OTD: Baden-Powell opens first Scout camp

On today’s date in 1907, Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell held his first scouting camp, which led to the “Scout” movement a year later.

In July 1907, Baden-Powell tested some of his scouting ideas on Brownsea Island in England. He chose boys of different backgrounds – public-school boys from the upper class of English society, and working-class boys from Poole and Bournemouth – to determine if they could put aside their differences and work together.

“I wanted to see how far the idea would interest the different kinds of lads,” said Baden-Powell, who was born on Feb. 22, 1857, in London, England.

In the first week-long scout camp, which ended Aug. 9, 1907, Baden-Powell taught the boys various scouting skills and games. Soon after, he rewrote Scouting for Boys, which was published in six instalments in 1908 and has since sold about 150 million copies as one of the best-selling books of the 20th century.

In his book, Baden-Powell outlined scouting skills and forming patrols, and after reading Scouting for Boys, many young people formed patrols and scout troops. The scouting movement had started inadvertently – first as a national phenomenon – but it would soon become an internationally renowned movement.


In July 2007, to mark 100 years of scouting, Canada Post commemorated the “World Scout Movement” on a 52-cent stamp (Scott #2225).

Printed by the Lowe-Martin Group on Tullis Russell Coatings coated paper, the stamp has general tagging along each side. It was designed by Matthias Reinicke, of Edmonton’s Lime Design, and features the organization’s logo alongside photos of today’s typical Scouting pursuits—camping, campfire-related activities, canoeing and cycling. An archival image of the scout “grand howl” is the central focus of the booklet.

Canada Post also commemorated Canadian scouting in 1983 with a 32-cent stamp printed by Ashton Potter.

“I found the image of the howl and built the stamp around it,” Reinicke said.

This combination of old and new is an underlying theme in the stamp design and signifies both the history and future of the organization.

“I combined archival images representing the beginning of the scouting movement with modern photographs to show how the organization has maintained its core values while moving forward and changing with the times,” added Reinicke.

Liz Wong, manager of stamp design and production, said Canada Post was “pleased to pay tribute” to 100 years of scouting.

“His innovative thinking and devotion to serving young people has given the world a wonderful and dynamic international youth organization that brings together people from different races, religions, cultures and countries-all with a mission of building a better world. That’s a legacy worth celebrating.”

In 2007, an estimated 40,000 people from more than 150 countries gathered in the spirit of friendship at the 21st World Scout Jamboree, which was one of many events celebrating the centenary of the scouting movement.


The official first-day cover for CS #2225 was cancelled in Tamaracouta, Que.

An official first-day cover released as part of the 2007 scouting issue is serviced with a cancel from Camp Tamaracouta, Qué.

The word “jamboree,” which originates from the Swahili greeting “jambo” (meaning “hello”), was chosen by Baden-Powell – an army officer and specialist in map-making and reconnaissance – in 1920.

“Somewhere about 1893 I started teaching Scouting to young soldiers in my regiment. When these young fellows joined the Army they had learned reading, writing, and arithmetic in school but as a rule not much else,” Baden-Powell said in a 1937 interview. “I wanted to make them feel that they were a match for any enemy, able to find their way by the stars or map, accustomed to notice all tracks and signs and to read their meaning, and able to fend for themselves away from regimental cooks and barracks.”

A few years later, Baden-Powell shared his ideas on scouting with a younger generation. He set up his experimental camp for boys off the coast of England, and this first group of boys from a cross-section of English society was the beginning of an international movement that has gained more than 28 million members worldwide.

The Eighth World Scout Jamboree held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in 1955 is commemorated on a five-cent stamp issued by Canada’s Post Office Department.


In 2015, Scouts on Stamps Society International (SOSSI) hosted its annual general meeting (AGM) in Canada for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The group’s AGM – held in conjunction with the 2015 Royal Convention in London, Ont. – was hosted by SOSSI chapter #15 (known as the “Maple Leaf” chapter, which is based out of Toronto).

“Our SOSSI chapter has been in continuous and active operation since it was founded in April 1962. Our official territory is the province of Ontario, but we have members from all across Canada who wish to maintain contact with other Canadians in this hobby of Scout and Guide philately,” explains the chapter website. “As well as monthly meetings, our chapter is very active in staffing booths with exhibits at stamp shows and Scouting events and in producing an average of one or two event covers a year.”

For more information about SOSSI, visit sossi.org.

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