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by chri s tucker


IN HIS WORDS AN EAGLE’S PILGRIMAGE TO B-P’S RESTING PLACE


By Alvin Townley


THE ROAD LEADING OUT OF NAIROBI deteriorated as our Land Cruiser bounced north. Our driver pushed the white SUV faster, scarcely dodging potholes, livestock, and motorbikes, as well as the streams of locals who walk the roadsides. After three hours, we entered the township of Nyeri.


Our guide, Samuel Ndukwe, jumped out to meet Peter Kimita, assistant national commissioner of the Kenya Scouts Association. I had not been told I would meet such a dis- tinguished Scout leader; Peter had not been told I was the “American Scouter” who was paying a visit. He had read my books Legacy of Honor and Spirit of


Adventure, and we shared a special moment of mutual recogni- tion before we exchanged patches from our respective Scouting programs. Peter, in his immaculately pressed khaki uniform, led us several blocks north to a modest concrete and iron gateway, just off the town’s main street. Inside, we found a small contin-


gent of local Scouters standing before a neatly kept dirt path leading to a row of trees. Lining the path were large stones, each bearing one point of the Scout Law. Our growing del- egation walked to the path’s end and passed through another gate into a cemetery. We traveled down another path to a picket fence. White stakes bordered the gravesite of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. Three years earlier, I had stood on the shores of England’s Brownsea Island, where Baden-Powell staged the camp that would launch the Scouting movement. Now I stood at the other bookend of his life: Kenya, where he had retired after seeing Scouting through its third decade. Just several feet of distance and earth separated me


from the man responsible for the largest and most impor- tant youth movement in history. Every hair on my neck and arms stood on end as Samuel and Peter guided me to the gravesite. We knelt together by the simple marble headstone that bore the fleur-de-lis of Scouting. I traced my hand across the black lettering, which read: “Robert Baden-Powell; Chief Scout of the World.” His wife, Olave, World Chief Guide, was buried with him, and below their inscriptions was a simple circle with a dot inside, the Scout trail sign for “I have gone home.” Peter humbly asked if I would repeat the Scout Oath


with him, and we stood together behind the headstone and raised our right hands in the Scout sign. Looking


Author Alvin Townley, center, joins his guide Samuel Ndukwe (left) and Peter Kimita, assistant national commissioner of the Kenya Scouts Association, at the gravesite of Robert Baden-Powell in Nyeri.


8 S COUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2012


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