Scouting History in the Heart of America Council - December 2017

by Andy Dubill, Council Historian

Kansas City Hosts Inaugural National Camporee in 1933 

At the 1932 National Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America, Kansas City Scout Executive H. Roe Bartle suggested that Kansas City would be a great location to host the BSA’s first National Camporee. George Charno, Sr., a member of the Executive Board of the Kansas City Council accompanied Bartle to the 1932 annual meeting and guaranteed that the quality of the program would be top-notch and that it could be a model for similar camporees and other like events in the future.

At that point, the BSA generally emphasized local activities and did not typically host large gatherings except the World Jamborees in 1920, 1924, 1929 and 1933. The first National Camporee was a tremendous undertaking and would require an enormous amount of civic, community and council cooperation to pull it off successfully.

The National Camporee coincided with the 23rd National BSA Meeting in Kansas City in June of 1933. Scout Executive H. Roe Bartle took this occasion to highlight the program of Scouting in Kansas City to the attendees by hosting several special events. The 18th annual Kansas City Round-Up had been held just a month earlier for the general public in Kansas City. Thousands had poured into the Convention Hall to view the finest Scouts from Kansas City perform Scouting skills before the capacity crowd at each performance. The Round-Up would be staged again during the National Camporee.

At one end of the huge American Royal Building was a special reviewing stand that held the guests who were attending the National BSA Meeting. The visitors marveled at the grand entry of the Round-Up. Over 7,000 well-trained Scouts marched onto the floor in the large hall without one problem or miscue. An entire gamut of Scouting activities and events was run on the floor without any lag or dead time between events. For two and a-half hours, event after event took place in front of the impressed Scout Executives in the audience. They intently followed the shifting scenes that melded into one another in the polished performance. This was the third time that the Round-Up had been staged—but the first time in front of such a stellar audience. The Scouts of Kansas City shone brightly that evening and throughout the first ever National Camporee.

If you have questions about Scouting history that would be good topics for future columns email Andy Dubill at