Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Kudu Horn

Today, at eight o'clock in the morning local time, Scouts all over the world gathered wherever they were, to sound the Kudu horn (fashioned from a beast found in Africa and similar to the Jewish shofar), and to renew their pledge to the world movement of brotherhood and service, an idea which has its birth just one hundred years ago today...

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born in Paddington, London, England, in 1857. As an officer in the British Army, he developed a handbook called "Aids to Scouting," to be used as a reconnaissance manual for the Boer War. It was during this conflict that its skills were brought to bear, in defending a garrison at Mafeking for 217 days, until reinforcements arrived. After the war, and upon learning of the book's popularity with young boys seeking outdoor adventure, he re-worked it to his newfound audience, and re-titled it "Scouting for Boys." In August of that year, on an island off the English coast known as Brownsea, he led an experimental training camp for twenty boys of various walks of life. Dividing them into patrols, developing team-building exercises, and teaching various "scoutcraft" skills, the experiment was a success.

The rest, as they say, is history. Among Girl Guides (including Girl Scouts in the USA), B-P's wife, Olave, the foundress of Girl Guiding, is also remembered. A century after the year of Brownsea, Scouting and Guiding now have a combined membership of over 38 million in 216 countries.

B-P died on 8 January 1941, and is buried in Nyeri, Kenya, near Mount Kenya. On his tombstone is the image of a circle with a dot in the center, the old trailmarker's sign meaning, "I have gone home."

And today, at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, England, and just off the coast on Brownsea Island, the 21st World Scout Jamboree is currently underway. It is there that Scouts from all over the world gather, to continue promoting mutual understanding and brotherhood, and to remember the man who still holds the title of "Chief Scout of the World."

I received a message from a brother-in-arms last night. Peter Ashpool is a veteran Rover Scout from the United Kingdom and a member of the UK Scouting Fellowship:

"A contingent from Troop 501 from California after travelling by plane for 20 hrs found on arrival 'No baggage' lost in transit. They pitched their tents in the dark and borrowed some camping gear. Three Scouts from the Cameroon turned up at the Airport to come to the UK and no one else turned up!! So the three came over themselves arriving at the site with nothing but personal baggage. In true Scout Brotherly Tradition, the three were taken in by a contingent from Belgium."

And with that, Scouting marches on...

Members of the USA contingent on hand for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree ( Used without permission or shame.
Members of the USA contingent on hand for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree. Used without permission or shame.

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