Dan Beard Story
James A Lindberg (jal@CRAY.COM)
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 08:43:19 -0500
I was going through a bunch of articles my Dad had clipped out of various
magazines and found this, thought it might be interesting to you.
AMERICA'S FIRST SCOUT
Reprinted without permission from Sports Afield - December 1973.
Dan Beard always had a yen to organize "youngsters." As a boy, he rounded
up a group of friends, called them the Boy Pioneers or Sons of Daniel Boone
and led them off on canoe and camping jaunts. Kit Carson, Audubon and
Davy Crockett were some of his heroes; the outdoors, his first love, became
his avocation. As a wildlife illustrator, Ernest Thompson Seton,
Charles Dana Gibson and Frederick Remington were his friends. Loving every
minute of it, Beard called his career a "61-year vacation."
In the early 1900s Dan Beard was made editor of a then-influential magazine
called "Recreation," and through his writings he resurrected the notion of
boys organizing into groups to learn outdoor skills. The Sons of Daniel
Boone and the Boy Pioneers emerged anew. Interest in the idea was immediate.
At the same time, an ocean away, Lord Baden-Powell had initiated the British
Scouting movement and Beard, hearing of his success, embraced the concept and
formally organized the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, with America's First
Outdoorsman, Theodore Roosevelt, lending his wholehearted support. (For
years, Beard led an annual pilgrimage of youngsters to President Roosevelt's
grave). When told of Beard's plan for the Boy Scouts, Ernest Thomspon Seton
sketched out on the spot the now traditionally familiar Boy Scout Uniform.
Through well-thumbed copies of the "Boy Scout Handbook" and from writings in
"Boy's Life" magazine and in his own books, Dan Beard became a legendary
figure to millions of American youngsters, a symbol, along with his boyhood
heroes of courage and honor and the uplifting nature of a clean life
out-of-doors. Thanks to Beard, million of boys learned to live comfortably
and safely in the wilderness, to study and love the outdoors and the myriad
facts of its nature. Or as Dan Beard defined scouting: "The love of outdoors
in terms of conservation."
In 1941, Beard's long, fruitful life came to an end. His own uniform,
complete with decorations, can be seen in the Dan Beard Memorial Room of the
Trailside Museum in New York's Bear Mountain State Park. His boyhood home
in Convington, Kentucky, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City