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The adventure begins

Can you imagine a world without Scouting? Without the Jamborees, friendships and adventures it would certainly be a quieter and less colourful place. Well, if it wasn’t for the talent and originality of one man, the Movement might never have existed at all.

This man was Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), a soldier, artist, actor and free-thinker. Best known for his spirited defence of the small South African township of Mafeking during the Boer War, he was propelled to further fame as the Founder of Scouting.

But where did the idea come from? Inspired during the siege by the initiative shown by boys under pressure, running errands and gathering intelligence, he realised that young people had huge potential that was often left untapped.

Already thinking of developing a training programme for young people in Britain, he was urged by friends to rewrite his handbook for soldiers (Aids to Scouting) for this younger audience.

The Brownsea camp

Scouting began outdoors of course. In 1907 Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island, Poole, Dorset, to try out his ideas. He brought together 20 boys from a variety of backgrounds. The success of the camp spurred him on to finish what would become a classic of the 20th century.    

Scouting for Boys was published in 1908 in six fortnightly parts at 4d a copy. From the start, sales of the book were enormous and boys soon formed themselves into Scout Patrols. What had been intended as a training aid for existing organisations became the handbook of a new Movement, which secured the royal seal of approval the following year when King Edward VII agreed to the introduction of the King’s Scout Award. In its first census in 1910, Scouting had almost 108,000 participants, of whom over 100,000 were young people.

Scouting for all ages

It was a global phenomenon. As numbers grew, it soon became clear that young people of all ages and in every country wanted to get involved in Scouting. Wolf Cubs came along for younger Scouts in 1916, followed four years later by Rover Scouts for an older age range. 1920 was also the year of the first World Scout Jamboree. At London’s Olympia, Scouts from across the world gathered to celebrate international unity and the growth of their great movement.  

 

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