An Excerpt from:
Reynolds, B-P: The Story of His
London, Oxford University Press, 1943.
aspects of Scouting were dear to the heart of B.-P., but
perhaps none attracted him more than the spreading of the
movement overseas, especially in the British Dominions
and Colonies. The Fourth Scout Law reminds us that
Scouting knows no differences of "country, class or
creed". This was the great message to the world of
the Jamborees, and at each B.-P. seized the opportunity
to bring that message home to every Scout. Thus at the
Jamboree in Hungary in 1933 his final words, before the
boys of sixteen parts of the British Empire and of
thirty-two countries left for their widely-scattered
homes, were on this subject of friendliness with all. The
symbol of that Jamboree was the White Stag of Hungary,
and B.-P. used this as his text.
brothers,—Those of you who were at the last
Jamboree in England will remember how the Golden
Arrow was handed out to each country as a symbol of
Goodwill flying forth to all the ends of the earth
through the Brotherhood of Scouting. Now at Godollo
we have another symbol. Each one of you wears the
badge of the White Stag of Hungary. I want you to
treasure that badge when you go from here and to
remember that, like the Golden Arrow, it also has its
message and its meaning for you.
Hungarian hunters of old pursued the miraculous Stag,
not because they expected to kill it, but because It
led them on in the joy of the chase to new trails and
fresh adventures, and so to capture happiness. You
may look on that White Stag as the pure spirit of
Scouting, springing forward and upward, ever leading
you onward and upward to leap over difficulties, to
face new adventures in your active pursuit of the
higher aims of Scouting—aims which bring you
happiness. Those aims are to do your duty to God, to
your Country, and to your fellow-men by carrying out
the Scout Law. In that way you will, each one of you,
help to bring about God’s kingdom upon earth—the
reign of peace and goodwill.
before leaving you, I ask you Scouts this
question—Will you do your best to make friends
with others and peace in the world?"
British Dominions and Colonies are themselves a world
within a world of various races and religions, and B.-P.
saw the importance of the British setting the example of
how, in spite of differences of colour and creed, men can
live happily together in peace.
have known the countries of the British Empire as
thoroughly as he did. His soldier’s life had included
many years in India and in different parts of Africa, and
his love of travel was later to take him to every part of
the Empire. It was perhaps significant that the first
British Scouts who greeted him outside Great Britain were
the French-Canadians of Quebec Canada itself is a
wonderful mixture of peoples, and many Scout Troops
include boys of several racial origins. Scouting in that
great Dominion is doing its part in bringing together
these very varied elements.
young men consulted him, as thousands did about their
future, he often urged them to look for a new beginning
in one of the Dominions or Colonies. He was particularly
glad when it was possible to establish a Migration
Department at Scout Headquarters, but he took care to
warn the Scouts who went out to the Dominions that they
would have to work hard. Here is one message he sent to a
party going out to Australia.
fellows seem to think that by going to Australia they
will find a country in which they are bound to get on
after they have failed in England. It is true that
Australia has more room for men and opens out greater
possibilities for them; but it means just as hard
work there to gain success as anywhere else. The
waster in England will be a waster in Australia. The
fellow who is a hard worker and can stick it out
through difficult times until the sun shines again is
more certain to succeed in Australia than he would be
when you get there don’t be rebuffed by difficulties
or disappointments. They are bound to come now and
then; but be determined to stick it out and see the
bad time through and you are sure to come out on top
in the end.
great thing is that, being Scouts, you are not going
to a land of strangers; you will find brother Scouts
there ready to give you the hand of friendship and
helpfulness when you want it.
urge you to remember the old saying, ‘Once a Scout
always a Scout’, and to stick to and carry out the
Scout Law as well as you can, even when you are grown
up and working far away from Scouting influences. We
shall all be glad to hear from you as to how you get
on, and your news will be helpful to other fellows
wanting to go out there.
the meantime from my heart I wish you God
things pleased him more than when any of these Scouts
wrote to say that they were enjoying their new life.
an opportunity came, he liked to send messages to Scouts
m distant parts of the Empire. Here is but one example.
When General C. G. Bruce, a boyhood friend of B.-P., was
going out to organize the Mount Everest Expedition in
1922 he carried with him a message from the Chief Scout
to the Troop at the Kalimpong Himalayan Home. They
already possessed a portrait he had given them when he
himself had visited the Troop; on this he had written,
topmost Troop in India—on the map, I see, Be topmost
also in your Scout efficiency."
General Bruce would go through Kalimpong, B.-P. sent the
following message by him:
General Bruce and his party will pass near you on
their way to try, once more, to climb Mount Everest.
I know they will have your warm interest and
admiration and good wishes on their Scout-like
adventure. They are tackling the biggest mountain in
the world with cheery pluck and determination. They
have already tried various sides of it in vain, but
they mean to try again until they succeed.
hope that you too will imitate their example.
Whenever a difficulty comes in your way, even if it
be the biggest difficulty in the world, tackle it
cheerily and pluckily, and if you can’t get over it
one way, try another and stick to it till you are
of good wishes and good camping to you."
big book would have to be written to describe all B.-P.’s
journeyings about the Empire. Fortunately he wrote
accounts of his experiences in The Scout, and in
such books as Scouting Round the World. Here it is
only possible to give a few typical incidents, but these
will show how his presence, and that of Lady
Baden-Powell, increased enthusiasm and at the same time
added to the host of the boys and girls who thought of
them as friends.
autumn of 1925 the Chiefs with the three children set off
for South Africa, and while B.-P. and Lady Baden-Powell
travelled about inspecting Scouts and Guides, the
children went to school; but they were all together at
Christmas, and the following note by B.-P. gives a
delightful glimpse of the family reunion.
write this on Christmas morning, when my thoughts run
to you all at home.
the early, early dawn I woke with a feeling of ‘Where
am I?’ The sea was washing among the rocks just below
my window, a pink glow was in the sky, and joyous
voices were shouting to each other in a strange
voices were those of a passing party of Dutch young
men and maidens, rucksack on back, going out camping.
my bed I look out over an expanse of calm sea under a
cloudless sky to the distant outline of Table
Mountain, twenty miles across the bay. His upper
heights are glowing red in the rising sunlight, while
his base is still in the violet shadows of night.
first step is to make a hurried sketch to catch the
quickly changing hues of dawn. My second to grab a
peach from the basket, feeling it almost a sin to
break into the lovely bloom and to exchange the
delightful scent for the luscious flavour. But the
deed is done all the same.
and I have had an argument, as to whether in dealing
with these peaches you eat them or drink them, but we
agreed that in any case you need a basin of water and
a towel handy!
the bumping of feet and the hushed chatter of small
voices in the neighbouring room of our shack shows
that the youngsters are awake, in fact very wide
awake, to the fact that it is Christmas morn. And
although there are only sprigs of sugarbush in place
of holly on the walls, and though there are no
chimneys for Father Christmas to enter by, still,
stockings have been hung up in all good faith—
and the presents are there.
a few minutes we are all assembled on one broad bed
in a state of tense excitement and feverish unpacking
of many parcels.
in the day, cooking the Christmas dinner absorbs the
time and inspires the ingenuities of each of us.
Apart from Peter, who fancies himself as chef in the
department of fried eggs, Heather and Betty also do
their share, even though it involves standing on a
chair in order to reach up to the kitchen
extracts from B.-P.’s report will give his general
I ought to have known, but I certainly did not
realize fully, what a re-visit to my old haunts
meant. It was not merely the enthusiastic crowds of
Scouts and Guides that one met, but at every place
one came to there were ex-members of my old force,
the South African Constabulary, to revive old
memories. Then there were the members of the Mafeking
garrison now scattered and living in different parts
of the country.
were old friends of the times when I lived at the
Cape; and everywhere, especially among gangers on the
railways, were old comrades, disreputable-looking old
rascals, some of them, who had served with me in
Matabeleland, or in Zululand, in the days of long
those who could not come to see me (and some came
many hundreds of miles to do so) all wrote to me and
required answering, and you may imagine what that
meant—with no office, no secretary, beyond a
hard-worked wife with a pocket typewriter in the
doctor intervened when B.-P. once more suffered from one
of his relapses from overwork.
doctor’s orders I was not allowed to go to South-West
Africa, and the Chief Guide went there in my stead,
another three thousand miles over very hot desert
country. Meantime I, in more cowardly fashion, took a
few days off in the beautiful Maclear
atmosphere and scenery of this district were exactly
like those of Cumberland; a grand sheep country in a
grand climate. A delightful farm was offered me at a
rock-bottom price. I was sorely tempted to buy. Had I
had the wherewithal I should probably now be a South
African citizen. Indeed, if I were only a young man
starting out in life—but that’s another
for a glimpse from Australia. Here is part of a
newspaper report of B.-P.’s visit in I931. After the
more formal Rallies, B.-P. visited the Scouts in
sun was setting when he arrived. As he went from one
to the other of the forty-eight different camp sites,
here and there fires glinted through the gathering
gloom, blue smoke curled into the still air. And the
smell of frying sausages was wafted through the bush.
Billies of boiling water bubbled merrily. Thick
slices of bread were toasted at the ends of sticks
held by brown little hands. Smiling boyish faces
shone in the flickering light of fires.
was all delightfully informal. Many of the Scouts
seemed unaware that the Big Chief was among them.
‘Hey, Jack, I dodged you!’ yelled one youngster from
the top of a rock to a mate who chased him. They did
not see the keen-eyed Big Chief watching them from a
path above them. ‘Hey, Jacky, you can’t cat—’
Suddenly he saw Lord Baden-Powell—stopped in the
middle of a word, and came as nearly to attention as
he could on his precarious perch.
the centre of a large cleared space stood a heap of
firewood. He was asked to light it—around it,
later in the evening, was to be a ‘wood badge’
investiture. Now no Scout must use more than two
matches in lighting a fire. B.-P. took several, and
in the end had to invoke the aid of a Herald representative’s
copy-paper. At that moment the Chief Guide appeared.
took more than two matches,’ said B.-P. shamefacedly.
‘ replied the Chief Guide, and B.-P. true Scout that
he is, did not excuse himself by saving, as he could
have said, that the laying of the fire was not kits
doing, nor did he blame the dampness of the wood.
a very happy speech, Lord Baden-Powell said that when
he had seen the Scouts marching on Friday and
Saturday, he had had just a doubt whether they were
not too much ‘parlour Scouts’— but the visit to
the camp had impressed him with their knowledge of
woodcraft and the true Scouting attributes."
little incidents can be recalled by thousands of Scouts
from these visits of the Chief. As long as the witnesses
live they will treasure such memories as the following
episode which occurred at the Australian Jamboree at the
end of 1934.
Chief had been visiting camps and, as he returned up
the road, it occurred to me that if we could get him
to pose for a photo beside our gateway it would make
a wonderful souvenir for all Troops in our District.
Well, nothing venture nothing win, so, adopting a
traffic-cop air, I placed myself in the centre of the
road and made my request. Smilingly the Chief
complied, and soon some thirty or forty cameras were
using up spools of films on him at full speed. In the
rush I nearly got left, but managed to secure a
beneath the Chief’s horse in the snap is a man’s foot
encased in plaster. It belonged to our District
Commissioner, Boss’ Currey, who had the misfortune to
break a bone early in the camp. Some of the boys had,
in sport, autographed the plaster bandage. During the
photo episode the Chief noticed these autographs, and
chipped ‘Boss’ on being an autograph
hunter—autograph hunting was the curse of this
Jamboree, and the Chief had publicly dubbed
autograph-hunting Scouts as ‘Cissie Scouts’. ‘Boss’
retorted that he wished he had the cheek to ask the
Chief for his! With that, I and another Scouter
hoisted ‘Boss’ on to our shoulders and there he was,
head down, legs waving wildly, the bandaged foot
under B.-P.’s nose, while someone dug up a pencil and
we secured the only official autograph of the
was of course a serious side to these visits. B.-P. was a
keen-eyed observer, and he quickly spotted the good
things as well as the bad. Anything at all original,
particularly if it showed a touch of humorous
imagination, won his warm praise. The routine kind of
Rally bored him; he wanted to see the Scouts in action
showing that they could look after themselves as true
Scouts. The Reports he wrote summing up his observations
were always helpful though sometimes critical, and one of
the great values of his extensive travels in Scoutland
was that he could pass on ideas from place to place, and
encourage those in difficulties by telling them how
others—perhaps thousands of miles away—had
solved similar problems.
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Please write to: Lewis P. Orans
© Lewis P. Orans, 1997
Last Modified: 4:24 PM on August 31, 1997