1st Scout Rally

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1st Scout Rally

Crystal Palace, London The 4th of September 1909 AD

With the arrogance of the present looking backwards Robert Baden-Powell is too often painted in comic shades. The reality was entirely different: his brilliant and imaginative defence of Mafeking was probably beyond the powers of his contemporaries in the British Army; later he saw the need for a classless youth movement and brought it about with his book Scouting for Boys in 1908, published after his ideas had been tested at the first Scout Camp at Brownsea Island in July the previous year; and he made the Scouts a worldwide phenomenon.
A great early milestone for the Boy Scouts was their first rally, which took place at Crystal Palace on September 4 1909, an event apparently suggested by Edward VII . The King sent a telegram to the participants, and the royal family was represented there by his sister Princess Christian. Baden-Powell was interested in how many boys were becoming Scouts, so via the newspapers sent an open invitation to them to attend: more than 10,000 did so. They witnessed displays of scouting skills, and took part in a march past and salute.
Fascinatingly, given Edwardian attitudes to women, 20 or so girls managed to get into the rally in spite of attempts by stewards to prevent them. The girls, one group from Pinkneys Green in Berkshire , another from Camberwell who had walked the six miles to Crystal Palace, sparked the creation of the Girl Guides. Baden-Powell to his credit got over his surprise at their request to join, and soon with his sister Agnes created a separate organisation for girls.

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