How to donate items to the National Scouting Museum

You’re helping a relative clean their house, and as you’re digging through an old trunk in the garage, you discover a Scout campaign hat and a merit badge sash stitched with old-style badges. Your relative doesn’t want them; you don’t want them, so what do you do? Well, they’re dated and Scout-related, maybe they’d be perfect to display in the National Scouting Museum.

Before you box up the items and mail them, just know there’s a preferred process for donating memorabilia to the museum, which opened this past summer at Philmont Scout Ranch.

The National Scouting Museum houses more than 600,000 items that tell the story of Scouting and its impact on American culture. It features the first Eagle Scout Award medal, given to Arthur Eldred in 1912, along with the merit badges he earned. It also has a collection of medals given to Scouts for their fundraising efforts during World War I, as well as a Lone Scout jacket from 1917.

“Our goal is to have an incredible collection of items, which are keystone pieces of our BSA history,” says David Werhane, National Scouting Museum director. “With that in mind, we ask that anyone who is interested to contributing to the museums collection to contact us before sending objects.”

The process

If you’re interested in donating items to the museum, you can email, call or mail:

  • Philmont.museums@scouting.org
  • Daisy Allen, collections curator, at 575-376-2281, ext. 1354
  • National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch, 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, NM 87714

When you talk to someone at the museum, you’ll likely be asked about your items, including their age, condition and story. You might also be asked to send photos of the items. Museum employees can go over what to expect for the item’s usage, display and any tax deductions if the donation is accepted.

You can always donate monetarily by mailing to the aforementioned address. Please specify that the donation is to be used by the National Scouting Museum.

If it’s not the right fit

What if it’s determined that your Scout hat and sash wouldn’t be good fit for the national museum? Well, before you start thinking like Indiana Jones (“That belongs in a museum!”), realize that there are other ways you can donate those items to benefit Scouting.

Werhane suggests checking with your local council office or nearby summer camp; some of these places have small displays and exhibits, too.

You can contact a local history museum, library or historical society. One of these organizations might want to highlight Scouting memorabilia specific to the area.

Let’s say you find an old uniform, which features a troop number sewed on it. You could try contacting the unit’s leaders to see if they want it.

“There are a few troops out there who collect items for display, or may at least want to take some photos of the objects for a virtual exhibit about their troop’s history and legacy,” Werhane says.

Perhaps, if you find an old bugle, canteen or mess kit, a local troop might love to have those items as well, and your donation can be used to help a new generation of Scouts.

About Michael Freeman 92 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.