Norman Rockwell and Senior Scouting

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is one of America's best known and loved artists.  His numerous cover paintings for the Saturday Evening Post captured a period of American life that is long past.  But for those of us in Scouting, we remember him for this long running series of Boy Scout calendars.  Not surprising, when you realize that his first professional job was as the art director for Boy's Life magazine, supplying both cover art and interior art during the early years of that magazine.  Later he would be approached to do the calendars, which he agreed to do and which he did the first couple for free, as a gift and thank you to the Boy Scouts of America. From 1925 to 1976 (except for two years), he did a painting that would be used for the calendar, using real scouts as models. To this task, he brought he well trained eye to accurately capturing the spirit of Scouting.  Not surprising, he would be honored in 1939 with a Silver Buffalo, the highest award given at the National level for service to youth and scouting.

Over the years, he would include various Senior Scouts in his painting: Sea Scouts, Explorers, Air Scouts, Leadership Corps members, and the like.  He also accurately captured the uniforms that were worn by this different programs at the time he painted them, so we can glimpse a history of their changing uniforms and insignia.

This page lists all the paintings he did with Senior Scouts.  We will note the type of senior scout seen, and make comments about the uniforms shown.

There is a book that William Hillcourt (aka Green Bar Bill) did on Rockwell's Scouting work: Norman Rockwell's World of Scouting.  This book was a resource in creating this page.  It would be nice if someone would reprint it.  You might be lucky and find this on eBay or similar sites.

All paintings are copyright the Boy Scouts of America.  Image files are links from Steve Henning's Web page. He has all the Rockwell prints there, as well as lots more interesting stuff about scouting.


1934 Carry On1934 Carry On Here we see a Senior Scout.  Back then, they had no distinctive uniform.  That may be the Senior Scouting emblem on the right sleeve, but it's hard to tell.

1937 Scouts of Many Trails1937 Scouts of Many Trails We have a Sea Scout and what may be a Senior Scout (Explorer Scout), but that's hard to tell.

1939 The Scouting Trail1939 The Scouting Trail There is a Sea Scout in white in the back.

1951 Forward America1951 Forward America Boys from all branches of Scouting are shown.  We have an Explorer in forest green, an Air Explorer in sky blue, and a Sea Explorer in navy blue.  Note the community strips and numerals on the uniforms.  The Sea Explorer is an Eagle.  Also note his uniform has only 2 white strips.  Naval uniforms have 3.  Can't tell the rank of the Explorer and Air Explorer, but the Air Explorer is apparently a Crew Leader.  Notice their overseas caps. This is the only time Rockwell portrayed an Air Scout or Air Explorer.

1953 On My Honor1953 On My Honor Explorer in the back with a green uniform with brown tie and Explorer tie chain.  While it might not be clear, on his overseas cap, there is a tenderfoot emblem and not the compass-anchor-wings emblem, which was correct at this time.

1954, A Scout is Reverant1954 A Scout is Reverent The Explorer here is wearing a brown tie with Explorer tie chain.  The Explorer medallion on the right sleeve is on navy blue.  He appears to have the Silver Award patch on the left pocket, again on navy blue.  Note the green and brown community strip and numeral.

1955 The Right Way1955 The Right Way In the back is an Explorer.  He's wearing the Explorer medallion on the right sleeve, this time on red, which was correct for this time. Hard to get other details from his uniform He's also got a basket pack on.

1957 High Adventure1957 High Adventure Here we see a crew of Explorers at Philmont with their forest green uniforms and red Philmont jackets.  Note the white leggings and belts, and the overseas caps with the Explorer logo on them.

1958 Mighty Proud1958 Mighty Proud. The older brother is an Explorer.  Note the forest green pants and white leggings with the red jacket.  Only Explorers wore the red jacket at the time.

1966 Growth of a Leader1966 Growth of a Leader Explorer in green up front, wearing a tie.  He's got the circle-v logo on his overseas cap, red and white community strips, and brown Explorer tie.

1967 Breakthrough for Freedom1967 Breakthrough for Freedom In 1967, the World Jamboree was held in the US in Idaho.  To commemorate this, this painting of International scouts from the 1963 World Jamboree in Greece was done. It is based on a photograph of a group of scouts marching into one of the arena shows.  It was done as part of a wide game, were each scout had a placard with a letter, and had to find other scouts with the right placards which spelled out a phrase, and march into the arena in a group.  The aim was to get scouts to meet different people.  The BSA is represented by an Explorer.  Note he is wearing khaki shorts with his forest green shirt.  They never made forest green shorts, only long pants.  Also, he's wearing a white web belt, which was the proper Explorer belt, and red sock tabs.  Only Explorers wore red tabs.  If you look closely, you may see what looks like a small brass button above his shirt strip.  This is the metal shield that was used as the Jamboree emblem.

1971 America's Manpower Begins with Boy Power1971 America's Manpower Begins with Boy Power There is a Sea Explorer (his cap is a give away that he is not an adult leader).  There is an Explorer in the second row with an Explorer pennant.  Note the "Circle-V" logo on left pocket and overseas cap.  He's also wearing a brown tie.

1973 From Concord to Tranquility1973 From Concord to Tranquility The Explorer in this portrait is wearing a navy blazer with the Big E emblem on it.  During the 60s and 70s, this was more of the standard uniform for Explorers then the forest green of previous decades, though it was still used.

1975 So Much Concern1975 So Much Concern.  That's a Leadership Corps member in the forest green.  Note the red beret.

1976 Spirit of '761976 Spirit of '76 An Explorer in forest green is carrying the flag.  He's wearing the blue nylon Explorer jacket, and brown tie.  The Life Scout in forest green with the drum is a Leadership Corps member, not an Explorer, as he is wearing the Boy Scout red beret.

Updated: 10/29/2003mrb