In 1897 BP was given command of his own regiment, the 5th Dragoon Guards. He introduced new training methods to make life more interesting for the men in the regiment and presented a badge to those that successfully completed the course. The badge was in the form of an arrowhead: the north point of the compass. We use a version of it today as a symbol of our Scout Movement.
BP wrote a book about his training methods called, “Aids to Scouting”. In 1889 BP was posted to South Africa to fight in the Boer War. He was in the town of Mafeking with 1,000 men when it was surrounded by 9,000 Boers.
BP used all sorts of tricks to defend the town for seven months until help came, like using candles and biscuit tins as search lights which he moved from place to place to make the Boers think there were many searchlights guarding the town. He also made grenades from old tin cans, put up imaginary barbed wire and buried dummy mines. He also used the young boys of the town to carry messages to the men fighting. When Mafeking was rescued BP found himself a national hero and at 43 was promoted to Major–General: the youngest Major–General in the British Army.
BP was surprised on returning to England to find his book ‘Aids to Scouting” was being read by many people and was being used in schools. He thought that his ideas might be useful to youth organisations and began rewriting it for boys.
To test his ideas he held a camp on Brownsea Island for 20 boys from different backgrounds. The boys were placed in four groups or Patrols and learned about camping, hiking, stalking, boating and many other things. The camp was a great success and BP went on to write his book, “Scouting for Boys”.
When the book appeared, patrols of Scouts formed of their own accord all over Britain and soon around the World. King Edward VII influenced BP into leaving the army and working full time to organise the Scout Movement in 1909. At that time he was knighted and became Sir Robert Baden–Powell.