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.
UP here among the Swiss mountains, in the green valley of Kandersteg, one is very remote from the fuss and hurry of the world. Yet, from where I sit in the flower-decked balcony of this Châlet, I can see the flags of twenty nations waving above the tents, and the camp fires of some three thousand young men gathered there.
Rover Scouts they are: a brigade, as it were, of storm-troops of the larger army of over two million Boy Scouts. Their arms are alpenstocks, their discipline that of goodwill from within; their service consists not so much in fitting themselves for war as in developing the spirit of universal peace.
The days are long over when Scouting was looked upon as a useful game for keeping English boys out of mischief; parents and public have come to see in it a practical process of education for the use of both sexes; with the wider growth of its Brotherhood abroad, its possibilities in the direction of human fellowship for developing the spirit of international goodwill are now becoming generally recognised.
To those who witnessed the Scout Jamboree at Birkenhead in 1929 the coming together of some fifty thousand boys of various nationalities was something of a revelation. But the Rover Moot, if it included smaller numbers, was not a whit less impressive, seeing that it showed not merely a mass of boys linked in friendly comradeship but a growing band of young men who, within the next few years, will be the men of affairs in their respective countries.
Here they were gathered in conference devoting their hard-earned time and money to considering ways and means of developing Scouting generally, and their service for the community in particular. This they did in no spirit of unctuous priggishness or youthful superiority. Far from it; they discussed their subjects in all earnestness in the great conference pavilion every day, but in the huge Camp Fire circle at night they were the jolliest specimens of jovial boyhood that one could wish to see. Never, during the whole fortnight in camp, was there a suspicion of trouble or anything but cheery brotherly feeling among the many and varied elements which went to compose the gathering: Scandinavians, Romanians, Japanese, Hungarians, Australians, Siamese, West Indians, East Indians, French, Cingalese, Poles, Armenians, etc. — a polyglot lot, of good friends for all that.
To myself, possibly, the most inspiring part of their varied programme was when one saw the endless succession of these splendid specimens of the young manhood of all nations setting out in comradeship together with heavy packs on their backs and ice-axe in hand to tackle the neighbouring mountains. The Moot might have been held with greater convenience in any large city, but this valuable side of it, namely the breeding of mutual friendship in healthy sport, would have been lost.
Aye, and something more and above all price, namely, the higher tone of thought which could not fail to have inspired the least imaginative among them in those wonderful surroundings of mountain scenery. Here, among the eternal snows, face to face with Nature in its grandest and most sublime form, they must have felt themselves in closer touch with the Almighty Creator, and in a new atmosphere, far above the man-made jazz and vulgar squalor of the town.
Yes, a wide and promising field lies yet before the Scout Movement.
September, 1931 –B-P’s Outlook