Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (Lord Baden-Powell)
Robert, later known affectionately as B-P, was born in London, England, on February 22, 1857. After leaving school Robert entered the British Army as an officer, serving in India, Afghanistan and South Africa. During the Boer War, B-P, in charge of a small detachment of mounted men, was besieged in the town of Mafeking. This situation appealed to the British public and when Mafeking was relieved after 217 days, B-P was proclaimed a hero. While in Mafeking, one of B-P's officers organized the boys in the town into a messenger service to help the soldiers called the Mafeking Cadet Corps. B-P was quick to see the possibilities in this and the idea of the Boy Scouts was born in his mind. B-P's last assignment in South Africa was to organize a local police force. Their uniform was the model for the original Boy Scout uniform. He wrote a small manual on scouting, army style for the police force. On his return to Britain, B-P became Inspector General of Cavalry and travelled widely in the line of duty. He found that his scouting manual was being used by the Boys' Brigade. After inspecting the boys and talking with their leader, he agreed to adapt his book for them. However, because of his concern about the lack of “spirit” in British boys, particularly in those without the advantages of a good education, he decided instead to form a new organization, the Boy Scouts. He felt what was needed was a scheme of character training for boys. To promote his scheme he wrote a series of articles, of the popular serial type, for a weekly boys' magazine. He later published these as a book Scouting for Boys. His serial stories were read eagerly all over Britain, and boys were forming themselves into Scout patrols by the time the book was published. B-P, now 50 years old, resigned his commission in the Army and devoted all his time to Scouting, travelling widely to organize troops and to train leaders. In 1909, all Scouts who could get there were invited to a rally at the Crystal Palace in London. The parade numbered in the thousands of boys and, to the surprise of everyone, some girls as well! They too had been reading the scouting stories. They had registered themselves as Scouts with Scout Headquarters and had obtained uniform items by using only their initials and not their first names. They demanded to be allowed to join the new organization. B-P, a bachelor with the traditional views of women's roles that were common at the time, asked his sister Agnes to help him organize a new movement, which he called Girl Guides. In January 1912, B-P set off for the West Indies starting an extended trip to promote Scouting in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. On board he met Mr. Harold Soames and his daughter Olave, who were going to spend a winter holiday in Jamaica. Olave and Robert found they had much in common, including the same birthdays, although born 32 years apart. By the time the ship reached Jamaica, they were unofficially engaged and were married later that year, on October 30th. In 1918 B-P wrote Girl Guiding, a program book for girls from eight to 18. B-P died January 8, 1941.
Olave St. Clair Soames (Olave, Lady Baden-Powell)
The youngest child of Harold and Katharine Soames, Olave was born February 22, 1889, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England. When Olave was old enough, she began to accompany her father on his winter holidays. It was on the way to Jamaica with him that she met the “Scout man,” General Baden-Powell. Although there was a great difference in their ages - 32 years, they fell in love. B-P continued with his tour for Scouting and Olave returned to England with her father when the holiday was over. Olave and her “Robin” had a quiet wedding in Dorset, October 30, 1912. In December there was a large wedding reception for them in London. Olave was, of course, interested in her husband's Scouting activities and soon became involved in Girl Guides. In 1916 she was appointed County Commissioner for Sussex and two years later became Chief Guide for Britain. In 1920 Olave helped form an International Council which grew and developed as Guiding grew, and eventually became the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. She died on June 25, 1977.