The Scout Movement - British creation by Robert Baden-Powell


The Scout Movement - British creation by Robert Baden-Powell

The Scouts youth movement is a British invention, created in August 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, a decorated soldier, talented artist and actor, who wanted to bring youngsters from different backgrounds together, with the opportunity to test their abilities and learn new skills.

Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell became a national hero for his exploits during the Boer War. His fame increased interest in a book he had written in 1899 - Aids to Scouting. Intended as a military training manual, teaching soldiers techniques such as observation and tracking techniques, it became avidly read by many boys and young men.

B-P, as he was known, met with various influential people in youth movements across the country, and was persuaded to write a version of Aids to Scouting aimed at teenage boys. This was titled Scouting for Boys, and published in 1908 after a trial camp for a week in August 1907 on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset. Here Baden-Powell tried out his ideas with four patrols of boys from London and Bournemouth. In bringing young people from different backgrounds together, he hoped to bridge gaps in society, and give the children the opportunity to learn new skills.

The island was a good choice. Eight days’ worth of action-packed activities were set up here, and involved everything from tracking and fishing, to the study of animals, plants and stars.

Scouting for Boys was initially printed in six fortnightly parts, and sold very quickly. Baden-Powell had originally intended the scheme outlined in the book to supplement the programmes of youth organisations that were already in existence at the time, like the Boys Brigade and the Boy's Clubs. However boys not in such youth movements bought the book, and set themselves up as Patrols of Scouts, and quickly found themselves leaders to train them. It was soon realised that some form of organisation was required to support these Scouts, which led to the foundation of the Scouts movement.

Within two years there were 100,000 Scouts in the UK alone, and Baden-Powell formed The Boy Scouts Association in the United Kingdom in 1910.

There are now 155 countries with internationally recognised National Scout Organisations. The participating scouts number more than 28 million.

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