In the steadily pouring rain, a tent city near Missoula, Montana, kept its inhabitants mostly dry. Six field kitchens staffed by Army cooks kept them fed, and hospital tents stood ready for any illnesses or injuries.
But this was no army. The inhabitants were not soldiers—they were boys from the ages of 10 to 18, who had gathered to test their skills, make new friends and put on a show.
This was a Boy Scouts Camporee.
The Boy Scouts of America’s mission is to teach boys to become responsible young men. Scout Law states that “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” It only makes sense that so many Scouts have grown up to become Lions.
“Scouts and Lions foster the same ideals,” said David Cox of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The Bridgewater Lions Club is one of many that have organized traditional pancake breakfasts, served up by local Boy Scout troops.
The Boy Scout Camporee outside of Missoula was held in 1939, but a scene from that rainy day could have taken place at any point over the past century. The Missoula Lions Club was on hand to sponsor the Scouts and support the circus show the Scouts put on as a fundraiser. Some Boy Scouts who become Lions serve as Scoutmasters, taking a direct hand in guiding the next generation of Scouts. By the early 1930s, the Berkeley Lions Club in California was sponsoring the first Boy Scout troop for blind boys. In 1950, three Lions led a troop made up entirely of Scouts who were blind, combining Lions’ long-running commitment to helping people who are visually impaired with their mentorship of Scouts.
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America likewise has a long history of support and cooperation with Lions. From sponsorship to joint fundraising efforts, Girls Scouts and Lions have worked together throughout the past century to “Do a Good Turn Daily,” as the official Girl Scouts slogan states.
Lions clubs sponsor more scout troops in the United States than any other secular organization. Lions and youth scouting organizations share common goals, so it’s only natural that they’ve forged such a strong bond.
“Scouts learn leadership, but it ends after high school,” said David Cox. “That’s where Lions can step in.”
Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!