First Boy Scout Troop in America celebrates 110 years

Roseanne McKee Pawhuska

On Sept. 28, a Boy Scout Troop formed in Pawhuska, and chartered under the Boy Scouts organization in England, marks 110 years.

At its Aug. 13 meeting, the Pawhuska City Council voted to declare Sept. 28 as a Day of Celebration in honor of this first troop.

The celebration begins on Sept. 28 with a parade in downtown Pawhuska at 10 a.m. followed by a reception for the 96 Eagle Scouts from Pawhuska at the Pawhuska Community Center at 520 Lynn Ave.

Troop 1 in Pawhuska had 22 members and was founded by the Rev. John Forbes Mitchell in 1909.

“The story goes that when the Reverend came from England to Osage County on a mission trip, he sent back communication to England … that there were some boys who were a little unruly. The response that came back to him was ‘start a Scout Troop.’ So, before there was the Boy Scouts of America, we had scouting right here,” Cherokee Council Scout Executive Philip Mba Wright said.

The next year, in 1910, The Boy Scouts of America was founded. Thereafter, the troop in Pawhuska became Troop 30 under the Boy Scouts of America charter. Later, Troop 43 in Pawhuska was also chartered under the Boy Scouts of America.

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, born in England, started the Boy Scouts.

“In 1907 Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in Poole, Dorset, [on the south coast of England] … and brought together 20 boys from a variety of backgrounds. The success of the camp spurred him on to finish what would become a classic book of the 20th century,” according to the website,

“’Scouting for Boys’ was published in 1908. … What had been intended as a training aid for existing organizations became the handbook of a new movement, which secured the royal seal of approval the following year when King Edward VII agreed to the introduction of the King’s Scout Award,” per the website.

According to the website, scouting “was a global phenomenon. As numbers grew, it soon became clear that young people of all ages and in every country wanted to get involved. …”

Wright described the founder of the scouting movement, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, as an adventurer.

Born in 1857, Baden-Powell served in the British Army from 1876 to 1910 in India and Africa, the website,, stated. In 1899, he served in South Africa and faced the Boer army, which surrounded his troops. After 217 days, through careful military action, Baden-Powell led the garrison to freedom and returned to England a military hero.

During his time in the military, Baden-Powell encountered the Bantu Tribe in Zambia and wanted to meet the chief. After several attempts, the tribal warriors allowed him access.

The Bantu chief he met wore beads and Baden-Powell asked him their significance.

“The chief said, ‘it means knowledge.’ So, Lord Baden-Powell started this training course called Wood Badge. It is the highest level of training for leaders and when you complete that course, you get two beads,” Wright said showing two beads he was wearing as part of his Scout Executive uniform. “Those two beads come from when he visited that tribe.”

The Bantu tribal warriors also held a spear and a shield. When you entered the tribe, the shield and spear were put down.

“When I put the spear down, I’m saying you’re my friend,” Wright said.

The Boy Scouts handshake is a left handshake, after the Bantu warriors who put down their spear and shield when they welcomed a person into the tribe, he explained.

“He got all that from his visit to the southern part of Africa,” Wright said.

“The reason we wear uniforms, people think it is about military. No, when he first started Scouting, he wanted all youth to be equal whether rich or poor,” Wright said.

The Osage County Historical Society Museum has a permanent exhibit about Troop 1 in Pawhuska, Wright said. The exhibit includes the uniforms and troop patches.

When the Boy Scouts attend their national gathering, called the scout jamboree, there are also special patches issued to mark these occasions from each troop council. These patches are on display in the museum room and conference room at the Cherokee Area Council headquarters in Bartlesville.

There will also be a special patch for the 110-year celebration. For the Eagle Scouts who attend the parade and reception in Pawhuska Sept. 28, they will be given a commemorative patch only given to those who participate that day, Wright said.

That is also the weekend of an annual campout at Camp McClintock near Bartlesville. On Sept. 27, all of the troops from the Cherokee Council and from the Cimmaron Council will be at Camp McClintock.

“On Friday evening we’re going to have a cracker barrel meeting for all the leaders and a campout, and then that next morning we’re going to Pawhuska for the parade at 10 a.m.,” Wright said.

Asked his own view of scouting, Wright said, “for me it signifies restoring the village.”

He relayed the story of how his own father, an orphan, was invited to join a scout troop and how it changed his life for the better. His father went on to college and has had a successful career as an aeronautical engineer, married and raised a family, Wright said.

“Scouting saved our family,” Wright said. “In 1999, I had a chance to work for scouting or for Pepsi. I called home and asked my parents for advice.”

Wright was surprised by his father’s strong response.

“He said, ‘don’t call this house again until you have that job. All these years we haven’t given back to scouting and this is our chance.”

Today, Pawhuska has two troops, no. 33, led by Scout Master Randy Haddon, and troop no. 43, led by Bruce Hendren. In Pawhuska there are also Cub Scout Packs — two for boys and one for girls.

To learn more about troops in the Cherokee Area Council, call 918-336-9170 or visit their headquarters at 520 S. Quapaw Ave. in Bartlesville.