They are young symbols of virtue: honest, trustworthy, doers of good deeds and builders of campfires. For a century, the national organization Boy Scouts of America has been living its pledge to do its duty for God and country.
Scouts camp, hike and earn merit badges in wilderness survival, computers, farm mechanics, chemistry and more. But while most of Scout activities center on having fun outdoors and exploring nature, these experiences are meant to build character, self-reliance and citizenship.
Eagle Scout and author of "Boy Scouts of America: A Centennial History," Chuck Wills knows this firsthand. "Scouting is outing, a phrase the Scouts formerly used as a slogan. But scouting also means having experiences that are going to mold your character in a positive way, make you a better citizen of your community, of your nation and of the world," he said.
According to Boy Scout lore, American W.B. Boyce was given directions by a young man after becoming lost in a London fog. The boy refused a tip for the good deed, saying he was a Scout. Boyce was so impressed by the young man's actions that he brought scouting to America in 1910.
An American institution by World War I, Boy Scouts of America grew to 6 million members by the 1970s, and its wholesome reputation has been deeply etched in the national culture. To be a Boy Scout means to be straight, true, and even a little square. Norman Rockwell even immortalized the Scouts uniformed image in dozens of his paintings and magazine illustrations, preserving them in Americana.
The Corr family of Easton, Pa., boasts five generations of Scouts, going back to the late Edgar Corr, who became a Scout master in 1928. His grandson Ted Corr, now 71, has been involved with the Scouts since he was 12. Ted's son Warren, 40, and grandson, Brad, 11, have followed the tradition.
"I learned a lot of skills, a lot of life skills, first aid, swimming, that kind of thing. I can still build a fire!" Ted recalled fondly.