During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
It has possibly hardly struck many a Scoutmaster that in his work with his Troop the results are extending far beyond his comparatively limited area, that his efforts are being watched, results noted, and his example followed by others in countries across the sea. But so it is; and out of such beginnings an international sympathy and understanding is growing up. Many excellent movements have been thought of and urged upon the world for all they were worth — but in spite of the pressing they have not appealed so widely as their promoters had hoped and have ended in smoke. Other movements have sprung up almost of their own accord to meet some need, and have grown and flourished exceedingly. You and I know of one, at any rate, that has done so. Again it is a case of the natural as opposed to the artificial. It is this natural automatic growth of a movement that speaks to its vitality and its possibilities. Nations differ in their characteristics to a marvellous degree considering their relationship in the human family, and although modern communication with its interchange of literature, manufactures, personal visits, etc., ought to have made a vast difference by now, it hasn’t done so. We are still very much strangers to each other.
A League of Nations is to be formed to make us better friends through force of law. I hope it may. But there is another league of nations very much in embryo at present but growing up automatically, and that is in the brotherhood of the Boy Scouts. And since its growth is entirely natural and not forced in any way, there is immense promise about it. At the Jamboree we shall, I hope, get the first general expression. Representatives of twenty-six foreign nations will be among us, and I need not go further than suggest what tremendous ulterior importance may attach to the occasion.
A very real responsibility attaches to each one of us because it is on what we do, what we say, and almost what we think that these different countries will fashion the future line of their Scout work. I think the meeting for interchange of ideas comes just at the right moment. Although we British Scouts are not yet by any means at the highest attainable standard, we are sufficiently well grounded to give the right impression; and the foreign Scouts, while fairly well started, are not as yet so matured that they cannot alter and adapt their methods where they may have gone a little off the line.
So that even if the Jamboree did nothing towards enthusing the boys, towards educating the public, or towards bringing help to the Scoutmasters, yet it would be worth while if through bringing together the representatives of foreign countries in the one ideal of good citizenship, it should have promoted that spirit of fraternity and mutual goodwill without which the formal league of nations can only be an empty shell.