The Real History of Scouting (According to Troop 262)

The Real History of Scouting in the US

A Tall Tale to be told round the campfire

As the story goes, William Dickson Boyce (1858-1929) came to the youth movement accidentally. While in London in 1909, William Boyce got lost in the fog, when a “little lad of 12” guided him safely across the street. The boy declined to take Boyce’s tip, declaring he was just doing his Good Turn as a Scout. But what do we know of this “little lad of 12” who made such an impression on William Boyce ?

We need to go back further in the story to find the identity of this lad.

Robert Baden-Powell was a war hero of the South African Boer wars. Upon his return to England, Baden-Powell was astonished to find boys using an army manual he had written, Aids to Scouting, as a guide to outdoor fun. After studying boys’ programs, and a campout on Brownsea Island, Baden-Powell began the Boy Scout movement. It was one of the Scouts on the Brownsea Island campout that would later help William Boyce cross the street in the fog.

But the story of the “little lad of 12” doesn’t end here. For that Scout would follow William Dickson Boyce to America. The Scout would join the Boy Scouts of America and start a long history of Scouting.

In 1915, the Scout would be found at Treasure Island Scout Reservation near Philadelphia. It was here that the Scout would be among the first to enter Scouting’s honor society, the Order of the Arrow. E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson founded the honor society, and with the help of the Scout would use the lore of the local Lenni Lenape Indians to form the stories used to this day in the Order of the Arrow.

Our Scout would spend many years working with Boy Scouts of America. In 1946, our Scout would be among the first staff at Many Point Scout Camp. He has returned to Many Point year after year on work parties, and to camp. His contributions to the camp are numerous.

Our “little lad”, now a grown man would work at the local level of scouting for years, and even today can be found helping with local Order of the Arrow events, his local troop on wreath sales, and as a long time Troop Committee Chair.

In 2005, Our Scout was awarded the “Silver Beaver” by the Viking Council, the highest award given by a council for his years of service to his troop and his community.

So while we like to kid Rich Sperry that he’s older then dirt, really he’s not. But Yes, he does know everything about Scouts, because he knew Robert Baden-Powell.

Troop 262 would like to thank Rich Sperry for over 40 years of service to the youth of Richfield.