Robert S. S. Baden Powell
Founder of Scouting
February 22, 1857 - January 7, 1941
These letters were written by Baden-Powell. He placed them in his correspondence file to be read after his death.
To BOY SCOUTS: Dear Scouts -- If you have ever seen the play, Peter Pan you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest.
It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of good-bye.
Remember, it is the last you will ever hear from me, so think it over.
I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy a life too.
I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life.
Happiness doesn't come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor 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. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people.
Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.
'Be Prepared' in this way, to live happy and to die happy - stick to your Scout promise always -- even after you have ceased to be a boy -- and God help you to do it.
To GIRL GUIDES: My Dear Guides, This is just a farewell note to you -- the last you will hear from me.
It is just to remind you, when I have passed on, that your business in life is to be happy and to make others happy.
That sounds comfortable and easy doesn't it?
You begin making other people happy by doing good turns to them. You need not worry about making yourselves happy, as you will very soon find that comes by itself.
When you make other people happy, as you will very soon find that that comes by itself.
When you make other people happy, it makes YOU happy too.
Later on, when you have a home of your own, by making it a bright and cheery one you will make your husband a happy man.
If all homes were bright and cheery there would be fewer public houses, and the men would not want to go out to them but would stay at home.
It may mean hard work for you but will bring its own reward.
Then if you keep your children health and clean and busy they will be happy. Happy children love their parents. And there is nothing can you greater joy than a loving child.
I am sure God means us to be happy in this life. He has given us a world to live in that is full of beauties and wonders, and He has given us not only eyes to see them but minds to understand them -- if only we have the sense to look at them in that light.
We can enjoy bright sunshine and glorious views. We can see beauty in the trees and flowers. We can watch with wonder how the seed produces the young plant which grows to a flower which in its turn, will replace other flowers as they die off.
For, though plants, like people, die, their race will replace other flowers as they die off.
For, those plants, like people, die, their race does not die away, but new ones are born and grow up to carry on the Creator's plan.
So, do you see, you women are the chosen servants of God in two ways: first to carry on the race, to bring children into the world to replace the men and women who pass away: secondly, to bring happiness into the world by making happy homes and by being yourselves good cheery comrades for your husbands and children.
And that is where you, as Guides, especially come in. By being a 'comrade' -- that is, by taking an interest in your husband's work and aspirations -- you can help him with your sympathy and suggestions and so be a guide to him. Also, in bringing up your children by strengthening and training their minds and characters , as well as their bodies and health, you will be giving them to the better use and enjoyment of life.
By giving out love and happiness in this way you will gain for yourselves the return love of your husband and children -- and there is nothing better in this world.
You will find that Heaven is not a kind of happiness somewhere up in the skies after you are dead, but right here and now, in this world, in your own home.
So -- guide others to happiness, and you will bring happiness to yourselves; and by doing this you will be doing what God wants of you.
God be with you,
To MY BROTHER SCOUTERS AND GUIDES: Cecil Rhodes said at the end of his life (and I, in my turn do feel the truth of it), 'So much to do and so little time to do it.'
No one can hope to see the consummation, as well as the start, of a big venture within the short span of one life-time.
I have had an extraordinary experience in seeing the development of Scouting from its beginning up to its present stage.
But there is a vast job before it. The Movement is only now getting into its stride. (When I speak of Scouting I include in it Guiding also.)
The one part which I can claim as mine towards promoting the movement is that I have been lucky enough to find you men and women to form a group of the right stamp who can be relied upon to carry it on to its goal.
You will do well to keep you eyes open, in your turn, for worthy successors to who you can, with confidence, hand the torch. Don't let it become a salaried organization: keep it a voluntary movement of patriotic service.
The Movement has already, in the comparatively short period of its existence, established itself onto a wide and so strong a footing as to show most encouraging promise of what may be possible to it in the coming years.
Its aim is to produce health, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self-interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity; and thus to develop mutual goodwill and co-operation not only within our own country but abroad, between all countries.
Experience show that this consummation is no idle or fantastic dream, but is a practicable possibility if we work for it; and it means, when attained, peace, prosperity and happiness for all.
The "encouraging promise" lies in the fact that the hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are learning our ideals today will be fathers and mothers of millions in the near future, in whom they will in turn inculcate the same ideals -- provided that these are really and unmistakably impressed upon them by their fathers and mothers of today.
Therefore you, who are Scouters and Guiders, are not only doing a great work for your neighbor's children but also helping in practical fashion to bring to pass God's Kingdom of peace and goodwill upon earth. So, from my heart, I wish you God's Speed in you effort.
To the GENERAL PUBLIC: My life has been an intensely happy one, not only in my own home circle, but also in the world outside it.
I would like before I go hence, to say how grateful I am to hundreds, -- aye thousands -- for kindnesses they have rendered to me.
I have been deeply touched from time to time by that jolly goodwill which I have met with from brother Scouts and from fellow subjects of all stations in life throughout the Empire.
Nor has this goodwill been confined to fellow countrymen, for men of other nationalities have given me their friendliness in the same way.
It has been due not to anything that I have done for them, since in a great number of cases they have been entire strangers to me; but it has been the expression on their part of the kindliness that lay in their character
It has helped very largely to making my life the happy one it has been, and for that reason I do hope that that same kindly spirit will be inculcated and developed still more widely in the next generation, so that more lives will be made the happier, and the practice, not merely the precept, of the Christian ideal of peace and goodwill among men may become general.
Looking back on a life of over eighty years, I realize how short life is and how little worth while are anger and political warfare.
The most worth-while thing is to try and put a bit of happiness into the lives of others.
Boy Scouts of America
World Organization of the Scouting Movement
Central Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America
Girl Scouts of the USA
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts of Citrus Council, Girl Scouts of the USA