“Try and leave this world a little better than you found it,” said Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell. This visionary continues to inspire the world.
Baden Powell, a high-ranking military officer of the colonial British Army, had a different dream. He wanted girls and boys to become responsible citizens. Thus, he set up World Scouts and Guides movement.
A young army officer focused in scouting in India in 1876, he was specialised in map-making and reconnaissance.
Also a brilliant army trainer, he introduced innovative methods by creating small units or patrols that work under one leader. He offered special accolades for those who performed well.
Later he went to Africa to defend the town of Mafeking during its 217-day siege at the start of the Boer War. That offered crucial tests for Powel’s scouting skills.
The courage and resourcefulness of young soldiers at Mafeking made a lasting impression on him. He returned home in 1903 as a national hero.
Meanwhile, the small handbook he had written for soldiers "Aids to Scouting" became a guidebook for youth leaders and teachers all over the country.
Thanks to the overwhelming response, he rewrote the handbook, focusing younger audience, this time.
To try out his ideas, Powel held an experimental camp on Brownsea Island in Dorset in 1907. He handpicked 22 boys to the camp.
Setting off the Scout Movement, he published "Scouting for Boys" in six fortnightly parts in 1908.
Powel retired from army in 1910 at age 53 at the advice of King Edward VII to spearhead the Scout Movement. He travelled across the world, inspiring people. In 1912 he married Olave Soames , an ardent supporter of the movement.
When the first World Scout Jamboree took place in 1920 at Olympia, the Gilwell Park became its international training centre for Scout leaders. The Jamboree unanimously chose him as the Chief Scout of the World.
In the third World Jamboree, held in England, the Prince of Wales declared Baden Powell as Lord of Gilwell. Lady Olave Baden-Powell was later known as World Chief Guide.
Returning to Africa in 1938, he spent years as a military officer, and later lived in semi-retirement at Nyeri, Kenya. Powel died on 8 January 1941 aged 83 and buried at Nyeri within sight of Mount Kenya.
Lady Olave Baden-Powell carried on his work, promoting Scouting and Girl Guiding around the world until her death in 1977.
His farewell message to Scouts published after his death is “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it.”