‘Bob-A-Job Week’, during which Boy Scouts would come round offering to do a household task, such as washing the car, for the small price of a shilling, epitomised the founding spirit of this hugely popular movement. Indeed, London-born Lt.Gen. Robert S.S. Baden-Powell (“BP”, 1857-1941) aimed to instil the best qualities of resourcefulness, cheerful service and practicality in the younger generation.
In 1907 he ran a summer camp of activities he had devised for 20 boys on Brownsea Island, Dorset. These included bird-watching, star-gazing and campfire cooking, as well as coaching on loyalty, bravery and compassion. A few months later, BP published ‘Scouting for Boys’ (1908). This best-seller inspired the formation of local groups of Boy Scouts aged 11-15 and by 1920 there were enough countries with their own Boy Scout organisations to warrant holding the first World Scout Jamboree.
The Scouts are also known for their ‘Gang Shows’, the first of which took to the London stage in 1932. Pledging “Scout’s honour” (an assurance that you’re telling the truth) and the motto ‘Be Prepared’ became everyday expressions. The movement soon expanded its membership to other age groups and today there are the Beavers (aged 6-8), Cubs (8-10½), Scouts (10½-14), Explorers (14-18) and Network (18-25). More than 50,000,000 boys are members of Scouting worldwide.
(Top image of BP on Brownsea Island, 1907: Rogelio A. Galaviz C. at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0)