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
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 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
He was described as The Piper of Pax
because of his tremendous contribution to boyhood and world
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.