New Zealand’s First Boy Scout Patrol – 1908

In 1908, as part of a sudden worldwide movement, Kaiapoi was the first township in New Zealand to form a ‘Boy Scout Patrol’. The Scouts are now New Zealand’s largest youth organisation catering for both sexes, from the ages of 1 to 26 years old.

Founded by English soldier, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (B.P. for short), his love for the outdoors and his desire to help and serve others was the simple beginning. Known for his low grades and the bunker of classes, he took to hiding out in the woods beside his school. Over an open fire, careful to make sure that the smoke wouldn’t be seen, he would cook the spoils of his hunting.

As a young adult, B.P. joined the Army in 1876 and was stationed in India – scouting and map making. His ways of survival and his ‘…always prepared…’ attitude was so unorthodox, he soon found himself with quite a following. He began to train other soldiers, writing a booklet and handing out badges of his own design for those who did well.

After serving in the Boer War, B.P. returned to England as a national hero in 1903. He discovered that his soldier’s booklet was in use by many teachers and youth leaders. After many public speeches and a meeting with the Boys Brigade founder, William Alexander Smith, B.P. organised the first ‘Boy Scouts Patrol’ – twenty two boys attending an experimental camp. It was a great success and by the following year, the Boy Scout Movement had spread all around the world including New Zealand.

The attached photo shows some Christchurch Boy Scouts helping out during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

“…try and leave this world a little better than you found it…” – Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell

*Image courtesy of the Christchurch Public Libraries – File Reference CCL Photo CD 2, IMG0048*

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