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Winston Churchill and Baden-Powell: Unlikely Soulmates

    By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdBaden-powell3

 Over the last number of years, I have written several articles about Baden-Powell, the remarkable founder of the world-wide Scouting and Guiding movements.  Both Lord and Lady Baden-Powell were born on February 22nd, a coincidence which has led to the widespread celebrating of their lives every February with events like Parent-son banquets, church parades, and thinking days.

In thinking about Lord Baden Powell, I was struck by the unexpected similarities between Baden Powell and Winston Churchill.  Both, for example, came into international recognition through their miraculous escapes and bravery in the South African Boer War.  Both were courageous, determined men who inspired millions of others to try their best and to never, never give up.  Admittedly, they had many differences as well.  For example, Churchill lived in the world of politics and power, while Baden-Powell lived in the world of boys and backpacks.  As well, Baden-Powell clearly warned against the dangers of smoking and drinking, while Churchill was famous for his cigar and glass of brandy.

Winston Churchill 2 PictureAt a deeper level however, their common determination and perseverance has had remarkable impact on the character development of millions.  Churchill once went to a meeting of students, where he stood up and said: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”.  Then he sat down.  In his 1937 book Great Contemporaries, Churchill included one whole chapter on Baden Powell.  In describing Baden-Powell’s Scouting movement, Churchill said: “It is difficult to exaggerate the moral and mental health which our nation had derived from this profound and simple conception.”  Churchill described Baden-Powell (B.P.) as one of the three most famous generals he had ever known.

Churchill first met Baden-Powell while B.P. was acting as an Austrian Hussar in an amateur vaudeville entertainment, given for the British Army in India.  Three years later, Churchill interviewed B.P. for a newspaper article about B.P.’s famous 217-day defence of Mafeking in South Africa.  Churchill said of this interview: “…once B.P. got talking, he was magnificent.”  Churchill commented: “In those days, B.P.’s fame as a soldier eclipsed almost all popular reputations.  The other B.P. – the British Public – looked upon him as the outstanding hero of the War.  Even those who disapproved of the War, and derided the triumphs of large, organized armies over the Boer farmers, could not (help but) cheer the long, spirited, tenacious defence of Mafeking by barely eight hundred men against a beleaguering force ten or twelve times their number.”

“No one”, said Churchill, ” had ever believed winston churchill gravethat Mafeking would hold out half as long. A dozen times, as the siege dragged on, the watching nation had emerged from apprehension and despondency into renewed hope, and had been cast down again.”  By the end of the siege, Mafeking had become so famous that it turned into a verb: “to Mafeking meant to celebrate uproariously”.  Churchill noted that “when finally the news of Mafeking’s relief was flashed throughout the world, the streets of London became impassable, and the floods of sterling cockney patriotism was released in such deluge of unbridled, delirious, childish joy as was never witnessed again until Armistice Night in 1918.”

Churchill, too, became an instant hero through his adventures in South Africa.  On May 15th in 1899, Winston Churchill the newspaper journalist was accompanying 150 soldiers on an armoured train, when suddenly it was ambushed and derailed.  Churchill took command in clearing the lines, and took 60 men, many of them wounded, away to safety.  Upon returning to help the other troops, Winston was captured, despite his protest that he was just a journalist.  After 3 weeks in captivity, Churchill escaped over the prison wall, jumped a train, hid in a mine, and finally escaped by train.  In the afterglow of his amazing adventure, Churchill was elected to the British Parliament at the young age of 25.

Lord Baden Powell PictureNeither B.P. nor Churchill were particularly successful in their early school days.  B.P.’s school reports read:

1) Classics: Seems to take very little interest in his work

2) Mathematics: Has to all intent given up the study of mathematics

3) Science: Pays not the slightest attention, except in one week at the beginning of the quarter

4) French: Could do well, but has become very lazy; often sleeps in school.

Churchill was described by one of his teachers as “the naughtiest small boy in the world”.  His father warned him: “I am certain that if you cannot prevent yourself from leading the idle unprofitable life you have had during your school days, you will become a mere social wastrel, one of the hundreds of public school failures, and you will degenerate into a shabby and futile existence.”  Both B.P. and Churchill preferred to learn their lessons from nature than from a classroom.

Baden-Powell once said: “Say your prayers regularly, read that wonderful old book, the Bible, and read that other wonderful old book, the Book of nature, and see and study all that you can of the wonders and beauties that nature provides for your enjoyment.  Then turn your mind to how you can best serve God while you still have the life that He has lent you.”  Churchill loved animals and loved to paint the beauties of nature.  After his crushing election defeat right after V-Day, Churchill went to the Mediterranean where he said: “I paint all day and every day, and have banished care and disillusionment to the shades.”

Despite the many setbacks and defeats in both B.P.’s and Churchill’s life, neither of them ever gave up the struggle to fulfill their visions.  Churchill described B.P. as a “man of character, vision, and enthusiasm.”  Winston described what he saw as the marks of a scout: sturdiness, neighbourliness, practical competence, love of country and , above all in these times, indomitable resolve, daring and enterprise in the face of the enemy.  “BE PREPARED”, said Churchill, ” to stand up faithfully for Right and Truth, however the winds may blow.”

Similarly, Baden-Powell said that it is the stickability of the man that really counts.  Stickability for B.P. was “that mixture of pluck, patience, and strength which we call endurance.”  Stickability “…will pull a person out of many a bad place when everything seems to be going wrong for him.”

As I think of Baden-Powell’s and Churchill’s stickability, I am reminded of the words of wisdom: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  May the God of endurance fill each of us with stickability as we face life’s challenges.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

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Baden-Powell: School of the Outdoors

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Baden-powell3

Baden-Powell, the founder of the world-wide Scouting movement, preferred to learn his lessons from nature rather from a classroom.  B.P. was not an academic success. His school reports read:

1) Classics: Seems to me to take very little interest in his work

2) Mathematics: Has to all intent given up the study of mathematics

3) Science: Pays not the slightest attention, except in one week at the beginning of the quarter

4) French: Could do well, but has become very lazy; often sleeps in school.

 

Baden-Powell was a bit of a loner in school, somewhat reserved though never unpopular.  Given a choice, he preferred the solitary pursuits of exploring the woods round the Charterhouse school in Surrey, England. There he learnt  how to snare rabbits and cook them in secret with a smokeless fire, how to use an axe,  how to creep silently through the bush, how to hide his tracks, how to identify the different kinds of animals and plants, and how to climb a tree and hide from Scouting Emblemthe school authorities.  B.P. said that it was in those woods that he gained most of what helped him later in life to find the joy of living.

It is no wonder that years later Baden-Powell that the object in Scouting “was to wean (the boys) from indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them.”  B.P. described Scouting as a school of the outdoors.  Scouting, said B.P., was not a science, nor a military code. Rather “it is a jolly game in the outdoors,  where boy-men can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.”

As Scouting was first developing, B.P said to his adult leaders: “… give your boys all you can of woodcraft and Nature study…The Nature study should be a real close touch WebMustardTreewith Nature, far beyond the academic dipping into the subject which passes under the name in school.  Collecting, whether of plants or bugs, and investigation, whether of beasts or birds, are all-absorbing studies for the boy and mighty good for him.”

Why was Baden-Powell so exciting about Nature study and Outdoor camping? Because B.P. saw it as a “golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of Nature and her store of wonders.”  Nature study for B.P. was a character-building, and spiritual exercise.  Nature study, said B.P., “gives the best means of opening out the minds and thoughts of boys, and at the same time…gives them the power of appreciating beauty in Nature and consequently in art…”  Nature study  helped “the realization of God, the Creator, through His wonderous work, and the active performance of His will in service for others.”

I believe that Baden-Powell might have really enjoyed living on the North Shore with its unforgettable beauty of mountain, forests, and sea.  B.P. would have reminded us that “the mystery of the sea and the heavens, and the fascination of the colouring of the scene, and the modelling of the scene” all point to God’s handiwork.   Baden-Powell saw all of nature as gifts from God.  We all teach our children to say “thank you” for birthday and amber%20dawnChristmas presents.  How much more should we say “thank you” for God’s gifts of nature?  B.P. said “We teach the boy that a gift is not his till he has expressed his gratitude for it.  His attitude to God is, therefore, thankfulness for benefits received; and his method for expressing this is through service, in behalf of God, to his fellow-men.

To Baden-Powell, the question was not what can I get from life, but what can I give in life.  When dealing with conflicts in the Scouting movement, B.P. recommended that people “…ask themselves the simple question,   `What would Christ have done under the circumstances?’ and be guided accordingly”.

In a last message found among B.P.’s papers Durham Cathedral from Riverafter he had died, he said:  “Dear Scouts,…I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life.  Happiness doesn’t  come from being rich, not merely from being successful in your career, not by self-indulgence.  One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so can enjoy life when you are a man.  Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy.  Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it…”

My prayer is that we too, like Baden-Powell, may be filled with gratitude to God our Creator for the wonderful gift of Nature.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

 St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Lord and Lady Baden-Powell: Character Builders

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird DSCF2431

As I was taking our three sons toboganning up Mount Seymour, I saw the Baden-Powell Trail, and was reminded again of the lasting impact that the Baden-Powells have on our society.

 

From the very beginning, Lord and Lady Baden-Powell were committed to making a significant difference in the lives of young people. They saw the effect of our industrialized, urbanized society: the decline in physical health, the erosion of moral standards, the loss of self discipline. Robert Baden-Powell (B.P. as he is affectionately known) returned from South Africa in 1903 as a war hero.

 

He had bravely defended the South African town of Mafeking with only a small band of soldiers for 217 days. During the siege, he used the boys of the town as messengers, first aid attendants, and other vital jobs. These boys, who were the first prototype of the boy scouts, played a vital part in saving a beleaguered town. The Boer War as a whole was a great embarrassment to the English nation. Their troops performed poorly and inefficiently. B.P.’s 217 day defense of Mateking provided a bright spot in an otherwise dark period.

 

When B.P. returned to England, he was appalled at the deterioration of morale in English youth. He described ‘thousands of boys and young men pale, narrow chested, hunched up, miserable specimens, smoking endless cigarettes, numbers of them betting.” He was also concerned about the rampant sexual immorality, resulting in disease, poverty, and unwanted children. B. P. the war hero wanted to use his popularity to help rebuild the vitality and dynamism of young people. The amazing popularity of his scouting movement probably surprised B.P. as much as anyone else.

 

Within one year after writing the best seller ‘Scouting for Boys’, over 100,000 boys had already enrolled as Scouts. The scouting movement quickly crossed the seas to numerous countries around the world. King Edward VII was very interested in scouting and suggested that B.P. give up his army career and devote all his time to scouting worldwide.

DSCF2430After meeting the future Lady Baden Powell on an ocean cruise in 1912, Robert and Olave Baden-Powell were married in a quiet church wedding that same year. The two formed a powerful alliance that has unforgettably shaped the character of countless young people throughout the world. At Robert’s request, Olave took on the leadership of the floundering Girl Guides movement. Under Olave’s loving and capable direction, the Guiding movement exploded with new energy and growth.

 

Thanks to this remarkable husband/wife team, over 17 million boys and 8 million girls worldwide are now involved in the scouting/guiding movements. Some people mistake the scouting/guiding movements as merely a recreational diversion for rambunctious children, In fact, Robert and Olave B.P. saw recreation as merely one of many tools to build lasting character. B.P. saw scouting/guiding as “… education in high ideals, in self reliance, in sense of duty, in fortitude, in self respect and regard for others  in one word, in those Christian attributes that go to make character.”

Robert and Olave B.P. believed that character could not be imposed from outside. Character and self-discipline had to come from within. Character building for the B. P.’s had a lot to do with trustworthiness, honesty, loyalty, duty, responsibility, friendliness, courtesy, thriftiness, and moral purity. Robert and Olave believed that the heart of character building came from loyalty to God and country. That is why in the very first part of the Scout/Guide Promise, they built in “doing one’s duty to God”.

 

Olave and Robert Baden-Powell were both committed Christians. OlaveDSCF2432 expressed her Christian commitment by serving as godmother to over 40 baptized children  a responsibility she took very seriously. In her autobiography she wrote: “If I have any message to leave, it is this: Believe in God. He guides and protects you all through life …” Robert, when dealing with conflicts in the Scouting movement, recommended that people ” … ask themselves the simple question, “What would Christ have done under the circumstances?” and be guided accordingly.” Character building for Lord and Lady Baden-Powell was a very spiritual activity.

 

Both Robert and Olave were impressed by the character building impact of taking urban young people away from the city, and back to the great outdoors. At the formal opening of campfire, they had the campers recite Rudyard Kipling’s poem: ‘Who hath smelt wood smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birchlog burning? Who is quick to read the noises of the night?”

 

Robert saw camping as a golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of Nature and her store of wonders.” He said that “Our aim is to get hold of the boys and to open up their minds, to bring out each lad’s character (and no two are exactly alike), to make them into good men for God and their country, to encourage them to be energetic workers and to be honourable, Lord and Lady Baden Powellmanly fellows with a brotherly feeling for one another.”

Olave was equally impressed with the beauty of God’s creation. She said: 1 am sure that God means us to be happy in this life. He has given us a world to live in that is full of beauty and wonders, and He has given us not only eyes to see them but minds to understand them  if we only have the sense to look at them in that light.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that the inspiring example of the Baden-Powells may encourage each of us to be more thankful for the beauty of God’s world.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


Leave a comment

Lord Baden-Powell: Trail Blazer

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdLord Baden Powell Picture

One of the most distinguishing marks of our Deep Cove/Seymour area is the Baden-Powell trail, named in honour of one of the greatest ‘trailblazers’ of the past century.  Baden-Powell blazed many new trails in the areas of physical education, character-building, spiritual growth for youth, and peace-making.

 

Baden-Powell (B.P. as he is affectionately known) hardly knew his clergyman/headmaster father, as he died when B.P. was only 3 years old.  Being raised without a dad gave him a keen appreciation of the need for boys to have healthy male role models. B.P. took little interest as a boy in school, preferring to act in school plays and explore the woods around his school.  At age 19, he joined the Army where he served in India, South Africa, and the Mediterranean.  From his Military scouting and reconnaissance experience, B.P. wrote a book entitled Aids to Scouting.  It was published in 1899, just as he was becoming a well-known hero through bravely defending the South African town of Mafeking for 217 days.

 

UponScouting Emblem his return to England in 1903, B.P. was dismayed by the apathy among English young people: “thousands of boys and young men, pale, miserable specimens, smoking endless cigarettes, numbers of them betting.”  As a result, he wrote a second book in 1908 entitled Scouting for Boys (the third best-seller in the world after the Bible and Shakespeare).  Within a year, over 100,000 boys had already enrolled as Scouts.  Within two years, his sister Agnes, and then his wife Lady Baden-Powell, began the parallel Girl Guiding movements.  Today there are 17 million Scouts world-wide, with around 250,000 in Canada.  In our own Seymour/Deep Cove area, there are 253 boys in Scouting (Beavers, Cubs, and Scouts) and 500 girls in Guiding (Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders).

Many misconstrue Baden-Powell and Scouting as merely a recreational diversion for children.  In fact, as Mr. John Pettifer the Provincial Executive Director puts it, “Scouting is really an educational program making use of recreational means.” B.P. was a progressive Educator, way ahead of his time, who saw recreation as a key method towards character-building. B.P. described Scouting as “…education in high ideals, in self-reliance, in sense of duty, in fortitude, in self-respect and regard for others –in one word, in those Christian attributes that go to make ‘Character’.”  Unlike many today, Baden-Powell was totally unembarrassed about the role of faith in character-building.

 

At the heart of the Scouting and Guiding promises was their ‘duty to God’.  When dealing with conflicts in the Scouting movement, B.P. recommended that people “…ask themselves the simple question, ‘What would Christ have done under the circumstances?’ and be guided accordingly.”  Part of B.P.’s problem with Mussolini’s Ballila Youth and the Hitler Youth was that “the essential elements of ‘Duty to God’ and brotherhood with other nations were missing.”  Baden-Powell saw a danger in Scouting that the recreational might overwhelm the spiritual side.  So he wrote them, saying: “Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral.  Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good turns, Jamboree comradeships are all means, not the end.  The end is CHARACTER –character with a purpose…the active service of Love and Duty to God and neighbour.”Lord and Lady BP picture

My prayer for both young and old reading this article is that the character-building and spirituality of Baden-Powell will be rediscovered in our daily lives.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide