Rad Scouting References From 70s, 80s & 90s Pop Culture

Rad Scouting References From 70s, 80s & 90s Pop Culture

At this point in our Scouting in pop culture series, your mind may be swimming with nostalgia, like images of Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble taking the stage at Jamboree or Carey Grant gracing the screen as the adopted father of a Scout. But this week, think a little more flash, pizazz, and action as we take a look at Scouts on screen through the lens of the 70s through 90s.

But before we spotlight the only Indy as famous as the racing league of the same name, here’s the story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three… well, you know the rest.

Did You Catch This Scout-Themed Episode of the Brady Bunch?

In one of the most memorable episodes of one of the grooviest shows of the 70s, the Brady family is embroiled in a battle of men versus women. The “Frontier Scouts” allow Marcia to test her skills and prove to Greg she can handle the outdoors too. Between a string of “far outs” and family arguments that could only take place in an early 70s sitcom, this episode even places Peter in the Frontier Scout’s rival club, “The Sunflower Girls.” This isn’t real Scouting by any means, but you can definitely see where these fictional clubs draw their influences.

You can watch the full episode here and see how much TV sitcoms have changed. Then let us know in the comments if you think Marcia would have made a great modern-day Venturer.


Indiana Jones and the Quest for More Merit Badges

OK, so maybe that’s not the name of a movie featuring Scouts, but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Spielberg, 1989) is! Any Scouter who’s seen this movie can recall glimpsing this legendary adventuring archeologist’s backstory: he was a Life Scout. See behind the scenes of Indiana Jones’ younger years and watch River Phoenix sporting Scouting duds in the video below.

Other Sightings of Scouts in Late 20th Century Pop Culture

Scouts, like hair, shoulder pads, and cell phones, were HUGE in the 80s and 90s. Suddenly, Scouts were showing up in a wider variety of genres, from quick references to entire features focused on Scouting activities putting adult leaders to the test. Let’s take a look at a few notable films, shows, and actors who grabbed a piece of Scouting culture:

  • The TV movie Scout’s Honor (Levin, 1980) stars Gary Coleman as a Cub Scout. Scouting is central to the movie’s plot, as a Den parent struggles and eventually succeeds in inspiring her Cub Scouts.
  • The famous comedy flick Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Hughes, 1986) stars Matthew Broderick as a troublemaking teen who cuts class for a one-day journey through Chicago with his best friends. But the real Scouting secret here is that Ferris’ dad, Tom, appears to be a Silver Beaver Award recipient! As Bryan on Scouting explains, anyone with a sharp Scouting eye will see his framed certificate on the wall!
  • The Wrong Guys (Bilson, 1988) features a group of grown Cub Scouts who reunite for a camping trip they never made in their youth. Escaped convicts, including one played by John Goodman, mistake the gang for FBI agents, and your classic 80s mixup comedy follows.
  • Seinfeld, the revolutionary 1989 to 1998 sitcom that’s still gaining new fans, features a nod to Cub Scouts when George explains, “When I was in Cub Scouts, I got stuck on Webelos for three years because I kept losing the Pinewood Derby.” george-costanza.jpg
  • In the 1990 horror classic mini-series It, young Stan recites the Scout Oath and Scout Law to calm and confront his fears. Note: This isn’t a movie for Scouts, but it’s a pretty memorable moment for fans of King, Scouts, or really scary clown movies.
  • The film This Boy’s Life (Caton-Jones, 1993) featured two of the biggest names to ever grace the screen in Scout uniforms. That’s Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio. this boys life
  • The 1994 made-for-TV movie Father and Scout features the favorite TV dad of many in the 90s: Bob Saget. In this comedy, he stars as a gangly, uptight father who bonds with his son on a camping trip with a Scout-like group.

Want to See More Scouts in Pop Culture?

Scouting references in the 70s, 80s, and 90s were as explosive as the action movies and shows that came to prominence during that time period – so if we missed your favorite be sure to let us know in the comments. Also, let us know what you’d like to see featured in next week’s recap of pop culture references in recent entertainment.

And until then, if you can’t get enough of seeing Scouting immortalize in all kinds of media, check out our features of Scouts in pop culture in the early 20th Century and those from the 1940s through 1960s.


Gina Circelli

Gina Circelli is the Digital Editor for Boys' Life. She loves sharing news about Scouts who shake up pop culture or contribute to their communities in a big way. If you have story ideas, reach out to the team at communications@scouting.org.


reach out

Rad Scouting References From 70s, 80s & 90s Pop Culture
Rad Scouting References From 70s, 80s & 90s Pop Culture
Rad Scouting References From 70s, 80s & 90s Pop Culture