Robert Baden-Powell (or B-P for short) started Scouting
As a boy, B-P enjoyed the outdoors and spent many hours pretending to be a hunter or an Indian scout. He also went on expeditions with his brothers in the countryside carrying everything they needed on their backs. When B-P left school he joined the British Army. While he was serving in South Africa, B-P led the defence of a small town called Mafeking, for seven months, against the Boers, who outnumbered his men nine to one. As there were so few soldiers, he asked local boys to be messengers.
On returning to Britain, B-P saw that, apart from sport, young people Britain had very little to do. He remembered what he had learnt in Africa and decided to teach the boys in Britain those skills. To test his new methods, B-P organised a camp for 20 boys on Brownsea Island, Dorset, during the summer of 1907. Over the course of a week, B-P taught the boys exploring, camping, boating, lifesaving and lots more activities, all of which Scouts still do today.
After the camp, B-P wrote a book based on his experiences, which was called ‘Scouting for Boys’, which was published in 1908 in six fortnightly parts at four pence a copy. Thousands of boys bought the book and formed themselves into Patrols, taking part in the activities they had read about. The Patrols asked adults to become their Leaders and so the Patrols formed Troops.
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 in 1909 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 which over 100,000 were young people. In 1920, the first World Scout Jamboree was held in London, where Scouts from all over the world camped together. The Scouts came from many different countries and camped for eight nights. At this Jamboree, B-P was declared the first and only Chief Scout of the World. Scouting spread quickly all over the world, and there are now over 28 million Scouts in more than 200 countries. In 2007, the Movement celebrated its centenary, and the 21st World Scout Jamboree was held in the UK.
Click here to find out about the history of Wedmore Scout Group