Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A letter from the world chief guide - A february 22nd Penny to the “World Captain”

Letter of Lady Olave Baden Powell for the thinking day!

Olave Baden-Powell was the only person to ever hold the title of World Chief Guide.  She helped her husband build the Scouting Movement, continued the development of the Guiding Movement, and formed the organisation that became the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Olave visited 111 countries during her life, attending jamborees and other Guide and Scout activities.  She was known as the "Mother of Millions" for her active role in the World Organisation of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Olave Soames was born on February 22nd, 1889. Her parents were Harold and Katherine Soames. They were a wealthy, upper-middle class family (their fortune was built in the brewery business). Olave grew up in Chesterfield, England.  She enjoyed the outdoors, especially rowing, riding, cycling, tennis and swimming. She also loved horses, dogs and birds.

When Olave was old enough, she began to accompany her father on his winter holidays. They were on board the RMSP Arcadian on their way to Jamaica when she was introduced to Robert Baden-Powell. He was on his way to New York then Australia in support of Scouting. She was 23 and he was 55 so there was a 32 year age difference. They were engaged in the same year and married in secret in Dorset on October 30, 1912.  They had three children:

  • Arthur Robert Peter Baden-Powell - 1913
  • Heather Grace Baden-Powell - 1915
  • Betty St. Clair Baden-Powell - 1917

It is interesting that Betty also met her husband aboard a ship, shared the same birthday as her husband, and had a big age-difference (10 years).  Betty was involved in Guiding in Northern Rhodesia and England.

When Olave's sister Auriol died, Olave raised her 3 nieces as if they were her own children.

Their grandson Michael Baden-Powell (son of Peter) lived in Australia.  He visited the Pax Hill Scout Camp in Ballarat and attended some of our Queen's Guide presentations at Government House.

1st november, 1934

Dear Guides and girls scouts,

This is a most exiting letter to write as it is the first time that I have ever written to my whole family of Guides and Girls Scouts all over the world, and as I write I am trying to picture in my mind where this letter will get to, how it will be read – in wich language I mean – by whom, and where !

But wherever it is I hope that all of you who read it will take it as being written to each of you personnally, as it contains a little idea which I want you to think about, if you will, all to yourself.

You Guides have heard from your Captain, now and again I expect, something about this wonderful sisterhood of ours which was invented by the Chief Scout about twenty-one years ago, soon after he had started the Scout Movement for boys.

The idea of playing the game of Guiding and Girl Scouting has been taken up by a million girls in many different parts of the world, and now there are girls like you in over thirty seven countries all doing the same sort of thing, wearing much the same uniform and badges, and living up to the same Law and Promise that you made when you first joined.

It is nice, isn’t it, to feel that such a gigantic family, tied together like a bunch of strong twigs of the great strong tree; and what do you think ties us together ? Interest in each other’s doings -yes; love for our fellow-players in the great game - yes. But there is an actual string that holds us together in the shape of a group, of older Guiders called the "World comitee" made up of Girl and Girl Scout Leaders from different countries.

Just as your captain or leader helps you and your company or troop to do Guiding or Girl Scouting and to have all the advantages and fun of it all, so these nine members of the World Committee are all helping this vast company of over a million girls scattered over the whole world.

Now a car does not run without a good supply of petrol and your company or troop does not run without having a little food and drink in the shape of "company funds" - just as you body requires food ans drink to keep it well alive.

Well, this World committee - or shall we call it your "World Captain" - is at this moment feeling rather hungry and thirsty for a little support in her work of helping to encourage and direct the groth of her huge company.
So I have a suggestion to make you all; Quite soon-on february 22nd - we come to a day that has been named "Thinking Day" for us Guides and Girls Scouts.

It happends to be the birthday of the Chief Scout and myself, and on that day we turn our thoughts specially to the Guides of other lands, whom have never seen, but for whom we have a real affection as sisters in a great adventure.

Does thinking with us not usually lead to action, and wouldn’t it be nice if this year we could perhaps give some thing - as well as our thoughts- to help develop the world friendship which is growing slowly each year and which we hope to see growing larger and larger all the time. Could we not each on Thinking Day send a tiny gift to our World Captain to help her with her work ?

There are a million of us. I am not good at arithmetic and I will not make any calculations which may not come true. But a penny, or two cents, or four annas, or enough centimes or groshen or Heller or Filler or ore to make the same value, is not an immense amount, especially when it is perhaps saved or earned and given with a willing hand.

What a great help we should give the world’s Company Funds if -as I belive may happen- every Guide and Girl Scout will want to share in this Thinking Day offering this year. Then we should have to call it "Thanking Day" instead !

A Guider in Belgium thought of this idea and gave it to me to hand on to you. So I am talking to you as a Guide to a Guide, or a Girl Scout to a Girl Scout, and if you feel that you can spare just a tiny personal offering for your sister Guides and Girl Scouts of other lands, then give your penny, or your cents or centimes, straight away to your Captain or Leader and ask her to send it to the World Captain.

The thanks for the gift will not be sent in words at all but the amounts received will be shown in the World Captain’s quarterly magazine "The Council Fire" and the reward to you for your generosity will be that, in your heart, you will know that you have done a good turn and celebrated "Thinking Day" in the best Guide and Girl Scout way, by helping to give out Game to children who have not yet had the chance of enjoying it as we have.

Your affectionnately,

Olave Baden Powell

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