The Ideal Scout

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The original statue in Philadelphia

The Ideal Scout, also known as The Boy Scout, is the most famous work by Canadian[1] sculptor R. Tait McKenzie (1867–1938). The original statue stood in front of the Cradle of Liberty Council at 22nd and Winter Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1937 to 2013.[2] Replicas can be found at Boy Scouts of America councils across the United States, as well as at Gilwell Park in London, England, and at Scouts Canada's national office in Ottawa. The Smithsonian American Art Museum's database lists 18 copies.[3]


President Calvin Coolidge receiving a copy of the statuette, outside the White House, 1927.

McKenzie sat on the executive board of the Boy Scouts organization in Philadelphia for more than 20 years. Asked to produce a figure of "an ideal scout," the sculptor chose several young scouts to model in uniform. In 1915, he gave the executive board an 18-inch bronze figure, together with rights to the royalties resulting from sales of copies. He said that the boy's uncovered head denoted reverence, obedience to authority, and discipline. The hatchet held by the scout is a symbol of truthfulness and the hope it would never be unsheathed for wanton destruction, but "applied unceasingly to the neck of treachery, treason, cowardice, discourtesy, dishonesty, and dirt." [4]

McKenzie's life-sized version of the work was unveiled at Philadelphia's Cradle of Liberty Council on June 12, 1937.

A replica in Ottawa, Illinois, adorns the grave of William D. Boyce (1858–1929), founder of the Boy Scouts of America, who modeled the organization on Great Britain's Boy Scouts Association.

Cradle of Liberty Council[edit]

The Philadelphia headquarters was built by the Boy Scouts of America on city-owned land in 1929, with the council paying a nominal $1-per-year rent. In 2008, the City of Philadelphia filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit in response to the BSA's national policy of excluding openly gay scout leaders, demanding that the Cradle of Liberty Council defy the BSA policy, pay a market-rate rent on the building, or vacate it. The council won the lawsuit in Federal court, and the judge ordered the city to pay its $877,000 in legal fees. Instead, the city settled with the council, paying the bulk of its legal fees but requiring it to vacate the building. The Ideal Scout was removed in 2013.

Partial list of locations[edit]


  • Philadelphia Museum of Art (1915) 18-inch statuette - accession number 42-7-1
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville


  • Allentown, Pennsylvania (1975)
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan (1980)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta Area Council Volunteer Service Center)
  • Baltimore, Maryland, (1937)[5]
  • Cleveland, Ohio (1962)
  • Delray Beach, Florida
  • Denver, CO - Hamilton Scout Headquarters
  • Detroit, Michigan (1965)
  • East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (1972)
  • Elbert CO - Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch (1973)
  • Farmington, Pennsylvania (1991)
  • Fort Worth, Texas (1956)
  • Goshen, VA - Goshen Scout Reservation
  • Greenburg, Pennsylvania (1982)
  • Hudson, Wisconsin - Lakefront Park (2009)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (1990)
  • Irving, Texas (1979)
  • Jackson, Mississippi (1937)
  • Kalamazoo (Texas Township), Michigan (2015)
  • Kansas City, Kansas (1937)
  • Kenai, Alaska (1997)
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania (1995)
  • Ligonier, Pennsylvania (1937)
  • Mansfield, Ohio (Heart of Ohio Council Service Center)
  • Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (1978)
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1985)
  • Mobile, Alabama (Mobile Area Council)
  • Morganville (Marlboro Township), New Jersey
  • Naperville, Illinois[6]
  • Ogden, Utah[7]
  • Ottawa, Illinois (1941) - grave of William D. Boyce, founder of the Boy Scouts of America[8]
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cradle of Liberty Council (1937)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1937)
  • Portland, Oregon (1972)[9][10]
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Reedesville, Pennsylvania (1992)
  • Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania (1937)
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota[11]
  • St. Paul, Minnesota (1965)
  • University of Pennsylvania (1937)
  • Westlake, Texas, Scouting U, Westlake Campus (Center for Professional Development)

Eric Hansen Park, Kenai, Alaska


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ray, Harold L. (1993). "Book Reviews ("The Sport Sculpture of R. Tait McKenzie")" (PDF). Canadian Journal of History of Sport. 24-25: 84.
  2. ^ "Boy Scout, (sculpture)". Save Outdoor Sculpture, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia survey. 1993. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Ideal Boy Scout". SIRIS. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  4. ^ Buck, Diane M. and Virginia A. Palmer (1995). Outdoor Sculpture in Milwaukee: A Cultural and Historical Guidebook, p. 49. The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison
  5. ^ "The Ideal Scout". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  6. ^ "The Boy Scout (No Longer Here) - Naperville, Illinois - Scouts Monuments and Memorials on". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Boy Scout - South Ogden, Utah - Scouts Monuments and Memorials on". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "William D. Boyce Memorial - Ottawa, IL - Scouts Monuments and Memorials on". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Scout". Flickr. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  10. ^ "cyclotram: The Ideal Scout". Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  11. ^ ""The Ideal Scout" Statue – Sioux Falls, SD - Scouts Monuments and Memorials on". Retrieved September 7, 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′33″N 75°10′31″W / 39.95910°N 75.17525°W / 39.95910; -75.17525