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From the day in 1910 when James West took his job with the Boy Scouts until last week which found him sitting at a mahogany desk in the administration tent under the Washington Monument, he has been running the Boy Scouts. That the Boy Scouts are today different from the boys organizations of Germany and Italy, different from the British Boy Scouts, different from the puny organizations they were in 1910, is largely James West's doing.
Progeny.Dr. West's records show that there are 1,075,000 in the Boy Scout organization in the U. S., that altogether some 7,500,000 Scouts and Scout-leaders have been connected with the organization during the last 27 years. He calculates that nowadays one out of four U. S. boys is connected with the Scouts at some time during adolescence. What boys get from this contact is partly a knowledge of those boyhood arts which Dan Beard incorporated in his Boys' Handy Book 55 years ago, and partly exposure to propaganda, not of a political kind as in Fascist countries, but of the kind embodied in the Scout law.
The British Scout law of Lord Baden-Powell is long and rambling, the U. S. Scout law brief, better written. British Law No. 2 says: "A Scout is loyal to the King and to his officers and to his parents, his country and his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy or who even talks badly of them." The U. S. Law No. 2 says simply: "A Scout is loyal. He is loyal to all to whom loyalty is due: his Scout Leader, his home and parents and country." Aside from the fact that loyalty to employers is not mentioned in the U. S. version out of deference to such organizations as John L. Lewis' United Mine Workers, who at one time looked askance at the Scouts, the difference is typical. Otherwise the parallelism is perfect through all the first nine Scout laws (Trustworthiness, Loyalty, Helpfulness ["at least one good turn every day"], Friendliness, Courtesy, Kindness to Animals, Obedience, Cheerfulness, Thrift). But the U. S. Scouts added three laws of their own. U. S. Romanticism required the tenth law: "a Scout is Brave"; U. S. sanitation required an eleventh law: "a Scout is Clean" (which the British afterwards copied). And the spirit of the Y.M.C.A. demanded the addition of the twelfth: "a Scout is Reverent."
Relatively young men who were Scouts only a few years ago are often ignorant of Scouting's present ramifications. Instead of entering the Scouts at 12, a youngster may now enter as a "Cub" at 9. After three years in a Cub Pack, he may become a tenderfoot Scout after learning the knots, etc., etc.; a second-class Scout after learning first aid, woodcraft, etc., etc.; then a first-class Scout after swimming 50 yards, etc., etc.; a Star Scout after winning five merit badges, a Life Scout (ten merit badges) and an Eagle Scout (21 merit badges). At 15 he becomes a Senior Scout and new vistas open before him. He may become a Sea Scout (with blue uniform) or an Explorer, and at 17 a Rover.