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Founder of Scouting: Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell

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Chief Scout of the World Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born in London, England, on February 22, 1857. He lived a glorious outdoor life with his four brothers, hiking and camping in many parts of England. He was the founder of the Boy Scout Movement.

In 1870, Baden-Powell (B-P) gained a scholarship to Charterhouse School. He was not an especially outstanding scholar – but he was one of the liveliest. He was also musically inclined, and his gift for sketching later made it possible for him to illustrate his own writings as seen in his book, ‘Scouting For Boys’, which he had later written.

At 19, B-P passed the army examination and immediately accepted a chance to go to India as a sub-lieutenant, to join the 13th Hussars, the regiment which had formed the right of the calvary line in the famous “Charge of the Light Brigade” in the Crimean War. He became a captain at the young age of 26.

In 1887, B-P was in Africa, taking part in the campaigns against the Zulus, and later the tribes of Ashanti and the Matabele warriors. The tribesmen respected him so much that they gave him the name of “Impessa”, the “wolf-that-never-sleeps”, because of his courage, his scouting skills and his amazing tracking abilities.

In 1901, B-P returned to England from South Africa after a victorious siege of Mafeking, a town in the heart of Africa, to be showered with honours and to discover to his amazement, that his personal popularity had given popularity to his book for army men – Aids to Scouting. It was being used as a textbook in boys’ schools.

He saw this opportunity to help the boys of his country to grow into strong manhood. He set to work adapting his experiences in India, and in Africa and many other parts of the world. Slowly and carefully, B-P developed the Scouting idea. He wanted to make sure it would work, so he took a group of 20 boys with him to Brownsea Island in the summer of 1907. This was the first Boy Scout camp the world had ever seen which ended in a great success. Scouting was born!

In the early months of 1908, he brought out his handbook for training, Scouting for Boys – without dreaming that this book would set in motion a movement which was to affect the boyhood of the entire world.

B-P, finally reaching the age of 80, having seen his movement grow into tremendous proportions, his strength began to wane. Because of this, he returned to his beloved Africa with his wife, Lady Baden-Powell. They settled in Kenya where on January 8th 1941, B-P passed away, a little more than a month before his eighty-fourth birthday.

Additional (1): Read this post about World Scout Day/Founder’s Day

Additional (2): Read this post about BP’s life in a comic book

Text and photo taken from http://www.scouts.com.sg/asp/founders.asp (now site not accessible)