Lord Baden Powell, who was trained as a military scout and who founded the Scout movement, was a cracking spy. He roamed the world pretending to study and sketch butterflies but he was really observing—and mapping—military installations. Anyone who looked closely enough would have seen the designs on the wings of the fictional butterflies in his notebooks were really ornate drawings of the fortifications.
Later Baden Powell founded the global Scout movement in reaction to a community-wide fear of spying (ahem…takes one to know one, Badey). Having seen boys below military age acting as messengers and couriers in the Boer War, he urged young boys to always ‘be prepared’ for war to strike on your home soil and encouraged them to be alert to their surroundings, ready to survive and to fight. His book ‘Scouting for Boys’ was a response to that and it went on to be used by youth groups everywhere as a training guide. Baden Powell himself convened the first scout group with a cluster of boys to test out the principles in the book. So the early scout movement was more about military cadets than camping and fire-lighting.
Sadly for Baden Powell, on the outbreak of WW1 he immediately volunteered his services and was rejected because he had become such a fundamental part of the Scout Movement and was easier to replace on the battle field than at home. From then it became widely believed that Baden Powell went back to his old espionage ways.
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