Dan Beard Camp Uniform




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A family writes: 

Our father passed away recently and we found some stuff in his attic we don't quite understand.  In a box labeled "John's Dan Beard Uniform"  by his mother, we found an odd boy's uniform.  No insignia anywhere, and in a very small size.  We also have my Dad's complete Scouting Uniform as well (he was the first Eagle Scout in the Ebensburg, PA council in 1930). 

Dan Beard's Camp was located at Big Tink, Pike County, PA.  My dad lived near Pittsburgh when he was seven or eight, so it's logical he went to that camp.

ohb316.gif (16672 bytes)
Dan Beard's Drawing of his Boys' 
Camp at Big Tink, Pike County, PA.

The thing is, these must date to around 1923, when my Dad was eight years old or so. Research on the internet seems to indicate Dan Beard folded his organizations into the BSA well before that.

We're not interested in selling it, we want to keep it as a family heirloom but would like to know more about it.  Can you help us clarify any of the origins of this stuff? 

beard1.jpg (109060 bytes)
Dan Beard Camp Uniform?  
Appears to be made from a BSA
Uniform with the BSA logo removed.


The strangest part is the hat. It is an olive drab wool overseas cap as worn by WWI soldiers, but it has odd devices sewn to it. There are five white circles with red crosses in them like Crusader's shields, the size of silver dollars. There is one six-pointed star like a Star of David, and a circular Native American sun-wheel (swastika) emblem, white swastika on a black field with a red border.

beard2.jpg (106866 bytes)
As above, showing reverse
 side of cap.

There are also two photographs labeled "Dan Beard's Camp." One shows a cabin, the other about 100 boys sitting cross legged with some men in uniform behind them.  My dad was born in 1915, and he is at least eight or nine in the photos.

beard3.jpg (131026 bytes)
Detail of Larger Photo (below): 
Note flag to right of American Flag.
This is said to be Dan Beard's Camp Flag.
beard4.jpg (133403 bytes)
Detail of Larger Photo (below): 
Note style of model airplane the 
boy is holding.  One collector reports 
that this style first appeared 1938-
1940, and later became one of the 
1942 requirements of the BSA Air Scouts
 Program (hastily organized after Pearl 
Harbor).  However, the boy in the photos 
was born in 1915, which would make him 
23 years old in 1938!  See the Boys' Life
advertisement in Gary Twite's article below, which
probably dates the planes at Dec. 1929. 


beard3a.jpg (759485 bytes)
Full Photo A (Large File)


beard4a.jpg (769352 bytes)
Full Photo B (Large File)


By Gary Twite

Even though Dan Beard merged his Sons of Daniel Boone (or Boy Pioneers) into the BSA in 1910, he as did Ernest Thompson Seton, continued his own independent pursuits. One of these was the "Dan Beard Outdoor School for Boys" in the mountains of Pike County, PA which continued well on into the twenties. 

Beard_Camp_1.jpg (197972 bytes)
"With drums and bugle, marching from mess. 
Full of wholesome food and wholesome thoughts."

You could see advertisements for these schools appearing in Boys Life in the section you could find adds for those of military schools etc. I have a promotional book for the June 29 to August 24, 1922 session. The book includes pictures of boys wearing this style of uniform and an organization flag identical to that you have in your picture. 

Beard_Camp_2.jpg (174006 bytes)
The Dan Beard Outdoor School for Boys

The school is described as following the teaching Dan Beard as to healthy outdoor recreation, "a red-blooded institution, and at the same time a clean and moral school." It was supported by the Camp-fire Club of America as well as taking its leads from certain military schools (although claiming not to be military itself). It also states a large part of funding came from members of the National Council of the BSA. 

Beard_Camp_3.jpg (151731 bytes)
"Dan Beard, 'the man who has done 
more for the wholesome, moral, and physical 
training of the American boys than any 
other man who has ever lived'"

The 1922 camp was eight weeks and cost $300.00 room and board (pretty expensive for those days). Beard was not big on a organized advancement or recognition program as evidenced by the Handbook for the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1909 where the boys more-or-less created their own requirements. 

However, this school spoke of honors being given for best tent, best at personal inspection (including uniform, finger nails, hands, teeth, accoutrements and posture), and honors for "deeds of conspicuous merit and for the best behavior." Each honor received a bit of red, white and blue ribbon called a "nick," ten "nicks" to make a notch, and ten notches to make a top-notch exactly like the Son's of Daniel Boone.  Bronze, silver and gold medals were also awarded for a certain amount of notches and passing certain tests. 

I could only guess that the patches on the hat represent notches.  The Handbook, Sons of Daniel Boone, shows a notch as being an X patch which could be turned to be a cross, and a five pointed star as a Theodore Roosevelt Top-Notch for "deeds of heroism and daring (not necessarily for saving of life, but in which life saving may be incidental) as for instance in protecting women and children from injury and abuse; saving property from fire and flood, or in times of riot; or standing up to some noted bully or rough when interests of peacesable citizens demand it, etc, etc [sic]". I do not see the swastika symbol in the book, but it used quite frequently even in the BSA concerning Indian lore.

Those boys at the camp that were also Scouts could earn certain merit badges as part of "Troop 1, Pike County, PA". There is also mention of boys wearing the "buckskin badge" which might be one of the others. Either that or Beard did have certain position and top notch patches of special design that were used in the Sons of Daniel Boone. The cost of two uniforms, including overalls and four pairs of stockings was $31.60 according to this 1921 publication.

Dec_1929_Boys_Life01.jpg (173372 bytes)

Interesting discussion about the age of the photographs. There was a mention about the date of the planes. The above ad is from page 60 of the Dec 1929 Boy's Life.  "The Ideal American Eagle" model airplane kit with the wing at the middle of the fuselage looks very similar to the model airplanes in "Full Photo B," above.

There is also an ad on page 88 for the Dan Beard Woodcraft Camp on Lake Teedyuskung.

With regards to the uniforms themselves, it would be interesting to see them up close. Here is my theory for what it is worth. Up until the mid-thirties Sigmund Eisner (grandfather of Michael Eisner of Disney fame) had the contract for the BSA uniforms. He also manufactured for the army, national guard, etc. His scout uniforms typically carried the scout logo printed at various locations on the inside of the shirt and pants. Those pictured above could be made over scout uniforms or the boys might just wear their own scout uniforms, but I would speculate the uniforms Beard sold at his school were made other than for the scouts (perhaps by Eisner) and would not carry boy scout markings so as not to violate the congressional charter.  I know there is a Dan Beard museum. Perhaps they would have further information.

See Also:

Online Books by Daniel Beard

Dan Beard's "Scouting."

Photo of Dan Beard Teaching Axe Throwing at his outdoor school.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.