Will U. S. Boy Scouts Be Used As Soldiers? A 1914 View

It’s not infrequent that some misguided person believes that Scouting has some sort of military connection, and that Boy Scouts are being trained to be soldiers. Of course, Boy Scouts are being trained to be soldiers. But they’re also being trained to be engineers or doctors or lawyers.

There are a handful of superficial similarities between Boy Scouts and soldiers. Boy Scouts salute, and soldiers salute. Unlike soldiers, Boy Scouts don’t salute one another. All the time I was a Boy Scout, the only thing I ever saluted was the flag.

And just like soldiers, Boy Scouts wear uniforms. Of course, never mind that postal workers, janitors, mechanics, and those of countless other occupations also wear uniforms. In some people’s minds, Boy Scouts look just like young soldiers, even though more of them probably go on to work for the Post Office or other uniformed services.

This misconception is apparently not new. The following editorial, originally from the Tacoma Labor Advocate, appeared in the Tacoma Times a hundred years ago, on August 31, 1914:


The Boy Scout movement has been opposed by members of union labor in almost all countries where it has been organized. Labor has claimed that this was simply being done to augment the army and navy and that in time of industrial strife the boy scouts would be used as soldiers wherever and whenever boys could be used. This has been denied, directly and directly, by many who were and are working for the boy scout movement. Now come dispatches to the effect that the boy scouts of some of the foreign countries are being used as soldiers in the war. Is it not plain that the same course will be taken here in the United States, that these boys will be used as soldiers whenever they can be to the advantage of those who profit by the use of the army or navy? Do not be fooled any longer, Mr. Working Man and Woman. The boy scout is merely one branch of the military forces of the country. They are simply being trained as soldiers by those who profit by the soldiery.

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