Chief Scout of the World: There’s no cooler title around.
That’s what they called Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scout Movement and therefore one of the masterminds behind the Boy Scouts of America.
B-P was also the first recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award in 1926, the highest award the BSA gives adults.
Baden-Powell was born Feb. 22, 1857, exactly 157 years ago Saturday. Scouts worldwide — roughly 30 million in 161 countries — celebrate his birthday each year as Founder’s Day.
You can join the celebration in a number of ways. Here are seven ideas:
1. Learn a little about Baden-Powell
Just who was Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell? Read and find out:
- Mark Ray’s “Faces of the Founders” article from Scouting magazine introduces you to B-P and the BSA’s other founding fathers.
- This World Organization of the Scout Movement profile of B-P is comprehensive and interesting.
2. Read his words of wisdom
Three of my favorite quotes from the Scouting legend speak for themselves:
- “It is risky to order a boy not to do something; it immediately opens to him the adventure of doing it.”
- “The open-air is the real objective of Scouting and the key to its success.”
- “There’s nothing like ‘Being Prepared,’ is there? For what might seem possible, even if it may not seem probable.”
Be inspired by reading some classic Baden-Powell quotes. Click here for a few hand-picked favorites.
3. See his final message to Scouts
Baden-Powell prepared a farewell message to Scouts that was meant to be shared after his death. He died at age 83 in 1941.
This is my favorite line:
But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. “Be Prepared” in this way, to live happy and to die happy- stick to your Scout Promise always when you have ceased to be a boy — and God help you to do it.
Read the complete letter here (PDF).
4. Become a Messenger of Peace
In the October 1932 issue of Jamboree, Baden-Powell wrote: “Our aim is to bring up the next generation as useful citizens with a wider outlook than before and thereby to develop goodwill and peace in the world through comradeship and co-operation.”
In fact, as this UNESCO report indicates, peace and World Scouting have been close allies since the beginning.
You can join this effort by becoming a Messenger of Peace and being a powerful force for good. Get details on this BSA and World Scouting program here.
5. Teach the Scouting Heritage merit badge
Scouting Heritage merit badge, released in 2010, satisfies the desire by Scouts and Scouters to learn more about Scouting’s history.
And it’s no surprise that Requirement 1 of Scouting Heritage MB reads:
Discuss with your counselor the life and times of Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell. Explain why he felt a program like Scouting would be good for the young men of his day. Include in your discussion how Scouting was introduced in the United States, and the origins of Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting under Baden-Powell.
6. Consider how you pronounce B-P’s name
This one comes with a little controversy. I’ve heard Baden-Powell’s name pronounced two ways — the Powell part, at least.
Some say it like “POW-ull,” while others pronounce it more like “pole.”
B-P himself once address the pronunciation in a short poem:
Man, Nation, Maiden
Please call it Baden.
Further, for Powell
Rhyme it with Noel
Remember that B-P was British, so “noel” is pronounced like this. In other words, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong pretty much all my life, and it is more like “pole.”
7. Watch this video about B-P
8. Your idea?
How will you celebrate? Perhaps with a B-P-themed Scoutmaster’s Minute or a campfire story? Share your ideas below.
BSA file photo above shows Baden-Powell (right) with William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt