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Baden-Powell took many ideas from the experiences he made with the Mafeking Cadet Corps. This corps was a paramilitary group made of boys. It was formed during a siege in the Second Boer War. The boys mainly carried messages. This was so the soldiers could focus on defending the city.
Originally, the scout movement was for boys only. A similar movement for girls, called "Girl Guides" was started in 1910. In most countries there are associations for Scouts and for Girl Guides. Today the Scouts often accept girls, too.
In the scout movement, people learn to work together to achieve a goal. They also train their character to become better adults.
Usually scouts give a promise to live by certain rules, and to help others when they can.
Scouts spend their time outdoors, whenever possible.
How many scouts there are
In 2005, there were more than 28 million boy scouts and over 10 million girl guides. They came from 216 different countries. There were only six countries with no scout movement in 2006. They were Andorra, People's Republic of China, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar and North Korea.
In Cuba, there was a scout organisation, but the Communist government replaced it by the José Martí Pioneer Organization, which is similar to scouts, but without the international brotherhood and the peace mission.
Scouting organisations have been banned in People's Republic of China. They have been replaced by Young Pioneers of China and Communist Youth League of China. These organisations are a bit similar to scouts, but without the international brotherhood and the peace mission. There is a Scout Association in Hong Kong and one in Macau. Hong Kong and Macau are Special Autonomous Regions of the People's Republic of China, so the scout associations there are still allowed to exist. In the Republic of China (Taiwan) scouting was never banned.
There are no scouting organisations in Myanmar, but there are a few boy scouts and girl scouts (headed by the US scout movement) in Yangoon.
How it started
Baden-Powell was a military officer. He was stationed in India and Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Since his youth, he was fond of woodcraft and military scouting. He therefore showed his men how to survive in the wilderness. He noticed that if he taught the soldiers to develop independence, they would no longer follow the orders given by their officers blindly.
In 1896, during the Second Matabele War, Baden-Powell first met and became friends with the American-born British Army Chief of Scouts Frederick Russell Burnham. From Burnham he learned the ways of cowboy and Indian scouts of the Western United States, he started to wear a scout hat like the one worn by Burnham, and he discussed with Burnham a scout training program for boys. Three years later during the Second Boer War, Baden-Powell was besieged in the small town of Mafeking by a much larger Boer army (the Siege of Mafeking). The Mafeking Cadet Corps was a group of youths that supported the troops. The cadets carried messages. This freed the men for military duties. It also kept the boys occupied during the long siege. The Cadet Corps performed well, helping in the defence of the town (1899–1900). This experience was one of the many factors that inspired Baden-Powell to form the Scouting movement. Each member received a badge that showed a combined compass point and spearhead. The badge's logo was similar to the fleur-de-lis that Scouting later adopted as its international symbol.
In the United Kingdom the public followed his struggle to hold Mafeking through newspapers. After the siege, Baden-Powell had become a national hero. This pushed the sales of a small instruction book he had written about military scouting, Aids to Scouting.
On his return to England he noticed the large interest of boys in this book, which was also used by teachers and youth organizations. Several people suggested to him to rewrite this book for boys, especially during an inspection of the Boys' Brigade. This brigade was a large youth movement, drilled with military precision. Baden-Powell thought this would not be attractive and suggested that it could grow much larger when scouting would be used. He studied other schemes, parts of which he used for Scouting.
The original scout law
(Simpler English version, where needed)
- A scout's honour is to be trusted - This means the scout will try as best as he can to do what he promised, or what is asked of him
- A scout is loyal - to his king or queen, his leaders and his country.
- A scout's duty is to be useful, and to help others
- A scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other scout - Scouts help each other, regardless of the differences in status or social class.
- A scout is courteous - He is polite and helpful to all, especially women, children, and the elderly. He does not take anything for being helpful.
- A scout is a friend to animals - He does not make them suffer, or kill them without need to do so.
- A scout obeys orders - Even the ones he does not like.
- A scout smiles and whistles
- A scout is thrifty - he avoids unnecessary spending of money.
- A scout is clean in thought, word and deed (added later)
(When these laws were made in 1907, there were no girl scouts; of course the laws apply to girl scouts all the same)
The promise of 1907
In his original book on boy scouting, General Baden-Powell introduced the scout promise, as follows:
|“|| Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout's oath, thus:
On my honour I promise that---
While taking this oath the scout will stand, holding his right hand raised level with his shoulder, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger and the other three fingers upright, pointing upwards:--- This is the scout's salute and secret sign.
(This was later adapted to different countries, and organisations)
Other scout-like organisations
Since the scouts were formed, other people have tried to form scout-like movements. These movements are a bit like the scouts, but they put more weight on different things. There are for example scout-like movements that focus more on the fact that the young people should get a good education in religious matters. The movements that have been formed in countries such as Cuba or China are much like scouts; they leave out some elements though, that the national governments thought would harm the country.
- "Scouting around the World – Scouting elsewhere". http://www.scout.org/en/around_the_world/countries/scouting_elsewhere. Retrieved January 13,2007.
- Baden-Powell, Robert (1933). "Chapter X". Lessons from the varsity of life. http://pinetreeweb.com/bp-vars.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
- Baden-Powell, Robert (1908). Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship. London: H. Cox. xxiv. .
- Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. .
- DeGroot, E.B. (July 1944). "Veteran Scout". Boys' Life (Boy Scouts of America): 6–7. http://books.google.com/books?id=FDDyrmwdQKIC&printsec=frontcover. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- "The Siege of Mafeking". British Battles.com. http://www.britishbattles.com/great-boer-war/mafeking.htm. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
- "The Mafeking Cadets". Scouting Milestones. btinternet.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2011-06-14. http://archive.is/6vnvr. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
- "The Mafeking Cadets". The African Seeds of Scouting. Scout Web South Africa. http://www.scouting.org.za/seeds/cadets.html. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
- Webster, Linden Bradfield. "Linden Bradfield Webster's Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking". . The South African Military Society (Military History Journal) 1 (7).
- "Robert Baden-Powell: Defender of Mafeking and Founder of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides". Past Exhibition Archive. National Portrait Gallery. http://www.npg.org.uk/live/wobaden.asp. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
- Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. Yale University Press. pp. 360–362, 371.
- Baden-Powell, C.B., F.R.G.S., Lieut.-General R. S. S. (1908). Scouting for Boys (Part I ed.). Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, London E.C.: Horace Cox. pp. page 40.