In 1899 the future First Chief Scout of the World, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, was sent to South Africa to raise a regiment in the region surrounding the town of Mafeking. A few months after his arrival the Boer War errupted. A large Boer force of 9,000 men advanced on the Mafeking defended by Colonel Baden Powell with only 1,251 combatants. During the 217 day siege the Boer forces fired 20,000 shells into the town and nearly 326 of B-P's force were killed. His heroic and successful defense of this small town of some 8000 inhabitants against overwhelming odds was an inspiration to his country and resulted in his promotion to Major General.
His adventures in Mafeking, India, Russia, and elsewhere inspired generations of young boys. When he later wrote, Scouting for Boys in 1908 a year after the first Brownsea encampment, boys all over Great Britain couldn't wait to become Scouts.
Nearly a hundred years after the Siege of Mafeking, the exploits and wisdom of Baden-Powell still inspire and serve as wonderful opportunities for great fun in the game of Scouting. Troop 3 of Cincinnait, Ohio recently used the Siege of Mafeking as its theme for a wonderful and memorable outing. We are pleased to share with you Bob Myers' account of the Troop 3's Siege of Mafeking:
As a way of introducing and summarizing the Relief of Mafeking
experience, I have included below a section of a posting to the
Scouts-L list that I wrote last March shortly after the event.
What follows the message is all the details and information I
could find and compile about the event. I hope that other patrols
around the world are able to use this material to plan and execute
their own night exercises.
Bob Myers, Committee Member, Troop 3, Cincinnati, Ohio
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 12:26:59 0500
Subject: Re: Patrol Competition & Patrol Spirit
To: SCOUTS-L; Youth Groups Discussion List
We had our
best campout ever last month in terms of patrol spirit. The primary
event took place Friday night from 10pm - 1am. It consisted
of a 2 mile night hike in a small, 200 acre county park. There
were 11 activity stations and the theme was Baden-Powell's
defense of Mafeking (1899-1900).
Each patrol had to navigate the course quietly using map and compass.
The patrols were spaced 15 minutes apart and 6-7 adults were
used as "advance scouts" to run the events. Most adults
covered 2 stations.
Team building: the patrol had to cross a 100 foot mud puddle
(minefield) carrying all their required gear by using two sets
of 8 foot 2x4s with ropes
Trust event: the patrol split into pairs to tie bowlines
around their waist with 6 foot ropes, the their rope to their
partner's, and lean back to test the knots
Ladder building: (see Scouting magazine from several months
ago): using their Scout staves and rope they brought with them
to build a ladder to get the entire patrol out of an actual 5
foot deep ravine
Silent observation: scout a circa 1820 pioneer village
Mapping: map the village based on the memories of the patrol
Observation: Kim's game
First aid: treat two gunshot wound, build a stretcher (blanket
was part of required equipment), carry patient over rough terrain
with and egg under his head
Measurement: measure height, width, depth of wooden stage
Silent march: although the entire event was to be done
quietly, this part of the trail was monitored for noise
Fire building: burn the string
Orienteering: small 12 point course and build north arrow
without compass using staves (stars were out)
Each event took no more than 15 minutes and the patrols were monitored
virtually the entire way by a silent "spy" that snuck
(or was that sneaked?) around and hung out in trees; observing
all along the trail to assure everyone's safety. We had hot soup
and hot chocolate ready for them when they got back to the cabin a little after 1:00am. They
were cold and tired, but were so pumped that no one went to sleep
for more than an hour. The next day they slept till 10am, had
brunch, worked on advancement, and prepared a huge banquet for
Our "spy," ASM Terry Eby, did a tremendous amount of
creative preparation for the Mafeking event, but it took very
little preparation work by the other adults. Terry prepared specific
binders for each adult with all the information for their event(s).
Each patrol was given an orienteering based course description,
but were given their "field orders" for each station
only when they arrived. These orders were given only to the patrol
leader who was then required to communicate them to his patrol.
For me, standing out in the woods for more than an hour at night
in absolute darkness with 50 degree (F) temperatures and 30 MPH
howling winds was quite an experience. All the adults had just
as much fun as the Scouts. It was a great success and patrol
spirit has never been higher.
This web page was written by Bob Myers,
Committee Member, Troop 3, Cincinnati, Ohio
with web authoring assistance by Michael F. Bowman, USSSP Web Team