William Hillcourt

William Hillcourt

Infobox Person
name = William Hillcourt

image_size = 140px
caption = William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt "(L)" and Lord Robert Baden-Powell "(R)", at Hillcourt Cottage, Schiff Scout Reservation, on July 15, 1935
birth_name = Vilhelm Hans Bjerregaard Jensen
birth_date = birth date|1900|8|6
birth_place = Aarhus, Denmark
death_date = death date and age|1992|11|9|1900|8|6
death_place = Stockholm, Sweden
death_cause =
resting_place = St. Joseph's Cemetery, Mendham, New Jersey
resting_place_coordinates =
residence = Mendham, New Jersey
nationality = Danish, American
other_names = Green Bar Bill
known_for =
education =
employer = Boy Scouts of America
occupation = Scouter
religion =
spouse = Grace Brown
partner =
children =
parents = Johannes Hans Bjerregaard Jensen
Andrea Christine (nee Pedersen)
relatives =

footnotes =
Infobox Awards
title = Awards and Honors
award1 = Knight-Scout, Denmark
award2 = Eagle Scout
award3 = Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
award4 = Silver Buffalo Award
award5 = Bronze Wolf

William Hillcourt (August 6, 1900 – November 9, 1992), also popularly known within the Scouting movement as "Green Bar Bill" and "Scoutmaster to the World", was an influential leader in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization for much of the twentieth century, acclaimed as "the foremost influence on development of the Boy Scouting program".cite journal |last=Peterson |first=Robert |authorlink=Robert W. Peterson (writer)|title=Bill Hillcourt—Still Going Strong on the Scouting Trail |journal=Scouting | month=September | year=1985 |pages=p. 26 ] Hillcourt is especially noted as a writer and teacher in the areas of woodcraft, troop and patrol structure, and training. He was a prolific writer; his works include three editions of the BSA's widely-circulated official Boy Scout Handbook, with over 12.6 million copies printed. Hillcourt developed and promoted the American adaptation of the Wood Badge program, the premier adult leader training program of Scouting.

Hillcourt was Danish, but moved to the United States as a young adult and worked for the BSA. From his start in Danish Scouting in 1910 though his death in 1992, he was continuously active in Scouting. He traveled all over the world teaching and training both Scouts and Scouters, earning many of Scouting's highest honors. His legacy and influence can still be seen today in the BSA program and in Scouting training manuals and methods for both youth and adults.

Personal life

Hillcourt was born in Aarhus, Denmark in 1900 under the name Vilhelm Hans Bjerregaard Jensen. Around 1930, he changed his name by anglicizing "Vilhelm", dropping "Jensen", and translating "Bjerregaard" into "Hill-court". The youngest of three sons of a building contractor, his first published work was a poem about trolls and elves, printed by an Aarhus newspaper when he was nine years old. For Christmas 1910, Hillcourt's brother gave him a Danish translation of Baden-Powell's "Scouting for Boys". Baden-Powell, who was the founder of the Scout movement, and Hillcourt would later work together. He went on to earn the highest rank in Danish Scouting, Knight-Scout, at age 17. After moving to America, he also earned the BSA's highest rank, Eagle Scout; until the 1960s, adults could earn merit badges and ranks. He was selected to represent his troop at the 1st World Scout Jamboree in Olympia in 1920 where he first met Baden-Powell.cite journal | last = Peterson | first = Robert | title = America's Best-Known Scouter | journal = Scouting | date = January-February 2001 | url = http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0101/d-wwas.html | accessdate = 2008-02-03] cite journal | url = http://www.trussel.com/prehist/crump/hillcour.htm | title = William Hillcourt 'Scoutmaster to the World' | accessdate = 2008-02-03 | last = Block | first = Nelson | year = 1993 | journal = The Journal of Scouting History]

While Hillcourt studied pharmacy in Copenhagen, he became more involved in Scouting. As a Scout leader, he became a Scoutmaster, national instructor, writer and then the editor for the Danish Scouting journal. He also wrote his first book, "The Island", recounting his early Scouting experiences. Hillcourt's troop was set to participate in the 2nd World Scout Jamboree in Ermelunden, Denmark when he obtained a position as a journalist covering the jamboree. He later became the managing editor of the paper's Sunday magazine.cite web | last = Hillcourt | first = William | work = Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero | title = 2nd World Jamboree Ermelunden, Denmark, 1924 | url = http://www.pinetreeweb.com/1924-jamboree.htm | year = 1964 | publisher = Pine tree web | accessdate = 2008-02-06]

After deciding to see Scouting around the world and to return home with the best ideas, Hillcourt worked his way through Europe and England and then arrived in the United States in February 1926.cite web | url = http://www.scouter.com/features/0290.asp | title = Scoutmaster to the World | accessdate = 2008-02-03 | last = Howerton | first = Terry | publisher = Scouter.com Includes "The Life of a Serendipitist", an autobiographical sketch by William Hillcourt.] He was soon hired by the BSA's national office and worked for the BSA until he retired as a professional Scouter in 1965.cite journal |last=Holleran|first=Robin Suerig |title=Green Bar Bill's Own Troop |journal=Scouting | month=October | year=2006 |url = http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0610/d-wwas.html|accessdate|2008-02-25 |format=Dead link|date=May 2008] In 1933 Hillcourt married Grace Brown, the personal secretary of Chief Scout Executive, James West.

couting career

Hillcourt worked at a BSA camp at Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park, New York in 1926, where he became an instructor in American Indian dance.cite journal |last=van Gelder |first=Lawrence |title=A Work of Love for 'Boy Scout,' 78 |journal=The New York Times |date=1979-02-04 |url=http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=F60D10F7395511728DDDAD0894DA405B898BF1D3 |accessdate=2008-02-04 ] He then worked for the BSA Supply Division where he broke his leg when a crate fell on him. He met James West while working at the national office. [cite book |author=Rowan, Edward L. |title=James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America |publisher=Las Vegas International Scouting Museum | year=2005 |isbn=0-9746479-1-8 ] West solicited Hillcourt's thoughts on Scouting in the U.S. Hillcourt later sent West an 18-page memo detailing issues with the lack of patrol structure and leadership. He recommended that the BSA write a handbook for patrol leaders, and that it needed to be written by someone who had been both a patrol leader and a Scoutmaster. West hired Hillcourt as a writer and editor and was later persuaded to commission Hillcourt to write the first "Handbook for Patrol Leaders".From 1932 until his retirement in 1965, Hillcourt became a major contributor to "Boys' Life", the magazine for Scouting youth. Each monthly issue included a page on advancement and Scoutcraft, outdoor Scouting skills, and included his signature superimposed over the two green bars that are the emblem of the patrol leader, which led to his moniker "Green Bar Bill" and its adoption as the logo of his regular "Boys' Life" column.

Hillcourt was tasked to write a new manual for Scoutmasters in 1934 and worked with his good friend and colleague E. Urner Goodman, the national program director of the BSA. He and his wife moved to a house in Mendham Borough, New Jersey to be near Schiff Scout Reservation,cite news|accessdate=2008-02-19
date=1992-11-14 |author=Associated Press |title=William Hillcourt, A Boy Scout Writer And Columnist, 92 |work=The New York Times
] the BSA's national training center, so he could be in place to put this theories to a practical test. In order to do so, he founded Troop 1 of Mendham in 1935 as a unit directly chartered to the National Council of the BSA. As the Scoutmaster, he used Troop 1 to test and validate his work for 16 years.

The Baden-Powells visited Schiff in 1935 and began a steadfast friendship with the Hillcourts. Baden-Powell died in 1941; after World War II, Olave Baden-Powell, widow of Robert Baden-Powell, allowed Hillcourt to edit "Scouting for Boys" and "Aids to Scoutmastership " into the World Brotherhood Editions to help the Scouting movement recover from the war. She then allowed Hillcourt access to all of Baden-Powell's letters, diaries and sketchbooks when she and Hillcourt co-authored the narrative biography of Baden-Powell, "Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero".cite book |author=Hillcourt, William; Baden-Powell, Olave |title=Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero |publisher=Boy Scouts of America |location=Irving, Texas |year=1964 |isbn=0-8395-3594-5 ] [cite web|last=Walker|first=Johnny|url=http://www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk/books.htm |publisher="Johnny Walker's" Scouting Milestones |title=Bibliography |accessdate=2008-02-18] The national office moved from New York City to North Brunswick, New Jersey in 1954, and the Hillcourts moved with it. He completed the sixth edition of the "Boy Scout Handbook" in time for the BSA's 50th anniversary in 1960.Cite web |title=History of the Boy Scout Handbook |accessdate=2008-02-06 |url=http://www.troop97.net/bshb1.htm |work=Troop 97]

Wood Badge

To encourage the creation of Rovering in the U.S., J. S. Wilson travelled from the UK to oversee a Wood Badge course in May 1936 at Schiff. Hillcourt was a participant in that first course and four days later, he was the senior patrol leader for the second course. He received his Wood Badge beads in 1939 and was appointed as the deputy camp director for Wood Badge. After World War II, Wood Badge was revived and Hillcourt was the Scoutmaster for a test course at Schiff and the first standard course at Philmont Scout Ranch. As the national director of training, Hillcourt wore five Wood Badge beads, a tradition that has been discontinued.cite web|url=http://www.woodbadge.org/wbgbbWB.htm |work=Wood Badge history|title='Green Bar Bill' and Wood Badge|accessdate=2008-02-06] [cite web|last=Walker|first=Johnny|url=http://www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk/woodbadge.htm |publisher="Johnny Walker's" Scouting Milestones |title=The origins of the Wood Badge|accessdate=2008-02-18]

Later life

Hillcourt retired from the BSA on August 1, 1965. In 1971, he and Grace finally completed the world tour he had started in 1926; along the way they attended the 13th World Scout Jamboree in Fujinomiya, Japan. Grace Hillcourt died in 1973.

The BSA had introduced the Improved Scouting Program in 1972, along with a new edition of the "Boy Scout Handbook". [cite book |author=Peterson, Robert W. |title=The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure |publisher=American Heritage | year=1984 |isbn=0-8281-1173-1 ] Many of the changes were intended to expand Scouting to a broader base of youth and to make Scouting more "in tune with the times". Many Scouters, including Hillcourt, were critical of the new program changes, exclaiming that the de-emphasis on traditional outdoor skills had taken the "outing out of Scouting". To remedy this situation, Hillcourt convinced Chief Scout Executive Harvey L. Price that a new handbook was needed. Hillcourt then came out of retirement and spent a year writing and editing the 1979 edition of "The Official Boy Scout Handbook", returning to the focus of Scoutcraft. In addition, he helped to develop the All Out for Scouting program that launched the return to the old standards.

Hillcourt was recognized for his service to youth by the BSA with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award on May 19, 1978.cite web |url=http://www.scouting.org/Media/FactSheets/02-529.aspx |title=Distinguished Eagle Scout Award |publisher=Boy Scouts of America |accessdate=2008-05-30] In 1980, the BSA presented Hillcourt with their highest national honor, the Silver Buffalo Award and was cited as "The Voice of Scouting".cite web |url =http://www.scouting.org/Awards/SilverBuffalo.aspx|title =2007 Silver Buffalo Awards for Distinguished Service to Youth on a National Level |publisher =Boy Scouts of America |accessdate =2008-02-06] The World Scout Committee of the World Organization of the Scout Movement recognized him for exceptional services to world Scouting in 1985 with the Bronze Wolf award. In 1990 he also became a Firecrafter, an American Scouting service organization. Travel and appearances at Scouting events both local and worldwide were part of his routine until he died, earning him the sobriquet "Scoutmaster to the World".

Hillcourt died in Europe while on a Scouting tour in 1992. He is buried with his wife Grace in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Mendham, New Jersey at Row 8, Block I.cite web |last=Murphy |first=Kevin |year=2001 |url=http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/nj/morris/cemeteries/stjoseph.txt |title=Readable Graves in St. Joseph Cemetery |publisher=St Joseph's Catholic Church Cemetery |accessdate=2006-08-03] His legacy in Scouting and his influence continue in the programs and training of Scouting.Cite web |title=Green Bar Bill Hillcourt |work= The Ultimate Boy Scouts of America History Site|publisher= Randy Woo |url=http://users.aol.com/randywoo/bsahis/bill.htm |accessdate=2008-02-15] cite journal | last = Gardner| first = Lew | title = Green Bar Bill Passes at Age 92 | journal = Boots and Blisters | date = Issue 75, Spring 1993 | url = http://www.bootsandblisters.com/1993/75_spring93.html | accessdate = 2008-02-03] Consequently, his writings are still used within the Scouting movement and his material continues to be reprinted in Scouting magazine.Cite journal |title=Archives |journal=Scouting |accessdate=2008-02-05 |url=http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/archives/greenbar.html] The Hiawatha Seaway Council operates the William Hillcourt Scout Museum at Camp Woodland in New York to "keep the traditions of Scouting alive" through the preservation of the history that is a foundation for today's Scouting movement.Cite web |title=Hillcourt Museum |publisher=Hiawatha Seaway Council |url= http://www.cnyscouts.org/about/museum.html|accessdate=2008-02-08 ]


Hillcourt was one of the BSA's most prolific writers. He wrote numerous articles for "Boys' Life" and "Scouting" magazines, including a column aimed at patrol leaders under the by-line of "Patrol Leader Green Bar Bill". At least 12,610,000 copies of his three editions of the "Boy Scout Handbook" were printed.
*(1925) "The Island"
*(1929) "Handbook for Patrol Leaders"
*(1933) "The 1933 Scout Jamboree Book" with James E. Westcite book |last=Hillcourt |first=William |coauthors=West, James E. |title=The 1933 Scout Jamboree Book |url=http://www.pinetreeweb.com/1933-wj4-sjb-introduction.htm |year=1933 |accessdate=2008-02-04 |publisher=Boy Scouts of America ]
*(1936) "Handbook for Scoutmasters"
*(1946) "Aids to Scoutmastership", World Brotherhood Edition, by Baden-Powell, revised by Hillcourt
*(1946) "Scouting for Boys", World Brotherhood Edition, by Baden-Powell, revised by Hillcourt
*(1948) "Scout Fieldbook", First edition, with West
*(1952) "Handbook for Patrol Leaders"; [cite book |author=Hillcourt, William |title=Handbook for Patrol Leaders |publisher=Boy Scouts of America | year=1952 |edition=World Brotherhood Edition, 3rd print ] World Brotherhood Edition
*(1959) "Boy Scout Handbook", Sixth edition
*(1961) "Field Book of Nature Activities and Conservation: An Indispensable Guide for Nature Lovers"
*(1964) "Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero"; biography of Baden-Powell
*(1965) "Boy Scout Handbook", Seventh edition
*(1967) "Handbook for Patrol Leaders" (heavily edited revision)
*(1967) "Physical Fitness for Boys"
*(1967) "Physical Fitness for Girls"
*(1968) "Your Guide to Fitness"
*(1970) "New Field Book of Nature Activities & Hobbies"
*(1970) "Fun With Nature Hobbies"
*(1971) "The Golden Book of Camping"
*(1975) "Outdoor Things To Do: Year-round Nature Fun for Girls and Boys"
*(1977) "Norman Rockwell's World of Scouting"; [Cite book |publisher=Harry N Abrams |isbn=0-8109-1582-0|last=Hillcourt |first=William |title=Norman Rockwell's World of Scouting |year=1977] biography of iconic illustrator Norman Rockwell
*(1979) "The Official Boy Scout Handbook", Ninth edition [cite book |title=The Official Boy Scout Handbook |publisher=Boy Scouts of America | year=1980 | edition=Ninth edition, 3rd print |isbn=0-8395-3227-X ]
*(1980) "The Official Patrol Leader Handbook" [cite book |title=The Official Patrol Leader Handbook |publisher=Boy Scouts of America | year=1980 |isbn=0-8395-6512-7 ]

ee also

*Scouting memorials


NAME= William Hillcourt
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Vilhelm Bjerregaard Jensen
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Scouting author, Scoutmaster to the world
DATE OF BIRTH= August 06, 1900
PLACE OF BIRTH= Aarhus, Denmark
DATE OF DEATH= November 09, 1992
PLACE OF DEATH= Europe, buried Mendam, New Jersey, United States

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