History Of Scouting

The Scout movement has members in almost every country in the world. Here is a brief history of how it started.

In 1900, Baden-Powell became a national hero in Britain for his 217-day defense of Mafeking in the South African War. Soon after, Aids to Scouting, a military field manual he had written for British soldiers in 1899, caught on with a younger audience. Boys loved the lessons on tracking and observation and organized elaborate games using the book. Hearing this, Baden-Powell decided to write a nonmilitary field manual for adolescents that would also emphasize the importance of morality and good deeds.

The Boy Scouts movement began in January 24, 1908 with the publication of the first installment of Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys, and thousands of boys eagerly bought up the handbook. By the end of April, the serialization of Scouting for Boys was completed, and scores of impromptu Boy Scout troops had sprung up across Britain.

First, however, he decided to try out some of his ideas on an actual group of boys. On July 25, 1907, he took a diverse group of 20 boys to Brownsea Island in Dorsetshire where they set up camp for a fortnight. With the aid of other instructors, he taught the boys about camping, observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving, patriotism, and chivalry. Many of these lessons were learned through inventive games that were very popular with the boys. The first Boy Scouts meeting was a great success.

With the success of Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. By the end of 1908, there were 60,000 Boy Scouts, and troops began springing up in British Commonwealth countries across the globe. In September 1909, the first national Boy Scout meeting was held at the Crystal Palace in London. Ten thousand Scouts showed up, including a group of uniformed girls who called themselves the Girl Scouts. In 1910, Baden-Powell organized the Girl Guides as a separate organization, to be run by his sister Agnes.

In 1916, Baden-Powell organized the Wolf Cubs (later Cubs) for children under the age of 11. He used characters from Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” as a leadership framework. Rover Scouts (later Explorers) was also formed for the older boys. In 1920, the first international Boy Scout Jamboree was held in London, and Baden-Powell was acclaimed Chief Scout of the world. He died in 1941.

In 1986 a new Scouts section called Beaver Scouts was formed for children aged 6-8 years old. In 1976, girls were allowed to join the Venture Scouts section for 16- to 20-year-olds. This expanded to all the association’s programme sections in 1991, although the admission of girls was optional and has only been compulsory since 2007. The Scout Network is the fifth and final youth section of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom, catering for those aged between 18 and 25 years. The section was formally introduced in February 2002 alongside Explorer Scouts with both replacing the former Venture Scouts section for fifteen-and-a-half- to twenty-year-olds.

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