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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA (BSA)

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA (BSA)

The BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA (BSA), a national association originally designed for middle-class urban boys ages 12-18, originated in Britain and organized in the U.S. in 1910. That same year Matthew D. Crackel, head of the West Side Boys' Club and the first local Scout commissioner, founded Cleveland's first troop. Six other local troops organized later that year. The BSA promoted the development of skills and values in a standardized program, appealing to the cult of efficiency and Progressive Era moral concerns. In 1911 17 prominent men, including NEWTON D. BAKER, HORATIO FORD, and SAMUEL MATHER formed the Cleveland Boy Scout Council, with Mather as president. A volunteer or partially compensated commissioner supervised the council until 1918, when the national BSA appointed a paid executive. In 1914 the Cleveland BSA opened a camp near GATES MILLS and began publishing the Scout, a weekly newspaper. Local BSA membership increased to 2,000 by 1917, due in part to World War I patriotism. The national BSA insisted upon English-only instruction, effectively eliminating some local immigrants. Cleveland scouting lagged in the 1920s but expanded under Geo. E. Green, Scout executive (1928-54). Green implemented national policies locally, establishing Cub Scouts (1933) and Explorers (1935) and lowering all age limits (1949). In 1962, after a series of temporary locations, the Cleveland BSA built its own office building at E. 22nd and Woodland Ave. The number of local Scouts reached 35,340 in 1965 but declined in the 1970s, prompting new programs for disabled and inner-city boys. In 1981 30,000 Cleveland-area boys were BSA members. During the 1980s the BSA also developed the Tiger Cubs, a new, family-oriented program for boys in the 1st grade, as well as Learning for Life, a school classroom-based program which serves as an educational supplement for classroom teachers. In the 1990s the Cleveland BSA was led by John F. Cadwallader.