Incident on a London Street, 1908

(lights dim, curtains open, spotlight with blue gel [to simulate night] comes on to center stage, fog fills stage)

NARRATOR: It was a foggy night in London, England, eighty-eight years ago, and an American businessman and publisher from Chicago, William D. Boyce, was lost.

(enter a scout in costume -- overcoat, bowler or derby, carrying briefcase).

NARRATOR: It had been a long day, and now here he was -- after dark, in a strange city, looking for a street address during one of London's famous heavy fogs.

(Scout pantomimes the narrative)

NARRATOR: Mr. Boyce stopped and took out a street map and, after looking at it for a minute, scratched his head and tried to get his bearings. It looked impossible, although he knew he couldn't be very far from his destination. Mr. Boyce was almost ready to give up and hail a hansom cab for a ride...

(enter another scout in uniform)

NARRATOR: ...when a boy, wearing some kind of strange uniform, appeared mysteriously out of the fog and said, "May I help you, sir?" Mr. Boyce nodded gratefully and showed him the address he was trying to find. "A piece of cake, sir," the boy said. "It's not far. I'll be happy to show you the way."

(Scout leads "Mr. Boyce" off, and they walk slowly around the stage, pretending to talk)

NARRATOR: The boy led Mr. Boyce off. As they walked along, Mr. Boyce asked the boy about the uniform he was wearing, and the boy told Mr. Boyce about a new organization for boys, called Boy Scouting. It had been started the year before by a British army general named Baden­Powell. Scouting had 5,000 boys in it the first year, but now, less than 24 months later, 100,000 boys had joined.

Boy scouts stood for something, the boy said­­faith in God, love of family, friends, King and country, belief in self­reliance and personal discipline, and the value of always doing your best. Boy scouts also believed in doing a "good turn" daily.

After a short walk, they arrived at Mr. Boyce's destination. Boyce reached into his pocket to give the boy a coin for a tip, but the scout held up his hand and declined. "No sir," he replied, "this was my good turn today. Good night." And the boy disappeared into the fog, as mysteriously as he had appeared.

(Scout exits the stage. After a brief pause, "Mr. Boyce" exits, too. Lights come up here)

NARRATOR: Boyce was deeply impressed by this incident, and the next day made an appointment with General Baden­Powell. He returned to America a few days later with a trunk full of uniforms and manuals, and a head full of ideas for starting scouting in America.

And so, a little over a year later, on February 8, 1910, a notice appeared in a Chicago paper, announcing the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America. Thousands of scouts joined that first year­­and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today we in this room are part of a world wide movement, with almost 5 million boys and thousands of adult leaders in this country alone.

More than 90 million American men have been scouts since 1910.

As for the mysterious English boy scout­­no one ever learned who he was, and his identity to this day remains a mystery. But he lives on in the memories of millions of American scouts, past and present. And in London today, outside Gilwell, the birthplace of the world scouting movement, is a statue of a buffalo, put there by American scouts, to honor and memorialize that unknown English boy scout.

Such is the power of a single, simple good turn.

So boys, as we sit down tonight for dinner with our friends and families and fellow scouts, it's altogether right that we remember this incident, and also remember always that we are part of something great, and important, and meaningful.

Would our color guard please present the colors.


Feel free to use as you wish­­with credit to Pack 1515, Alexandria, VA, please.

This web page was written by Bob Myers, Committee Member, Troop 3, Cincinnati, Ohio
with web authoring assistance by Michael F. Bowman, USSSP Web Team

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