John Thurman on Scouters

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who-is-scouting-forScouting isn’t easy to get at first, and it never has been. The “small voice” inside us says “this will be great fun, let me at it!”. Our success as Scouters hinges on what we do next.

John Thurman muses on how the information he provides should be used in introducing his book Pioneerng Projects, published in 1950. What he has to say applies not only to pioneering, but to everything we do as Scouters:


John Thurman

It will be a poor day in Scouting when any Scouter or Scout can pick up a book and all he has to do to achieve success in some subject or activity is to copy exactly what he finds in a book, because Scouting is not like that.

I know there is a fairly constant call from a minority of Scouts, and I am afraid Scouters too, who want to be spoon fed down to the very last dregs of the cup. They want everything so cut and dried that they will know six months in advance that on June 3rd at 7.30 they will be tying a bowline!

Dull dogs, I am afraid, who have found their way into Scouting by mistake and would perhaps be happier and of more service to humanity in something less imaginative and rather more definite than Scouting or Scout activities were ever intended to be or, I hope, will ever become.

Nonetheless, it is right to seek help in regard to method. I remember very well a few years ago hearing from the lips of a very senior Army Officer these words: “Never mind about the immediate results; if the method is right ultimately the results will be right too, but if the method is wrong, however good the results may appear, sooner or later disaster is inevitable.”

Any Scouter who takes up this book and looks through it may find a small voice saying inside him, “I’d love to have a shot at that.” Rather a devilish small voice that, because that is the voice that will lead you into the habits of bad Scoutmasters, of whom in truth we have always had as many as we can comfortably do with. So try to listen for the voice that says, “I’d like to see my Troop making that,” or, better still, “I wonder if the Owls, or the Wolves or the Badgers could make that?”

… the difference between knowing and doing is at once considerable and important. You know quite well that through Training Courses, Scouters’ Meetings, and the like, it is very necessary that you, as a Scouter, should become proficient, but it is Scouting for boys, never Scouting for men, and I hope the all-too-frequent spectacle of Scouts admiring or being bored with the efforts of their Scouters will become past history, and that rather we shall see the wise Scouter wandering from Patrol to Patrol offering a bit of advice and a lot of encouragement.

Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved except that it was set about adventurously … if we can only set alight in the hearts of our Scouts a real desire to adventure, then this country will continue to bring forth men who are prepared to venture out into every field of human endeavour and to achieve much in fact and in spirit to the ultimate benefit of all.