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Boy Scouts of America Celebrate 100th Anniversary

Boy Scouts of America Celebrate 100th Anniversary

This year the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 100th anniversary. In the hometown of the founder, William Dickson Boyce, hundreds of Scouts from around the country gathered recently to honor his memory, and to celebrate the values of Scouting in the United States.

Norlyn "Bud" Allison knows something about commitment. He's been married for 60 years and he credits his long lasting marriage partly to the values he learned as a Boy Scout, such as loyalty.

He became a scout at the age of 12 and has served the organization for 72 years, first as a member of a troop in Illinois, and later as a career Scouting professional.

"The uniforms have changed, but the ideals have not changed," said Allison. "The scout oath and law are still as important today as they were 100 years ago when Baden-Powell and Mr. Boyce put the program together."

The story of the Boy Scouts of America began in 1909, when Chicago publisher William Dickson Boyce found himself lost in a dense London fog. A boy, whose identity remains unknown, offered to help Boyce find his way.

Mollie Perrot, the executive director of the Ottawa Scouting Museum, says Boyce was extremely impressed with the gesture, which the unknown Boy Scout from England called a "Good Turn."

"The boy informed him about the program that had been set up in England in 1907, by Lord Robert Baden Powell, and he eventually took Boyce to Baden Powell's headquarters," explained Perrot. "They met, and they talked about the movement. He and Boyce formed a life long friendship. And Boyce gathered up all the literature he could about scouting in England and brought it back to America."

Upon his return to the United States, Boyce brought together several loosely affiliated youth organizations, and founded the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.

100 years later, the Boy Scouts remain one of the leading youth organizations in the country.

"Over 100 million people have been involved in the program over the years, mainly boys," noted Allison. "And basically at the moment there are three and half million scouts presently involved in the program."

Though Boyce died in 1929, he is remembered in his hometown of Ottawa, Illinois.

Each year, Boy Scouts from around the United States gather for the "Scout Homecoming" to honor their founder, who was Lee Worthington Mueller's grandfather.

"I think he would be very pleased to see his ideals have withstood one hundred years of history, and I think he would probably look around the country and the world as it were and he would probably say 'It's a good thing I did this,' because there's an awful lot of help they need," said Mueller.

As a young Boy Scout in June of 1939, Bud Allison was present for the dedication of the Boy Scout memorial at W.D. Boyce's grave.

71 years later, he returned to pay tribute to the founder, and to impress upon the Scouts gathered for the occasion that what they learn in the program today, will help them become the leaders of tomorrow.

ALLISON: "It's important, it's helping them to keep the values that you and I hold very dear as far as the American ideals and involvement and service to America."

PERROT: "I firmly believe if a boy lives by the Scout oath and law, I really don't believe you will find a find a finer human being. To be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent and all of those things, how important is that to your child? Isn't that the way you would want your boy to grow?"

The influence of Scouting is now a worldwide phenomenon. There are more than 500 different programs for both boys and girls in 185 countries around the globe.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.