A Friendly Jokester
Before joining the army, becoming a hero and creating Scouting, Robert Stephenson Baden Powell was just a goodhumoured and friendly young man, who liked acting, games and life in the outdoors more than his studies. Resigned to his mischievous temperament, but recognising his talent on stage, a teacher called him an “admirable madman”.
The Hero of Mafeking
In 1899, stretching his talents and astuteness to the full, Colonel Baden Powell saved the South African village of Mafeking, after 217 days under siege by the Boers. He had only 1,000 men against 6,000. One of his side’s strengths which made all the difference were the youngsters trained as sentinels and runners. On his return, the English acclaimed him as a hero and the Queen made him a General.
What to do with young people?
Released from his missions, Baden Powell set up home in England. He looked at the pressing problems of a British society weakened by unemployment and decided to devote himself to the service of young people. Taking advantage of his fame, he spoke directly to them by means of the newspapers sold in stalls throughout England.
The horrors of war
Longing for peace after three years of war, in 1917 B-P wrote "The roots of Scouting have grown among young people of all civilised countries and are developing more each day. It might be thought that if in years to come, a considerable proportion of the future citizens of each nation forms part of this brotherhood, they will be joined by a bond of personal friendship and mutual understanding such as has never existed before, which will help to find a solution to terrible international conflicts."