Baden-Powell, Robert

Baden-Powell_USZ62-96893_(retouched_and_cropped)

Could the Boy Scouts play a key role in winning the next world war?

As a British army officer, Baden-Powell frequently traveled disguised as a butterfly collector, incorporating plans of military installations into his drawings of butterfly wings.  His reconnaissance skills later became the basis of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.

In watching documentaries about the rise of Nazi Germany, I was struck by how Hitler’s Youth Group did outdoor activities very similar to those of today’s Boy Scouts, and how these outdoor activities were deliberately planned to create a group of boys ready for military service.  This made me wonder if the Boy Scouts serve a more valuable purpose than providing leisure activities for boys–creating a “warrior class.”  It seems that both British and Nazi German military officials had the same thoughts (“Baden-Powell,” Wikipedia):

On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Baden-Powell put himself at the disposal of the War Office. No command was given to him. Lord Kitchener said: ‘he could lay his hand on several competent divisional generals but could find no one who could carry on the invaluable work of the Boy Scouts.’

Nazi Germany banned Scouting in June 1934, seeing it as ‘a haven for young men opposed to the new State.’ Based on the regime’s view of Scouting as a dangerous espionage organization, Baden-Powell’s name was included in ‘The Black Book’, a 1940 list of people slated for detention following the planned conquest of the United Kingdom.

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