An Excerpt from:
E.E. Reynolds, B-P: The Story of His Life,
London, Oxford University Press, 1943.


IT had been decided to hold an International Jamboree every four years, each time in a different country. By this rule the Copenhagen Jamboree should have been followed by one in 1928 in some country other than England or Denmark. But it was felt that as 1929 would be the Coming-of-Age year, the Jamboree should be held then in the country where Scouting began. Arrowe Park near Birkenhead was chosen as the site, but before the Jamboree opened two events must have given B.-P. special delight.

At the end of July, 1928, a Reunion of the survivors of the Brownsea Island Camp of 1907 was held at B.-P.’s home, Pax Hill, Bentley. Of the original twenty-five, seven had died—some of them in the war—and six were abroad. Twelve met together to recall that early experiment. Only B.-P. and Mr. P. W. Everett were still active in the movement.

Then at Charterhouse a pleasant incident occurred. The "Masque of Charterhouse" was performed, and at the roll-call of famous Carthusians, Peter Baden-Powell called "Adsum" for his father. A scene in the Masque was devoted to the foundation of the Boy Scouts, and the performers were boys of the School Troop. The lines spoken were these:

Orator. Now the old heroes of a former day
Have struck their shadowy tents and stolen away;
Their voice is still, and hushed their music’s strains;
The legend of a living man remains,
Who, youthful yet at three score years and ten,
To manly service trains the sons of men.
In our own Copse he learnt the tracker’s art
Wherewith to unlock the door of boyhood’s heart,
Called the world’s youth to adventurous brotherhood
And generous effort for the common good.
Now young and old alike his work acclaim,
And bless our school for Baden-Powell’s name.
See here an eager band of roving boys
Seeking the open road with all its joys
Woodland and valley, stream and mountain height,
The scorching noontide sun, the starry night.

(A trek-cart enters, and a group of Scouts are welcomed by others around a Camp-Fire.)

When the Jamboree opened on the 31st July, 1929, there were gathered together 50,000 Scouts from forty-one nations of the world and of thirty-one parts of the British Empire. B.-P. gave the signal that the camp was open by once more using the koodoo horn of Matabeleland, Brownsea Island and Gilwell. Those who had the good fortune to take part in that amazing Camp will never forget the experience. Perhaps first of all they will think of it as the "Mudboree", for the rain had no mercy and the ground became a sea of mud. After the first few days, gum-boots became the most important item of wear as one slithered about. Yet mud and rain were soon forgotten in the general good-fellowship of the Jamboree. Memory calls up many scenes and incidents, and of these perhaps the more private ones are most treasured—having tea with a new-made friend in his camp, or chatting with Scouts from overseas, or trying to exchange conversation with a foreign Scout and discovering there is a language we all understand—Scoutese. Of the public scenes one naturally recalls the visit of the Prince of Wales, or the shows in the arena with the march of the Scouts of all nations, or the Camp-Fire Sing-Songs, or the Thanksgiving Service when the Archbishop of Canterbury preached a memorable sermon.

The Chief Scout’s own work was recognized by the King, who conferred upon him a peerage; after consultation with the members of the International Committee, he decided to choose the title of Baden-Powell of Gilwell—an indication not only of the place the Training Centre had gained during its decade of life, but of B.-P.’s own estimate of the importance of training. The boys naturally expressed their admiration for their Chief in their own exuberant ways whenever he moved amongst them, but they also presented him and Lady Baden-Powell with a Rolls-Royce car and caravan—promptly christened the ‘Jam-Roll’ and ‘Eccles’.

A lighter side of the presentation was supplied by the Scouts of Eire. When B.-P. had been asked what he would like as a present from the Scouts, he had said that the only thing he needed was a new pair of braces—and Eire rose to the occasion; on the day following the handing over of the Jam-Roll, B.-P. was solemnly presented with the Order of the Braces!

Of all the scenes, however, the one which will last longest in memory was the Farewell March Past to the Chief Scout. This time the Scouts did not keep in national groups, but mixed up freely arm-in-arm. They swung past the Chief cheering him as they went; then they formed up in twenty-one lines radiating from the point where B.-P. stood. As soon as silence fell he symbolically buried the hatchet of war, and then passed down the lines of Scouts Golden Arrows—recalling the name of Arrowe Park—and as he did so he said:

"From all corners of the earth you have journeyed to this great gathering of World Fellowship and Brotherhood. To-day I send you out from Arrowe to all the world, bearing my symbol of Peace and Fellowship, each one of you my ambassador, bearing my message of Love and Fellowship on the wings of Sacrifice and Service, to the ends of the earth. From now on, the Scout symbol of Peace is the Golden Arrow. Carry it fast and far so that all men may know the Brotherhood of Man."

Besides being raised to the Peerage, B.-P. was honoured in other ways in 1929. The City of London conferred upon him the Freedom of the City, and at the ceremony he was naturally presented by the Master and Wardens of the Mercers, his own Company. At the luncheon, B.-P. called himself a "cockney bred and born", and said that he had learned swimming in the Serpentine and had there caught his first fiddler. He referred to his days at Charterhouse while it was still in London and the annual fights with the butcher boys.

Mr. David Jagger was engaged to paint his portrait for the Mercers, and a second one for the Boy Scouts Association; in both he is represented in Scout uniform. The following year Mr. Simon Elwes was invited to paint another portrait for the Girl Guides Association. B.-P., when asked how he would like to pose for this, replied that he would prefer to be represented at work, and in explanation he wrote:

"My suggestion that I should be ‘doing something’ when sitting to you has a twofold meaning underlying it. One (entirely selfish) is that it is difficult for me to sit still and do nothing when I have so much on hand to do. Secondly, I (in common with many others) feel that (though it is very usual with portraits) to hand down to one’s successors the representation of a man staring vacantly into space with hands lying idle, does not give a true picture of an active worker."

At the Arrowe Park Jamboree the Rover Scouts came into their own. They were the pioneer workers on the site, and throughout the camp, and afterwards, they did much of the donkey-work which makes such a vast undertaking a success. B.-P. said of them, "Many of them never saw anything of the pageants or the fun, but were working away behind the scenes all the time. And they did it all in the cheeriest mood, and in their hundreds, coming from all parts and from all grades of society. But all were alike in their readiness to chuck self and to serve." This must have been to him one of the most encouraging aspects of the Jamboree. "All this behind-the-scenes service," he added, "told me just what I had wanted to know, and what I had hoped for all these years. It gave visible proof that our training can, where properly handled, produce community serving citizens."

One outcome of this Rover achievement was an International Moot held at Kandersteg in August, 1931. Here an International Scout Chalet had been opened in 1923, and it had soon established itself as a centre of World Scouting.

One of the particular delights of the Moot was that all the B.-P. family were there—the Chief Scout, the Chief Guide, Peter, Heather and Betty. They took part in all the life and fun of the camp and became known to hundreds of Rovers of many lands; after the gigantic size of the Arrowe Park Camp, Kandersteg had more the air of a delightful family gathering. Of course there was rain at times, but that was expected, as by now it was an accepted joke—started by B.-P. himself— that the Chief always turned on the rain, "Just to see how you fellows stick it." As usual, he jotted down his own impressions for the encouragement of those who could not be present.

"Up here among the Swiss mountains [he wrote], in the green valley of Kandersteg, one is very remote from the fuss and hurry of the world. Yet, from where I sit in the flower-decked balcony of this Chalet, I can see the flags of twenty-two nations waving above the tents, and the camp-fires of some three thousand young men gathered there.

"Rover Scouts they are: a brigade, as it were, of storm-troopers of the larger army of over two million Boy Scouts. Their arms are alpenstocks, their discipline that of goodwill from within; their service consists not so much of fitting themselves for war as in developing the spirit of universal peace.

"To myself, possibly, the most inspiring part of their varied programme was when one saw the endless succession of these splendid specimens of the young manhood of all nations setting out in comradeship together with heavy packs on their backs and ice-axes in hand to tackle the neighbouring mountains. The Moot might have been held with greater convenience in any large city, but this valuable side of it, namely, the breeding of mutual friendship in healthy sport, would have been lost.

"Aye, and something more and above all price, namely, the higher tone of thought which could not fail to have inspired the least imaginative among them in those wonderful surroundings of mountain scenery. Here, among the eternal snows, face to face with Nature in its grandest and most sublime form, they must have felt themselves in closer touch with the Almighty Creator, and in a new atmosphere, far above the man-made jazz and vulgar squalor of the town.

"Yes, a wide and promising field lies yet before the Scout Movement."

A normal man aged seventy-four might pardonably have felt that after Arrowe Park and Kandersteg he could sit back and take life more easily; his work was well established and there were all the signs of the movements he had founded going forward to conquer new fields. But B.-P. was not that kind of man; every milestone of achievement reached was not an invitation to rest but a spur to go forward to the next, and, as he looked ahead, he saw the need for further service in the cause of Scouting.

  E. E. Reynolds, B-P: The Story of His Life is a major source of biographical information about B-P. It is one of several works by E. E. Reynolds documenting the life of the Chief Scout and the early days of the Scout Movement.
  The Baden-Powell Library. A Selection of excerpts from the works of Sir Robert Baden-Powell and works relating to his life and career
  Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the World Scout Movement, Chief Scout of the World. A Home Page for the Founder. Links Relating to Baden-Powell on the Pine Tree Web and elsewhere. Text Only Index.

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