Lone Scouts of America

The LSA was founded by W. D. Boyce, a Chicago newspaper entrepreneur and one of the founders of the BSA.  Boyce felt that the program of the BSA did not help the rural boy who could not find enough boys to form a troop or a patrol.  James E. West the first chief Scout Executive of the BSA disagreed with Boyce's concept, believing that the 4-H program was fulfilling that role.  After Boyce left the BSA in 1914, he started the Lone Scouts of American and incorporated it on January 9, 1915.  Boyce became the Executive Officer of Chief Totem and Frank Allan Morgan became the editor of Lone Scout.  In October 1915, Boyce appointed all of his paperboys as members of the LSA and published the first issue of the Lone Scout Magazine.

Lone Scout Program

The LSA was inspired by the Lonecraft program of the British Boy Scout Association and by Ernest Thompson Seaton's Woodcraft Indians program that used American Indian themes.  No adult leaders were required in the Lone Scout program and there were no age limits.  By November 1915, over 30,000 members were reported.  Lone Scouts who lived near each other could form a "local tribe", while others could form a "mail tribe" and communicate by post.  Tribes could join together and form "wigwams".  Tribes elected officers such as a Chief (initially called Captain), Sachem (Vice-Chief), scribe and Wampum Bearer (treasurer).  By October of 1916, the LSA reported 133,000 members.  By 1922, the membership had increased to 490,000; its peak.

By popular demand, a uniform was created in 1917 and the Lone Scout Supply Company was formed.

Advancement and Recognition

The advancement program was developed that was split into lodges.  The Teepee Lodge consisted of the:
First Degree • First Degree (Lone Scout)
Second Degree • Second Degree (Woodcraft) and the
Third Degree • Third Degree (Lone Eagle)

The Totem Pole Lodge included the:
• Fourth Degree (Lone Bachelor)

• Fifth Degree (Lone Woodsman) and

• Sixth Degree (Lone Hunter)

The Sagamore Lodge consisted of the:
• Seventh Degree (Sagamore)

The literary competitions were awarded with:

  • Lone Scout Contributor (LSC),
  • Lone Scout Scribe (LSS),
  • Lone Scout Graduate (LSG) and
  • Lone Scout Quill (LSQ).

The Booster Award system recognized Lone Scouts who recruited new members and was awarded in two levels:

  • Lone Scout Organizer (LSO) and
  • Lone Scout Booster (LSB).

A Lone Scout who earned Sagamore Degree, Lone Scout Booster and Lone Scout Quill was recognized as a Supreme Scout (SS) 123 were presented.  War Work medals recognized those Lone Scouts who performed service work during World War I.


The main link of the LSA was the weekly Lone Scout newspaper, published by W. D. Boyce's company and sold by the Lone Scouts.  Boys were encouraged to write articles, stories and cartoons for Lone Scout, and several prizes and contests were announced.  Many tribes started their own local "Tribe Papers" this later became part of the program that became the Authorized Lone Scout Amateur Publications (ALSAPs).  By December of 1920, financial difficulties force Boyce to publish the magazine on a monthly basis and increase the price.  The Lone Scout announced that they would no longer accept applications "from members of the negro race" and in 1922 the mast head of the Lone Scout changed from "A Real Boys Magazine" to "The White Boys' Magazine".

The Tribe Paper Editors' Protective Association was formed to help maintain the quality of the more prestigious of the tribe papers.  The last issue of Lone Scout in 1924, announced the merger with the BSA.  The BSA continued the Long Scout magazine but it never attained the popularity of Lone Scout.

Notable Lone Scouts

  • Broderick Crawford:  Academy Award-winning actor
  • Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.:  Actor and decorated Navy officer who fought in World War II
  • Orval Faubus:  Six-term governor of Arkansas
  • Hubert Humphrey:  Mayor of Minneapolis and thirty-either Vice President of the United States
  • Burl Lives:  Academy Award winning American actor and acclaimed folk music singer and author.
  • Fred MacMurray:  Actor and star of Follow me boys, a 1966 Disney movie about Boy Scouts
  • Don McNeill:  Radio personality, best known as the creator and host of The Breakfast Club.
  • Vincent Schaefer:  Chemist and meteorologist who developed cloud seeding.