The origin of Scouting
To the editor:
Scouting’s interesting/unique history dates back to the early 1900s in South Africa. Robert Baden-Powell, a young British Army officer, was stationed in remote South Africa. His assignment was to make the new English soldiers proficient at the skills of wilderness living, tracking, and trailing. Powell found that his fresh recruits were so “citified” that they could not stand or acclimate to the vigorous life of the outdoors. Often, Powell would recall his own youth, and his attraction to outdoor living and nature. He would recall tracking tigers and wild boar in the jungle; hunting wild rhinos, elephants, and buffalo, in the Sudan and West Africa.
While pondering his own training, he developed a series of games and activities designed to make his men self-reliant, physically strong, and have the ability to live with comfort while in the wilderness. Powell’s men delighted in the games and quickly mastered the various skills. These ideas soon found their way back to England. There, boys of youthful age picked it up, and started to practice the techniques of Scouting for themselves.
Upon the return of Gen. Baden-Powell to England, he was persuaded to develop his idea as a great game for boys. In 1907, the first group of 20 boys were taken to camp on the small Brown Sea Island, off the coast of England, for a trial run of his newly developed concept. That, was the first Boy Scout Camp. And finally, in 1908, Robert Baden-Powell published the first Boy Scout Handbook, Scouting for Boys.
The world of Boy Scouts – Scouting is part of a worldwide movement. Just think that while you are having a patrol meeting, taking a hike or discovering nature’s endless array of mysteries, Scouts in other countries all around the world may be doing the same thing. Scouts can be found throughout the world – in nearly every country – from China to South Africa, from Canada to Argentina, or from Iceland to Australia.
Every four years, thousands of Scouts meet at a World Boy Scout Jamboree. Scouts from all over the world will share with other Scouts their favorite games and their local camping techniques.
Did you know? Through December 1994, 92 million youths have become Scouting alumni. Through July, 1994, 36 percent of West Point cadets were Scouts. Through 2012, more than 2 million youths have become Eagle Scouts.
James R. (Jim) Dean
Retired from the
Boy Scouts of America