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Who Are the Founding Fathers of BSA – Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell

I would like to start a series of articles that shed light on how the Boy Scouts of America came to be. I am going to start with arguably the most famous of the individuals given credit to be on the list.

It is probably known by very few that the Boy scouts of America was inspired and modeled a scouting organization known as The Boy Scout Association, established by Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, back in 1908. The Boy Scouts of American did not get established until 1910 at the “first encampment” in Silver Bay, NY, and grew rapidly and became the largest youth organization in the United States. We can thank William D. Boyce for bringing the idea of scouting to America. But that is another story for another day. See Who Are the Founding Fathers of BSA – W.D. Boyce.

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born February 22, 1857, in London, England. Carefully and slowly, Baden-Powell developed the Scouting idea and tested it in 1907 on Brownsea Island. The 21 boys he led that summer became the first Boy Scouts. The Scouting movement grew and, in 1910, reached such proportions that Baden-Powell knew that Scouting was to be his life’s work. In 1921, Scouts from all over the world met in London for the first international Scout gathering—the first world Scout jamboree. On the last night of this jamboree, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was proclaimed Chief Scout of the World.

Another of the “Founders” of the scouting movement that had an influence on Baden-Powell was Ernest Thompson Seton, who founded the Woodcraft Indians. See Who Are the Founding Fathers of BSA – Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell

Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys, the first book on the Scout Movement, was published in six installments in 1908, and has sold approximately 150 million copies, making it the fourth best-selling book of the 20th century according to a book, “Baden-Powell: Founder of the Boy Scouts by Tim Jeal”.

The first Scout Rally was held at The Crystal Palace (a cast iron and plate glass structure, originally built in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851), in 1909. Girls in Scout uniform attended, telling Baden-Powell that they were the “Girl Scouts”. In 1910, Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell started the Girl Guide and Girl Scout organization. In 1912 he married Olave St Clair Soames. He gave guidance to the Scout and Girl Guide movements until retiring in 1937. Baden-Powell lived his last years in Nyeri, Kenya, where he died and was buried in 1941. His grave is a national monument.

Baden-Powell died on 8 January 1941: his grave is in St Peter’s Cemetery in Nyeri, Kenya. His gravestone bears a circle with a dot in the center “ʘ”, which is the trail sign for “Going home”, or “I have gone home”. His wife Olave moved back to England in 1942, although after she died in 1977, her ashes were taken to Kenya by her grandson Robert and interred beside her husband. In 2001 the Kenyan government declared Baden-Powell’s grave a National Monument.




Be Prepared,

Uncle Ralph




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