W.D. Boyce founds the Boy Scouts of America

Boyce was lost on a foggy street in London in 1909 when an unknown Scout came to his aid, guiding him to his destination.

The boy then refused Boyce's tip, explaining that he was a Boy Scout and was merely doing his daily good turn. Soon thereafter, Boyce met with General Baden-Powell, who was Chief Scout at the time. Boyce returned to America, and, four months later, founded the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910.

The story of the Unknown Scout has been described as "true, at least in essence." Some details, however, have been added to the known facts. According to Edward Rowan, Boyce stopped in London en route to a safari in British East Africa. While an unknown Scout helped him and refused a tip, this Scout only helped him cross a street to a hotel, did not take him to the Scout headquarters, and Boyce never met Baden-Powell. Upon Boyce's request, the Scout did give him the address of the Scout headquarters where Boyce later went on his own and picked up information about the group. Boyce returned to London after his safari and visited the Scout headquarters again and gained the use of Scouting For Boys in the development of a U.S. Scouting program. While Boyce's original account does not mention there being fog that fateful day, in a 1928 account he did say there was fog. Climatologists report no fog on that day in London.

It is a fact that William D. Boyce visited London in late 1909 and picked up Scouting literature, and it is also true that he incorporated the BSA Feb 8, 1910. During the infant organization's first year, Boyce kept it afloat by donating a crucial $4,000. In 1915, he organized the Lone Scouts of America, bringing Scouting to boys in rural areas who had no chance to join one of the hundreds of troops that were springing up in cities and small towns.

Despite these significant contributions, W. D. Boyce is a shadowy figure among Scouting's pioneers. This is due largely to the fact that he did not take a hands-on approach to Scouting as did the founder, Baden-Powell, in England and, in the United States, Chief Scout Ernest Thompson Seton, National Scout Commissioner Daniel Carter Beard, and Chief Scout Executive James E. West. Boyce did his thing and left the details to others.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded by Chicago publisher William Boyce on February 8, 1910. At that time in the US, there were several other loosely structured outdoor-oriented youth organizations, some using the name "Boy Scout" and some using other names, and there were already a number of troops in existence using some variation of the British Scout program. Boyce's key contribution was to organize the BSA as a business. He incorporated the organization (in Washington, DC, rather than Chicago), recruited key youth professionals (in particular from the YMCA) to design and operate the program, and he provided key funding for the infant organization.