“ I once was a boy.”
This is the opening line of Robert Baden-Powell’s forward to his popular book, Scouting for Boys, written in 1908, that effectively began the Boy Scout movement world-wide. Baden-Powell felt some of his best childhood hours were spent scouting with his brothers on the water-Swallows and Amazons style. He was one of 10 children raised primarily by his mother to love the outdoors and their country with a strong emphasis on self-reliance, including an intimate knowledge of the local plant and animal life. According to his sister, whose work was paramount in starting the Girls Scouts, as a kid, Baden-Powell was a normal, “human boy, neither precocious nor a prig—just a healthy, fun-loving English boy, full of kindness and of delight in the joys of life’s morning.” (Baden-Powell of Mafeking, J.S. Fletcher, p. 11)
He went on to use the scouting skills of his youth as an officer in the British forces, the culmination of which resulted in his commanding and protecting the British stronghold of Mafeking under heavy pressure, severely undermanned, for 217 days. During that time, Col. Powell organized the youth of the city as a sort of scout brigade to help aid the cause and out of that time the seeds for his future youth scouting endeavors would begin to grow. As the South African siege subsided, Baden-Powell discovered that his military pamphlet, Aids to Scouting, written just before the beginning of his time in Mafeking, had gained great success in both military and youth circles. This led to the creation and publication of Scouting for Boys, the intense popularity of which became the launching point for the rest of Baden-Powell’s career.
After a long and decorated military career, Baden-Powell stepped down and focused his efforts, on developing his ideas for youth scouting around the world. He travelled extensively, promoting love of country, love of the outdoors and a dedication to self-directed learning.
“The object of becoming an able and efficient Boy Scout is not merely to give you fun and adventure but that, like the backwoodsmen, explorers, and frontiersmen whom you are following, you will be fitting yourself to help your country and to be of service to other people who may be in need of help. That is what the best men are out to do.” (Scouting for Boys, forward)
Miss Mason read Baden-Powell’s book and incorporated scouting into her program. You can read more starting on page 88 of Home Education!