Published in 1928 “Principles of Scoutmastership In Relation To Boy Development” begins by defining the development we seek for our Scouts, how Scouts think, how they develop, what Scouting does to effect that development and what the Scoutmaster can do to further the process. This nearly 80 year-old advice is a sound now as the day it was written; some things never change.
I found the following excerpts particularly inspiring;
Not Change but Growth
Someone has asked, “How much can the boy be changed? Who would want to change him– this tousled-haired, noisy, fun-loving, vigorous follower of our footsteps? Would we, if we could, have him quiet, subdued, serious? Never. How much can he grow? That is different.”
Scouting’s aims for boy growth and boy development have been repeatedly stated as character building and citizenship training.
Let us get these aims clearly in mind for there are still plenty of us who, while we seem to accept them, conduct Scouting as if the actual objectives were the teaching of subject matter, the awarding of badges, the making of Eagle Scouts, the development of well-drilled Troop organizations, the perfection of craftwork experts. We must continually remind ourselves that such things are only tools, only means to the end of helping the development of character.
A poor Scoutmaster may build obedience, but a good Scoutmaster builds morale.
The writer remembers going through one of the public buildings in Washington, D.C., with a party in charge of a guide. You can imagine how we were herded from room to room; how the monotonous voice of the guide pointed out in stereotyped language the features to be observed– “On the right we have so and so. On the left you will see so and so. Overhead is so and so.” One thing after another in quick succession. You can see us being dismissed at the main entrance gasping for air, confused and rather bewildered.
The writer also recalls being in a party which climbed Mount Monadnock one bright morning in company with the man who maintained the lookout station… We were finding the trail. Our ranger was in the rear. It was all new ground to us and it was fun finding the way. We stopped as we wished to examine a rock formation and to marvel at a waterfall. We asked questions and the ranger answered us. We came to a place where the trail was in doubt and we argued about it. The ranger was there to settle it when we inquired.
The guide volunteered no information, except to throw in a hint here and there and to answer our queries. Probably we missed a lot of interesting features. Probably we didn’t see all we should have seen, but we surely got more in every way out of that trip, under that guide, than we did out of that human encyclopedia in Washington, D.C.
Scoutmastership is to us the Monadnock types of guiding– a gentle pushing rather than a vigorous pulling; a quiet suggestion rather than a noisy command, a problem offered rather than a solution given.
Speaking of Punishing
Punishing a boy seems a necessity every now and then. How far do we get as Scoutmasters when, after a youngster has kicked over the traces, we call him in and, angry ourselves, give him a good bawling out? He just resents it and usually resolves next time to not get caught.
That’s why the thinking Scoutmaster tries other methods. He realizes that punishment from within is better than from without, and so he appeals to the boy’s pride, to his best feelings, to the way other people feel about him– in a friendly and sympathetic way, trying to set up an attitude within the boy, which will produce real regret and determination for success next time.
The times when angry “call downs” are superior to quiet appeals to pride are few and far between.”Praise publicly and censure privately” is a good rule for the Scoutmaster.
But it isn’t that we should make things easy for boys. They don’t respect the leader who appeals to them to do a thing, to undertake an enterprise because its easy. The “They’re-only-boys” man has no place in Scouting.
Boys want to do things that are hard, that challenge, that make success difficult to attain. You try letting boys slide through on their tests and see how poorly you will rate in comparison with a man who makes them know their stuff. The presence of a difficulty makes interest greater, effort harder and success sweeter.
The full document is available as a PDF file.