By Darryl Alder
Aug 24, 2015

If B-P Were Alive Today, He’d Use Social Media; Are You?

Baden-Powell in his lifetime wrote and illustrated many books (see table below), nearly ten before writing Scouting for Boys. This book, however, was serialized a week at a time, over fours months in 1908. Each week a chapter was published in British newspapers and it became a national sensation. Boys began forming patrols, boy leaders elected looked to the papers for the next installment to guide them, they started doing Scouting and the only adult in the mix was B-P.

Technically in today’s terms, that makes our founder not just first Chief Scout, also our Chief Blogger.

quote-scouting-is-not-an-abstruse-or-difficult-science-rather-it-is-a-jolly-game-if-you-take-it-in-the-robert-baden-powell-208615 (1)

Taken from the preface to Aids to Scoutmastership (1920)

For the next few months we will offer some of his thoughts as if he were the blogger posting them. You may be surprised at his statements; most of his ideas work today as well as they did back in the early 1900s.

Today we begin with “Scouting is not a science, but a game

Yes, Scouting is a game. But sometimes I wonder whether, with all our pamphlets, rules, disquisitions in the Scouter, conferences, and training classes for Commissioners and other Scouters, etc., we may not appear to be making of it too serious a game. It is true that these things are

Drawing from B-P's own hand, showing that we might be making the game a bit more complicated than necessary

Drawing from B-P’s own hand, showing that we might be making the game a bit more complicated than necessary

all necessary and helpful to men for getting the hang of the thing, and for securing results. But they are apt to grow into big proportions (like one’s own children or one’s own mannerisms) without our noticing it, when all the time it is very patent to those who come suddenly upon it from outside.

Thus this phalanx of instructional aids appears terribly formidable to many a Scouter, while to outsiders having a look before they leap into our vortex it must in many cases be directly deterring. When you come to look on it as something formidable, then you miss the whole spirit and the whole joy of it; your boys catch the depression from you, and Scouting, having lost its spirit, is no longer a game for them.

It becomes like the game of polo which was suggested to me by a General under whom I served. A melancholy occasion had arisen when the Troops in the garrison were ordered to go into mourning. This happened on the very day that an important polo match was to be played. So I was sent as a deputation to the General to ask whether the match would have to be cancelled. The General, with a twinkle in his eye, replied: “I think if you played very slowly and used a black ball it might meet the occasion.”

Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their individuality and initiative. No — it is a jolly game in the out of doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.

Many young men are put off Scoutmastering by the fear that they have got to be Admirable Crichtons and capable of teaching their boys all the details for the different Badge tests; whereas their job is to enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods and of gaining results.

So may I urge upon Scouters that the more important quest for 1931 is to ginger up the joyous spirit of Scouting through camping and hiking, not as an occasional treat in intervals of parlour or parade Scouting, but as the habitual form of training for their boys — and incidentally for themselves.

January, 1931 – B-P’s Outlook

B-P’s version of blogging spread the spirit of Scouting like wildfire. According to the History Channel Website:

With the success of Scouting for Boys, Baden-Powell set up a central Boy Scouts office, which registered new Scouts and designed a uniform. By the end of 1908, there were 60,000 Boy Scouts, and troops began springing up in British Commonwealth countries across the globe. In September 1909, the first national Boy Scout meeting was held at the Crystal Palace in London. Ten thousand Scouts showed up, including a group of uniformed girls who called themselves the Girl Scouts. In 1910, Baden-Powell organized the Girl Guides as a separate organization.

And all that from one man sharing his experiences and ideas and making sure other people knew about them! It sure makes me stop and wonder what would happen if each Scouter took a few minutes every week to use social media to spread his or her ideas to friends, neighbors and most importantly, youth. You might not have 60,000 boys join your crew, team, troop or pack, but let’s try it and see what happens.

By the way if you need help with social media contact one of our coaches at (scroll to the bottom of the page)


Books by Baden-Powell

Military books Scouting books Other books
1884: Reconnaissance and Scouting 1908: Scouting for Boys 1905: Ambidexterity(co-authored with John Jackson)
1885: Cavalry Instruction 1909: Yarns for Boy Scouts 1915: Indian Memories
1889: Pigsticking or Hoghunting 1912: The Handbook for the Girl Guides or How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire(co-authored with Agnes Baden-Powell) 1915: My Adventures as a Spy[63]
1896: The Downfall of Prempeh 1913: Boy Scouts Beyond The Sea: My World Tour 1916: Young Knights of the Empire: Their Code, and Further Scout Yarns[64]
1897: The Matabele Campaign 1916: The Wolf Cub’s Handbook 1921: An Old Wolf’s Favourites
1899: Aids to Scouting for N.-C.Os and Men 1918: Girl Guiding 1927: Life’s Snags and How to Meet Them
1900: Sport in War 1919: Aids To Scoutmastership 1933: Lessons From the Varsity of Life
1901: Notes and Instructions for the South African Constabulary 1921: What Scouts Can Do: More Yarns[60] 1934: Adventures and Accidents
1914: Quick Training for War 1922: Rovering to Success 1936: Adventuring to Manhood
1929: Scouting and Youth Movements 1937: African Adventures
est 1929: Last Message to Scouts[61] 1938: Birds and Beasts of Africa
1932: He-who-sees-in-the-dark; the Boys’ Story of Frederick Burnham, the American Scout[62] 1939: Paddle Your Own Canoe
1935: Scouting Round the World 1940: More Sketches Of Kenya

Darryl head BW

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