The First Sea Scout

Clearly a complex man with an enormous social conscience, Carey believed that education, with emphasis on moral and spiritual development, was the way to reform society. Building character, instilling in children a sense of responsibility, good values, and the desire to help others – that is what Carey believed would matter to the future.

Karen L. Davis, 1995 thesis on Arthur Astor Carey, Preservation Studies Program at Boston University

Arthur Astor Carey is credited with the founding of Sea Scouts in the United States in 1912. Carey was a man who dedicated his life to helping others. The First Sea Scout set a high bar for all other Sea Scout volunteers to follow over the last 100 years.

Arthur and Agnes Carey, outside their 34 room cottage in Portsmouth, NH, 1890.

Carey was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. A very wealthy man, Arthur Astor Carey originally purchased the Boy Scout Ship Pioneer as a salvaged vessel that sank off Cape Anne in 1899. The vessel was refitted and began its life hosting two-week long summer cruises for Boy Scouts in 1910.

Boy Scout Training Ship Pioneer, a 86 foot Gloucester Schooner.

Arthur Carey founded Boy Scout Camps, a church, a school and a house of healing, in addition to founding Sea Scouts. Highlighting Carey’s service is a September 17, 1911 New York Times article about a “reading room” he founded in Waltham.

Section from the Pioneer’s 1913 Logbook, dated July 3, 1913.

Arthur Carey was very involved in the early days of Boy Scouts in the United States. In 1915 Carey wrote The Scout Law in Practice.  Carey stated the following in Chapter IX,  “A Scout is Helpful”:

To be helpful to others under certain circumstances requires special knowledge; for instance, one cannot often save a person from drowning unless one is a good swimmer oneself; and one cannot come to the aid of a person wounded in an accident or in battle, unless one knows how to do bandaging, and how to carry wounded or sick people with the least possible strain and discomfort to them. For this reason, all the useful crafts for Life Saving such as First Aid, Swimming, Resuscitation, Catching Runaway Horses, Checking or Preventing Panics, Firemanship, etc., are especially to be cultivated under this law. That is, if we want to obey the law and be helpful to others, we must learn how to do it under various different circumstances. It is by learning and being interested in knowing how to do these things, when there may be no immediate occasion for them, that we prepare ourselves to carry them out when serious emergencies arise!

Arthur Carey served as the first, and only, Chairman on the Committee on Sea Scouting. The BSA National Reports from that era chronicle the early growth and achievements of Sea Scouts.

The 1914 National Report on Sea Scouts. The report lists the first Sea Scout Ships in the United States.

This summer Sea Scouts will honor Arthur Astor Carey and his family with a wreath laying where the Pioneer docked during her summer cruises.

Special thanks to Ted Day, great-grandson of Arthur Astor Carey, for sharing the Pioneer’s Logbook and family history to celebrate the Sea Scout Centennial.

2 thoughts on “The First Sea Scout

  1. This is an historical recap of where the Sea Scouts started and have continued those traditions over the past 100 years. Thanks and a special salute to the Carey family. Thanks to everyone now involved in helping continue our traditions and create new ones. Thanks, Keith Christopher, National Director, Sea Scouts BSA

  2. What a nice article! It shows the guts and the willing of people to start something new in very difficult times. We can take that as an example of courage and inspiration.
    Sjoerd Heeringa
    Dutch Sea Scouts

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