The portrait of Baden-Powell at the top of this page is from the 1929 painting by David Jagger. It was presented to B-P on August 6, 1929 at the III World Jamboree at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead, England. This was known as the "Coming of Age Jamboree" as it marked the 21st anniversary of Scouting. The portrait was Baden-Powell's favorite. The original is at Baden-Powell House in London and a copy is displayed in the conference room at World Headquarters (WOSM) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The founder of Scouting Lord Baden–Powell (BP) of Gilwell, was born in 1857 in England. He lived a busy and adventurous life, and as a boy spent much of his spare time in open–air pursuits hunting in the woods, joining his brothers in expeditions by land and in their boats. Thus he developed his powers of observation, resourcefulness and was helped to acquire many useful skills.
He won a scholarship which gave him entry into the British Army, where he was sent to India and served for many years. He tried out his ideas of training soldiers in "Scouting" and taught them how to develop experience in stalking and fending for themselves; and to be observant of all signs that would give them an advantage as soldiers. He set down his ideas in the book "Aids to Scouting", which was used as a textbook for many years.
As a soldier, BP rose to public prominence during the war against the Boers in Africa at the end of the 1800's. Most noteworthy was BP's leadership of the defending force in the seige of the South African town of Mafeking. Baden-Powell returned to England as a national hero in 1899 having successfully defended the town against the Boers.
The First Scout Camp
BP was encouraged to set down his views on how he would apply Scouting to the training of boys. So he first conducted an experimental camp in 1907 on Brownsea Island off the Dorset coast of the UK. With some 20 boys from all walks of life and suitable adult leaders, Baden–Powell taught the boys what he meant by Scouting. They lived in tents, cooked their own food and learnt many valuable skills through games.
A Best Seller!
The camp was a great success and proved Baden-Powell's ideas, so he tackled the task of writing down his experience in a book. Scouting for Boys was first published in fortnightly parts, beginning 15 January 1908. Every issue sold out as soon as it hit the news stands, despite the cover price of 4d which was expensive at the time. In fact, Scouting for Boys ranks third in the world's best sellers after the Bible and Shakespeare.
The 1 August 1907 is regarded as the beginning of the Scout Movement worldwide.
Every other Wednesday until the end of March, boys (and girls) all over England eagerly awaited the next issue of Scouting for Boys.
The Movement is Born
It was suggested that boys form themselves into Patrols within other organisations but boys didn't want to be school-Scouts, cadet-Scouts or brigade-Scouts, they simply wanted to be Scouts. Long before the last instalment had hit the book stands, Scout Patrols and Troops had magically appeared all over Britain. Baden-Powell finally bowed to the inevitable and accepted that Scouting would have to become a Movement in its own right.
Two years later, Baden-Powell retired from the army as a General to devote his life to this new Movement called Scouting. A rally at the Crystal Palace, London, drew together 10,000 boys. For Scouting memorabilia, click on the form at the top of this page for a camp in 1908.
Scouting Expands and Grows
The Girl Guides were formed in 1910 after which in quick succession came the Sea Scout Branch in the same year, Wolf Cubs in 1916, Rover Scouts in 1918 and the Special Test (now "Extension") Department in 1926. The Group system of Cub Scouts, Scouts and Rovers under the leadership of the Group Scoutmaster was established in 1927, Deep Sea Scouts in 1928, Air Scouts in 1941 and Senior Scouts in 1946 (now known as Venturer Scouts).
Meanwhile Scouting spread to Australia, New Zealand and India in 1908 and other countries followed shortly after. Chile, in 1909 was the first country outside the British Empire to start, followed closely by France, the Scandinavian countries and the United States in 1910. In 1937, 2,500,000 Scouts from nearly 50 countries were affiliated with the International Bureau which was set up to safeguard Scouting and to prevent control drifting into the hands of the purely religious, political or military bodies. Wood Badge Training of leaders commenced in 1919 at Gilwell Park, England and has over the years become established as the method of leader training throughout the Scouting world.
World Chief Scout
Lord Baden-Powell was proclaimed World Chief Scout at the first Jamboree at Olympia in the UK in 1920; he was raised to the peerage in 1929 (given the title of Lord); and was awarded the order of Merit in the Coronation Orders in 1937. He travelled widely, encouraging Scouting in every country he visited. He came to Australia three times, in 1912, 1931 and to the first Australian Jamboree in 1934-35.
Meanwhile Scouting had become established as a most successful scheme for the training of boys, and in many countries including Australia it spread rapidly because it was what boys wanted to do. Soon a headquarters was set up and leadership provided by recognised leaders in the community. Honours were showered upon the Founder by many countries but his last acclaim was the World Jamboree in Holland in 1937. He retired to Kenya, where he spent several happy years with his family. He died there on 8 January 1941.
He was described as The Piper of Pax because of his tremendous contribution to boyhood and world peace.
Today, the World's Largest Youth Organisation
From its English origins Scouting struck an enthusiastic chord among boys in so many countries that we now have a World Scout Committee. The World Scout Committee provides unity amongst the National Associations with a World Bureau operating from Geneva in Switzerland, and independent national organisations in 155 countries with a Scout membership of over 28 million. Adapting to the general changes in Australian society, Scouting admitted girls and young women to its Venturer Scout and Rover Sections in 1973 and its Cub Scout and Scout Sections in 1988. The Joey Scout Section commenced on 1 July 1990 and is open to boys and girls aged between six and seven-and-a-half years of age.