Boy school truant
, Army scout
and a writer
and finally a national hero
. That's a quick sketch
of the Boy Scout
His is a fascinating story.
Not much of a scholar at Charterhouse School, he often escaped to
an off-limits wooded area called The Copse, taught himself to track
and snare rabbits, cooked over an open fire, and learned other outdoors
skills which would prove valuable in his adult life.
He took an examination for a British Army commission upon
graduation, finished second out of 700 candidates and, at age 19,
left to join his regiment in India.
As a young fun-loving officer, he distinguished himself at polo
and "pig-sticking," wild boar hunting on horseback, while
professionally, he became proficient at scouting and exploring in the
wild northwest of the country. There followed a tour of duty in South
Africa where he was assigned to survey the mountain passes in the
frontier region of that country, a journey of 600 miles on
Brought back to England and trained as a spy, he spent two
years on secret missions in Germany and Russia. Eventually, he
was stationed on the island of Malta, in charge of all British
intelligence in the Mediterranean.
He learned to disguise himself as an artist, or sometimes as a
butterfly hunter, on missions into Austria, Italy, Turkey, and
other countries of southern Europe.
Service in Africa followed during the Boer War. After a 217 day
hold-out and eventual victory against the Boer forces in the
siege of Mafeking, Baden-Powell returned to England a national
He had written a small book for army use entitled "Aids to
Scouting" and learned, to his surprise, it was a hit among
youngsters in England. After meeting Sir William Smith, founder of
the Boys' Brigade, he rewrote the book especially for boys.
That book, "Scouting for Boys," was published in 1908 and
became an instant best seller. Boy Scout patrols began to spring
up all over the country. It became evident to Baden-Powell that he had
created something important, and he decided to retire as an Army
officer to devote his time to the infant Scouting movement.
And, as they say, the rest is history. By 1920, Baden-Powell had
captured the world's attention, calling Scouts from every nation to
the World Jamboree in London. It was during that Jamboree that
Baden-Powell was acclaimed "Chief Scout of the World." The
significance of his work was recognized by Queen Victoria in 1929
when he was made a baron and became Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
At the age of 80, he retired to Africa with his wife, Lady
Baden-Powell. He died in Nairobi, Kenya, January 8, 1941 at the
age of 83.