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.
A Scout is thrifty. I THINK we are happier people now than we were a few years ago. We are more generally getting enjoyment out of life, largely thanks to the development of transport in increased railway facilities, motor ‘buses, charabancs, cars and bicycles, which have brought garden cities and the country and the seaside within reach of town workers. And the workers are getting better pay than they used to.
Moreover, a great amount of the enjoyment consists in out-of-door activities which are healthful to body and mind.
But the fly in the ointment that I am afraid of is that with the rush of people to this enjoyment many may be frittering away their savings on their pleasures without looking forward and preparing for the pains that come later with age.
Thanks to a newspaper having stated figuratively (and rightly) that I am one of the richest men in the world, many people have taken it literally. Consequently I am saddened by a flow of appeals for monetary help.
The women who apply are to a large extent retired governesses and sick-nurses, while the men are almost invariably old soldiers or constables.
It is perfectly impossible for one to help them to any material extent. The evil is hard to cure.
But we Scouters and Guiders can do a great deal to prevent the recurrence of this unhappy condition in the next generation if we only preach and get them to practice economy and thrift.
I gave a lift the other day to a young seaman of the Royal Navy, whom I overtook on the road, and in reply to my questions he said that he had served for six years and had enjoyed the service; had traveled all over the world at Government expense; had had a taste of active service in China; and was putting by a good sum to set himself up in civil life when he left the Navy.
He confirmed of the Navy what I already knew of the Army, namely that an ordinary seaman or trooper can usually save £30 a year and upwards during the period of his service – if he would only think of it.
So, too, in very many walks of life. If a man would only determine while yet young, and with a good earning capacity, to save every penny and not fritter away money on things that won’t help him afterwards, he would be able to set himself up in life with a fair provision for old age.
Going into camp and (among three hundred Troops this year) tours to foreign countries, have happily now become a general practice with Scouts. To do this they have learned the art of earning and saving up funds for the purpose.
This is a great step and can be made of greater value still if it teaches them the art of similarly earning and saving up for their personal well-being later on.
No general rule for doing so could be laid down, but Scouters could get it practiced according to local conditions and it will mean a great deal for the future of their boys.