Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Scouting Movement and World Thinking Day/B-P Day/Founders' Day (February 22, 2014)

                      


(L to R) Peter Baden-Powell; Robert S.S. Baden-Powell;
Heather Baden-Powell; and Olave Baden-Powell (1923)


In addition to being the birthday of George Washington (and my maternal grandfather, Everett S. Carpenter), today is the birthday of Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell born February 22, 1857 as well as his wife, Olave St. Clair Baden-Powell (nee Soames), born February 22, 1889.

Robert Baden-Powell, known to Scouts as "B-P," was the founder of the Scouting Movement. He was a Lieutenant General in the British Army and a war hero who wrote a book about the art and skill of reconnaissance and military scouting that became a hit with boys. In 1906-1907 B-P came out with a version of his scouting book aimed at boys and in 1907 he held a camp on Brownsea Island in England to test his ideas.  The next year he published Scouting for Boys and its popularity resulted in the formation of Scouting units across the UK.  The Scouting Movement was born and in 1910 the "Boy Scouts of America" was formed in the United States. The Girl Guides organization was also created in 1910 by B-P and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell.  [B-P's wife, Olave Baden-Powell, became the Chief Guide for England in 1918 and was later named the first World Chief Guide in 1930.] In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the "Girl Scouts of the United States of America" after Low had a meeting with Robert Baden-Powell.

The Scouting/Guides Movement is the largest youth movement in the world. Today there are two organizations that form the global umbrella for the Scouting/Guides Movement: the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) largely for boys, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) largely for girls. Scouting/Guiding exists in some 216 countries today and there are about 42 million registered Scouts/Guides (32 million Scouts in 2010 and 10 million Guides in 2006). Indonesia has the largest Scout/Guide membership total at 17.1 million (7.2% of the eligible population) while the United States has the second largest combined membership at 7.5 million (2.4% of the eligible population).



In recognition of the founding efforts of Robert S.S. Baden-Powell and his wife Olave St. Clair Baden-Powell as the Chief Scout and Chief Guide respectively, Scouts and Guides around the world designate February 22nd (the Baden-Powells' joint birthday) as a day to celebrate the values and accomplishments of the Scouting/Guiding Movement.  For the Guides/Girl Scouts today is known as "Thinking Day" or more recently "World Thinking Day" and it is a time to contemplate the movement, its goals, accomplishments and fellowship among members. For Boy Scouts, today is largely known as "B-P Day" or "Founders' Day" and it is also a time to contemplate and celebrate the movement and its two founders.

As I have written previously here at The Prism, Scouting has played a significant role in the experiences of generations of our family. My father-in-law was a Boy Scout in the 1930s and later became a Scoutmaster. My mother-in-law was a Girl Scout leader for many years at the Council level.  My wife and her sister were both Girl Scouts and counselors for several summers at Girl Scout camps in New Jersey and the Adirondacks of New York respectively. My brother-in-law is an Eagle Scout.

I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout until I reached age 18. My father was a Troop Committee Chairman. Both our sons were in Scouting from Tiger Scouts through the time they each became an Eagle Scout.  Molly was a Tiger Coordinator and Den Leader for seven years or more. I served in various adult roles for more than 20 years: Pack Chairman; Cubmaster; Webelos Den Leader; Assistant Scoutmaster; Scoutmaster; Crew Advisor; Order of the Arrow Chapter Advisor; Order of the Arrow Associate Lodge Advisor; Wood Badge Assistant Course Director; Jamboree Scoutmaster; Philmont Crew Advisor, etc.

A poster of all the Merit Badges that could be earned by U.S. Boy Scouts (circa 2000)


The family's Scouting Wall displaying the Eagle medals of our two sons, Order of the Arrow Vigil certificates, photos from four National Jamborees and other honors and memorabilia 

Like anything else, Scouting is not perfect.  It is always a work in progress with many aims and values worthy of continuing and improving where necessary.  In 2007 world Scouting celebrated its 100th Anniversary.  In 2010 the Boy Scouts of America marked the same milestone and the Girl Scouts of the United States followed with their centenary in 2012. Today is a good day to pause and contemplate the founding and huge success of the Scouting/Guiding Movement and to hope its inclusiveness and successes will grow in the future. On balance it is one of the most positive and influential youth programs in history.

Happy World Thinking/B-P /Founders' Day!  

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Photographs of Robert Baden-Powell, Olave Baden-Powell, and B-P and Olave with two of their three children from the author's personal copy of Tim Jeal's 1989 biography Baden-Powell

The fleur-de-lis upon a trefoil logo representing the international combination of Scouting and Guiding is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WikiProject_Scouting_fleur-de-lis_dark.svg and is used under the permission granted there.

Photographs of The Merits of Scouting poster and the family Scouting Wall by the author from his personal collection.

For more information about the Scouting/Guiding Movement and some of its history, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scouting  

For more information about World Thinking Day, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Thinking_Day

For more information about Robert S.S. Baden Powell, 1st Baron of Gilwell, see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Baden-Powell,_1st_Baron_Baden-Powell

For more information about Olave St Clair Baden Powell, Baroness Baden-Powell and first World Chief Guide, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olave_Baden-Powell
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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