Usually, rising to the office of president requires hard work, dedication, and a singular focus on the goal at hand. The same can be said of becoming an Eagle Scout.
Not all presidents were officially Boy Scouts in their youth, but each has served as an honorary Scout during his time in office and has supported the organization in some way. The earliest presidents weren’t Scouts simply because scouting wasn’t founded until 1910. In fact, the first Boy Scout to eventually become president (page 10) may surprise you. Only one president (page 13) was an Eagle Scout.
Ahead, discover the presidents who were Boy Scouts and find out if Donald Trump made the cut.
1. Theodore Roosevelt
- “More and more I have grown to believe in the Boy Scout movement. I regard it as one of the movements most full of promise for the future here in America.”
Even though Teddy Roosevelt’s term was over before the Boy Scouts of America was officially founded, he was later elected honorary vice president and was the only person ever named Chief Scout Citizen.
Next: William Howard Taft
2. William Howard Taft
- “I am very glad to give my sympathy and support to such a movement as this. Anything that directs the boy’s spirit in the right channel for usefulness and for the making of manly men should be encouraged.”
Taft was the Boy Scouts’ first honorary president and the sitting president during the organization’s first annual meeting at the White House on Feb. 14, 1911.
Next: Woodrow Wilson
3. Woodrow Wilson
- “The Boy Scouts have not only demonstrated their worth to the nation, but have also materially contributed to a deeper appreciation by the American people of the higher conception of patriotism and good citizenship.”
While president, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill granting the Boy Scouts of America a charter. It passed with unanimous consent in both the house and the Senate.
Next: Warren G. Harding
4. Warren G. Harding
- “I am with the Scout movement heart and soul…I wish every boy in our America could have the advantage and the honor of being in the Boy Scout organization.”
He may not be the most memorable president, but Warren G. Harding is known for handing out “Harding Awards” to more than 5,000 Boy Scout troops in 1923.
Next: Calvin Coolidge
5. Calvin Coolidge
- “If every boy in the United States could be placed under the wholesome influences of the Scout program, and should live up to the Scout Oath and rules, we would hear fewer pessimistic words as to the future of our nation.”
While he didn’t personally participate in Boy Scouts as a lad, Coolidge was the first president to enroll his sons in the program. He also attended the 16th Annual Meeting of the National Council in 1926 and presented an award.
Next: Herbert Hoover
6. Herbert Hoover
- “In meeting the vital need that when the oncoming generation takes over our national affairs it shall be a generation bulwarked with character, the Boy Scout movement plays a most useful part.”
Hoover served as president during the organization’s 20th anniversary and canceled personal appointments to speak at a dinner commemorating the event. He wasn’t a Scout but he did serve as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America during his term.
Next: Franklin D. Roosevelt
7. Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “As one who has been interested in Scouting over many years, it has been most heartening to have so many evidences of the practical values of Scout training.”
FDR was the first elected president who had also served as a Scout leader with the Boy Scouts of America. Upon his death, he had a 24-year record of serving in the Scouts.
Next: Harry S. Truman
8. Harry S. Truman
- “The Boy Scouts of America, since it was founded in 1910, has contributed greatly to the character training of our youth. What a greater nation this would be if the principles of Scouting could be woven more closely into our daily lives.”
President Truman wasn’t a Scout in his youth, but he did support the organization and even traveled to Pennsylvania to participate in opening ceremonies for the second ever National Scout Jamboree.
Next: Dwight D. Eisenhower
9. Dwight D. Eisenhower
- “The Boy Scout movement merits the unstinted support of every American who wants to make his country and his world a better place in which to live.”
Eisenhower was another president whose son was a Boy Scout. He was also a member of the National Executive Board in 1948.
Next: John F. Kennedy
10. John F. Kennedy
- “In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals.”
John F. Kennedy was the first official Boy Scout to rise to the office of president. He served in a troop in Bronxville, New York, from 1929 to 1931.
Next: Lyndon B. Johnson
11. Lyndon B. Johnson
- “Today, as we face the challenges of an increasingly complex and frequently disturbing world, America needs an alert, responsible, and energetic youth to provide her with a vital resource in a hopefully happier and fuller future for all.”
President Johnson was an active Scout leader in Austin, Texas before becoming president of the United States. He also helped organize Post 1200 in Washington, which was for page boys working in Congress.
Next: Richard Nixon
12. Richard Nixon
- “I strongly believe that Scouting offers an exceptional opportunity to learn about good citizenship by being a good citizen, and I am glad to hear that we can count on you to carry on the very important work . . . in encouraging America’s boys to make themselves into the men our country needs.”
Nixon spoke at Boy Scouts jamborees while serving as vice president and hosted the first National Explorer Presidents’ Congress on the White House lawn in 1971.
Next: Gerald Ford
13. Gerald Ford
- “One of the proudest moments of my life came in the court of honor when I was awarded the Eagle Scout badge. I still have that badge.”
President Ford has the distinction of being the first (and only) Eagle Scout to eventually become president.
Next: James Carter
14. James Carter
- “It [Boy Scouts] is a constructive initiative on the part of young Americans to explore career interests, and to become better prepared for a more satisfying and rewarding future.”
President Carter was deeply involved in scouting. He was an Explorer Advisor and Scoutmaster, his wife was a Den Mother and Cubmaster, and all three of his sons participated in Scouts.
Next: Ronald Reagan
15. Ronald Reagan
- “By sponsoring many useful physical, mental, and social activities designed to promote self-responsibility, the Scouts strengthen the cornerstone of individual freedom in our nation.”
It was way back during his days as governor of California that President Reagan became involved with the Boy Scouts of America. He also served as Scoutorama chairman.
Next: George H.W. Bush
16. George H.W. Bush
- “The Boy Scouts of America has assumed a leadership role in confronting this problem [of drug abuse]. You are teaching self-protection strategies against drugs and other dangers.”
While George H.W. Bush wasn’t a Scout, his sons were members and he showed his fervent support for the organization and their anti-drug tactics during his presidency.
Next: William Clinton
17. Bill Clinton
- “For almost a century, the Boy Scouts of America have helped to make volunteer service an American ideal.”
Bill Clinton was a former Cub Scout and addressed 36,000 Scouts and their leaders at the National Scout Jamboree in 1997.
Next: George W. Bush
18. George W. Bush
- “Every day, Scouts are showing that the greatest strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens.”
Like other former presidents, George W. Bush was a Cub Scout and personally addressed the Jamboree event in 2005.
Next: Barack Obama
19. Barack Obama
- “Today, Scouts across the country continue in the tradition of collecting food for those in need, improving our neighborhoods, and reaching out to those less fortunate.”
Barack Obama did not serve in the Scouts as a youth, but he did commend the organization for its continued service to the nation during his video address to the Nation Scout Jamboree.
Next: Donald Trump
20. Donald Trump
- “When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives; you are shaping the future of America. The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts.”
Before becoming president, Donald Trump didn’t participate in the Boy Scouts of America and didn’t speak publicly about them until he addressed the group during the 2017 National Jamboree.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!