What's New

Scouting family takes pilgrimage to Baden-Powell’s grave in Kenya

Tracing the life of Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell takes you not only to his birthplace in London but also to Kenya, where he spent the last few years of his life.

My recent trip to London and Gilwell Park, provenance of the Wood Badge training course, inspired Idaho Scouter Steve Jung to share photos and stories from a similar Scouting pilgrimage.

And I’m sure glad he shared.

The Jung family traveled to Kenya, the East African nation where B-P died on Jan. 8, 1941, at age 83. His grave is now a national monument.

Steve, along with his wife, Becky, and daughter, Anna, visited B-P’s final resting place, the cemetery museum and his home in Nyeri, Kenya.

“Our trip to Kenya was a most memorable one,” Steve says. “We did some backcountry hiking and a lot of touring. We went caving and places most public  people don’t go or know about. Just a terrific trip.”

See Steve’s stories and photos after the jump.

A little background from Steve

As you know, Lord Robert Baden-Powell retired and moved in 1939 to a cottage he had commissioned in Nyeri, Kenya, near Mt. Kenya. He lived in a small one-room house he named Paxtu, which was located on the grounds of the Outspan Hotel. The Paxtu cottage was integrated into the Outspan Hotel buildings and serves as a small Scouting museum.

Baden-Powell is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Nyeri. His gravestone bears a circle with a dot in the center “ʘ”, which is the trail sign for “Going Home,” or “I have gone home.” When his wife, Olave, died, her ashes were sent to Kenya and interred beside her husband.

Photos from Steve’s trip
Robert & Olave Baden-Powell's headstone.

Robert & Olave Baden-Powell’s headstone.

The walkway to the cemetery. The Scout Law is on the left and Girl Guide's Law on the right.

The walkway to the cemetery. The Scout Law is on the left and Girl Guide’s Law on the right.

Baden-Powell Scouts Information Centre in Nyeri. This building is to the left of the walkway at the cemtery. Houses a full-time staff managing a small worldwide museum. A small fee is charged.

Baden-Powell Scouts Information Centre in Nyeri. This building is to the left of the walkway at the cemtery. Houses a full-time staff managing a small worldwide museum. A small fee is charged.

My wife, Becky, and daughter, Anna, and I (Steve Jung) are Venturing Leaders. I'm also a Boy Scout leader. We wore our uniforms to be pictured in uniform with the headstone.

My wife, Becky, and daughter, Anna, and I (Steve Jung) are Venturing Leaders. I’m also a Boy Scout leader. We wore our uniforms to be pictured in uniform with the headstone.

At the gate to the cemetery is the Scout Promise.

At the gate to the cemetery is the Scout Promise.

In the museum are many bulletin boards with patches from around the world. I am shown placing an Ore-Ida Council council shoulder patch on the board with mostly patches from the United States.

In the museum are many bulletin boards with patches from around the world. I am shown placing an Ore-Ida Council council shoulder patch on the board with mostly patches from the United States.

Here I'm pointing out the Ore-Ida Council patch.

Here I’m pointing out the Ore-Ida Council patch.

Bust of Lord Baden-Powell.

Bust of Lord Baden-Powell.

The Outspan Hotel where the Baden-Powell home (Paxtu) is available to visit. It is free to those in uniform, and a small fee is charged to those not in uniform.

The Outspan Hotel where the Baden-Powell home (Paxtu) is available to visit. It is free to those in uniform, and a small fee is charged to those not in uniform.

The opening to Paxtu. I felt I was walking on sacred ground!

The opening to Paxtu. I felt I was walking on sacred ground!

A sign with some history of Paxtu.

A sign with some history of Paxtu.

Both Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell are equally recognized at the Paxtu.

Both Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell are equally recognized at the Paxtu.

I was expecting patches to be dominant in the home, but that was not the case. Neckerchiefs from troops from around the world have been placed on all the walls. Notice above the doorway are photographs of both Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell.

I was expecting patches to be dominant in the home, but that was not the case. Neckerchiefs from troops from around the world have been placed on all the walls. Notice above the doorway are photographs of both Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell.

Our daughter, Anna, was amazed by the visitors who visited the Paxtu. People from around the world! But, more from Europe by far than the United States.

Our daughter, Anna, was amazed by the visitors who visited the Paxtu. People from around the world! But, more from Europe by far than the United States.

Close-up of the pictures above the doorway.

Close-up of the pictures above the doorway.

Pictures of Robert and Olave on the fireplace wall. All were well documented as to places and dates.

Pictures of Robert and Olave on the fireplace wall. All were well documented as to places and dates.

B-P was quite an artist. His original drawings of his artwork were prominently displayed.

B-P was quite an artist. His original drawings of his artwork were prominently displayed.

The backyard of the Paxtu were beautiful grounds viewing Mt. Kenya. Near the steps was a bird bath in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

The backyard of the Paxtu were beautiful grounds viewing Mt. Kenya. Near the steps was a bird bath in the shape of a fleur-de-lis.

 

Final thoughts from Steve

After visiting the Paxtu, be sure to visit and have dinner at the Outspan Hotel. Visitors worldwide are treated to an open-air dining atmosphere of native Kenyan foods. People from all nationalities and languages share a common bond there.

Kenya is a beautiful country open to tourism. The African safaris are amazing, the tea plantations, the hiking and backcountry hiking were most memorable.

We hiked Mount Longonot alongside a herd of giraffes. We visited the Masai people and had lunch of goat meat and cabbage in their home. We even went caving where baboons and bats dwell.

Kenya was a wonderful country to visit and gave us memories of a lifetime. No doubt, if you are a Scout or a Scouter, try to make Nyeri a place to visit.

16 Comments on Scouting family takes pilgrimage to Baden-Powell’s grave in Kenya

  1. Bev Armstrong // April 11, 2014 at 8:42 am // Reply

    I, too, have been there, at the end of a 6 week humanitarian trip to Kenya promoting AIDS prevention in the schools, building a day care center, adding to a library, and bringing computers to the area around Matunda and Kona Mbya. We stayed the night at Outspan and visited the grave of Baden-Powell. And we left memorabilia from Utah National Parks Council, and Utah Girl Scout Council. It was a very moving experience.

  2. Lenny Jennings // April 11, 2014 at 9:11 am // Reply

    Great Photo’s….. If you get a chance… View “Scouts of the World” some footage shot in Kenya.

  3. Great Scouting family story? Wasn’t it Jim Corbett’s use of the bandana that inspired B-P to include the neckerchief as a useful part of the Scout’s uniform?

  4. Nelson Block // April 11, 2014 at 9:56 am // Reply

    Dave, it was Frederick Russell Burnham’s use of a silk scarf that suggested the neckerchief to B-P. Burnham and a native scout and tracker in Africa, Hadj Ano, taught B-P a great deal about tracking.

  5. Nelson Block // April 11, 2014 at 10:00 am // Reply

    As Steve points out in this interesting story (the photos are terrific), Paxtu is on the grounds of the Outspan Hotel. The hotel was developed by Eric Walker, an old friend of B-P’s and one of the first professional Scouters in history – he was a traveling inspector. The hotel has a special location – Treetops – which is a guest room located in a large tree. Queen Elizabeth was staying there the night her father, King George VI, passed away. She climbed the tree a princess, and came down a queen. For more history, read “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt’s biography of the Old Chief, “Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero” available at the National Scouting Museum and your local Scout Shop.

  6. Michael S. Holmes // April 11, 2014 at 10:10 am // Reply

    I too visited Paxtu, twice; once in 1994 and again in 1995. (See Scouting Magazine, May-June 1995). I also visited Baden Powell House in London and the British National Scouting Archives there doing research for my book “Fun With Ropes and Spars.” Before going to Kenya, where I met with their chief Scout executive, I visited South Africa and got to tour the observation car BP used during the siege of Mafaking. The highlight of the trip was being in Nyeri for the Founder’s Day Rallye. Thousands of Scouts from all over the world marched from the Outspan Hotel to the grave site, which was more primitive in 1995. I was given the honor of laying one of many wreaths on the grave and expressing the good wishes of US Scouts on the occasion. One slight correction to the post. BP did not build Paxtu, although he named it. One of his subordinates in the Boer War had built the hotel and provided the cottage for BP’s use when he retired, disenchanted with Europe, just prior to WWII. “Paxtu” is based on “pax,” the Latin word for peace.

    • Nelson Block // April 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm // Reply

      Mike, as was often the case with Lord and Lady B-P, there was some fun wordplay going on. The B-Ps named their home in England “Pax Hill”. So, their new home in Africa was “Pax, too” or “Paxtu”.

  7. Thanks for sharing. For us scouts in far away Borneo Island this is great information .
    Wish there was pic from the back garden with Mt Kenya in sight.

  8. Jim Robertson // April 11, 2014 at 10:56 am // Reply

    Thanks. Do not recall ever seeing BP’s grave. I do know what the circle with dot means at the bottom of his marker.
    Jim (Ole Eagle Scout – 1959)

  9. DetBlouseUniformPolice // April 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm // Reply

    15 knots on that shirt.

    • I see 12.

  10. joselepervanche // April 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm // Reply

    Reblogged this on Scouting Adventures and commented:
    Pay attention to the neckerchiefs. After the Scout World Crest, it is the worldwide Scouting symbol. “Neckerchiefs from troops from around the world have been placed on all the walls. Notice above the doorway are photographs of both Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Baden-Powell”.

    • Michael S. Holmes // April 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm // Reply

      Just as I left my troop neckerchief and council patch.

  11. Reblogged this on The Scoutmaster Minute and commented:
    Fantastic Trip..

  12. Peggy Eberhardt // April 18, 2014 at 7:59 pm // Reply

    My dad was Steve’s scoutmaster when Steve was a young scout in Troop 164 in Lyons, Kansas. He is so proud of the man that Steve has become and enjoyed reading about Steve’s trip to Kenya.

  13. Gilberto Lagos // November 26, 2014 at 10:31 pm // Reply

    Steve:
    Saludos from Honduras.
    In 2010 , a small group of 6 rover scout atended the 13th Rover Moot in Kenya and visited Paxtu as well . Rowalland camp site and other scout facilities were the home for 70 countries around the world . This event was the first one since 1931 held in Africa. I am today the eldest scout in uniforn in Honduras (52 years of scout spirit). I am in the precess of retairment of active duty due to a knee problem.

    In the bulleting board in the picture I also left a badge celebrating the 1967 world Jamboree held in Idaho, my second international event. I also left a small banner ,both are in the photo you are putting your badge. Look for a small Canadian flag above it to the right ,the yellow color badge side by side

    Congratulations to you and your family for that good experience you have share with us all.
    SIEMPRE LISTO Y SERVIR

Join the conversation