I have been truly blessed with three opportunities to serve within the Direct Service Council before it was disestablished; and two other times under the auspices of the BSA International Division/Office. This page contains both my personal insignia as well as those that I've collected over the past twenty-five years.
This page explains several details about the Direct Service based upon my personal knowledge, experience and service within the Council; an interview I conducted for the old Scouters' Digest Magazine with former Director/Scout Executive Marguerite ("Marge") Weilexbaum; and information I was able to gather before it was taken down and destroyed from the BSA's official website and documents. Please help me fill in the many, many gaps I have by sending me (Mike Walton ) whatever information/files you have. If you have official and/or unofficial/local issue Direct Service insignia you desire to share with the world, please also provide it and I'll credit you with the find here.
I have an extensive knowledge about the Direct Service Council, and the International Division/Office. I humbly served for eleven years off and on as part of a subcommittee or as part of the full International Committee, lending my knowledge and experiences as a unit, District and Council Scouter to that body. As a result, I traveled and represented the Boy Scouts of America and its Direct Service Council to six locations around the globe to assist with presentations of Eagle Scout and Arrow of Light Awards, assist with inductions of Order of the Arrow youth and adults, and presentation of training and service awards to volunteers. Those experiences, as well as my own, are part of my personal "life highlight reel" which even today, I smile with deep appreciation of my small part in developing youth and adults through our Scouting programs. I don't know everything about Direct Service, however, which is why I am counting on some of you out there to assist me as I grow "old and feeble".
What are you talking about when you say "Direct Service?" Is this like "Scouting through the mail" or is this like Lone Scouts?
The BSA established the Direct Services Office in the middle 30s (1938) as part of the merging of William Boyce's Lone Scouts of America organization with the BSA.
After William Boyce, a Chicago newspaper magnate, helped form the Boy Scouts of America, he looked around and found that large parts of Middle America, predominately rural and Predominately lower middle class were not afforded the opportunity to become Boy Scouts. The Scouting program was based in larger cities for the most part, and those living outside of those large cities could only read or hear about Boy Scouts and Boy Scouting from those living there...or from the radio. He set out, using his network of newspapers, to create a program for rural youth to be a part of the Scouting program. He called his program "Lone Scouts" and incorporated the Lone Scouts of America (LSA). Lone Scouting used the still-new Boy Scout program and the Handbook for Boys; however he created his own advancement program based upon reading, writing and salesmanship. Scouts who wrote articles toward advancement in LSA would get credit by having their articles published with their name in the byline accompanied by the term "Gold Quill" (For instance -- Mike Walton (Gold Quill). )
After a few months, newspapers outside the Boyce "chain" started picking up those same stories and applying the "Gold Quill" byline to those stories written by Scouts. He also established a special medal and lapel pin for outstanding writers. More about this "Gold Quill" at this page.
Boyce grew tired of the constant promotion of his papers and information through Scouts and arranged to have the Lone Scouts of America to merge with the Boy Scouts of America under some close circumstances/conditions. Two of them was that the BSA establish a new program to reach out to Scouting aged youth living around the nation and indeed around the world who wanted to be a part of the Boy Scouts of America; and that the journalism and salesmanship programs that was center to the Lone Scouts of America be included within the BSA. This is how we got the Reading, Journalism, Scholarship and Salesmanship merit badges and some other awards.
As communication improved, youth outside the United States (the "lower 48" at that time) wanted to be Boy Scouts in the USA's version of Scouting and the BSA did not have a plan for this right off. Hence, the Direct Service was built out of whole cloth and later the rest of the International Division was formed around it. Direct Service was formalized in 1954 as a way to corral all BSA units around the world which did not belong to a local BSA Council; and more importantly, young men who wanted to participate in the USA's version of the Game of Scouting anywhere under just about any personal circumstances.
About Direct Service
The "Direct Service" became a program service of the Boy Scouts of America's International Division, created in 1955 to make the Scouting program available to citizens of the United States and their dependents living in countries outside the jurisdiction of the Transatlantic Council (headquartered in Italy and serving American Scouts in much of Europe), the Aloha Council (serving youth residing in much of the eastern and Central Pacific as well as Guam, American Samoa, and several Hawaiian Islands) and the Far East Council (headquartered in Japan, serving several nations in the western Pacific.)
According to BSA records and Reports to Congress, BSA overseas councils were referred to as "Extra Regional" — being outside the BSA's then-twelve Scouting regions in the states, which were consolidated in 1973 to six and again to the current four in 1993. Overseas councils were organized in the Panama Canal Zone (1923), Peking, China (1923), Philippines (1924), and Guam (1947).
The Direct Service Council was formed in 1955, as a result of conversations within the BSA's national office in New Jersey. Several Scouting associations, on behalf of their American citizens living in those countries, wanted to have American Scouts and Scouters to serve as part of their associations while overseas. In fact, the high commissioners in Japan, Europe, and Panama invited BSA to send commissioned Scout executives to help create a program for Americans living overseas. International Scouting accords discouraged such memberships except via wartime criteria that allowed for a small number of youth to take part in local programs when no program of their own host nation existed. The BSA's response was to create within the International Division a "local Council equal" which would do many if not all the services which the BSA provides to communities in other areas of the world and within the United States. These services include membership accounting, unit chartering and rechartering, advancement reporting and filing, insignia and badge issuance, certification of awards and advice on where to conduct Scouting-related activities (mostly camping or ways that the BSA's requirements to "visit community agencies", for instance, could be met while in Zaire or the Isle of Man or in Peru). Direct Service Council did not include Transatlantic, Far East, Aloha, or Canal Zone Councils which had BSA charters to operate as councils since the early 1950s.
Council number 800 was assigned to the Direct Service Council. That Council number is active until December 31, 2015.
Where was the Council Headquarters and how was it staffed?
Direct Service was administered by the International Division of the Boy Scouts of America. It provides some of the same services that a local council provides: Processing registration and magazine subscriptions, maintaining records, approving advancements, processing supply orders, organizing National and World Jamboree participation, operating Gamenowinink Lodge #555, Order of the Arrow, and providing information and program resources.
"Council Number 800" was housed within the National Office center of the Boy Scouts of America, first in New Jersey and later in Texas. In its earlier days, it was two offices and a large open area. In the later days it shrank to two offices and four desks; and in the final days it was simply three cubicles and a separate storage cube. One of the offices was given to another program division; the other was used for record and insignia storage.
The Direct Service Council was headed initially by James R. Sands, the Associate National Director of the BSA's International Division and assisted by two staffers and two technicians. Key national staff officers working within the BSA's National Office wore "extra hats" as Direct Service Council "staffers"; while key national volunteers served as members of the Executive Board of the Council while key BSA national youth members were initially made leaders of the Council's youth programs.
In the first days of Direct Service as a "local Council", professionals and key volunteers did "double duty". In addition to his role as second to the Chief, the Deputy Chief Scout Executive was the Council Executive of the Direct Service Council until a restructuring occurred which made the Director of the International Division also the Council Scout Executive of Direct Service Council. The BSA's International Commissioner doubled as the Council's Commissioner until 1972, when a Commissioner was selected based upon recommendations from unit Scouters and Commissioners in the Council. The International Commissioner continued to be a member of the Direct Service Council's Executive Board until the Council was disestablished.
The national Chief of the Order of the Arrow, along with the National Explorer President became Council Chief of the Gameonwinink Lodge and the Direct Service Explorer Presidents' Association respectively until 1974. In 1974, the Council elected Council officers, Order of the Arrow Lodge Chief and their Explorer Presidents Association chapter officers. In 1989 the practice was discontinued and appointments were made directly through postal mail nominations and later electronic mail nominations from the national office.
Other volunteers and youth members were asked to be part and to be "multiples" of Direct Service's Council and District organization. This is how I got to serve on the Council's Exploring, Advancement, and Commissioner Service parts over the many years.
And the District Organization...
In areas whereby significant numbers of American citizens lived, "District" organizations existed. These areas included Hong Kong, Guatemala and Central America, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Kenya and the countries surrounding Lake Victoria, Mexico and the Caribbean, and Canada. Each "District" had a volunteer structure, to include District Chairs and members as well as Commissioners to assist existing and new units. Some "Districts" even raised the funding necessary to "borrow" an executive with a multinational firm to serve as their District's professional representative; in other cases, firms like Saudi Aramco "donated" an executive to head up Scouting in that part of the world. Those individuals coordinated directly with the BSA's International offices and in the 70s and 80s had the resources to quickly get materials, training aids, awards and insignia, and uniforms to youth and adult members within their areas.
While the BSA officially had no "Districts" within Direct Service Council, they did respond positively to the effort by creating special versions of the traditional Direct Service Council insignia to be worn by youth residing in those parts of the Council's "territory" without calling them "Districts". Before Direct Service Council folded, there were ten official such "Council Shoulder Patches" or CSPs in addition to the default CSP. In many areas of the Council, individual units and parents of Lone Scouts created their own unofficial CSP emblem to wear, with flags and symbology of the local area on those patches, instead of the standard emblem. An 11th patch was created during the 1989 National Scout Jamboree and Direct Service allowed Scouts and Scouters to wear it instead of the standard patch. A 12th such emblem was created when Canal Zone merged with Direct Service later.
...and Units...they ARE American Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts right?
And Venturing and Sea Scout units also...
The meetings and activities of Direct Service units are basically the same as those in the United States. Minor modifications are sometimes necessary because of circumstances that occur when living in another country. These modifications often lead to cooperative efforts between the BSA members and Scouts of other associations who attend joint Scouting activities such as camporees or extended camping events, rallies, community projects, and other events. Local groups of units (formerly districts under the former Direct Service Council) maintain their own camps. In many units, members of the host nation(s) may become members, subject to approval by their host nation's Scouting associations.
The chartered organizations of Direct Service units include American schools and churches, international schools, U.S. embassies, multinational corporations, parents' groups, veteran organizations and groups, and fraternal organizations. Scouting awards are presented as in any local council, including training awards and keys, the International Scouter Award, the Silver Beaver Award and the District Award of Merit (and for a short period of time, the Silver World Award). All nominations were reviewed by the BSA Direct Service committee
So how many Scouts and Scouters are we talking about?
Direct Service members were the children of international businesspeople, American expat community (former or present American citizens with citizenship/living status in another country), diplomatic corps officials, and U.S. military personnel.
At the apex in the 70s, Direct Service Council had close to 5,000 youth and 2200 adult volunteers registered in units or serving as Lone Cub Scouts or Lone Boy Scouts in some 63 nations and principalities around the world.
In 2013, the last figures I have access to, Direct Service had approximately 3800 youth members and 1100 adult volunteers belonging to some 130 Direct Service units, or are registered as Lone Cub Scouts/Lone Boy Scouts in 47 countries on five continents.
The "expansion" and "contraction" of the Direct Service Council depended heavily on the numbers of Americans living in those countries not served by active BSA Councils overseas. This explains why in some years individuals or specific countries in Europe, North Africa, and the Near and Far East were alternately parts of Transatlantic Council (serving much of Europe, Northern Africa and the Near East); or Aloha Council (serving many Pacific islands nations); or the Far East Council (serving the far end of the Pacific rim) one year... and the next year part of Direct Service Council. Council territories expanded and contracted, which made it important that the small International Division staff stay in constant touch with overseas Councils and their professional staffs.
Who were the Scout Executives?
James Sands became the International Division Director/Direct Service Administrator in 1967. He was the longest Administrator/Scout Executive in the Council's history. From a corner of the third floor of the BSA's National Office in New Jersey, he and a staff of eleven fielded cables, faxes, and postal mail from all corners of the world. When the BSA hosted the World Jamboree, it was Sands' office which was rolled into the Jamboree Service to help manage the many hundreds of phone calls and letters asking about participation or staffing that Jamboree. In 1975, Jim Sands was part of a BSA delegation to meet with the Shah of Iran to discuss how to support him and his nation as they would host the Jamboree in 1979. Marguerite ("Marge") Weilexbaum, at that time the Associate Director and the person in charge of the BSA's World Friendship Fund, met with Iranian Scouters and governmental leaders to assist them with putting on a good Jamboree.
When Jim Sands finally retired from the BSA in 1986, he had no idea that he would be making BSA history. Marge Weilexbaum was selected to serve as the Direct Service Scout Executive and Administrator -- the very first female Scout Executive in the history of the Boy Scouts of America. Marge did us in Direct Service extremely proud, as she moved Direct Service into the electronic age by being the first Council to accept electronically mailed advancement reports and OA election data; the first Council to hold a training session via something called "teleconferencing"; and several other innovations we in the BSA take for granted. She also asked for assistance from the World Organization of Scouting Movements (WOSM) to "borrow professionals" to serve as BSA District Executives, giving volunteers in the field additional resources to help them do Scouting well. The first executives were borrowed from the International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation and two oil companies. Over time, those executives were either employees of the WOSM or member scouting associations in various places around the world.
In 1987, the former Panama Canal (Zone) Council was consolidated and made a part of the Direct Service Council, in a similar way that other Councils were consolidated or merged to form larger local Councils in other areas of the world. An "official" 12th CSP issued by the former Council for its youth to wear featured the words "Direct Service" in addition to the words "Canal Zone." While not officially created by the BSA, the patch was worn by DSC youth and adults living in the Zone until the middle 90s.
In 1990, a national office shakeup and reorganization slimmed down the International Division and many of its functions were sheared off to other program divisions within the National office. Many DSC Scouters state that this was the start of the end of the Council.
With the retirement of its longtime Administrator five years later, several decisions were made with regard to the Council.
When Marge retired from the profession in 1995, she recommended that the Direct Service Council be dissolved as a local Council and that Scouts and Scouters assigned to Direct Service would be transferred to local Councils closer to where they are living or working around the world. She understood that communications has become a lot faster and more reliable than during her tenure. Funding for Direct Service, like many Councils during that time, was taking a massive hit by the loss of national funding sources, primarily the United Ways of America which gave the BSA additional funds to sustain and promote Scouting around the world. The world itself became smaller and youth are finding other ways to recreate -- Scouting was no longer one of the "big tents" in a young man's life. Her recommendation hurt a lot of Direct Service volunteers, many of whom enjoyed the relative freedom and openness that Direct Service provided and who feared that one of those "other Councils" will not recognize their specialness, their differences from being "just another BSA unit".
The compromise was that the former Direct Service units would not be split but remain "Direct Service units" with a very limited "Council organization" to support them...that the BSA's International Division (later to be slimmed down to an "Office" as the BSA itself slimmed down its national offices and resources in the middle '00s) would handle those former Direct Service units.
The last Direct Service Administrator/Council Executive was W. Scott Teare. Scott was previously the Associate Director of the International Division, but upon Marge's retirement, moved into the Administrator/Scout Executive role. Under Scott's leadership he expanded the reach of Direct Service, updated much of the District and OA Chapter structure and personally trained and coached several dozen volunteer Scouters around the world during his tenure. He was honored in 2013 with the BSA's Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and in 2014 was named as the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) (like Chief Scout Executive of the World Organization).
Gameonwinink Lodge 555 ("On the Other Side of the Great Sea") and the OA
From 1962 until 2014, the Direct Service Council hosted the Gameonwinink Lodge. The Lodge was inducted as an official Order of the Arrow Lodge by the National Chief, Vice Chief and Chiefs representing Region II at the BSA's National Training Center in New Jersey in the summer of 1962. The first of several Vigil Honor members kept their Vigil on the grounds of the National Training Center. Since then, Scouts, Explorers and Scouters have kept Vigils in Kenya, Honduras, Japan, Switzerland, Morocco, Norway, Canada, Peru, South Africa, and India. More than 5,500 Arrowmen became members of the Lodge during that period; and like any other Lodge, the Direct Service Council kept records of each Ordeal, Brotherhood and Vigil.
The lodge totem is a globe, and the name translates to "On the Other Side of the Great Sea" in the Lenni Lenape language. Gamenowinink Lodge was under the supervision and administration of the BSA International Division/Office. In 1971 Gamenowinink Lodge absorbed Cuauhtli Lodge #446 of the Scouts de America Council, which served American Scouts in Mexico, and in 1987 absorbed Chiriqui Lodge #391 of the Panama Canal Council, which served American Scouts in the former Panama Canal Zone.
Because Direct Service owned no camping facilities, the Schiff National Training Center became the Lodge's home. When the Council, along with other offices of the BSA moved to Irving, Texas, a space at Philmont Scout Ranch became the new Direct Service Lodge's home. As far as I am aware, however, no Lodge ceremonies or activities took place there.
Most 555 Arrowmen, however, hold a special reverence for Kandersteg International Scouting Centre in Switzerland and views that as their "OA home". Since 1969, more OA ceremonies and activities have taken place at that camping center more than at any other place in the world...
At its apex, the Lodge had more than 300 active members; as of 2014, the Lodge served and assisted 174 dues-paying Arrowmen.
Communications must have been tough!
Communication between the International Division/Office and its Direct Service units is by mail, fax, e-mail, and telephone. Unit leaders receive periodic bulletins containing special information.
So what now? Lone Scouts for everyone??
Direct Service, according to the proposal, will be split with roughly half of the units going to Transatlantic Council and the other half going toward the Far East Council. There are some units which find themselves a part of Stateside BSA Councils, similar to how the Virgin Islands are now being managed by the National Capitol Area Council. Those Councils are making plans to incorporate more territory, more youth and adults, and the potential of new Council partners.
About all of those "Direct Service -- (insert name of Country)" Patches:
Most of them are NOT OFFICIAL.
Starting around 1986, I have been following a couple of "Scouters" who would take a trip overseas, say to Estonia. They would talk with a BSA volunteer, a Lone Scout Friend and Counselor, a Cubmaster or a Scoutmaster. He would present them a proposition: I design a special shoulder patch for you and others in your country involved in the BSA. I will make say, 300 of them and give you enough for every member of your unit for the next two years. I'll take the rest home with me and I'll sell them to collectors and traders and make my money to cover the cost of the patches. Fair?" Of course, that Scouter seeing "free patches" and "something else cool" for their Scouts to wear, says, "okay..." and we end up with a Direct Service - Estonia shoulder patch.
Completely unofficial. Those "Scouters" have done this in nine countries so far around the world, and have made thousands of dollars off of folks unaware that the patches are NOT official for wear on the BSA uniform and have NOT been approved for wear by the BSA's International Division (the Direct Service "Council" holders).
The BSA has only approved these "Direct Service CSPs" -- the Direct Service "default" CSPs shown below:
The Ten "District" CSPs shown above and below:
And the Canal Zone "District" DSC patch as shown above and below:
All of the rest of them...nobody is keeping you from collecting them or displaying them...you just should not wear them on your BSA field uniform.
On the "up side", I will now gladly abandon my "outing out" of a small group of "Scouters" who land in a Direct Service member nation, convince the local unit leader that "you need a special CSP for your Troop or Pack of five or eight kids....I'll pay for it, give you what you need and sell the rest of the patches for 300 percent what they were purchased for...and collectors will flock to "collect" yet ANOTHER "Direct Service - (insert name of nation)" patch." It is really not even CLOSE to any "3 and 12" Scouting ideal...unless you feel that "misleading" is a Scouting virtue.
I will ALWAYS have a deep honor for the Direct Service and its Order of the Arrow Lodge!!!
Long live the Direct Service!!