at the Crystal Palace Rally, 1909.
British Scout Association
From: Scouts! The Rise of the
World Scout Movement,
Video Documentary, Clear Horizons, 1986
and the Crystal Palace Rally, a turning point:
writing my book, Scouting for Boys, I
naturally thought that boys’ organizations would use
it for their work and there would be little for me to
do in the matter. But before very long, in the spring
of 1909, I realised that quite outside such
organizations, hundreds of boys were forming Scout
Troops on their own.It was in 1909 that King Edward
had had his talk with me regarding the movement.
Although it was then only in its embryo stage His
Majesty saw such promise and possibilities in it as
encouraged me to try to push on with it—even if
it did cost me my nest-egg of hard-earned savings
(which it did).
So I made up my mind and pushed.
An invitation was sent out to all Scouts to meet me
on a certain day at the Crystal Palace, and this
resulted in a parade at which over 11,000 Scouts made
their appearance; the biggest muster of boys that had
ever taken place so far and the movement was not two
This was a bit of a bombshell for me.
I saw that I could not do both soldiering and
Scouting. I must drop one or the other. But which?
From the personal point of view, I was fifty-two and
a lieutenant-general, and therefore high up in the
professional ladder for my age: at the same time it
would be a pity to let this new growth falter and
fade, and yet I could see no one who could or would
take it in hand just then.
As I have said, the King questioned me on this point
and knowing that he had fully grasped the idea I put
myself in his hands to say which course I should
take. Eventually he agreed that the Scout experiment
was the more important.
So I resigned from the Army.
Robert Baden-Powell, Lessons from
the Varsity of Life, 1933
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© Lewis P. Orans, 1997
Last Modified: 10:30 PM on May 16, 1997