Scouts have met with every sitting president at the White House since Taft

It’s a tradition dating back almost as far as the BSA itself.

Scouts (and, later, Explorers and Venturers) have met with every sitting president in the White House since 1911. That year, William Howard Taft addressed Scouts and Scouters at the BSA’s first annual meeting, held at the White House.

Later, the BSA began presenting its congressionally mandated Report to the Nation to key leaders in Washington, including the president.

A president’s busy schedule means he can’t always receive the Report to the Nation in person. But, quite frequently, the Report to the Nation visit and the commander in chief’s travel schedule have aligned. The result is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these young delegates. It’s a chance for them to witness democracy first hand.

Here’s a president-by-president look, beginning with Taft and continuing to today.

Note: Most of the presidents listed below met with Scouts at the White House multiple times. I’ve included just one representative example with each. 

William Howard Taft

1911: Robert Baden-Powell (front, left) and President Taft (front, center) reviewed a parade of Boy Scouts at the White House. Taft addressed the BSA’s first annual meeting, held at the White House that year — one year after the BSA’s founding in 1910.

Woodrow Wilson

Feb. 11, 1915: Scouts stood outside the White House after receiving badges from President Wilson. The Scouts (from left): Howard Gatley, recognized with an honor medal for saving a life; and new Eagle Scouts Edward Pardoe, Samuel Hardy, Edward Sheiry, Clinton Allard, and Frank Watson.

Warren G. Harding

1920 to 1923: President Harding (center) welcomed Scouts to the White House. The photo is undated but was taken during his presidency (1921 to 1923).

Calvin Coolidge

1924: President Coolidge (back row, third from right) posed with Scouts at the White House. Two years later, he attended the BSA’s annual meeting in Washington and presented the first Silver Buffalo Awards.

Herbert Hoover

Jan. 8, 1930: President Hoover welcomed Boy Scouts from Troop 166 of Kingston, Pa. The White House had been damaged in a fire on Christmas Eve 1929, so the president was leaving his temporary offices when he stopped to visit the Scouts.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

1935: President Roosevelt listened to Scouts reciting the Scout Oath at the White House. Standing, from left: Chief Scout Executive James E. West, Sydnor Hodges of Troop 97, George Kephart of Troop 33, Lloyd Street of Troop 13 and Philip Cole of Troop 50. All Scouts were from Washington, D.C.

Harry S. Truman

1948: President Truman welcomed the Report to the Nation delegates to the White House.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

1955: President Eisenhower received a framed copy of the Report to the Nation at the White House.

John F. Kennedy

Feb. 8, 1961: President Kennedy met with 12 Boy Scouts — one from each BSA region — at the White House. The Scouts were: George L. Ashley; Allen T. Brisendine; Ronald H. Cowan; William L. Evans; Norman E. Fretwell; Robert M. Neal Jr.; Richard E. Osher; Richard G. Pingree; James R. Stivers; John C. Sulerud; Arthur L. Tillman III; John L. Wahgren Jr. (Only 11 of the Scouts are pictured here).

Lyndon B. Johnson

1965: President Johnson received a chuck wagon model from Explorer Donald R. Ratcliffe (right). BSA President Thomas J. Watson Jr. and Chief Scout Executive Joseph A. Brunton Jr. admired the handmade wagon. Donald, from Staten Island, N.Y., was one of 12 Report to the Nation delegates who visited the White House.

Richard Nixon

1969: President Nixon received the Report to the Nation from Scouts, Explorers and BSA leaders.

Gerald Ford

1975: Toby Capps, a 2014 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, was among the delegates invited to the White House to present the Report to the Nation to President Ford, our only Eagle Scout president (so far).

Jimmy Carter

Feb. 15, 1978: President Carter received the Report to the Nation and the Silver Buffalo Award during the delegates’ visit to the White House.

Ronald Reagan

1982: President Reagan received the report and the Silver Buffalo Award from Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in the Oval Office.

George H. W. Bush

Feb. 10, 1992: The elder President Bush received the Report to the Nation at the White House, and we can read these remarks he delivered to the Scouts. “This report represents the great and heroic deeds done by our nation’s future, from feeding the hungry to helping kids stay drug-free,” he said.

Bill Clinton

President Clinton meets with a Report to the Nation delegate inside the Oval Office.

George W. Bush

March 4, 2008: President Bush welcomed representatives to the Oval Office as they presented him with the Report to the Nation.

Barack Obama

March 25, 2015: President Obama greeted representatives from the BSA in the Oval Office as he received the Report to the Nation.

Donald Trump

March 7, 2017: President Trump met the Report to the Nation delegates in the Oval Office.

About Bryan Wendell 2800 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.