Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship is Published

The 1908 edition of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell is an extraordinary book that kicked off a movement that has changed the world.

Much of it is practical advice not just on camping, survival and the outdoor life, but how to cope with urban emergencies and how to live as a moral upstanding boy in an increasingly immoral world. It seems almost as though no area of life is neglected in the book.

Over the years it has undergone many revisions, to make it more international; dropping references to Empire and the superiority of some nations; including advice and activities for girls, and reflecting other changes in thinking.

Scouting for Boys was published in six fortnightly instalments of approximately 70 pages each, from January to March 1908. They were produced by Pearson's printer, Horace Cox. These six publications were a success, and as planned were issued in book form on 1 May 1908. Scouting for Boys has been translated into many languages. In 1948, the book was still selling 50 000 copies annually. Only in 1967 was a decline noted by the publisher, and in the last decades of the 20th century, even by the Scout movement, the book came to be seen as a period curiosity. It is claimed to be the fourth bestselling book of the 20th century. A realistic estimate is that approximately 4 million copies of the UK edition have been sold. Extrapolating this to 87 different language editions worldwide, historic world sales of Scouting for Boys can be estimated at 100 to 150 millions copies since 1908.

Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout's oath, thus:

On my honour I promise that---

I will do my duty to God and the King.
I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.
I know the scout law, and will obey it.

While taking this oath the scout will stand, holding his right hand raised level with his shoulder, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger and the other three fingers upright, pointing upwards:--- This is the scout's salute and secret sign.”

— Robert Baden-Powell