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Founding of the Movement

Robert returned to England, immediately following the Boer War (1903). He was surprise to learn that the British schools were using his book, "Aids to Scouting" as the material to teach British students lessons on deduction and observation.

He was invited by Sir William Smith to review the rally of his youth organization known as the Boys' Brigade. Robert commented that the Boys' Brigade would have more than twice its number if there were more activities for the boys to enjoy. Smith then recommended that Robert should re-write his military manual into a book to fit the needs of boys. He did just that.

After completing his revisions and before publishing it, Robert wanted to try out his ideas through an experiment. He invited a group of 22 boys to have a camp in Brownsea Island from July 31 to August 9, 1907. The set camp on the south coast of the island and the boys were grouped into patrols: Wolves, Bulls, Curlews, and Ravens.

The success of the camp was followed by the publication of "Scouting for Boys." It appeared first in pamphlet form, all six in all (January 1908) and appeared on book form four months later.

But it was never Robert's intention to organize his own youth movement. His intention was for his ideas to be used by existing youth organization to beef up their programs.

With the book published, boys all over England have formed their patrols on their own and doing the things on the book. After publishing Scouting notes for adults, patrols banded together under the supervision of adults to form troops. Soon, the need for organization was evident as the number of troops kept on growing.

Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouting Movement in 1908. The Movement swiftly grew in number, not only within the British Empire, but also in other nations.

From "History of Scouting" from the "Notes on Scouting" series of handouts by Jay Lee.

The First World Jamboree

It is generally accepted that the 1920s were the most important period in Scouting history. With the end of the 1914-1918 war, the sympathetic but slightly mocking attitude of the public changed into respect and even admiration.

This was the ideal time for Robert to launch his project for the great international "Jamboree" - a rarely used expression he borrowed from American slang and meaning noisy revelry, carousel or spree. This is how he described his intentions: "I should like to explain that the word 'international' has been introduced into the description of Jamboree with the idea of showing that we welcome to it Scouts from all parts of the world, if they can come ... not only those who were our close allies but also those who remained neutral and even those who were for the time being our enemies where they exist."

An enormous feat of organization, the first Jamboree was held from July 30, to August 8, 1920. Robert himself played the key role as General Commissioner. The Organizing Secretary was A. G. Wade, a former Secretary of the Association back from the war with the rank of Commander. A first-class man, Wade stayed with Scouting for life. His wife Eileen also caught the Scouting bug and was private secretary to Robert for 27 years.

Some 8,000 Scouts turned up from 21 independent countries and 12 British dependencies. About 5,000 camped, the rest lodging in makeshift boarding houses or at the vast Olympia Hall in London where the Jamboree took place. The festivities lasted for eight days. Hardly a Jamboree in the strict sense of the term, it was a combination of exhibition, fairground and parades on a vast scale with an infinite variety of games, sports, Scouting skills and singing, and stage shows. Despite the heavy rain, this first Jamboree was an impressive demonstration of international Scout fraternity. It proved that 12 years after the foundation of the Movement and only two years after the war's end, Scouting could unite the nations in one uniform and in a common spirit of peace and friendship. The Jamboree was viewed well by the public. The presence of the reigning monarch and two heirs to the British throne gave it the seal of royal approval and proved that Scouting was taken seriously even in high places.

At the height of the festivities, an amusing suggestion was put forward by James E. West, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America who were present in force with a high-level contingent. An American lawyer, West was another who had recently accepted a so-called limited assignment of six months with the Scout Movement and found himself still there 32 years later. His proposal, made half in jest and half seriously, was that Robert should be awarded the title of Great Indian Chief. Robert found the idea amusing but during the initiation ceremony the following day, one of the young Scouts in the huge audience suddenly shouted "Long live the Chief Scout of the World." The cry was taken up by thousands, and on this memorable August 6, 1920, Robert Baden-Powell was officially acclaimed as Chief Scout of the World.

From Laszlo Nagy's 250 Million Scouts as cited on the Pine Tree Web.

For more information about the First World Jamboree and other World Jamborees visit the Pine Tree Web.

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