Our Council History
Our Council History
Before Scouting was incorporated in the US in 1910, versions of British youth program and book by Baden-Powell’s “Scouting for Boys” had already sprung up in many areas, along with other youth outdoor pioneer type programs which involved camping and outdoor skills. Many early groups contained only youth with little adult involvement. An early supporter of Scouting groups was the Y.M.C.A. It is therefore not surprising that with the International Y.M.C.A. College (today Springfield College) located in Springfield, MA that the year Scouting was incorporated (1910) so also was the Springfield Council BSA (1910). Early Scout Councils were of two types, those with a nationally recognized “professional” staff and those managed entirely by volunteers. Originally most Scout Councils were located and named for cities eventually including counties or even larger areas but many troops were started before there were Councils.
Western Massachusetts had in Hampden County, Springfield Council (1910) and Holyoke Council (1923), while Berkshire County had a Pittsfield Council, probably not served by a professional staff. There was also an Amherst Council as early as 1918. Springfield Council morphed into Hampden Council in 1925 and Pittsfield Council became Berkshire Council although the date is uncertain (the 1920s). Franklin County operated as Franklin Council for a while, although it probably never had a professional staff to supplement its volunteers. Hampshire County also formed Hampshire Council probably in the 1920s and is known to have operated a summer encampment on Lake Norwich, Huntington, MA in 1926.
Hampden Council (1926) merged with Mt. Tom Council (1946) formerly Holyoke Council (1923) to form the Pioneer Valley Council in 1961. Hampshire Council became the Hampshire-Franklin Council and eventually merged with Berkshire Council to form Great Trails Council (circa late 1950s early1960s?). In 2008 all four Western Mass Counties were united with the merger of the Great Trails Council and the Pioneer Valley Council under the descriptive name of the Western Massachusetts Council, Inc. BSA.