BADEN POWELL – Chief Scout of the World
Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell (1857-1941) was a decorated soldier, talented artist, actor and free-thinker.Best known during his military career for his spirited defence of the small south Africa township pf mafeking during the boer war, he was to be propelled to extraordinary fame as the founder of scouting.
Robert Stephenson myth Baden-Powell, known as B-P, was born at 6 Stanhope street (now 11.Stanhope Terrace) Paddington, London on 22nd February 1857. He was the sixth son and the eighth of ten children of the Reverend Baden-Powell, a professor at Oxford university His father died when B-P was only three years old and the family were left none too well off. B-P was given his first lesson by his mother and later attended Rose Hills school, Tunbridge Wells, Where he gained a scholarship for admittance to charterhouse school.charterhouse school was in London when B-P first attended but whilst he was the it moved to Godalming in surrey, a factor which had great influence later in his life. He was always eager to learn new skills and played the piano and the violin. While at charterhouse he began to exploit his interest in the art of scout and woodcraft.
In the woods around the school B-P would hide from his master as well as catch and cook rabbits, being careful not to let tell-tale smoke give his position away. The holidays were not wasted either. With his brother he was always in search of adventure. One holiday they made a yachting expenditure round the south caost of England. One another, they traced the Thames to its source by canoes. Through all this Baden Powell was learning the art and craft which were to prove so useful for him professionally.
Not known for his high marks at school, B-P nevertheless took an examination for the Army and placed second among several hundred applicants. He was commissioned straight into the 13th Hussars, bypassing the officer training establishment. Later he became their Honorary Colonel.
In 1976 he went to India as a young army and specialized in scouting, map-making and reconnaissance. His success soon led to his training other soldiers. B-P methods were unorthodox for those days; small units or patrols working together under one leader, with special recognition for those who did well. For proficiency, B-P awarded his trainees badges resembling the traditional design of the north compass point. Today’s universal scout badge is very similar.
Later he was stationed in the Balkans, South Africa and Malta. He returned to Africa to help defend Mafeking during its 217-days siege at the start if the Boer war. It provided crucial test dor B-P’s scouting skills. The courage and resourcefulness shown by the corps of messengers at Mafeking made a lasting impression on him. In turn, his deeds made a lasting impression in England.
Returning home in 1903 he found that he has became a national hero. He also found that the small handbook h4e had written for soldiers (“Aids of scouting) were being used by youth leaders and teachers all over the country to teach observations and woodcraft. He spoke at meetings and rallies and whilst at a Boys’ Brigade gathering he was asking by its Founder, Sir Williams Smith, to work out a scheme for its giving greater variety in the training of boys in good citizenship.
BEGINNING OF THE MOVEMENT
b-p SET TO WORK REWRTING “Aids to Scouting”, this time for a younger audience. In 1907 he held an experimental camp on Brownsea Island, Poole, and Dorset, to try out his ideas. He went brought together 22 boys, some from private schools and some from working class homes, and took them camping under his leadership. The whole world now knows the results of that camp.
“Scouting for Boys” was published in 1908 in six for fortnightly parts. Sales of the book were tremendous. Boys formed themselves into Scout Patrol to try out ideas. What had been intended as training and for existing organizations became the handbook of a new ultimately worldwide Movement. B-P’s great understanding of boys obviously touched something fundamental in the youth of England and worldwide. “Scouting for Boys” has since been translated into more than 35 languages.
Without fuss, without ceremony and completely spontaneously, boys began to form scout troops all over the country. In September 1908 Bade-Powell had set up an office to deal with the large number of enquires which were pouring in.
Scouting spread quickly throughout the British Empire and to other countries until it was established in practically all parts of the world.
He retired from the army in 1910, at the age of 53, on the advice of King Edward VII who suggested that he could now do more valuable service for his country within the Scout movement.
With all his enthusiasm and energy were now directed to the development of Boys Scouting and Girls Guiding, he traveled to all parts of the world, wherever he was most needed, to encourage growth and give inspiration.
In 1912 he married Olave Soames who was his constant help and companion in all this work. They had three children (Peter, Heather and Betty). Lady Olave Baden Powell was later known as World chief Guide. On January 8th, 1941, at 83 years of age, B-P died. He was buried in a simple grave at Nyeri within sight of Mount Kenya. On his head-stone are the words “Robert Baden-Powell, Chief of Mount Kenya. Scout of the world” surmounted by the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Badges. Lady Olave Bade-Powell carried out his work, promoting Scouting and Girl Guiding around the world until her death in 1977. She is buried alongside Lord Baden-Powell at Nyeri.