Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Lord Baden-Powell!

February 22, 1857 is the birthday of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, lieutenant general in the British Army and founder of the Scout movement. Baden-Powell served in both India and Africa from 1876 to 1910, and wrote several books on military reconnaissance. Upon his return to England, Baden-Powell discovered these books were being read by boys and youth organizations. Based upon those earlier books, he wrote Scouting for Boys in 1908, a guidebook for exploring the wilderness.

The book is described as including "practical instructions on how to light fires, build a boat, or stalk animals (or men), it includes sections on chivalry, self-discipline, self-improvement, and citizenship. Indeed, the book brims with Baden-Powell's philosophy of life, one that replaces self with service, puts country before the individual, and duty above all".

Baden-Powell tested the ideas put forth in the book in August of 1907 at Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, with a group of boys. The boys participated in camping, nature observation, woodcrafts, chivalry, life saving skills and patriotism. The Brownsea Island adventure is viewed as the origins of the scouting movement. The Girl Guides (or Scouts) began a few years later in 1910.

Locally, we have the Girl Scouts of the Frontier Council and the Las Vegas Area Boy Scouts. You don't have to be in the scouts to celebrate today - there is lots of wilderness in Southern Nevada to explore! Practice tracking animals in the backyard (even if it is the family dog!) and identify plants, animals and birds in your neighborhood. Older children can learn to make fires and build an emergency shelter.

Image credits (ScoutBase UK, Scouts)

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