From the early 20th century to the golden years to the far out 70s, 80s and 90s, Scouting Wire has taken you down memory lane of one hundred years of Scouting’s beloved history in TV, movies, music and beyond. As we’ve traveled through the decades, you’ve undoubtedly discovered some of the many reasons why America can’t get enough of Scouting.
But is Scouting still relevant in today’s pop culture? Of course it is! In the fast-paced years of the new millennium, we saw the rise of iPhones, reality TV, blockbuster remakes, and milestone leaps in cinematic innovation. And Scouting was there every step of the way. See for yourself by checking out some red carpet Scouting shout-outs in movies and TV below.
Big Stars Light Up the Scouting Silver Screen
One of most popular films of 2009 and Pixar’s first 3D film, the animated movie Up showcases a major nod to Scouting. The family favorite follows Wilderness Explorer Russell in a quest to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly, but thanks to a floating house, grumpy old man, and talking dog, he takes on a different kind of Scout expedition. Russell’s enormous collection of badges, knack for service, handbook usage, and outdoor know-how are clear representations of the modern Boy Scout. A few years prior, Scout-like characters show up when a comical battle ensues between the Fireflies (the girls’ troop) and the Grizzlies (the boys’ troop) in The Pacifer (Shankman, 2005) starring Vin Diesel.
The 2009 comedy Scout’s Honor stars SNL’s Chris Kattan in a lighthearted film chocked full of Scouting mentions as Kattan’s character strives to earn at least one merit badge before age 30. A year later, Tom Cruise is an Eagle Scout in Knight and Day (Mangold, 2010) and viewers can even catch a glimpse of the star in full uniform as a teen. In the 2010 blockbuster film Iron Man 2, Tony Stark donates his entire modern art collection to the BSA. When Pepper questions why he made the donation he replies, “It is a worthwhile organization.”
Scouting plays a prominent role in Wes Anderson’s 2012 movie Moonrise Kingdom when a Khaki Scout runs away to the wilderness with his girlfriend, prompting a community and troop led search party. Part of the movie was even filmed at Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, Rhode Island. Edward Norton stars as the Khaki Scout troop leader, along with Bill Murray and Bruce Willis in the highly acclaimed film.
Other notable films showcasing Scouts:
- Down and Derby (Hendershot, 2005) features Cub Scouts and their dads competing in a Pinewood Derby competition in this family-friendly comedy.
- When a Boy Scout is faced with social pressures and inner city life in the film Troop 491: the Adventures of the Muddy Lions (Praheme, 2013), he must choose between life on the streets or living by the Scout code. Find out how councils are using it as a teaching and recruiting tool!
Your Favorite TV Appearances, Scout-ified
Scouting jumped into the world of reality television in the National Geographic 2013 series, Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? where adults competed in Scouting activities against Boy Scouts for the chance at merit badges and ultimate Scouting bragging rights. When a camping trip on The Big Bang Theory goes awry, characters Howard, Raj, and Leonard come up with a scheme to raid a nearby Cub Scout campsite for food (obviously the Scouts were more prepared!).
Boy Scouts of America takes center stage in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire during an episode in which the attorney general addresses the Scouts of Troop 14 in Washington, D.C. The Boy Scouts sing the traditional campfire song “Ging Gang Goolie,” which is also the namesake of the episode.
Other TV appearances boasting Scouting mentions:
- In the popular drama series NCIS, Special Agent Timothy McGee is frequently noted for being a Boy Scout in his youth. Scouting is also highlighted in the episode “Lost and Found” in which McGee gives his troop a tour of the NCIS headquarters.
- Recess‘s “Beyond a Reasonable Scout” episode features characters Mikey and Gus as they try to join their Scout friend in the Wild Screaming Woodchuck Scout troop in this Disney animated children’s series.
- Sporting a Scout-like uniform and a plethora of merit badges, Sonic commercials highlight Scouting with one of the Sonic guys proclaiming himself a “Blast Scout.” Check out the fictional Sonic blast Scout below.
- The Emmy Award winning Cartoon Network series, Camp Lazlo! is about a spider money who attends Bean Scout summer camp.
- Many episodes of Nickelodeon children’s TV show The Fairly OddParents showcase the “Squirrely Scouts.” In fact you’ll notice these Scouts have a striking resemblance to Cub Scouts in the precursor to the show, Oh Yeah! Cartoons…Check out the short “Scout’s Honor” below to sneak a peak of the familiar uniform.
Keep an Eye Out for Future Scouting Features!
So there you have it, folks! From 1910 to today, Scouting has been a prominent theme in American pop culture as one of the most recognized organizations in history. Known for their service to others, appreciation for the great outdoors and strong character, Scouts have cemented themselves as an iconic presence in Americana. With that said, keep your eyes peeled for new Scouting references in pop culture and let us know in the comments below if we missed any of your favorite Scouting cameos!