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How the Boy Scouts began

To augment his income, from his earliest days in the Army, B-P had submittd articls to various newspapers and magazines, always illustrated with his apposite and usually whimsical drawings, a few of which may be found here.

He had also had published several books about his expriences, see here.

So his name was not unknown to the British "reading public".

As it happned, in Kashmir in 1898, before he went to South Africa, B-P had written a little book, intended for soldiers, a sort of Army Manual, called "Aids to Scouting for NCOs and Men"*

Then came the Seige of Mafeking.

B-P's booklet was published in 1900, while the town was besieged. 

Obviously,the Publsher wanted to maximise sales, and so the pubicity of the book, and of the Seige, were complementary, and the word "Scouting" became much used.

All these factors - the Seige and B-P's up-beat messages, the "Aids to Scouting" book, the nessengers - struch a chord and prompted enthuseasm across Britain. One girls' school put the book onto its Reading List.

After the war was over, B-P was givn the task of setting up the South African Constabulary - basically, a non-military body of men whose job it was to "keep the Peace".  This is not the sort of work that most soldiers are suited to, and B-P had to recruit men who WERE suitable, and to ensure that they were properly trained for this role.

Once the scheme was up and running, B-P returnd to Britain, and was appointed as th British Army's Inspector-General of Cavalry, which required him to visit many establichments across the country, and in Ireland, which was then part of Britain.  During one of his visits to Ireland, he had been invited to stay by a Mr. van Raalte.

During this time, B-P received many letters from the Public, and from his Publisher. From also reading the newspapers and magazines, B-P became aware that there was strong "Public Demand" for something from him about - literally - "Scouting for Boys".  B-P came to think that his ideas might be a suitable subject to be included by organisations such as the Boys' Brigade, or Army Cadets in schools..

But demand just kept increasing, and so B-P startd to think about trying out some of his ideas at an "experimental camp".

During his stay with the van Raaltes in Ireland, B-P mentioned his idea, and van Raalte, said something along the lines of, "Well, tell you what - I happen to have an island in the middle of Poole Harbour, where you would be welcome to come and try out your experiment - and you would not be disturbed, you could just get on and do it without interference."  So that is what he did, at th beginning of August, 1907..  On Brownsea Island.  And it enabled him to refine his ideas further.

After discussions with his Publisher, it was decided to publish some articles on the subject written by B-P, to come out in eight small weekly "parts", to see hw it was receivd by the public.  It proved so popular that it was decided to publish those articles in a book, to be called, "Scouting for Boys".  

When this was published in 1908, the response was so immense that the publisher and B-P were forced to set up an organisation - provide an office, and staff, and to start a Registr of Boy Scout Troops, and try to regularise the situation that was getting out of hand.

So B-P did not start the Boy Scouts.  He did not say to himself, "I'm going to start an organisation". The Boy Scouts started themselves.  B-P was the catalist; his Mafeking fame, and his ideas in that book, just caught the imagination of the ccountry.  And of the world. 


* An N.C.O is a Non-Commissioned Officer - from Lance-Corporal to Regimntal Sergeant Major.
* available as a .pdf for free download here

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