Scouting for Boys

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Scouting for Boys
Scouting for boys 1 1908.jpg
Cover of first part of Scouting For Boys, January 1908
Author Robert Baden-Powell
Illustrator Robert Baden-Powell
Cover artist John Hassall
CountryUnited Kingdom
Subject Scouting
GenreBoy's handbook
Published24 January 1908 [1] Horace Cox
OCLC 492503066

Scouting for Boys: A handbook for instruction in good citizenship is a book on Boy Scout training, published in various editions since 1908. Early editions were written and illustrated by Robert Baden-Powell with later editions being extensively rewritten by others. The book was originally a manual for self-instruction in observation, tracking and woodcraft skills as well as self-discipline and self-improvement, about the Empire and duty as citizens with an eclectic mix of anecdotes and unabashed personal observations and recollections. It is pervaded by a degree of moral proselytizing and references to the author's own exploits. It is based on his boyhood experiences, his experience with the Mafeking Cadet Corps during the Second Boer War at the Siege of Mafeking, and on his experimental camp on Brownsea Island, England.



Scouting for Boys (1908) was Baden-Powell's rewrite of his earlier book Aids to Scouting (1899) [2] with many youth training ideas openly taken from The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians (1906) [3] written by Ernest Thompson Seton, who later became the Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. [4] [5] Aids to Scouting was mostly a written explanation of the military scouting and self-reliance skills lessons Baden-Powell had learned from Frederick Russell Burnham, the British Army Chief of Scouts, but following the siege of Mafeking this military handbook unexpectedly became popular with many youth groups and educators, like Charlotte Mason, in Britain. [4] [6] [7] At Mafeking, Baden-Powell's adjutant had recruited and trained boys aged 12–15 as cadets and during the siege they acted as postmen, messengers, and later to carry the wounded, to free men for fighting. Upon his return to England, following the Second Boer War, Baden-Powell learned some British schools had been using Aids to Scouting to teach observation and deduction. In 1906, Seton discussed youth training ideas with Baden-Powell and shared with him a copy of The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians. [5] Soon after, Baden-Powell decided to revise Aids to Scouting into a book for boys. [4] Several friends supported Baden-Powell, including Sir William Alexander Smith, founder of the Boys' Brigade, Cyril Arthur Pearson, who owned newspapers and printing presses, and the novelist Maria Fetherstonhaugh, who provided a quiet Wimbledon house where he could write. [8] [9] Baden-Powell wrote a draft, then called Boy Patrols, which he used and tested with 22 boys for one week at camp on Brownsea Island in the summer of 1907, where Pearson's literary editor Percy Everett assisted. [4]

Scouting for Boys was published in six fortnightly instalments of approximately 70 pages each, from January to March 1908. They were produced by Pearson's printer, Horace Cox. These six publications were a success and, as planned, were issued in book form on 1 May 1908. Although Aids to Scouting strongly influenced the book, Scouting for Boys presents Scouting from the perspective of outdoorsmen and explorers rather than military men, and it adds the Scout Oath, Scout Law, honours and games for youth. [4] [5] The book was revised and an enormous variety of editions were published. Many of these editions were edited by others and, far beyond mere editing, whole sections were written by authors other than Baden-Powell. The book was a best seller upon release, and, in its various editions, is claimed to have become one of the best-selling books in history. Scouting for Boys has been translated into many languages. In 1948, editions of the book were still selling 50,000 copies annually. Only in 1967 was a decline noted by the publisher and in the last decades of the 20th century the book came to be seen as a period curiosity even by the Scout Movement. [8] It is claimed to be the fourth bestselling book of the 20th century. [10] [11] A realistic estimate is that approximately 4 million copies of the UK edition have been sold. Extrapolating this to 87 different language editions worldwide, historic world sales of Scouting for Boys can be estimated at 100 to 150 million copies since 1908. [12] [13]

In her introduction to the 2005 edition, Elleke Boehmer criticises the book saying "the text was deeply scored through with a contemporary class prejudice which would have been off-putting to non-middle-class readers, as captured in the sharp aphorism that bees form a 'model community, for they respect their Queen and kill their unemployed' (p.117) Character observation in many ways meant reading for the signs of working-class poverty." [14]


Scouting for Boys has been published in over thirty consecutive editions by London based C. Arthur Pearson Ltd., and it is translated to all the major languages of the world. Estimatedly, over 100 million books have been printed, making it rank high in the list of best-selling books. [4] [15] The internet page has identified more than 300 different editions and included them in a database accessible via this internet page. Users can also add missing editions to the database themselves.

British editions

Other editions


All parts of the six installments in 1908 have the title Scouting for Boys in big capitals. With a listed price of '4d. net', it was affordable to many boys, many of whom would have been at work, as the school-leaving age was 14. Authorship is attributed thus: 'by B-P (Lieut. Gen. Baden Powell C.B.)' (sic).

Most chapters start with hints to instructors. All chapters have campfire yarns, appealing to boys, most contain sections with games and activities, and they close with recommendations for books to read. [16]

Part I. Scoutcraft

The first installment contains pages 3 to 70. It provides the basic details of Scouting.

1Mafeking boy scouts, Scouts' work, "Kim", Books
2Summary of Scout's course of instruction, the Elsdon murder
3Boy Scouts' organisation, the scout's oath, Scout's salute and secret sign, Scout's uniform, Scout's war songs, patrol signs
4Scout law, Scouting games, Scout's play

Part II. Tracking, Woodcraft

The second part covers pages 71 to 142. It contains chapter II on tracking and chapter III on woodcraft, each with three camp fire yarns.

5Observation of "sign", Noticing sign, Details of people, Signs round a dead body, Details in the country, Using your eyes, Books to read on observation, hints to instructors, Games in observation
6Spooring, Men's tracks, hints to spooring, hints to instructors, Tracking games, Books to read on spooring
7Reading "sign" or deduction, Instances of deduction, Hints to instructors, Example of practice in deduction, Books to read
8Stalking, How to hide yourself, How to teach stalking, Games in stalking, Books on stalking
9Animals, Birds, Reptiles and fishes, Insects, Hints to instructors, Honours, Lion hunting, Books to read, Play
10Plants, Trees, Hints for instructor, Games, Books to read, Play

Part III. Camp life, Campaigning

The third part covers pages 143 to 206. It contains chapter IV on camp life, and chapter V on campaigning.

11Pioneering, Hut building, Felling trees, How to make bridges, Self measures, the Scout is always a handy-man, Hints to instructors, Books to read
12Camping, Comfort in camp, Camp fires-the right way of making them, Tidiness, Hints to instructors
13Camp life, Cooking, Bread making, Cattle-driving and slaughtering, Cleanliness, Water, Hints to instructors, Camp games, Book to read
14Life in the open, Exploration, Boat cruising, Watermanship, Mountaineering, Patrolling, Night work, Weather wisdom, Hints to instructors, Games, Books on life in the open
15Pathfinding, Judging heights and distances, Finding the North, Hints to instructors, Games in pathfinding, Books to read
16Information by signal, Signalling, Whistle and flag signals, Practices in signalling, Hints to instructors, Marks towards badges of honour in campaigning, Dispatch running, Display

Part IV. Endurance and chivalry

The fourth part covers pages 207 to 270. It contains chapter VI Endurance for Scouts, or How to be strong, and chapter VII Chivalry of the knights.

17How to grow strong: A Scout's endurance, Exercises and their object, The nose, Ears, Eyes, Teeth, Hints to instructors, Games to develop strength, Books to read
18Health-giving habits: How to keep healthy, Keep yourself clean, Smoking, Drinking, Early rising, Smile, Practices, Books to read
19Prevention of disease: Camp doctoring, Microbes and how to fight them, Food, Clothing, Practices, Games, Books to read
20Chivalry of the knights: Chivalry to others, St. George, The knights' code, Unselfishness, Self-sacrifice, Kindness, Tips, Friendliness, Politeness, Courtesy to women, Practices, Hints to instructors, Games, Play, Books to read
21Self-discipline: To instructors, Honour, Obedience and discipline, Courage, Good temper and cheeriness, Books to read, Practice in self-discipline, Games
22Self-improvement:To instructors, Duty to God, Thrift, How to make money, How to get on, Practices in self-improvement, Information on professions, etc, Books to read, (in part V:) Sobriety, Practise observation, Fortitude, Notes to instructors,

Part V. Saving life and patriotism

The fifth part covers pages 271 to 334. It contains chapter VIII Saving life, or how to deal with accidents, and chapter IX Patriotism, or our duties as citizens.

23Be prepared for accidents: Hints to instructors, The knights of St. John, Life-saving medals, Practice for life saving
24Accidents and how to deal with them: Panics, Rescue from fire, Directions, Rescue from drowning, Rescue from runaway horses, Miscellaneous accidents, Mad dog, Practices in life-saving, Books to read
25Helping others: Rendering first aid, Snake bite, Grit in the eye, Suicides, How to carry a patient, How to practice, Games, Books to read
26Our empire: Hints to instructors, Our empire, How our empire grew, how the empire must be held, Hints to instructors, Books to read, Display
27Citizenship: Scout's duty as a citizen, Duties as citizen-soldier, Marksmanship, Helping police, Hints to instructors, Games, Books to read
28United we stand, divided we fall: Hints to instructors, Our Navy and Army, Our flag, Our government, Our King, Books to read

Part VI. Notes for instructors, Scouting games, practices, and displays

The sixth part covers pages 335 to 398. It contains Notes to instructors and Scouting games, practices, and displays.

 Play the game: don't look on, The British Empire wants your help, Fall of the Roman Empire was due to bad citizenship, Bad citizenship is becoming apparent in this country to-day, Football, Our future citizens, Peace-Scouting, Militarism, How to teach Scouting, Authorities who might find the scheme useful, Hints to instructors, Be Prepared, Clubroom, The handbook, Course of instruction, Method of instruction, Imagination, Responsibility to juniors, Discipline, Religion, Continence, Hints to instructors, Forming character, Conclusion, Books on the subject
 Notes to instructors, Scoutcraft, Tracking, Woodcraft, Camp life, Books to read, Campaigning and pathfinding, Endurance and health, Chivalry, Saving life and first aid, Patriotism, Play the game!, The storming of Delhi, The Maple Leaf Forever, The song of Australia, God bless the Prince of Wales, God save the King, Sample programme of athletics sports, Non-Scouting games, Basket ball, Books to read
 Suggestions for a display
 True scouting stories

The Scout Association owned the legal copyright to Scouting for Boys in the UK, until 31 December 2011, when the copyright expired at the end of the 70th year after the death of its author on 8 January 1941. The book is now in the public domain. [17] Until then it could only be reproduced after permission was granted from the Scout Association headquarters, other than for copyright exceptions in specific countries, such as fair use. The Boy Scouts of America were granted a special copyright license by Baden-Powell himself for their Boy Scout Handbook , written during the BSA's formal founding in 1910. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Scouting World-wide movement for the education of youth

The Scout movement, also known as Scouting or the Scouts, is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people. Although it requires an oath of allegiance to a nation's political leaders and - in some countries - to a god, it is otherwise allows membership without distinction of gender, race or origin accordance with the principles of its founder, Lord Baden-Powell. The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.

Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell British Army officer, founder of the world-wide Scout Movement

Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell,, was a British Army officer, writer, founder and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Scout Movement, and founder, with his sister Agnes, of the world-wide Girl Guide / Girl Scout Movement. Baden-Powell authored the first editions of the seminal work Scouting for Boys, which was an inspiration for the Scout Movement.

Scout (Scouting) member of scout movement

A Scout is a child, usually 10–18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group into a junior and a senior section. Scouts are organized into troops averaging 20–30 Scouts under the guidance of one or more Scout Leaders. Troops subdivide into patrols of about 6–8 Scouts and engage in outdoor and special interest activities. Troops may affiliate with local, national, and international organizations. Some national Scouting associations have special interest programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands, and rider Scouts.

Scout Motto

The Scout Motto of the Scout movement, in various languages, has been used by millions of Scouts around the world since 1907. Most of the member organizations of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) share this same motto.

<i>Boy Scout Handbook</i> principle program book series supporting boy scout programs

Boy Scout Handbook is the official handbook of Scouts BSA. It is a descendant of Baden-Powell's original handbook, Scouting for Boys, which has been the basis for Scout handbooks in many countries, with some variations to the text of the book depending on each country's codes and customs.

The Scout Association of Zimbabwe member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement

The Scout Association of Zimbabwe is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Scouting in Zimbabwe shares history with Malaŵi and Zambia, with which it was linked for decades.

Scoutcraft is a term used to cover a variety of woodcraft knowledge and skills required by people seeking to venture into wild country and sustain themselves independently. The term has been adopted by Scouting organizations to reflect skills and knowledge which are felt to be a core part of the various programs, alongside community and spirituality. Skills commonly included are camping, cooking, first aid, wilderness survival, orienteering and pioneering.

Scout Law

Since the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908, all Scouts and Guides around the world, as well as members of the affiliated Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, have taken a Scout Promise or oath to live up to ideals of the movement, and subscribed to a Scout Law. The wording of the promise and law have varied slightly over time and among Scouting organizations.

<i>Baden-Powell</i> (book) book by Tim Jeal

Baden-Powell is a 1989 biography of Robert Baden-Powell by Tim Jeal. Tim Jeal's work, researched over five years, was first published by Hutchinson in the UK and Yale University Press. It was reviewed by The New York Times. James Casada wrote in a review for Library Journal that it is "a balanced, definitive assessment which so far transcends previous treatments as to make them almost meaningless."

Lone Scouts are members of the Scout movement who are in isolated areas or otherwise do not participate in a regular Scouting unit or organization. A Lone Scout must meet the membership requirements of the Scouting organization to which they belong and have an adult Scout leader or counselor who may be a parent, guardian, minister, teacher, or another adult. The leader or counselor instructs the boy and reviews all steps of Scouting advancement. Lone Scouts can be in the Scout Section or sections for older young people, and in some countries in the Cub section or sections for younger boys. They follow the same program as other Scouts and may advance in the same way as all other Scouts.

Kenneth McLaren DSO, (1860–1924) was a Major in the 13th Hussars regiment of the British Army. After his military service he assisted with the growth of the Scouting movement founded by his friend Robert Baden-Powell.

Scouting in the United States is dominated by the 2.7 million-member Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA and other associations that are recognized by one of the international Scouting organizations. There are also a few smaller, independent groups that are considered to be "Scout-like" or otherwise Scouting related.

<i>The Wolf Cubs Handbook</i> book by Robert Baden-Powell

The Wolf Cub's Handbook is an instructional handbook on Wolf Cubs training, published in various editions since December 1916. Early editions were written and illustrated by Robert Baden-Powell with later editions being extensively rewritten by others. The book has a theme based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book jungle setting and characters.

Mafeking Cadet Corps forerunner of the Boy Scouts

The Mafeking Cadet Corps was a group of boy cadets formed by Lord Edward Cecil shortly before the 217 day Siege of Mafeking in South Africa during the Second Boer War in 1899–1900. Cecil, the son of the British prime minister, was the staff officer and second-in-command of the garrison. The cadets consisted of volunteer white boys below fighting age and were used to support the troops, carry messages, and help in the hospital. This freed up men for military duties, and kept the boys occupied.

Brownsea Island Scout camp First event that lead to the Boy Scout movement

The Brownsea Island Scout camp began as a boys' camping event on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, southern England, organised by Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell to test his ideas for the book Scouting for Boys. Boys from different social backgrounds participated from 1 to 8 August 1907 in activities around camping, observation, woodcraft, chivalry, lifesaving and patriotism. The event is regarded as the origin of the worldwide Scout movement.

Humshaugh Human settlement in England

Humshaugh is a parish near Hexham in Northumberland, England. This small village is just north of Chollerford, which is located near Chesters Fort (Cilurnum) on Hadrian's Wall and is about 21 miles west of Newcastle upon Tyne. The village of Humshaugh lies just off the military road running from Newcastle to Carlisle which was built by General Wade during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Other nearby villages include Low Brunton and Walwick. For those who are new to the area, Humshaugh is usually pronounced Humz-hoff, although some genuine locals have been heard calling it Humz-haff.

Sir Percy Winn Everett was an editor-in-chief for the publisher, C. Arthur Pearson Limited and an active Scouter who became the Deputy Chief Scout of The Boy Scouts Association.

<i>Chums</i> (paper) boys weekly newspaper published in the UK from 1892 to 1941

Chums was a boys' weekly newspaper started in 1892 by Cassell & Company and later, from 1927, published by Amalgamated Press. The publisher gathered the weekly paper into monthly and annual editions. The monthly versions were published on the 25th of the month, and up to November 1920 included all the content of the weekly editions. From then on, the monthly editions had all the story content of the weeklies, but left out the covers. This left a gap which was then filled by short stories, articles and even serials that were not included in the weekly edition.The serial ceased publication in 1941.

Scouting magazine is a bi-monthly publication of The Scout Association. The magazine includes information, resources and support for both young people and adults involved with The Scout Association and Scouting. It is supplied free of direct charge to adult leaders and office holders of the association. The magazine originated in July 1909 as the Headquarters Gazette, merged with other periodical publications and had several changes of title, content, format and distribution method.


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  8. 1 2 Boehmer, Elleke (2004). Notes to 2004 edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  11. Hislop, Ian (10 June 2007). "The Edwardians". BBC Four . Retrieved 31 October 2007.
  12. 1 2 Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. ISBN   0-09-170670-X.
  13. "UK and World Census figures". The Scout Association . Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  14. Elleke Boehmer (ed), 2005, p.xxii
  15. Extrapolation for global range of other language publications, and related to the number of Scouts, make a realistic estimate of 100 to 150 million books. Details from Jeal, Tim. Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. ISBN   0-09-170670-X.
  16. Rohrer, Finlo (27 July 2007). "What would Baden-Powell do?". BBC News Magazine . Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  17. "Copyright. A guide to reproducing material owned by The Scout Association" (PDF). The Scout Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2010.