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Honouring the oath

K.L.N. RAGHAVAN

Begun in 1907, scouting continues to impart the ideals and principles of the founder, Lord Baden Powell.



Pioneering movement: Scouts at a training.

The century-old worldwide organisation of scouting stands on a pedestal of virtue and character. But to understand the import of scouting one should understand the character of the founder Lord Baden Powell. According to him, a scout is a skilled section of the army, proficient in reconnaissance, stalking, observation, deduction, pioneering and so on.

The beginning

Though scouting began in 1907, the idea originated in 1899. The Boers had besieged a village named Mafeking. Baden Powell was in charge of its defence. He organised two army bases — one in Rhodesia and the other in Bechuanaland. Mafeking lay between these two, and this was where the army stored their supplies. To communicate with Rhodesia and Bechuanaland, Powell decided to train youngsters. Baden Powell attacked the enemy and won the war.

On returning to England, he wrote many books on scouting. Encouraged by the Prince of Wales, he organised the first scout camp at Brownsea Island in 1907. The camp lasted a fortnight and he was helped by Major Maclaren and Percy Everest. In 1910, he entrusted the work of preparing a scheme for girls to his sister Miss Angela Baden Powell. Baden Powell, being an imperialist, did not want the movement to spread to India, but he extended it to European boys and Anglo Indians.

Annie Besant wanted it to extend it to Indians as well and in 1916, she started the Hindustan Scout Association. At this time, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya also started an organisation and called it Seva Samithi.

At the time of Independence, there were three main scouting organisations in India. In 1950 all the organisations came together to form Bharat Scouts and Guides. The root of scouting is the group or unit. It is necessary for all scouts to take an oath which they obey.

Unique training

A scout troop consists of patrols of three or four and each patrol consists of six to eight boys.

The important institutions in the scout troop for the successful conduct of the patrol system are the “court of honour” and the patrol in council.

Scout training is based on three S’s — Sacrifice, Self-reliance and Service. Activities are based on the fundamentals of scouting — the promise and the scout laws.

K. Rajagopalan

* * *

Lord Baden Powell

Robert Stephen Smith Baden Powell was born on February 22, 1857. He began his military career as a sub-lieutenant in the 13th Hussars in India. In 1903 he was offered the post of Inspector General of Cavalry. In 1906 he accompanied the Duke of Connaught on an official visit to South Africa. He was asked to organise the Territorial Army. He finally bid farewell to a military career in 1910.

His scouting began on May 7, 1910. In 1899, he wrote Aids to scouting for NGO’s and Men.

In 1908, he launched The Scout, a magazine and it promoted a summer camp with 30 boys under Baden Powell at Humsbaugh. In the same year another camp with 100 boys was conducted at Mercury and the training included seaman shop practice also. This was the beginning of sea scouting. The first official gathering of scouts was organised at the Crystal Palace in 1909 and 11,000 scouts participated.

The last three years of his life he spent at Paxtu. On January 8, 1941 he passed away.

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