Who Was Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell?
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell (1857-1941), was a British Army officer, writer, founder and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Scout Movement, the Boy Scout movement. He served in the army in India and Africa, taking part in the Matabele campaign (1896-1897).
His defense of Mafeking during the Boer War made him a national hero. He organized the Boy Scout movement in 1908 and with his sister Agnes Baden-Powell, founded the Girl Guide / Girl Scout Movement two years later. Both movements rapidly acquired world – wide popularity.
In 1907, he held a demonstration camp, the Brownsea Island Scout camp, which is now seen as the beginning of Scouting. The first Scout Rally was held at The Crystal Palace in 1909. Girls in Scout uniform attended, telling Baden-Powell that they were the “Girl Scouts”.
Baden-Powell authored the first editions of the seminal work Scouting for Boys, which was an inspiration for the Scout Movement. Several of his military books, written for military reconnaissance and scout training in his African years, were also read by boys.
Based on his earlier books, particularly Aids to Scouting, he wrote Scouting for Boys, published in 1908 by Sir Arthur Pearson, for boy readership. In 1910 Baden-Powell retired from the army and formed The Scout Association. 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.