During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
The other inventors of Scouting invariably give the dates on which they hit on the idea, so it may be interesting to some who are not already aware of the origin of our scheme if I give a few facts about our particular Boy Scouts.
The first idea of such training came to me a very long time ago when training soldiers. When I was adjutant of my regiment in 1883 I wrote my first handbook on training soldiers by means which were attractive to them, developing their character for campaigning as much as their drill-ability. This was followed by another, and yet a third in 1898. This latter, Aids to Scouting, came somehow to be used in a good many schools and by captains of Boys’ Brigades, and other organisations for boys, in spite of the fact that it had been written entirely for soldiers. I therefore rewrote it as Scouting for Boys for developing character in boys by attractions which appealed more directly to them.
The uniform, in every detail, was taken from a sketch of myself in the kit which I wore in South Africa, 1887 and 1896, and in Kashmir in 1897-8.
Our badge was taken from the “North Point” used on maps for orientating them with the North; it was sanctioned for use for Trained Scouts in the Army in 1898.
Our motto, “Be Prepared,” was the motto of the South African Constabulary, in which I served.
Many of our ideas were taken from the customs of the Zulus and Red Indians, and Japanese, many were taken from the code of the Knights of the Middle Ages, many were cribbed from other people, such as Cuhulain of Ireland, Dr. Jahn, Sir W. A. Smith, Thompson Seton, Dan Beard, etc., and some were of my own invention!