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Scouting for Boys

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Scouting for Boys

Scouting for Boys
Cover of first part of Scouting for Boys, January 1908
Author Robert Baden-Powell
Illustrator Robert Baden-Powell
Cover artist John Hassall
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Scouting
Genre Boy's handbook
Publisher Horace Cox
Publication date
Published in English
24 January 1908[1]

Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship is the first book on the Scout Movement, published in 1908. It was written and illustrated by Robert Baden-Powell, its founder. 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) is 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 teachers in Britain.[4] At Mafeking, Baden-Powell had recruited and trained boys aged 12–15 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, and Cyril Arthur Pearson, who owned newspapers and printing presses.[6] 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, honors and games for youth.[4][5] The book was very popular upon release, and became one of the best-selling books in history.Scouting for Boys has been translated into many languages. In 1948, the book was 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, even by the Scout movement, the book came to be seen as a period curiosity.[6] It is claimed to be the fourth bestselling book of the 20th century.[7][8] 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.[9][10]


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][11]

British editions

Other editions


All parts of the six instalments 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.[12]

Part I. Scoutcraft

The first instalment contains pages 3 to 70. It provides the basic details of scouting.

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

5 Observation 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
6 Spooring, Men's tracks, hints to spooring, hints to instructors, Tracking games, Books to read on spooring
7 Reading "sign" or deduction, Instances of deduction, Hints to instructors, Example of practice in deduction, Books to read
8 Stalking, How to hide yourself, How to teach stalking, Games in stalking, Books on stalking
9 Animals, Birds, Reptiles and fishes, Insects, Hints to instructors, Honours, Lion hunting, Books to read, Play
10 Plants, 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.

11 Pioneering, Hut building, Felling trees, How to make bridges, Self measures, the scout is always a handy-man, Hints to instructors, Books to read
12 Camping, Comfort in camp, Camp fires-the right way of making them, Tidiness, Hints to instructors
13 Camp life, Cooking, Bread making, Cattle-driving and slaughtering, Cleanliness, Water, Hints to instructors, Camp games, Book to read
14 Life in the open, Exploration, Boat cruising, Watermanship, Mountaineering, Patrolling, Night work, Weather wisdom, Hints to instructors, Games, Books on life in the open
15 Pathfinding, Judging heights and distances, Finding the North, Hints to instructors, Games in pathfinding, Books to read
16 Information 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.

17 How 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
18 Health-giving habits: How to keep healthy, Keep yourself clean, Smoking, Drinking, Early rising, Smile, Practices, Books to read
19 Prevention of disease: Camp doctoring, Microbes and how to fight them, Food, Clothing, Practices, Games, Books to read
20 Chivalry 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
21 Self-discipline: To instructors, Honour, Obedience and discipline, Courage, Good temper and cheeriness, Books to read, Practice in self-discipline, Games
22 Self-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.

23 Be prepared for accidents: Hints to instructors, The knights of St. John, Life-saving medals, Practice for life saving
24 Accidents 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
25 Helping others: Rendering first aid, Snake bite, Grit in the eye, Suicides, How to carry a patient, How to practice, Games, Books to read
26 Our empire: Hints to instructors, Our empire, How our empire grew, how the empire must be held, Hints to instructors, Books to read, Display
27 Citizenship: Scout's duty as a citizen, Duties as citizen-soldier, Marksmanship, Helping police, Hints to instructors, Games, Books to read
28 United 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

Copyright status

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.[13] 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.[9]

See also

Notable books related to scouting by Baden-Powell include:

Notable books related to scouting by other authors include:


  1. ^ "Boy Scouts movement begins". Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b c d e f "First Scouting Handbook". Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Woodcraft Indians". Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b  
  7. ^ Smith, David (22 April 2007). "Scouts uncool? Not in my book". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  8. ^ Hislop, Ian (10 June 2007). "The Edwardians".  
  9. ^ a b  
  10. ^ "UK and World Census figures".  
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (27 July 2007). "What would Baden-Powell do?".  
  13. ^ "Copyright. A guide to reproducing material owned by The Scout Association" (PDF).  

External links

  • by The Dump, resources for ScoutingScouting for BoysFull on-line text of
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