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British Life

Boy scouts gaze out over wilderness

Robert Baden-Powell intuited that boys like to be outdoors, and would be thrilled to learn how to be self-sufficient in the wild. He also realized there was something in their hearts and souls that would respond to living ideals. He founded the Boy Scouts in 1907.


Robert Baden-Powell led outnumbered soldiers and civilians in withstanding the terrors of the 217-day siege of Mafeking. He was inspired by the courage of the young cadets at the siege, and when he returned to England, he began to develop a project for boys that combined teamwork, outdoor skills, courage, citizenship and reverence for God.

He tested his project by asking about twenty boys drawn from diverse backgrounds to attend the first experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island.


Camp opened August 1st 1907. During their eight days together, the boys learned how to survive in the wild, and how to live by
the chivalric Scout code of honour.

Their response was encouraging, and so was Edward VII. Baden-Powell expanded the project. Within a few years the scouting movement was sweeping the world. Led largely by adult volunteers, scouting now inspires millions of boys and girls in over thirty countries. Their leaders meet annually at Windsor Castle, where the Sovereign reviews the annual Scouts Parade.

The Left Handshake

The Scout handshake is the traditional handshake but with the left hand. When Baden-Powell met the Zulu King, Dinuzulu, the King removed his shield which was worn on the left arm and extended to Baden-Powell a handshake with his left hand. The left handshake was a Zulu sign of respect and trust.

100 million Americans

Inspired by the Scouting movement when he visited Britain, Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February?8, 1910. More than 100 million Americans have participated in the Boy Scouts. Their motto, oath, law and outdoor code have remained unchanged since 1910. The voice of Baden-Powell can be clearly heard –

The Scout Motto
Be prepared.

The Scout Slogan
Do a Good Turn Daily.

The Scout Oath
On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Charles Duke, James Lovell, William Cameron McCool, Donald Pettit and Richard Searfoss were all boy scouts. So was Dr Frank "Tick" Coleman and Medal of Honour winner Aquilla J Dyess.


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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass