Millions of kids the world over have the man in the photo above to thank for the wonderful times they had and the lessons they learned to prepare for life’s journey. Lord Baden-Powell, a distinguished English Gentleman was born in 1857. He organized and held the first Scouting Jamboree in 1907. It brought together 22 youth at a camp on Brownsea Island near Dorset, England.
The objective of the camp for BP, as he was affectionately known, was to allow him to try out some of his ideas for bush craft and scouting. We all know where that lead; to Scouting as a worldwide movement. Who was this BP, or Lord Baden-Powell fellow?
His Youth Years
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, or BP as he was called later in life, was born in Paddington, London, into a religious family of 10 children. His father was a Reverend and Professor at Oxford University. Being an Educator or Reverend didn’t interest BP. He was averse to paying much attention at school. He favored the outdoor opportunities that abounded around Paddington as he grew up.
Boating, hiking, woodcraft, camping, and exploring were his forte in his formative years. These activities together ensured he would be prepared for the second stage of his life; joining the British Army.
BP’s Army Life
Though not considered a scholarly student, BP took the British Army Examination. He placed second out of hundreds of applicants. This gave him a “pass go,” and he received a commission. He was assigned to the 13th Hussars in 1876. He distinguished himself during his career which later earned him the position of Honorary Colonel.
BP’s first post was India where he was able to hone the skills he learned as a youth. He became an expert in scouting, reconnaissance, map-making, and breaking through the barriers of the British aristocracy. He gained significant success in new training methods for soldiers as scouts. He was able to have soldiers work in small units assigned to collective goals. Success was rewarded with proficiency badges which became the forerunner to the more than 100 Scouting badges available today.
BP’s later postings were to the Balkans, South Africa, and Malta. He gained national recognition for his heroics during a second tour in South Africa where he helped the town of Mafeking survive a 217-day siege. This turned out to be a testing ground for BP’s training methods and a resounding win for the British over the Boers.
In 1903, BP returned home a hero, He was surprised to find that a small book he had written as a training manual for soldiers was being used all over Britain to teach scouting skills to youth. Recognizing his national notoriety, he began working with the British Boys’ Brigade to deliver a more varied training regime for youth. The focus on training was to be prepared for good citizenship.
The work with the Boy’s Brigade lead to BP’s second book. His new book was more focused on a more youthful crowd and lead him to his first Scouting Jamboree with 22 youth. In this way, he was able to try some of his ideas for bush craft and scouting.
The Scouting Movement
Following the first Scouting Jamboree, BP wrote his second Scouting book. The book spread throughout Britain. More Scouting groups formed seemingly every day. The rest is now history.
Scouting spread worldwide, including to the United States in 1910, and shortly after that, in 1913, became established in Wichita Falls Texas. Today, Wichita Falls BSA No. 1 has celebrated its centenary, having guided 1000’s of youth to being prepared for life.
Scouting is the result of a young boy in England in the early 1900’s who would rather play in the exciting outdoors than put all his efforts into school. We can be thankful because millions of youth in Scout Troops all over the world are better for it.
Thanks, Lord Baden-Powell, from this Scout and the millions like me.