An Excerpt from:
CHAPTER IX. FORGING AHEAD
AT Gilwell Park, the Boy Scout Camp and Training Centre near Epping Forest, there is a statuette of a Buffalo with this inscription:
This Daily Good Turn was done on a foggy day in London in 1909 two years after the camp at Brownsea Island. An American publisher, William D. Boyce, had lost himself in the fog when a boy came up and offered to help him. Mr. Boyce explained where he wanted to go, and the boy showed him the way, but when he was offered a tip he refused it, because, as he said, "A Scout does not accept tips for doing his Good Turn." Mr. Boyce was so surprised that he exclaimed, "What did you say?" "I am a Scout. Haven’t you heard of the Boy Scouts ? Wouldn’t you like to know more about them?" Mr. Boyce said he certainly would, so as soon as he had finished his immediate business, the boy went with him to the offices, and there Mr. Boyce heard all about the scheme of training. He took back to America with him the pamphlets he had been given, and he was so impressed that he started the movement in the United States.
That is but one example of how the young movement quickly spread to other countries. It has already been noted that Scouts were organized in Chile in 1909, and in November, 1909, it was possible to record that "There are now Scout organizations formed or forming in Germany, Sweden, France, Norway, Hungary, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Singapore and India."
At home the movement was developing at a most astonishing speed, and this kept B.-P. very busy. He was constantly on the move, inspecting Scouts, speaking at public meetings and getting into touch with anyone who could help. For instance, during the second half of March, 1910, he visited Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Edinburgh, Perth, Aberdeen, Harwich and Leicester. No wonder he wrote, "Although I have travelled hard and have economized time to the best of my power, I find it is quite impossible to visit all the different places to which I have been asked and to which I should like to go." He soon made it clear that he had no use for formal parades, but preferred to see Scouts doing things. He devised a new kind of Rally, which now seems commonplace to us, but was a startling affair in 1910. This was the rush in of Scouts from concealed positions; yelling their Patrol cries and brandishing their staffs, they arrived at an arranged semi-circular line and there stood in dead silence.
This Rally was to have been seen on a large scale on June 18th, 1910, at Windsor Great Park before King Edward VII, but his death on May 6th made this impossible On May 5th B.-P. had been to Buckingham Palace to receive the king’s final approval for the plans. King George V, however, was equally interested in the progress of the movement, and m the following year, on 4th July, 1911, the Rally was held, when 30,000 Scouts were gathered together. An onlookers account is worth quoting because it contains B.-P.’s own summary of the position the movement had reached.
Later came the inspection and the Rush-in.
"Back at last, on his black horse, in his original position, Sir Robert sounded his whistle again, and then came the great moment of the day, the charge of the thirty thousand. It was magnificently done; the roaring of the Patrol cries suggested that the zoos of the world had been let loose, the thirty thousand closed in on the King as a great foaming wave, and it seemed that nothing would stop it; spectators trembled lest the King should be enveloped. But at a line, which none but the Scouts knew, the wave stopped dead, as if suddenly frozen—the shouting and the tumult died, and then—silence."
It was a magnificent tribute to the soundness of the new movement; and although such sights were to be repeated in after years, the thrill of Windsor has never been lost by those who were there.
Many leading men of the country gave their support, and amongst them was Lord Kitchener, who, in speaking at a Rally in Leicestershire, used words which have often been quoted:
B.-P. was invited in 1910 to visit Russia for the purpose of explaining the Scout method of training. He inspected the boys of the Moscow Cadet School, but was very critical of the harsh discipline and military atmosphere of the institution. There were some Boy Scouts—but really almost the same as Cadets—who realized what kind of man he was, and as the following incident shows, found a way of expressing their admiration.
Meantime the girls were demanding that they too should be allowed to join in the game of Scouting. Some turned up at the Crystal Palace Rally in 1909 and explained that they were Girl Scouts! So B.-P. had to do something about them. They were allowed to register at Boy Scout Headquarters, and within a year some 8,ooo did so. Then B.-P. persuaded his sister Agnes to organize a separate movement, and so the Girl Guides came into being.
In January, 1912, B.-P. set off on his first world tour to see how the movement was developing. He saw Boy Scouts in the Dominions and Colonies, in America, and in the East. Wherever he went he was received with enthusiasm; former officers and men who had served under him were anxious to meet him again, and he seized such opportunities to urge the value of Scouting.
There was one unplanned part of the tour that was to bring a great change in his life. On board the Arcadian, crossing the Atlantic, he met Miss Olave St. Clair Soames, and before the voyage ended he asked her to marry him. It was agreed not to make an official announcement until he had returned from his tour. The wedding took place on October 30th, 1912, and the Boy Scouts organized a penny collection for a motor-car—perhaps this was one way of saying that they hoped marriage would not prevent the Chief from touring the country to see the Troops. The honeymoon was spent camping in North Africa, and Lady B.-P. soon proved herself a first-class camper.
In after years thousands of Scouters and Guiders, as well as Scouts and Guides, were to enjoy the hospitality of the B.-P.s’ home, and all fully appreciated the happiness and friendliness of their hosts.
There was rejoicing in the movements at the birth of Peter in 1913, and in 1915, when Heather was born, and again in 1917 for Betty.
The chief event of 1913 was the Birmingham Exhibition and Rally. This showed people something of the variety of things Scouts could do, and there was general surprise at the extraordinary range of activities displayed. The Rally of 20,000 Scouts included boys from ten foreign countries. The event was also notable for the fact that B.-P. was wearing shorts as Chief Scout. Up to that date he had, on official occasions, worn breeches, and sometimes General’s uniform; his example was quickly followed by Commissioners and Scoutmasters.
At this period he was exceptionally busy, as he had become Master of the Mercers’ Company, to which many generations of his family had belonged. He fortunately had the capacity of making full use of every waking moment, and in this way he was able to do more work than two men usually got through. But even he could not stand such a strain for ever, and his doctor ordered a complete change and rest for the summer of 1914; B.-P. planned to go to South Africa and see something of his old haunts, and then to introduce Lady B.-P. to the delights of the veldt.