Examining Scouting magazine’s first issue

Have you read through the first issue of Scouting, dated April 15, 1913? Scouting_FirstIssue1913

If so, you probably noticed its condition. The scan of our first issue is marred by tape that’s keeping this issue in one piece.

While it might not look great, the message on Page 1 holds the “purpose and scope” of Scouting magazine that still rings true today.

Scouting came to life out of the Boy Scouts of America’s “interest of efficiency.” In the years after the BSA’s birth, the organization was heavily operated by volunteer leaders. In 1912, only 35 employees worked at the BSA’s national office.

With the BSA growing exponentially, questions and feedback started rolling in from volunteer Scout leaders across the U.S. In fact, the national office received 18,542 letters and sent 43,629 letters in 1912. These numbers grew to 32,975 letters received and 76,422 letters sent by the 56 national office employees in 1913.

With today’s technology, it doesn’t take much to envision sending 76,000-plus emails. But these messages were all typed letters sent via snail mail, which was not only labor-intensive, but it also cost hundreds of dollars in postage.

So, just three years after the birth of the BSA, the executive board created Scouting, a bi-weekly, eight-page newsletter that was sent free of charge to every registered member of the BSA.

The board hoped that the mass-distribution of BSA news, Scouting advice, and information would help volunteers “get into a more harmonious relation with headquarters.” Their goal was to “afford greater inspiration and further advance the interest of the boys of our country.”

But the executives didn’t turn inward for advice and inspiration—they called upon the volunteers themselves, publishing their questions, thoughts, suggestions, and more. After all, they wrote, “fellowship, in the broadest and noblest sense of the word as it appeals to every good Scout, is our final aim.”

And that sense of fellowship still rings true 100 years later. The content filling the pages of today’s Scouting magazine features stories, advice, and inspiration from volunteers, parents, and experts in various fields. Check out departments such as, “What Would You Do?,” “What I’ve Learned,” “Cub Scout Corner,” “Your Kids,” “Ground Rules,” “Survive This!” and more.

Even better, with the rise of social media, fellowship also includes the thousands of Facebook comments and Tweets posted (or sent) by readers on a weekly basis. The conversations continue among Scouters on our blog, Bryan on Scouting.

Looking forward to the next 100 years, we’re working to find even more innovative ways to keep the conversation (and fellowship) going among Scouting readers.

TELL US: What did you find most interesting about the first issue of Scouting? Is there a feature from the 1913 editions that you wish you could find in the 2013 issues?

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