A Charlotte Mason Education, Observation, Practical Application
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Mason’s Role in the Beginnings of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides

The following letter by Lady Baden-Powell is an introduction to an explanation given by her husband, General Sir Baden-Powell about the beginnings of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides.  It is interesting to note the role that Charlotte Mason played in these new organisations.

A Greeting

from the Lady Baden-Powell, G.B.E.

Hampton Court Palace,

East Molesey,


May 6th 1951.


May I offer my best wishes to you all on the celebration of the ‘Diamond Jubilee’ of the Parents’ National Educational Union School.

What a great occasion this is for everyone concerned, and it is perhaps rather specially happy that you are having this big event at the same time as the ‘Festival of Britain!’

I shall be so glad later on to see the ‘Jubilee Number’ of your Magazine, and it is very nice of you to plan to include in it the short article that my husband wrote for you some years ago, as Founder of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Movements.

He was a man of action, and did not waste either time or words.

This short note of his therefore does not perhaps convey fully to the reader quite what a very important contribution Miss Charlotte Mason and the P.N.E.U. gave to the first starting of the Scouts and the Guides, nor—owing to the passing of time—can it give full recognition to the part that the P.N.E.U. has played in the progress and successful expansion of the two movements since their foundation in 1907 and in 1909 respectively.

This little tale is founded on fact.

Founded on fact also is the very invigorating tale of steady upward growth of the World Fellowship of Scouts and Guides, bringing its influence for good to millions of boys and girls of today, as it has also touched the lives and the hearts of millions of men and women the whole world over.

It is right and good to look back and to remember the small beginnings of great things; and in our World Association we are thankful for the gifts brought helpfully to our store cupboard of good things for the young, by means of the P.N.E.U., who co-operate with us in many places.

With kind regards,

Yours very sincerely,

Olave Baden-Powell,

World Chief Guide


by General Sir Robert Baden-Powell


Oh well!  I believe it was largely due to—whom shall we say?—a Field Marshal’s governess.

It was this way:  the Brigadier General, as he was at that time, was riding to his home after a field day when from the branches of a tree overhead his little son called to him, ‘Father, you are shot; I am in ambush and you have passed under me without seeing me.  Remember you should always look upwards as well as around you.’

So the General looked upward and saw not only his small son above him but also, near the top of the tree, the new governess lady imported from Miss Charlotte Mason’s training College at Ambleside.

Her explanation of the situation was that a vital point in up to date education was the inculcation of observation and deduction and that the practical steps to this were given in the little handbook for soldiers, Aids to Scouting.  The present incident was merely one among the various field stunts from that book which might be put into practice by her pupils and herself.

For example, they might as another exercise creep about unseen but seeing all the time, and noting down everything that the general did; they might lead him off on some wild chase while they purloined some tangible proof of their having invaded his sanctum.  Taken as a warning of what he might expect, I daresay the governess’s explanation opened the general’s eye pretty widely, if only in regard to his own future security against ambuscades and false alarms.

But it certainly opened mine to the fact that there could be an educative value underlying the principles of scout training; and since it had been thought worthy of utilisation by such an authority as Miss Mason I realised that there might be something in it.

This encouraged me in the direction of adapting the training for the use of boys and girls.

From this acorn grew the tree which is now spreading its branches across the world.

The Boy Scout of yesterday —(reduced alas by some ten thousand who gave their young lives in the war)—is already becoming the citizen of today—(and none too soon)—largely thanks to the Field Marshal’s governess.

Courtesy of the Armitt Trust


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.

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