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Norman Rockwell and the Boy Scouts of America

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Rockwell's first Boys' Life cover in 1913.

Every weekend (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) 200-600 scouts arrive to camp onboard the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. This weekend we are scheduled for 526 scouting campers onboard. If one played a word game association with boy scouts and portraits…the answer would be Norman Rockwell…Notice his first cover of Boys’ Life above has a nautical flair and as we saw in the last post, Rockwell joined the Navy in World War I and served at the Charleston Navy Yard.

Norman Percevel Rockwell was born February 3, 1894 to Waring and Nancy Hill Rockwell in New York City. His first job in after finishing art school in 1912 was as an illustrator for Boys’ Life, the official magazine for the Boy Scouts of America. He became the art director for Boys’ Life in 1915. Norman stated that his experience on the staff of Boys’ Life, ““…helped me build some confidence in myself at a time when I needed courage, needed to believe in myself.” A few of his scouting images are below.

Scouting is more than games - 1918. Painted for the American Red Cross shows a scout with semaphore skills.

Scouts of Many Trails - 1937. Notice the nautical theme here with the old sea captain and the scout in his sea scout uniform.

Men of Tomorrow - 1948. After World War II we find scouts on a canoeing expedition portage their canoes.

You can view many of Rockwell’s scout portraits by clicking here…

Rockwell maintained his scouting affiliation for sixty-four years. He painted the annual scouting calendar for Brown and Bigelow from 1925 to 1977. The calendar consisted of paintings he did for the covers of Boys’ Life at no charge and he refused any royalties from the calendar which went to the Boy Scouts of America. All reproduction rights for his paintings also were given to the Boy Scouts.

Norman Rockwell was awarded the Silver Buffalo by the Boy Scouts of America in 1938.  This is the highest award the BSA can give for “Distinguished Service to Boyhood.” He died in 1978, but in this Centennial Year for the Boy Scouts of America his amazing works of art still live, telling the story of Boy Scouts first 100 years and the man who painted them…Read more here at the Rockwell Museum

At Patriots Point Rockwell lives in his art, service to the country in the Navy and through his nurture of the Boy Scouts who continue to dream the dreams of scouting and the sea, just down the river from where Norman Rockwell was stationed in the Navy…

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