key leadership lessons you quickly learn in the Boy Scouts that are similar to the Army are:

  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities
  • Ordering supplies
  • Movement planning
  • Not quitting
  • Keep your mind looking forward and not on the past mistakes
  • Time management
  • Be humble

Boy Scout ranks

Just as in the United States Army, Boy Scouts have a rank structure.

The order of rank now from low to high is:

  1. Scout
  2. Tenderfoot
  3. Second Class
  4. First Class
  5. Star
  6. Life
  7. Eagle

Military Leaders who were Eagle Scouts

Boy Scouts
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. hands out Army hats to members of the Boy Scouts of America during a visit to his office at the Pentagon, March 1, 2010. They Boy Scouts are in Washington D.C. to give their annual Report to the Nation. DOD photo by Cherie Cullen (released) Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Earning the title of Eagle Scout is a great feat.

I am listing several military leaders who attained the title of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

  • Colonel James Adamson. Colonel Adamson United States Military Academy and graduated in 1969. He was trained as a pilot, paratrooper, Arctic and mountain survival. Colonel Adamson logged many hours as a NASA Space Shuttle pilot. He has been awarded many medals of accomplishment including 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 18 Air Medals and 3 Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry for Valor.
  • Neil Armstrong. He was the first person to walk on the moon, an Eagle Scout, and was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He flew many missions as a fighter pilot during the Korean War.
  • Colonel James Bagian. Another NASA astronaut, Colonel Bagian trained in Aerospace Medicine. He is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve and an Eagle Scout.
  • Lieutenant Commander Harry Bass. This Eagle Scout and Navy pilot was fearless in World War II. He was awarded 2 Navy Crosses, a Silver Star and more. He died being shot down over France.
  • Lloyd Bentsen. This former Secretary of the Treasury was an Eagle Scout. He worked up to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Air Force during World War II commanding a large group. He served from 1942 to 1947 and also in the Air Force Reserve from 1950-1959.
  • Colonel Guion Bluford. An Eagle Scout, an astronaut and a Colonel in the United States Air Force, he was an instructor of flight in the Air Force.
  • General Charles Bonesteel III. This great Army leader served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Many of his leadership abilities came in the Boy Scouts where he became an Eagle Scout.

These are just a few of the Eagle Scouts who served in the military.

Here are more:

  • Ken Bowersox: United States Navy
  • Alpha Bowser: United States Marine Corps
  • Charles Brady Jr.: United States Navy
  • Russell Burnham: United States Army
  • John Campbell: United States Army
  • Gerald Carr: United States Marine Corps
  • Sonny Carter: United States Navy
  • Roger Chaffee: United States Navy
  • Eugene Cheatham Jr.: United States Air Force
  • George Coker: United States Navy

There are many, many more.

I suggest you follow this link to see more:

Final Thoughts

The Boy Scouts of America has always been a great program.

Maybe there have been some bad ones who have been involved, but overall, the Boy Scouts have generated many great leaders.

What are your thoughts?

Were you in the Scouts?

Yes, Girl Scouts count too.

You can leave comments, questions or suggestions below.

Thank you.










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