Rover Scouts (1928-52/65)

Rover Scouts were the most senior of all the Senior Scout programs.  Boys could become apprentice Rover Scouts at 17, becoming full members at 18.  Adult leaders had to be 25.  The program was intended as a service and leadership program for the oldest boys, in some ways similar to a college fraternity or service club.  The program was based on the ideas of B-P himself, who developed the program in England for older boys in 1918 and wrote a book for it called Rovering to Success in 1922.  The program had started in New England in 1929, through the efforts of Robert Hale, who produced an early Rover Scout booklet.  But in 1928 there were crews in Seattle, Detroit, Toledo, and elsewhere.  By 1932, there were 36 official experimental crews, with 27 of them in 15 New England councils.  Finally, in May of 1933 the National Council approved the program, and starting plans for development of literature and helps to leaders.  Apparently in 1935, a Rover Wood Badge course was run, probably following the British syllabus.  Am unaware of any other RWB course being run.

The ‘demise’ of Rover Scouts is unclear, but not unexpected.  The program was never very big, not helped by the fact that National didn’t really ‘sell’ the program, preferring to push other Senior programs like Sea Scouts and Explorer Scouts. When much of the literature of the time mentioned Rovers, if at all, with a few paragraphs or a page or two that doesn’t do much in explaining the program and getting people to want to join.  In 1952, National decided to stop chartering new Crews, and no longer recorded Rover membership after 1953. National also wanted to concentrate its efforts on the Explorer programs, rather then Rovers, thus its demise.  In 1965, when several other changes occurred in the Senior programs, that National stopped re-registering Rover Crews as Rover Crews.  Those that continued to exist where apparently re-registered as Exploring Posts (later Venturing Crews) instead, but continued to use the Rover program.

Up until very recently, there were a few Rover Crews still in existence in the BSA.  The B-P Rover Crew of Glasgow, KY, was considered the ‘high church’ of American Rovering.  Their leader, Jim Simmons, was involved with Rovers when it was an official part of the BSA.  Before it ended, they were registered as an Exploring Post.  However, Jim passed away about three years ago, and the group has ceased to exist.  There was also the Diamond Willow Crew in Chicago and the Kudu Rover Crew in Bardstown, Ky, both started by Jim and his nephew Ted.  Both have also ceased to exist.  The Queen City Rovers still exists as Venturing Crew #95, and has been in existence for over 30 years.  There is a recent Venturing Crew being organized as a Rover Crew, which are calling themselves the Dan Beard Crew.

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