The Russian Boy Scouts

Baden-Powell’s book Scouting for Boys, published in January 1908, came out in Russia the next year under the title The Young Spy (Yuny razvadchik). It inspired a young Russian officer, Captain Oleg Pantyukhov, to set up the first Russian Scout patrol of seven boys on April 30th, 1909, the Scouts meeting twice weekly in the village of Tsarskoye Selo, near St Petersburg, where Pantyukhov was stationed.

The time was opportune for just such a patriotic youth movement. As Pantyukhov put it, 'Less than five years had passed since the tragedy of the Russo-Japanese War...' Young people had felt the misfortune of war even more keenly than adults and were bursting to do something for Russia. But what? To Pantyukhov, the Poteshnye cadet force that had come into existence the year before was far too militaristic. Though a serving officer himself, like Baden-Powell, he eschewed military drill and army training for boys; he espoused instead the independent, public-spirited aims of the Boy Scouts with their more liberal and muted attitude to military training, religion and patriotism.

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