The symposium took place Feb. 15-16 on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus. It featured presentations by historians and scholars from around the globe, including the United States, Russia, Australia, Spain, Canada, Israel, Belgium and Britain.
"The participants were a nice mix of scout leaders, professional historians and interpreters of scouting history," Proctor said. "One panel, for instance, looked at how ideas of nature study and woodcraft in the United States helped shape the movement here, while another panel examined the renewal of scouting in Russia in the 1990s and the vitality of scouting in Israel."
The significant impact of scouting on young people throughout the world was another topic of discussion. John Gillis, professor emeritus at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and author of Youth and History and A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual and the Quest for Family Values, gave the keynote speech titled "The Changing Place of Youth in an Aging Society."
"I think he gave an interesting overview of the ways in which the idea of ‘youth' is changing," Proctor said. "People remain youthful longer and see themselves as young, while children seem to mature earlier."
Proctor was among the scouting experts, including Jay Mechling of the University of California-Davis, David Macleod of Central Michigan University, Zeev Zivan of Ben Gurion University, Achva College in Israel, and Susan Miller of the University of Pennsylvania, who spoke at the conference. The historians discussed scouting in relation to historical developments in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The scouting movement is an area of interest that Proctor has pursued for many years.
"I wrote my dissertation on the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in Great Britain, and it was subsequently published as a book," she said. "Now I'm working on a centennial history of Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding for the girls' anniversary in 2010 (2012 for the United States)."
The conference, not associated with any scouting or guiding organization, was sponsored by Wittenberg University's Office of the Provost, the "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt Trust, David Weekley Family Foundation, Harry E. Bovay Jr., the Linda and Nelson Block Philanthropic Fund and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Although the conference was new this year, the 100 years of scouting provided volumes of information for the participants to examine.
"The conference was a success because all the participants shared an interest in trying to understand how and why scouting has lasted for a century while other youth movements have waned," she said.A complete program is available online.
Written By: Rachel Morgan '08
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