Walt Disney was a Boy Scout and received Scouting’s highest honor for adults

They’re both responsible for memorable characters, heart-pounding tales of adventure and bringing joy to young people.

But the links between Walt Disney and the Boy Scouts of America don’t end there.

Disney was a Boy Scout until his family moved to Chicago and he had to drop out. He received the Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s highest honor for adults. And he brought the world Follow Me, Boys!, the classic film about Scouting that starred Kurt Russell and Fred MacMurray and was the last Disney film released in Disney’s lifetime.

Disney’s Silver Buffalo Award

Oh, to have a time machine and travel back to the BSA’s 1946 national meeting.

There we would’ve seen Walt Disney receive the Silver Buffalo Award. Disney’s fellow recipients that year were no slouches either. The list included Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, USO co-founder Frank Weil, and World War II veterans Dwight Eisenhower and Chester Nimitz.

Nobody could accuse the BSA of hyperbole in its official Silver Buffalo listing for Disney. It says, simply, that he’s a “creator of many famous motion pictures.”

Many of Disney’s finest films were released after he received the Silver Buffalo. But by 1946, Disney had already brought us Snow White and the Seven DwarfsPinocchioBambi and many other films.

The family friendly nature of Disney films — still the company’s hallmark today — appealed to the BSA’s Silver Buffalo selection group. The Silver Buffalo citation said Disney “has contributed to the joy of youth and to their appreciation of wholesome humor and the elevation of their standards of good taste.”

The medal is on display at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

A page from the June-July 1946 issue of Scouting magazine.

Photos from the Walt Disney Family Museum


Thanks to Mark Griffin, Scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, for the blog post idea and photos.

4 Comments

  1. I’m so very sorry that I missed that part of the museum. I took my Life Scout son there on a sunny afternoon, when the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the back of the museum was out of this world! It would have just added to the wonder of the day if we had stumbled upon this award also.

  2. “Follow Me Boys!” – one of my favorite movies. I saw it the first time as an adult at a Troop youth leadership training class. With my modern sensibilities, I kept expecting some evil twist of fate in the plot, and was pleasantly surprised when there wasn’t one. I had forgotten that when someone accused Disney of putting a lot of corn in his movies, he replied, “I like corn!”. So do I!

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