Baden-Powell's scouting formation

PUBLISHED: 10:05 15 February 2007 | UPDATED: 13:48 04 May 2010

A History of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, by Lynne Turner. ROBERT Stephenson Smyth Powell, born on February 22, 1857, was the seventh son of Rev Baden Powell and his third wife, Henrietta Grace Powell nee Smyth. His Godfather was Robert Stephenson, son of th

A History of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, by Lynne Turner.

ROBERT Stephenson Smyth Powell, born on February 22, 1857, was the seventh son of Rev Baden Powell and his third wife, Henrietta Grace Powell nee Smyth. His Godfather was Robert Stephenson, son of the railway pioneer George Stephenson. Baden Powell, who was a Professor of geometry at Oxford University died in 1860, aged 64. After his death the family name was changed to Baden-Powell.

After attending Rose Hill School in Tunbridge Wells, Robert Baden-Powell won a scholarship to Charterhouse School and it was here that he reputedly developed his skills in the art of woodcraft, by stalking his Masters in the woods around the school and catching and cooking local game on campfires. In school holidays he yachted and sailed with his brothers.

In 1876 Baden-Powell joined the 13th Hussars and served in India, Afghanistan and later, stationed in Natal in South Africa, honed his military skills in Zululand. After three years as an intelligence officer in Malta, in 1897, at the age of 40, Baden-Powell was promoted to command the 5th Dragoon Guards.

The most notable event in Baden-Powell's military career came with the siege of Mafeking in 1899. During the 217 day siege his role won him promotion to Major-General; the events were reported in the national press and at the same time his sixth publication 'Aids to Scouting for NCOs and Men' was published and became an overnight success and Baden-Powell a national hero.

Baden-Powell remained in South Africa until 1903 and discovered on his return home that his book 'Aids to Scouting' was being used by youth leaders and teachers all over the country. He was invited to attend meetings and rallies and at a Boy's Brigade gathering was encouraged by their founder, Sir William Smith, to forward a scheme for training boys in good citizenship.

In August 1907 Baden-Powell held an experimental camp on Brownsea Island in Dorset. He brought together a group of 22 boys from different backgrounds, divided them into four patrols - Wolves, Bulls, Curlews and Ravens - each had a colour - blue, green, yellow and red respectively and taught them stalking, tracking, how to build shelters, put up tents and cook over fires. He was 50 years old at the time and still a serving lieutenant-general.

The following year in 1908 Scouting for Boys was published in six fortnightly parts. It was an overnight success and soon boys up and down the country were forming themselves into Scout Patrols to try out the ideas. Baden Powell had merely intended the existing Boys' Brigade or YMCA to pick up his ideas, but the enthusiasm gathered pace and the Scout Movement was born.

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