A Guidebook for Scoutmasters on the Theory of Scout Training
AIDS TO SCOUTMASTERSHIP
Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (1857-1941)
Don’t feel worried at the length of this book. Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. At the same time it is educative, and (like Mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receiveth.
The term “Scouting” has come to mean a system of training in citizenship, through games, for boys or girls.
The girls are the important people, because when the mothers of the nation are good citizens and women of character, they will see to it that their sons are not deficient in these points. As things are, the training is needed for both sexes, and is imparted through the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) Movements. The principles are the same for both. It is only in the details that they vary.
A.S.M. Hutchinson in one of his novels suggests that what Youth needs is Back- ground. Well, we have a Background to give them in Scouting and Guiding, and it is the Background that God has provided for everybody — the open-air, happiness and usefulness.
Indeed, the Scoutmaster in introducing the boy to this, incidentally brings upon himself a share in that same happiness and usefulness. He finds himself doing a greater thing than possibly he foresaw in taking up the job, for he finds himself rendering a life-worth Service for Man and God. You will find this book a disappointing one if you hope to find in it a set of definite stepping-stones to complete knowledge.
I merely propose to state, as suggestive, the line which we have found to be successful, and the reasons for it.
A man carries out suggestions the more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim.
So most of these pages will be taken up with the objects of the steps rather than with the details of the steps themselves. These can be filled in by the learner according to his own ingenuity, and in harmony with the local conditions under which he is working.
Baden Powell of Gilwell
The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of an older brother.
As a preliminary word of comfort to intending Scout masters, I should like to contradict the usual misconception that, to be a successful Scoutmaster, a man must be an Admirable Crichton — a know-all. Not a bit of it.
He has simply to be a boy-man, that is:–
- He must have the boy spirit in him; and must be able to place himself on a right plane with his boys as a first step.
- He must realise the needs, outlooks and desires of the different ages of boy life.
- He must deal with the individual boy rather than with the mass.
- He then needs to promote a corporate spirit among his individuals to gain the best results.With regard to the first point, the Scoutmaster has to be neither schoolmaster nor commanding officer, nor pastor, nor instructor. All that is needed is the capacity to enjoy the out-of-doors, to enter into the boys’ ambitions, and to find other men who will give them instruction in the desired directions, whether it be signalling or drawing, nature study or pioneering.
He has got to put himself on the level of the older brother, that is, to see things from the boy’s point of view, and to lead and guide and give enthusiasm in the right direction. Like the true older brother he has to realise the traditions of the family and see that they are preserved, even if considerable firmness is required. That is all. The Movement is a jolly fraternity, all the jollier because in the game of Scouting you are doing a big thing for others, you are combating the breeding of selfishness.
Regarding the second point, the various handbooks cover the successive phases of adolescent life.
Thirdly, the business of the Scoutmaster — and a very interesting one it is — is to draw out each boy and find out what is in him, and then to catch hold of the good and develop it to the exclusion of the bad. There is five per cent of good even in the worst character. The sport is to find it, and then to develop it on to an 80 or 90 per cent basis. This is education instead of instruction of the young mind.
Fourth. In the Scout training the Patrol or gang system gives the corporate expression of the individual training, which brings into practice all that the boy has been taught.
The Patrol System has also a great character-training value if it is used aright. It leads each boy to see that he has some individual responsibility for the good of his Patrol. It leads each Patrol to see that it has definite responsibility for the good of the Troop. Through it the Scoutmaster is able to pass on not only his instruction but his ideas as to the moral outlook of his Scouts. Through it the Scouts themselves gradually learn that they have considerable say in what their Troop does. It is the Patrol System that makes the Troop, and all Scouting for that matter, a real co-operative effort.
Success in training the boy largely depends upon the Scoutmaster’s own personal example. It is easy to become the hero as well as the elder brother of the boy. We are apt, as we grow up, to forget what a store of hero worship is in the boy.
The Scoutmaster who is a hero to his boys holds a powerful lever to their devel- opment, but at the same time brings a great responsibility on himself. They are quick enough to see the smallest characteristic about him, whether it be a virtue or a vice. His mannerisms become theirs, the amount of courtesy he shows, his irrita- tions, his sunny happiness, or his impatient glower, his willing self-discipline or his occasional moral lapses — all are not only noticed, but adopted by his followers.
Therefore, to get them to carry out the Scout Law and all that underlies it, the Scoutmaster himself should scrupulously carry out its professions in every detail of his life. With scarcely a word of instruction his boys will follow him.
The Scoutmaster’s job is like golf, or scything, or fly-fishing. If you “press” you don’t get there, at least not with anything like the extent you do by a light-hearted effortless swing. But you have got to swing. It’s no use standing still. It is one thing or the other, either progress or relax. Let us progress — and with a smile on.
Let the Scoutmaster remember that in addition to his duty to his boys he has a duty also to the Movement as a whole. Our aim in making boys into good citizens is partly for the benefit of the country, that it may have a virile trusty race of citizens whose amity and sense of “playing the game” will keep it united internally and at peace with its neighbours abroad.
Charged with the duty of teaching self-abnegation and discipline by their own practice of it, Scoutmasters must necessarily be above petty personal feeling, and must be large-minded enough to subject their own personal views to the higher policy of the whole. Theirs is to teach their boys to “play the game,” each in his place like bricks in a wall, by doing the same themselves. Each has his allotted sphere of work, and the better he devotes himself to that, the better his Scouts will respond to his training. Then it is only by looking to the higher aims of the Movement, or to the effects of measures ten years hence that one can see details of today in their proper proportion.
Where a man cannot conscientiously take the line required, his one manly course is to put it straight to his Commissioner or to Headquarters, and if we cannot meet his views, then to leave the work. He goes into it in the first place with his eyes open, and it is scarcely fair if afterwards, because he finds the details do not suit him, he complains that it is the fault of the Executive.
Fortunately, in our Movement, by decentralisation and giving a free hand to the local authorities, we avoid much of the red tape which has been the cause of irritation and complaint in so many other organisations.
We are also fortunate in having a body of Scoutmasters who are large-minded in their outlook and in their loyalty to the Movement as a whole.
A man dared to tell me once that he was the happiest man in the world! I had to tell him of one who was still happier: myself.
You need not suppose that either of us in attaining this happiness had never had difficulties to contend with. Just the opposite.
It is the satisfaction of having successfully faced difficulties and borne pin-pricks that gives completeness to the pleasure of having overcome them.
Don’t expect your life to be a bed of roses; there would be no fun in it if it were.
So, in dealing with the Scouts, you are bound to meet with disappointments and setbacks. Be patient: more people ruin their work or careers through want of patience than do so through drink or other vices. You will have to bear patiently with irritating criticisms and red tape bonds to some extent but your reward will come.
The satisfaction which comes of having tried to do one’s duty at the cost of self-denial, and of having developed characters in the boys which will give them a different status for life, brings such a reward as cannot well be set down in writing. The fact of having worked to prevent the recurrence of those evils which, if allowed to run on, would soon be rotting our youth, gives a man the solid comfort that he has done something, at any rate, for his country, however humble may be his position.
This is the spirit with which Scoutmasters and Commissioners, Committeemen, instructors, organisers and secretaries — the word ”Scouter” describes them all — work in the Boy Scout Movement.
The credit for the Organisation and the spread of the Scout Movement is due to this army of voluntary workers. Here we have remarkable if silent evidence of the fine patriotic spirit that lies beneath the surface of most nations. These men give up their time and energies, and in many cases their money as well, to the work of organising the training of boys, without any idea of reward or praise for what they are doing, they do it for the love of their country and their kind.
Members of the Scouting family: Cub, Scout and Senior Scout
The first step towards success in training your boy is to know something about boys in general and then about this boy in particular.
Dr. Saleeby, in an address to the Ethical Society in London, said:
The first requisite for a successful teacher is knowledge of the nature of the boy. The boy or girl is not a small edition of a man or woman, not a piece of blank paper on which the teacher should write, but every child has his own peculiar curiosity, his inexperience, a normal mysteri- ous frame of mind which needs to be tactfully helped, encouraged and moulded or modified or even suppressed.
It is well to recall, so far as possible, what your ideas were when a boy yourself, and you can then much better understand his feelings and desires.
The following qualities in the boy have to be taken into consideration:
- Humour. — It must be remembered that a boy is naturally full of humour; it may be on the shallow side, but he can always appreciate a joke and see the funny side of things. And this at once gives the worker with boys a pleasant and bright side to his work and enables him to become the cheery companion, instead of the taskmaster, if he only joins in the fun of it.
- Courage. — The average boy generally manages to have pluck as well. He is not by nature a grumbler, though later on he may become one, when his self-respect has died out of him and when he has been much in the company of “grousers.”
- Confidence. — A boy is generally supremely confident in his own powers. There- fore, he dislikes being treated as a child and being told to do things or how to do them. He would much rather try for himself, even though it may lead him into blunders, but it is just by making mistakes that a boy gains experience and makes his character.
- Sharpness. — A boy is generally as sharp as a needle. It is easy to train him in matters appertaining to observation and noticing things and deducing their meaning.
- Love of Excitement. — The town boy is generally more unsettled than his country brothers by the excitements of the town, whether they are “a passing fire engine, or a good fight between two of his neighbours.” He cannot stick at a job for more than a month or two because he wants change.
- Responsiveness. — When a boy finds somebody who takes an interest in him he responds and follows where he is led, and it is here that hero-worship comes in as a great force for helping the Scoutmaster.
- Loyalty. — This is a feature in a boy’s character that must inspire boundless hope. Boys are usually loyal friends to each other, and thus friendliness comes almost naturally to a boy. It is the one duty that he understands. He may appear selfish outwardly, but, as a general rule, he is very willing under the surface to be helpful to others, and that is where our Scout training finds good soil to work upon.
If one considers and studies these different attributes in the boy one is in a far better position for adapting the training to suit his different propensities. Such study is the first step to making a success of the training. I had the pleasure, during one single week, of coming across three boys in different centres who were pointed out to me as having been incorrigible young blackguards and hooligans until they came under the influence of Scouting. Their respective Scoutmasters had, in each case, found out the good points which underlay the bad ones in them, and having seized upon these had put the boys on to jobs which suited their peculiar temperaments; and there are now these three, fine hulking lads, each of them doing splendid work, entirely transformed in character from their old selves. It was worth the trouble of having organised the Troops just to have had these single successes.
Mr. Casson, writing in the magazine Teachers’ World, thus describes that complicated work of understanding the Nature of the boy:–
Judging from my own experience, I would say that boys have a world of their own — a world that they make for themselves; and neither the teacher nor the lessons are admitted to this world. A boy’s world has its own events and standards and code and gossip and public opinion.
In spite of teachers and parents, boys remain loyal to their own world. They obey their own code, although it is quite a different code to the one that is taught to them at home and in the schoolroom. They gladly suffer martyrdom at the hands of uncomprehending adults, rather than be false to their own code.
The code of the teacher, for instance, is in favour of silence and safety and decorum. The code of the boys is diametrically opposite. It is in favour of noise and risk and excitement.
Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indispensable elements of the boy’s world. These are basic. They are what boys are in earnest about; and they are not associated with teachers nor schoolbooks.
According to public opinion in Boydom, to sit for four hours a day at a desk indoors is a wretched waste of time and daylight. Did anyone ever know a boy — a normal healthy boy, who begged his father to buy him a desk? Or did anyone ever know a boy, who was running about outdoors, go and plead with his mother to be allowed to sit down in the drawing room?
Certainly not. A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a sitting-down animal. Neither is he a pacifist nor a believer in safety first; nor a book-worm, nor a philosopher.
He is a boy — God bless him — full to the brim of fun and fight and hunger and daring mischief and noise and observation and excitement. If he is not, he is abnormal.
Let the battle go on between the code of the teachers and the code of the boys. The boys will win in the future as they have in the past. A few will surrender and win the scholarships, but the vast majority will persist in rebellion and grow up to be the ablest and noblest men in the nation.
Is it not true, as a matter of history, that Edison, the inventor of a thousand patents, was sent home by his school teacher with a note saying he was ?too stupid to be taught’?
Is it not true that both Newton and Darwin, founders of the scientific method, were both regarded as blockheads by their school teachers?
Are there not hundreds of such instances, in which the duffer of the classroom became useful and eminent in later life? And doesn’t this prove that our present methods fail in developing the aptitudes of boys?
Is it not possible to treat boys as boys? Can we not adapt grammar and history and geography and arithmetic to the requirements of the boy’s world? Can we not interpret our adult wisdom into the language of boyhood?
Is not the boy right, after all, in maintaining his own code of justice and achievement and adventure?
Is he not putting action before learning, as he ought to do? Is he not really an amazing little worker, doing things on his own, for lack of intelligent leadership?
Would it not be vastly more to the point if the teachers were, for a time, to become the students and to study the marvelous boy-life which they are at present trying vainly to curb and repress?
Why push against the stream, when the stream, after all, is running in the right direction?
Is it not time for us to adapt our futile methods and to bring them into harmony with the facts? Why should we persist in saying dolefully, boys will be boys,’ instead of rejoicing in the marvelous energy and courage and initiative of boyhood? And what task can be nobler and more congenial to a true teacher than to guide the wild forces of boy nature cheerily along into paths of social service?
As I have said, the first step to success is to know your boy, but the second step is to know his home. It is only when you know what his environment is when he is away from the Scouts that you can really tell what influences to bring to bear upon him.
Where the sympathy and support of the boy’s parents are secured, where the parents have been brought into a mutual partnership with a fuller interest in the working of the Troop and the aim of the Movement, the task of the Scoutmaster becomes proportionately light.
Occasionally, in the home, there may be evil influences to overcome. In addition there are other temptations to the bad which the instructor of the boy must be ready to contend with. But, if he is forewarned, he can probably devise his methods so that the temptations fail to exercise an evil influence on his lads; and in that way their character is developed on the best lines.
One of the powerful temptations is that of motion pictures. Motion pictures have undoubtedly an enormous attraction for boys, and some people are constantly cudgelling their brains how to stop it. But it is one of those things which would be very difficult to stop even if it were altogether desirable. The point, rather, is how to utilise films to the best advantage for our ends. On the principle of meeting any difficulty by siding with it and edging it in one’s own direction, we should endeavour to see what there is of value in motion pictures and should then utilise them for the purpose of training the boy. No doubt it can be a powerful instrument for evil by suggestion, if not properly supervised; but steps have been taken, and continue to be taken, to ensure a proper censorship. But, as it can be a power for evil, so it can just as well be made a power for good. There are excellent films now on natural history and nature study, which give a child a far better idea of the processes of nature than its own observation can do, and certainly far better than any amount of lessons on the subject.
History can be taught through the eye. There are dramas of the pathetic or heroic kind, and others of genuine fun, humour, and laughter. Many of them bring what is bad into condemnation and ridicule. There is no doubt that this teaching through the eye can be adapted so as to have a wonderfully good effect through the children’s own inclination and interest in the “cinema palace.” We have to remember too that motion pictures have the same influence on the schools which are now turning them to good account. In Scouting we cannot do this to the same extent, but we can utilise them as a spur to our own endeavours. We have to make our Scouting sufficiently attractive to attract the boy, no matter what other counter-attractions there may be.
Juvenile smoking and its detriment to health; gambling and all the dishonesty that it brings in its train; the evils of drink; of loafing with girls; uncleanness, etc., can only be corrected by the Scoutmaster who knows the usual environment of his lads. It cannot be done by forbidding or punishment, but by substituting something at least equally attractive but good in its effects.
Juvenile crime is not naturally born in the boy, but is largely due either to the spirit of adventure that is in him, to his own stupidity, or to his lack of discipline, according to the nature of the individual.
Natural lying is another very prevalent fault amongst lads; and, unfortunately, a prevailing disease all over the world. You meet it particularly amongst uncivilized tribes, as well as in the civilized countries. Truth speaking, and its consequent elevation of a man into being a reliable authority, makes all the difference in his character and in the character of the nation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to do all we can to raise the tone of honor and truth speaking amongst the lads.
The main antidote to a bad environment is naturally the substitution of a good one, and this is best done through the Troop Headquarters and the Scout Camp. By Headquarters I do not mean halfan-hour’s drill once a week in a big schoolroom lent for the occasion — which has so often appeared to be the aim of those dealing with boys — but a real place which the boys feel is their own, even though it may be a cellar or an attic; some place to which they can resort every evening, if need be, and find congenial work and amusement, plenty of varied activity and a bright and happy atmosphere. If a Scoutmaster can only arrange this, he will have done a very good work in providing the right environment for some of his lads which will be the best antidote for the poison that otherwise would creep into their minds and characters.
Then the camp (and this should be as frequent as possibly can be managed) is a still further and even more potent antidote than the Headquarters. The open and breezy atmosphere and the comradeship of continued association under canvas, in the field, and round the camp fire, breathes the very best of spirit amongst the lads, and gives the Scoutmaster a far better opportunity than any other of getting hold of his boys and of impressing his personality upon them.
I like to think of a man trying to get boys to come under good influence as a fisherman wishful to catch fish.
If a fisherman bait his hook with the kind Of food that he likes himself it is probable that he will not catch many — certainly not the shy, game kind of fish. He therefore uses as bait the food that the fish likes.
So with boys; if you try to preach to them what you consider elevating matter, you won’t catch them. Any obvious “goody-goody” will scare away the more spirited among them, and those are the ones you want to get hold of. The only way is to hold out something that really attracts and interests them. And I think you will find that Scouting does this.
You can afterwards season it with what you want them to have.
To get a hold on your boys you must be their friend; but don’t be in too great a hurry at first to gain this footing until they have got over their shyness of you. Mr. F. D. How, in his Book of the Child, sums up the right course in the following story:–
A man whose daily walk led him down a certain dingy street saw a tiny boy with grimy face and badly-developed limbs playing with a banana- skin in the gutter. The man nodded to him — the boy shrank away in terror. Next day the man nodded again. The boy had decided there was nothing to be afraid of, and spat at the man. Next day the little fellow only stared. The day after he shouted ?Hi!’ as the man went on. In time the little fellow smiled back at the greeting which he now began to expect. Finally, the triumph was complete when the boy — a tiny chap — was waiting at the corner and seized the man’s fingers in his dirty little fist. It was a dismal street, but it became one of the very brightest spots in all that man’s life.
Scouting is a game for boys, under the leadership of boys, in which elder brothers can give their younger brothers healthy environment and encourage them to healthy activities such as will help them to develop Citizenship.
Its strongest appeal is through Nature Study and Woodcraft. It deals with the individual, not with the Company. It raises intellectual as well as purely physical or purely moral qualities.
At first it used to aim for these ends — now by experience we know that, where properly handled, it gains them.
Perhaps the best exponent of the aim and methods of Scouting has been Dean James E. Russell, of Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. He writes thus:–
The program of the Boy Scouts is the man’s job cut down to boy’s size. It appeals to the boy not merely because he is a boy, but because he is a man in the making . . . The Scouting program does not ask of the boy anything that the man does not do; but step by step it takes him from the place where he is until he reaches the place where he would be . . .
It is not the curriculum of Scouting that is the most striking feature, but it is the method. As a systematic scheme of leading boys to do the right thing and to inculcate right habits it is almost ideal. In the doing, two things stand out — the one is that habits are fixed; the other is that it affords an opportunity for initiative, self-control, self-reliance, and self-direction.
In the development of initiative Scouting depends not merely on its program of work for the boy, but in a marvelous way it also utilises its machinery of administration. In the administrative scheme a splendid opportunity is given to break away from any incrusting method. It comes about in the Patrol and in the Troop. It teaches the boys to work together in teams. It secures co-operative effort for a common end; that is a democratic thing in and of itself . . .
By encouraging your Scouts in a healthy, cheery, and not in a sancti- monious looking-for-a-reward spirit to do Good Turns as a first step and to do service for the community as a development, you can do more for them even than by encouraging their proficiency or their discipline or their knowledge, because you are teaching them not how to get a living so much as how to live.
To an outsider Scouting must at first sight appear to be a very complex matter, and many a man is probably put off from becoming a Scoutmaster because of the enormous number and variety of things that he thinks he would have to know in order to teach his boys. But it need not be so, if the man will only realise the following points:
- The aim of Scouting is quite a simple one.
- The Scoutmaster gives to the boy the ambition and desire to learn for himself by suggesting to him activities which attract him, and which he pursues till he, by experience, does them aright. (Such activities are suggested in Scouting for Boys).
- The Scoutmaster works through his Patrol Leaders.
The aim of the Scout training is to improve the standard of our future citizenhood, especially in Character and Health; to replace Self with Service, to make the lads individually efficient, orally and physically, with the object of using that efficiency for service for their fellow-men.
Citizenship has been defined briefly as “active loyalty to the community.” In a free country it is easy, and not unusual, to consider oneself a good citizen by being a law-abiding man, doing your work and expressing your choice in politics, sports, or activities, “leaving it to George” to worry about the nation’s welfare. This is passive citizenship. But passive citizenship is not enough to uphold in the world the virtues of freedom, justice, and honour. Only active citizenship will do.
To accomplish the aim of training for active citizenship, we take up the following four branches which are essential in building up good citizens, and we inculcate them from within instead of from without:–
- Character — which we teach through: the Patrol System, the Scout Law, Scout lore, woodcraft, responsibility of the Patrol Leader, team games and the re- sourcefulness involved in camp work. This includes the realisation of God the Creator through His works; the appreciation of beauty in Nature; and through the love of plants or animals with which outdoor life has made one familiar.
- Health and Strength — Through games, exercises, and knowledge of personal hy- giene and diet.
- Handcraft and Skill — occasionally through indoor activities, but more specially through pioneering, bridge-building, camp expedients, self-expression through the arts, which all tend to make efficient workmen.
- Service to Others — The carrying into daily life of the practice of religion by “good turns,” dealing with quite small good actions as well as with community service, accidents, life-saving.
The details of these four branches are shown here:
ANALYSIS OF THE SCOUT SCHEME OF TRAINING FOR CITIZENSHIP
|1. Character||2. Health and Strength|
|Qualities to be Aimed For||Through Practice Of||Qualities to be Aimed For||Through Practice Of|
|Civic Fair Play||Patrol Work||Health||Responsibility for Personal Health|
|Respect for Rights of Others||Team Games|
|Discipline||Court of Honor||Strength||Hygiene|
|Leadership||Patrol Leaders’ Council||Temperance|
|Responsibility||Scout Law and Promise||Continence|
|Moral Honor||Scout Work and Activities||Camping|
|Chivalry||Appreciation of Nature||Physical Development|
|Self-Reliance||Nature Lore and Study||Games|
|Capacity for Enjoyment||Kindness to Animals||Hiking|
|Higher Tone of Thought||Service to Others||Climbing|
|Religion Reverence Self-Respect Loyalty||Natural Activities|
|3. Handcraft and Skill||4. Service to Others|
|Qualities to be Aimed For||Through Practice Of||Qualities to be Aimed For||Through Practice Of|
|Technical Skill||Scoutcraft||Unselfishness||Scout Law and Promise|
|Inventiveness||Camp Expedients||Civic Duty||Good Turns|
|Observation||Rewards by Badges||Service for Country||Life Saving|
|Dedication||Hobbies||Service for Humanity||Firemanship|
|Self-Expression||Woodcraft||Service for God||Accident Corps|
|Tracking||Hospital Assistance Other Community Service|
By the term “Scouting” is meant the work and attributes of back-woodsmen, ex- plorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers and frontiersmen.
In giving the elements of these to boys we supply a system of games and practices which meets their desires and instincts, — and is at the same time educative.
From the boys’ point of view Scouting puts them into fraternity-gangs which is their natural Organisation, whether for games, mischief, or loafing; it gives them a smart dress and equipment; it appeals to their imagination and romance; and it engages them in an active, open-air life.
From the parents’ point of view it gives physical health and development; it teaches energy, resourcefulness, and handicrafts; it puts into the lad discipline, pluck, chivalry, and patriotism; in a word, it develops “character,” which is more essential than anything else to a lad for making his way in life.
The Scout training attracts boys of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, and even catches the physically defective, deaf mutes, and blind. It inspires the desire to learn. The principle on which Scouting works is that the boy’s ideas are studied, and he is encouraged to educate himself instead of being instructed.
It gives a good start in technical training through badges for proficiency in various kinds of hobbies and handicrafts, in addition to the actual Scouts’ Badges of First and Second Class, testifying to their capabilities in swimming, pioneering, cooking, woodsmanship, and other points of manliness and handiness. The object of offering so many as we do at an elementary standard is to draw out the boys of every type to try their hand at various kinds of work, and the watchful Scoutmaster can very quickly recognise the particular bent of each boy and encourage it accordingly. And that is the best road towards expanding his individual character and starting a boy on a successful career. Moreover, we encourage personal responsibility in the boy for his own physical development and health: and we trust in his honour and expect him to do a Good Turn to someone every day.
Where the Scoutmaster is himself a bit of a boy, and can see it all from the boy’s point of view, he can, if he is imaginative, invent new activities, with frequent variations, to meet the boys’ thirst for novelty. Note the theatres. If they find that a play does not appeal to the public, they don’t go on hammering away with it in the hope that it will in the end do so — they take it off and put on some new attraction.
Boys can see adventure in a dirty old duck-puddle, and if the Scoutmaster is a boy-man he can see it too. It does not require great expense or apparatus to devise new ideas; the boys themselves can often help with suggestions.
A further way of discovering activities that will appeal to the boys is for the Scoutmaster to save his brains by using his ears.
When in war-time a soldier-scout is out at night and wants to gain information of the enemy’s moves, he does so to a large extent by listening. Similarly, when a Scoutmaster is in the dark as to what is the inclination or the character of his boys, he can, to a great extent, get it by listening. In listening, he will gain a close insight into the character of each boy and a realisation of the way in which he can best be interested.
So, too, in the Patrol Leaders’ Council debates and camp fire talks; if you make listening and observation your particular occupation, you will gain much more in- formation from your boys than you can put into them by your own talk.
Also, when visiting the parents, don’t go with the idea of impressing on them the value of Scouting so much as to glean from them what are their ideas of training their boys and what they expect of Scouting or where they find it deficient.
Generally speaking, when short of ideas don’t impose on your Scouts’ activities which you think they ought to like; but find out from them by listening or by questioning which activities appeal most to them, and then see how far you can get these going that is, if they are likely to be beneficial to the boys.
Where a Troop resounds with jolly laughter, and enjoys success in competitions, and the fresh excitements of new adventures, there won’t be any loss of members through boredom.
The underlying feature is the spirit of the Movement, and the key that unlocks this spirit is the romance of Woodcraft and Nature Lore.
Where is there a boy, or for the matter of that a grown-up man, even in these materialistic times to whom the call of the wild and the open road does not appeal? Maybe it is a primitive instinct — anyway it is there. With that key a great door may be unlocked, if it is only to admit fresh air and sunshine into lives that were otherwise grey. But generally it can do more than this. The heroes of the wild, the frontiersmen and explorers, the rovers of the sea, the airmen of the clouds are Pied Pipers to the boys.
Where they lead the boys will follow, and these will dance to their tune when it sings the song of manliness and pluck, of adventure and high endeavour, of efficiency and skill, of cheerful sacrifice of self for others.
There’s meat in this for the boy; there’s soul in it.
Watch that lad going down the street, his eyes are looking far out. Is his vision across the prairie or over the grey-backed seas? At any rate, it isn’t here. Don’t I know it!
Have you never seen the buffaloes roaming in Kensington Gardens? And can’t you see the smoke from the Sioux Lodges under the shadow of the Albert Memorial? I have seen them there these many years.
Through Scouting the boy has now the chance to deck himself in a frontier kit as one of the great Brotherhood of Backwoodsmen. He can track and follow signs, he can signal, he can light his fire and build his shack and cook his grub. He can turn his hand to many things in pioneer- and campcraft.
His unit is the natural gang of the boy, led by its own boy leader.
He may be one of a herd, but he has his own entity. He gets to know the joy of life through the outof-doors.
Then there is a spiritual side.
Through sips of nature lore imbibed in woodland hikes the puny soul grows up and looks around. The outdoors is par excellence the school for observation and for realising the wonders of a wondrous universe.
It opens to the mind appreciation of the beautiful that lies before it day by day. It reveals to the city youngster that the stars are there beyond the city chimney-pots, and the sunset clouds are gleaming in their glory far above the roof of the “cinema” theatre.
The study of nature brings into a harmonious whole the question of the infinite, the historic, and the microscopic as part of the Great Creator’s work. And in these, sex and reproduction play an honoured part.
Scoutcraft is a means through which the veriest hooligan can be brought to higher thought and to the elements of faith in God; and, coupled with the Scout’s obligation to do a Good Turn every day, it gives the base of Duty to God and to Neighbour on which the parent or pastor can build with greater ease the form of belief that is desired.
“You can dress a lad as Cowboy, as a Tommy or a Jack, You can drill him till he looks as smart as paint, But it does not always follow when you come to scratch his back That he’s really either hero or a saint.”
It is the spirit within, not the veneer without that does it.
And the spirit is there in every boy when you get him, only it has to be discovered and brought to light.
The Scout Promise (or Oath) to carry out, on his honour, as far as in him lies, and the Scout Law is our binding disciplinary force, and with ninety-nine out of a hundred it pays. The boy is not governed by don’t, but is led on by do. The Scout Law is devised as a guide to his actions rather than as repressive of his faults. It merely states what is good form and expected of a Scout.
The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organisations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!
The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop.
The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.
An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works.
Then, through emulation and competition between Patrols, you produce a Patrol spirit which is eminently satisfactory, since it raises the tone among the boys and develops a higher standard of efficiency all round. Each boy in the Patrol realises that he is in himself a responsible unit and that the honour of his group depends in some degree on his own ability in playing the game.
The Patrol Leaders’ Council and Court of Honour is an important part of the Patrol System. It is a standing committee which, under the guidance of the Scoutmaster, settles the affairs of the Troop, both administrative and disciplinary. It develops in its members self-respect, ideals of freedom coupled with a sense of responsibility and respect for authority, while it gives practice in procedure such as is invaluable to the boys individually and collectively as future citizens.
The Patrol Leaders’ Council takes charge of routine matters and the management of such affairs as Troop entertainments, sports, etc. In this Council it is often found convenient to admit the Seconds (Assistant Patrol Leaders) also as members, and, while getting their help, this incidentally gives them experience and practice in committee procedure. The Court of Honour, on the other hand, is composed solely of Patrol Leaders. The Court of Honour, as its name implies, has a rather exceptional mission, such as dealing with cases of discipline and questions of awards.
It is important that the Scoutmaster recognise the extraordinary value which he can get out of the Patrol System. It is the best guarantee for permanent vitality and success for the Troop. It takes a great deal of minor routine work off the shoulders of the Scoutmaster.
But first and foremost: The Patrol is the character school for the individual. To the Patrol Leader it gives practise in Responsibility and in the qualities of Leadership. To the Scouts it gives subordination of self to the interests of the whole, the elements of self-denial and self-control involved in the team spirit of cooperation and good comradeship.
But to get first-class results from this system you have to give the boy leaders real free-handed responsibility — if you only give partial responsibility you will only get partial results. The main object is not so much saving the Scoutmaster trouble as to give responsibility to the boy, since this is the very best of all means for developing character.
The Scoutmaster who hopes for success must not only study what is written about the Patrol System and its methods, but must put into practice the suggestions he reads. It is the doing of things that is so important, and only by constant trial can experience be gained by his Patrol Leaders and Scouts. The more he gives them to do, the more will they respond, the more strength and character will they achieve.
I have often said, “I don’t care a fig whether a Scout wears a uniform or not so long as his heart is in his work and he carries out the Scout Law.” But the fact is that there is hardly a Scout who does not wear uniform if he can afford to buy it.
The spirit prompts him to it.
The same rule applies naturally to those who carry on the Scout Movement — the Scoutmasters and Commissioners; there is no obligation on them to wear uniform if they don’t like it. At the same time, they have in their positions to think of others rather than of themselves.
Personally, I put on uniform, even if I have only a Patrol to inspect, because I am certain that it raises the moral tone of the boys. It heightens their estimation of their uniform when they see it is not beneath a grown man to wear it; it heightens their estimation of themselves when they find themselves taken seriously by men who also count it of importance to be in the same brotherhood with them.
Smartness in uniform and correctness in detail may seem a small matter, but has, its value in the development of self-respect, and means an immense deal to the reputation of the Movement among outsiders who judge by what they see.
It is largely a matter of example. Show me a slackly-dressed Troop and I can “Sherlock” a slacklydressed Scoutmaster. Think of it, when you are fitting on your uniform or putting that final saucy cock to your hat. You are the model to your boys and your smartness will reflect itself in them.
The principles of Scouting are all in the right direction. The success in their application depends on the Scoutmaster and how he applies them. My present object is to endeavour to help the Scoutmaster in this particular: First, by showing the object of the Scout training; secondly, by suggesting methods by which it may be carried out.
Many a Scoutmaster would probably desire I should give him all particulars in detail. But this would in reality be an impossibility, because what suits one particular Troop or one kind of boy, in one kind of place, will not suit another within a mile of it, much less those scattered over the world and existing under totally different conditions. Yet one can give a certain amount of general suggestion, and Scoutmasters in applying this can judge for themselves far best which details are most likely to bring about success in their own particular Troops.
But before going into details, once more let me repeat: Do not be appalled by any imaginary magnitude of the task. It will disappear when once you see the aim. You have then only to keep that always before you and adapt the details to suit the end.
As in Peveril of the Peak: “It matters not much whether we actually achieve our highest ideals so be it that they are high.”
Occasionally, difficulties may loom up so as almost to blot out the radiant possibilities. But it is comforting to remember that they are generally out of their proper proportion and subside as you approach them.
“A nation owes its success, not so much to its strength in armaments, as to the amount of character in its citizens.”
“For a man to be successful in life, character is more essential than erudition.”
So character is of first value whether for a nation or for the individual. But if character is to make a man’s career for him, it ought to be developed in him before he starts out; while he is still a boy and receptive. Character cannot be drilled into a boy. The germ of it is already in him, and needs to be drawn out and expanded. How?
Character is very generally the result of environment or surroundings. For exam- ple, take two small boys, twins if you like. Teach them the same lessons in school, but give them entirely different surroundings, companions, and homes outside the school. Put one under a kindly, encouraging mother, among clean and straight playfellows, where he is trusted on his honour to carry out rules of life and so on. On the other hand, take the second boy and let him loaf in a filthy home, among foul-mouthed, thieving, discontented companions. Is he likely to grow up with the same amount of character as his twin?
There are thousands of boys being wasted daily through being left to become characterless, and therefore, useless wasters, a misery to themselves and an eyesore and a danger to the nation.
They could be saved if only the right surroundings or environment were given to them at the receptive time of their lives. And there are many thousands of others who may not be placed on quite so low a level (for there are wasters in every class of life), but who would be all the better men and more valuable to the country and more satisfactory to themselves if they could be persuaded, at the right age, to develop their characters.
Here, then, lies the most important object in the Boy Scout training — to educate; not to instruct, mind you, but to educate, that is, to draw out the boy to learn for himself, of his own desire, the things that tend to build up character in him.
The number in a Troop should preferably not exceed thirty-two. I suggest this number because in training boys myself I have found that sixteen was about as many as I could deal with — in getting at and bringing out the individual character in each. I allow for other people being twice as capable as myself and hence the total of thirty-two. Men talk of having fine Troops of 60 or even 100 — and their leaders tell me that their boys are equally well trained as in smaller Troops. I express admiration (“admiration” literally translated means “surprise”), and I don’t believe them.
“Why worry about individual training?” they ask. Because it is the only way by which you can educate. You can instruct any number of boys, a thousand at a time if you have a loud voice and attractive methods of disciplinary means. But that is not training — it is not education.
Education is the thing that counts in building character and In making men.
The incentive to perfect himself, when properly instilled into the individual, brings about his active effort on the line most suitable to his temperament and powers.
It is not the slightest use to preach the Scout Law or to give it out as orders to a crowd of boys: each mind requires its special exposition of them and the ambition to carry them out.
That is where the personality and ability of the Scoutmaster come in.
So, let us consider a few of the qualities, moral and mental that go to make Character, and then see how the Scoutmaster can get the boy to develop these for himself through Scouting.
The code of the medieval knights has been the foundation for the conduct of gen- tlemen ever since the day around A.D. 500, when King Arthur made the rules for his Knights of the Round Table. The romance of the Knights has its attraction for all boys and has its appeal to their moral sense. Their Code of Chivalry included Honour, Self-Discipline, Courtesy, Courage, Selfless Sense of Duty and Service, and the guidance of Religion.
The rules as they were republished in the time of Henry VII are as follow:–
- They were never to put off their armour, except for the purpose of rest at night.
- They were to search for adventures wherein to attain “bruyt and renown.”
- To defend the poor and weak.
- To give help to any who should ask it in a just quarrel.
- Not to offend one another.
- To fight for the defence and welfare of their country.
- To work for honour rather than profit.
- Never to break a promise for any reason whatever.
- To sacrifice themselves for the honour of their country.
- “Sooner choose to die honestly than to flee shamefully.”
The ideals of the Knights and the idea of fair play is above all the one which can be best instilled into boys and leads them to that strong view of justice which should be part of their character, if they are going to make really good citizens.
This habit of seeing things from the other fellow’s point of view can be developed in outdoor games where fair play is essential, whether it is in “Flag Raiding” or “Dispatch Running.” During the game the strictest rules are observed which mean self-restraint and good temper on the part of the players, and at the end it is the proper form that the victor should sympathise with the one who is conquered, and that the opponent should be the first to cheer and congratulate the winner.
This should be made the practice until it becomes the habit. A further valuable aid to the training in fairness is the holding of debates amongst the boys on subjects that interest them and which lend themselves to argument on both sides. This is to get them into the way of recognizing that every important question has two sides to it, and that they should not be carried away by the eloquence of one orator before they have heard what the defender of the other side has to say on the subject, and that they should then weigh the evidence of both sides for themselves before making up their mind which part they should take.
A practical step in ensuring this is not to vote by show of hands, where the hesitating or inattentive boy votes according to the majority. Each should record his vote “ay” or “no” on a slip of paper and hand it in. This ensures his making up his mind for himself after duly weighing both sides of the question.
In the same, way mock trials or arbitration of quarrels, if carried out seriously and on the lines of a law court, are of the greatest value in teaching the boys the same idea of justice and fair play, and also give them a minor experience of what their civic duties may be as jurymen or witnesses later on. The Court of Honour in the Troop is another step in the same direction, and as the boys here have a real responsibility by being members of the Court, the seriousness of their views is brought home to them a11 the more, and encourages them to think out carefully the right line to take when they have heard all the arguments on both sides.
Thus a Scoutmaster, who uses his ingenuity towards the end of teaching fair play, unselfishness and sense of duty to others, may make ample opportunities, whether indoors or out, for training his Scouts. Of all the subjects with which we are dealing, I believe this to be one of the most important towards self-governing citizenship, though I fear I have only touched upon it in a very sketchy manner.
A nation to be prosperous must be well disciplined, and you only get discipline in the mass by discipline in the individual. By discipline I mean obedience to authority and to other dictates of duty. This cannot be got by repressive measures, but by encouragement and by educating the boy first in self-discipline and in sacrificing of self and selfish pleasures for the benefit of others. This teaching is largely effective by means of example, by putting responsibility upon him and by expecting a high standard of trustworthiness from him.
Responsibility is largely given through the Patrol System by holding the Leader responsible for what goes on amongst his boys.
Sir Henry Knyvett, in 1596, warned Queen Elizabeth that the State which ne- glects to train and discipline its youth produces not merely rotten soldiers or sailors, but the far greater evil of equally rotten citizens for civil life; or, as he words it, “For want of true discipline the hour and wealth both of Prince and countrie is desperatlie and frivouslie ruinated.”
Discipline is not gained by punishing a child for a bad habit, but by substituting a better occupation, that will absorb his attention, and gradually lead him to forget and abandon the old one.
The Scoutmaster should insist on discipline, and strict, quick obedience in small details. Let the boys run riot only when you give leave for it — which is a good thing to do every now and then.
The Scout Law is the foundation on which the whole of Scout training rests. Its various clauses must be fully explained and made clear to the boys by practical and simple illustrations of its application in their everyday life.
There is no teaching to compare with example. If the Scoutmaster himself conspicuously carries out the Scout Law in all his doings, the boys will be quick to follow his lead.
This example comes with all the more force if the Scoutmaster himself takes the Scout Promise, in the same way as his Scouts.
The first Law, namely, A Scout’s honour is to be trusted (A Scout is Trustworthy), is one on which the whole of the Scout’s future behaviour and discipline hangs. The Scout is expected to be straight. So it should be very carefully explained, as a first step, by the Scoutmaster to his boys before taking the Scout Promise.
The investiture of the Scout is purposely made into something of a ceremony, since a little ritual of that kind if carried out with strict solemnity, impresses the boy; and considering the grave importance of the occasion, it is only right that he should be impressed as much as possible. Then it is of great importance that the Scout should periodically renew his knowledge of the Law. Boys are apt to be forgetful, and it should never be allowed that a boy who has made his solemn promise to carry out the Scout Law should, at any time, not be able to say what the Law is.
Once the Scout understands what his honour is and has, by his initiation, been put upon his honour, the Scoutmaster must entirely trust him to do things. You must show him by Your action that you consider him a responsible being. Give him charge of something, whether temporary or permanent, and expect him to carry out his charge faithfully. Don’t keep prying to see how he does it. Let him do it his own way, let him come a howler over it if need be, but in any case leave him alone and trust him to do his best. Trust should be the basis of all our moral training.
Giving responsibility is the key to success with boys, especially with the rowdiest and most difficult boys.
The object of the Patrol System is mainly to give real responsibility to as many of the boys as possible with a view to developing their character. If the Scoutmaster gives his Patrol Leader real power, expects a great deal from him, and leaves him a free hand in carrying out his work, he will have done more for that boy’s character expansion than any amount of school-training could ever do.
A boy does not really get the full value of Scout training until he is a First Class Scout. The tests for First Class Scouts were laid down with the idea that a boy, who proved himself equipped to that extent, might reasonably be considered as grounded in the qualities which go to make a good, manly citizen.
As the boy becomes conscious of no longer being a Tenderfoot, but of being a responsible and trusted individual with power to do things, he becomes self-reliant. Hope and ambition begin to dawn for him.
He could not but feel himself a more capable fellow than before, and therefore, he should have that confidence in himself which will give him the hope and pluck in time of stress in the struggle of life, which will encourage him to stick it out till he achieves success.
First aid or firemanship, or trek cart or bridge building are of value for handiness and use of wits, since the boy, while working in co-operation with the others, is responsible for his own separate part of the job.
Swimming has its educational value — mental, moral, and physical — in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb. When training the South African Constabulary I used to send the men out in pairs to carry out long distance rides of two or three hundred miles to teach them to fend for themselves and to use their intelligence.
But when I had a somewhat dense pupil he was sent out alone, without another to lean upon, to find his own way, make his own arrangements for feeding himself and his horse, and for drawing up the report of his expedition unaided. This was the best training of all in self-reliance and intelligence, and this principle is one which I can confidently recommend to Scoutmasters in training their Scouts.
Of all the schools the camp is far and away the best for teaching boys the desired characterattributes. The environment is healthy, the boys are elated and keen, all the interests of life are round them, and the Scoutmaster has them permanently for the time, day and night, under his hand. In camp the Scoutmaster has his greatest opportunity for watching and getting to know the individual characteris- tics of each of his boys, and then apply the necessary direction to their development; while the boys themselves pick up the character-forming qualities incident to life in camp, where discipline, resourcefulness, ingenuity, self-reliance, handcraft, wood- craft, boat-craft, team sense, nature lore, etc., can all be imbibed under cheery and sympathetic direction of the understanding Scoutmaster. A week of this life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room, valuable though that may be.
Therefore, it is most advisable that Scoutmasters who have not had much expe- rience in that line should study the subject of the camp in its various bearings.
Why is Nature Lore considered a Key Activity in Scouting? That is a question on which hangs the difference between Scout work and that of the ordinary boys’ club. It is easily answered in the phrase: “We want to teach our boys not merely how to get a living, but how to live” — that is, in the higher sense, how to enjoy life. Nature lore, as I have probably insisted only too often, gives the best means of opening out the minds and thoughts of boys, and at the same time, if the point is not lost sight of by their Scoutmaster, it gives them the power of appreciating beauty in nature, and consequently in art, such as leads them to a higher enjoyment of life. This is in addition to the realisation of God the Creator through His wondrous work, which when coupled with active performance of His will in service for others constitutes the concrete foundation of religion.
Some years ago I was in the sitting-room of a friend who had just died, and lying on the table beside his abandoned pipe and tobacco pouch was a book by Richard Jefferies-Field and Hedgerow, in which a page was turned down which said:–
The conception of moral good is not altogether satisfying. The highest form known to us at present is pure unselfishness, the doing of good not for any reward now or hereafter, nor for the completion of any imaginary scheme. That is the best we know, but how unsatisfactory! An outlet is needed more fully satisfying to the heart’s inmost desire than is afforded by any labour of selfabnegation. It must be something in accord with the perception of beauty and of an ideal. Personal virtue is not enough. Though I cannot name the ideal good it seems to me that it will in some way be closely associated with the ideal beauty of Nature.
In other words, one may suggest that happiness is a matter of inner conscience and outward sense working in combination. It is to be got where the conscience as well as the senses together are satisfied. If the above quoted definition be true, the converse is at least equally certain — namely, that the appreciation of beauty cannot bring happiness if your conscience is not at rest. So that if we want our boys to gain happiness in life we must put into them the practice of doing good to their neighbours, and in addition, the appreciation of the beautiful in Nature.
The shortest step to this last is through Nature lore:– . . . books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every- thing.
Among the mass of boys their eyes have never been opened, and to the Scout- master is given the joy of bringing about this worth-while operation.
Once the germ of woodcraft has entered into the mind of a boy, observation, memory and deduction develop automatically and become part of his character. They remain whatever other pursuits he may afterwards take up.
As the wonders of nature are unfolded to the young mind, so too its beauties can be pointed out and gradually become recognised. When appreciation of beauty is once given a place in the mind, it grows automatically in the same way as observa- tion, and brings joy in the greyest of surroundings.
If I may diverge again, it was a dark, raw, foggy day in the big gloomful station at Birmingham. We were hustled along in a throng of grimy workers and muddy travel-stained soldiers. Yet, as we pushed through the crowd, I started and looked around, went on, looked round again, and finally had a good eyefilling stare before I went on. I don’t suppose my companions had realised it, but I had caught a gleam of sunshine in that murky hole such as gave a new pleasure to the day. It was just a nurse in brown uniform with gorgeous red-gold hair and a big bunch of yellow and brown chrysanthemums in her arms. Nothing very wonderful you say. No, but for those who have eyes to see, these gleams are there even in the worst of gloom.
It is too common an idea that boys are unable to appreciate beauty and poetry; but I remember once some boys were being shown a picture of a stormy landscape, of which Ruskin had written that there was only one sign of peace in the whole wind-torn scene. One of the lads readily pointed to a spot of blue peaceful sky that was apparent through a rift in the driving wrack of clouds.
Poetry also appeals in a way that it is difficult to account for, and when the beautiful begins to catch hold, the young mind seems to yearn to express itself in something other than everyday prose.
Some of the best poetry can of course be found in prose writing, but it is more generally associated with rhythm and rhyme. Rhyme, however, is apt to become the great effort with the aspiring young poet, and so you get the most awful doggerel thrust upon you in your efforts to encourage poetry.
Switch them off doggerel if you can. It is far too prevalent.
Development of outlook naturally begins with a respect for God, which we may best term “Reverence.”
Reverence to God and reverence for one’s neighbour and reverence for oneself as a servant of God, is the basis of every form of religion. The method of expression of reverence to God varies with every sect and denomination. What sect or de- nomination a boy belongs to depends, as a rule, on his parents’ wishes. It is they who decide. It is our business to respect their wishes and to second their efforts to inculcate reverence, whatever form of religion the boy professes.
There may be many difficulties relating to the definition of the religious training in our Movement where so many different denominations exist, and the details of the expression of duty to God have, therefore, to be left largely in the hands of the local authority. But there is no difficulty at all in suggesting the line to take on the human side, since direct duty to one’s neighbour is implied in almost every form of belief.
The following is the attitude of the Scout Movement as regards religion, approved by the heads of all the different denominations on our Council:–
- (a) It is expected that every Scout shall belong to some religious denomination, and attend its services.
- (b) Where a Troop is composed of members of one particular form of religion, it is hoped that the Scoutmaster will arrange such denomi- national religious observances and instruction as he, in consultation with its Chaplain or other religious authority, may consider best.
- (c) Where a Troop consists of Scouts of various religions they should be encouraged to attend the service of their own denomination, and in camp, any form of daily prayer and of weekly Divine service should be of the simplest character, attendance being voluntary.
If the Scoutmaster takes this pronouncement as his guide he cannot go far wrong.
I am perfectly convinced that there are more ways than one by which reverence may be inculcated. The solution depends on the individual character and circum- stances of the boy, whether he is a “hooligan” or a “mother’s darling.” The training that may suit the one may not have much effect on the other. It is for the teacher, whether Scoutmaster or Chaplain, to select the right training.
Religion can only be “caught,” not “taught.” It is not a dressing donned from outside, put on for Sunday wear. It is a true part of a boy’s character, a development of soul, and not a veneer that may peel off. It is a matter of personality, of inner conviction, not of instruction.
Speaking from a fairly wide personal experience, having had some thousands of young men through my hands, I have reached the conclusion that the actions of a very large proportion of our men are, at present, very little guided by religious conviction.
This may be attributed to a great extent to the fact that often instruction instead of education has been employed in the religious training of the boy.
The consequence has been that the best boys in the Bibleclass or Sunday School have grasped the idea, but in many cases they have, by perfection in the letter, missed the spirit of the teaching and have become zealots with a restricted outlook, while the majority have never really been enthused, and have, as soon as they have left the class or school, lapsed into indifference and irreligion, and there has been no hand to retain them at the critical time of their lives, i.e., sixteen to twenty-four.
It is not given to every man to be a good teacher of religion, and often the most earnest are the greatest failures — and without knowing it.
We have, fortunately, a number of exceptionally well-qualified men in this respect among our Scoutmasters, but there must also be a number who are doubtful as to their powers, and where a man feels this, he does well to get a Chaplain, or other experienced teacher, for his Troop.
On the practical side, however, the Scoutmaster can in every case do an immense amount towards helping the religious teacher, just as he can help the schoolmaster by inculcating in his boys, in camp and club, the practical application of what they have been learning in theory in the school.
In denominational Troops there is, as a rule, a Troop Chaplain, and the Scout- master should consult with him on all questions of religious instruction. For the purpose of its religious training, a service or class can be held, called a “Scouts’ Own.” This is a gathering of Scouts for the worship of God and to promote fuller realisation of the Scout Law and Promise, but supplementary to, and not in sub- stitution for, regular religious observances.
Many of our Troops, however, are interdenominational, having boys of different forms of belief in their ranks. Here the boys should be sent to their own clergy and pastors for denominational religious instruction.
Other Troops in slums and less-chance areas have lads of practically no religion of any kind, and their parents are little or no help to them. Naturally, these require different handling and methods of training from those boys in whom religion has been well grounded.
Here, again, Scouting comes very practically to the aid of the teacher, and has already given extraordinarily good results.
The way in which Scouting can help is through the following:–
(a) Personal example of the Scoutmaster.
(b) Nature study.
(c) Good Turns.
(d) Retention of the older boy.
(a) Personal Example— There is no doubt whatever that in the boys’ eyes it is what a man does that counts and not so much what he says. A Scoutmaster has, therefore, the greatest responsibility on his shoulders for doing the right thing from the right motives, and for letting it be seen that he does so, but without making a parade of it. Here the attitude of elder brother rather than of teacher tells with the greater force.
(b) Nature Study — There are sermons in the observation of Nature, say, in bird life, the formation of every feather identical with that of the same species 10,000 miles away, the migration, the nesting, the colouring of the egg, the growth of the young, the mothering, the feeding, the flying power-all done without the aid of man, but under the law of the Creator; these are the best of sermons for boys.
The flowers in their orders, and plants of every kind, their buds and bark, the animals and their habits and species; then the stars in the heavens, with their appointed places and ordered moves in space, give to every one the first conception of Infinity and of the vast scheme of his Creator where man is of so small account. All these have a fascination for boys, which appeals in an absorbing degree to their inquisitiveness and powers of observation, and leads them directly to recognise the hand of God in this world of wonders, if only some one introduces them to it.
The wonder to me of all wonders is how some teachers have neglected this easy and unfailing means of education and have struggled to impose Biblical instruction as the first step towards getting a restless, full-spirited boy to think of higher things.
(c) Good Turns — With a little encouragement on the part of the Scoutmaster the practice of daily Good Turns soon becomes a sort of fashion with boys, and it is the very best step towards making a Christian in fact, and not merely in theory. The boy has a natural instinct for good if he only sees a practical way to exercise it, and this Good Turn business meets it and develops it, and in developing it brings out the spirit of Christian charity towards his neighbour.
This expression of his will to good, is more effective, more natural to the boy, and more in accordance with the Scout method than his passive acceptance of instructive precepts.
(d) Retention of the Older Boy — So soon as the ordinary boy begins to get a scholastic knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, he is sent out into the world, as fit and equipped for making his career as a good working citizen. After leaving school, excellent technical schools are generally open to the boy, as well as continuation classes, if he likes to go to them, or if his parents insist on his attending after his day’s work is over. The best boys go, and get a good final polish.
But what about the average and the bad? They are allowed to slide away-just at the one period of their life when they most of all need continuation and completion of what they have been learning, just at the time of their physical, mental and moral change into what they are going to be for the rest of their lives.
This is where the Scout Movement can do so much for the lad, and it is for this important work that we are doing all we can to organise the Senior Scouts in order to retain the boy, to keep in touch with him, and to inspire him with the best ideals at this, his crossroads for good or evil.
In speaking of the forms of reverence which the boy should be encouraged to develop, we must not omit the important one of reverence for himself, that is self-respect in its highest form.
This, again, can well be inculcated through nature study as a preliminary step. The anatomy of plants, or birds, or shell-fish may be studied and shown to be the wonderful work of the Creator. Then the boy’s own anatomy can be studied in a similar light; the skeleton and the flesh, muscle, nerves, and sinews built upon it, the blood flow and the breathing, the brain and control of action, all repeated, down to the smallest details, in millions of human beings, yet no two are exactly alike in face or finger prints. Raise the boy’s idea of the wonderful body which is given to him to keep and develop as God’s own handiwork and temple; one which is physically capable of good work and brave deeds if guided by sense of duty and chivalry, that is by a high moral tone.
Thus is engendered self-respect.
This, of course, must not be preached to a lad in so many words and then left to fructify, but should be inferred and expected in all one’s dealings with him. Especially it can be promoted by giving the boy responsibility, and by trusting him as an honourable being to carry out his duty to the best of his ability, and by treating him with respect and consideration, without spoiling him.
In addition to reverence to God and to one’s neighbour, loyalty to the country is essential.
Loyalty to country is of the highest value for keeping men’s views balanced and in the proper perspective, The external signs, such as saluting the flag, standing for the National Anthem, and so on, help in promoting this, but the essential thing is the development of the true spirit which underlies such demonstrations.
Loyalty to himself on the part of the boy-that is, to his better conscience-is the great step to selfrealisation. Loyalty to others is proved by self-expression and action rather than by profession. Service for others and self-sacrifice must necessarily include readiness to serve one’s country should the necessity arise for protecting it against foreign aggression; that is the duty of every citizen. But this does not mean that he is to develop a bloodthirsty or aggressive spirit, nor that the boy need be trained to military duties and ideas of fighting. This can be left until he is of age to judge for himself.
The value of good health and strength in the making of a career and in the enjoyment of life is incalculable. That is pretty obvious. As a matter of education one may take it to be of greater value than “book-learning” and almost as valuable as “Character.”
We in the Scout Movement can do much by giving to the boys some of the training in health and personal hygiene which is so essential to their efficiency as citizens.
Our task should be to get the boys to be athletic-minded, at the same time showing them that they must first build up their bodily health before they can safely take up strenuous physical exercises. This would be by proper plain feeding, and hygienic care of themselves in the matter of cleanliness, nose breathing, rest, clothing, regular habits, continence, and so on. We must avoid making them in- trospective by thinking of themselves liable to illness, etc., but hold up fitness for sport as the aim of health training.
With only half an hour per week in the ordinary Scout Troop meeting it is not possible for us to give formal physical training, but what we can do is to teach the boy to be personally responsible to himself for his health — how to secure it and keep it; also we can teach him a few exercises that will help him to develop his strength if he will practise them in his own time; and we can interest him in outdoor activities and games as being not only amusement for him but of practical value in making him sound, strong and healthy for life. Health of body involves health of nerves and health of mind.
Here our character training meets the physical.
Studies have shown that there is an immense percentage of unfit men among our citizens who, with reasonable care and understanding, could have been healthy efficient beings. Some of the reports on the health of school children show that one in every five suffers from defects that will prevent him from being efficient in after-life defects, mind you, which might have been prevented.
These returns are immensely suggestive, and point at once to the need and the remedy; if we took the boy in time, tens of thousands could be saved every year to become strong and capable citizens instead of dragging out a miserable semi-efficient existence.
It is a matter of national as well as individual importance.
There is much talk of developing the physical training of the rising generation on a much more general basis, and in this direction lies a tremendous opening for our work. But I want to warn Scoutmasters against being led by this cry on to the wrong tack.
You know from our chart on page 23 how and why Character and Physical Health are two of our main objects in Scouting, and also the steps by which we endeavour to gain them.
But bear in mind physical health is not necessarily the result of physical drill.
The physical training given in the Army has been carefully thought out, and is excellent for its purpose. It is suited to the more formed muscular system of the man, and soldiers improve tremendously under this intensive form of training.
But it is often artificial, designed to make up for what has not been naturally acquired.
God didn’t invent physical “jerks,” The Zulu warrior, splendid specimen though he is, never went through Swedish drill. Even the ordinary boy, who has played football and has kept himself fit by training exercises between whiles, seldom needs physical drill to develop him afterwards.
It is good open-air games, hiking and camping, and healthy feeding coupled with adequate rest which bring to the boy health and strength in a natural and not an artificial way.
Nobody will disagree with this. It is quite simple in theory, but in its practice we find some few difficulties to overcome.
Your city boy or the factory hand who is at work all day cannot get out to play games in the open. The outdoor worker and country boy should by right have a better chance since he lives more in the open air, but it is seldom that even a country boy knows how to play a game, or even how to run!
It is perfectly astonishing to see how few boys are able to run.
The natural, easy light step comes only with the practice of running. Without it the poor boy develops either the slow heavy plod of the clod-hopper or the shuffling paddle of the city man (and what a lot of character is conveyed in the gait of a man!).
One of the objects of Scouting is to supply team games and activities which can promote the boy’s health and strength and help to develop his character. These games have to be made attractive and competitive, and it is through them that we can inculcate the elements of pluck, obedience to rules, discipline, self-control, keenness, fortitude, leadership and unselfish team play.
Examples of such games and practices are climbing of all sorts, ladders, ropes, trees, rocks, etc.; stepping-stones and plank-walking competitions; hurdle racing over staves supported on forked sticks; “Spottyface” for strengthening the eyesight; ball throwing and catching; boxing; wresting, swimming, hiking, skipping, hopping fights. relay racing, cock-fighting, folk-dancing, action songs and chanties, etc. These and many other activities open a wide and varied program of competition for Patrol against Patrol, which an aginative Scoutmaster can apply in turn to develop the physical points required.
Such vigorous Scout games are to my mind the best form of physical education, because most of them bring in moral education as well, and most of them are inexpensive and do not require wellkept grounds, apparatus, etc.
It is important to arrange all games and competitions, as far as possible, so that all the Scouts take part, because we do not want to have merely one or two brilliant performers and the others no use at all. All ought to get practice, and all ought to be pretty good. Games should be organised mainly as team matches, where the Patrol forms the team. In competitions where there are enough entries to make heats, ties should be run off by losers instead of the usual system of by winners, and the game should be to find out which are the worst instead of which are the best. Good men will strive just as hard not to be worst as they would to gain a prize, and this form of competition gives the backward man most practice.
We in the Scouts can show every boy — town or country — how to be a player of games, and so to enjoy life and at the same time to strengthen his physical as well as his moral fibre.
Physical exercises are an intensive form of development where you cannot get good or frequent opportunity of games, and may well be used in addition to games, provided that:–
- They are not made entirely a drill, but something that each boy can really understand and want to practise for himself because of the good that he knows it does him.
- The instructor has some knowledge of anatomy and the possible harm of many physical drill movements on the young unformed body. The six body exercises given in Scouting for Boys can be taught without any danger to the lad by Scoutmasters who are not experts in anatomy, etc. (These exercises should be done by the Scout himself — once he has learned the proper actions and breathing — at his own time, at home, and should not become a routine part of a Troop meeting.)
We should do everything to get the boy to interest himself in steadily exercising his body and limbs, and in practising difficult feats with pluck and patience until he masters them!
It is a good plan, for instance, for each Troop to adopt certain standards for simple exercises like “standing high jump,” “hop, step and jump,” “putting the bag,” and so on, so that each individual Scout can try to increase his own ability and reach a higher standard.
Then a team uniform of sorts is an attraction to the boys, promotes esprit de corps in his athletic work, and incidentally involves changing his clothes before and after playing, encourages a rub down — a wash — cleanliness.
“How to keep fit,” soon becomes a subject in which the athletic boy takes a close personal interest, and can be formed the basis of valuable instruction in self-care, food values, hygiene, continence, temperance, etc., etc. All this means physical education.
One hears a great many people advocating drill as the way to bring about better physical development among boys. I have had a good deal to do with drilling in my time, and if people think they are going to develop a boy’s physical strength and set-up by drilling him for an hour a week, they will meet with disappointing results.
Drill as given to soldiers, day by day, for month after month, undoubtedly does bring about great physical development. But the instructors — these are well- trained experts — have their pupils continually under their charge and under strict discipline, and even they occasionally make mistakes, and heart-strain and other troubles are not infrequently produced even in the grown and formed man.
Furthermore, drill is all a matter of instruction, of hammering it into the boys, and is in no way an education where they learn it for themselves.
As regards drill for Scouts, I have frequently had to remind Scoutmasters that it is to be avoided — that is, in excess. Apart from militarist objections on the part of some parents, one is averse to it because a second-rate Scoutmaster cannot see the higher aim of Scouting (namely, drawing out of the individual), and not having the originality to teach it even if he saw it, he reverts to drill as an easy means of getting his boys into some sort of shape for making a show on parade.
At the same time, Scoutmasters occasionally go too far the other way, and allow their boys to go slack all over the place, without any apparent discipline or smart- ness. This is worse. You want a golden mean — just sufficient instruction to show them what is wanted of them in smartness and deportment, and a fund of team spirit, such as makes them brace themselves up and bear themselves like men for the honour of their Troop.
Occasional drills are necessary to keep this up, but these should not be indulged in at the expense of the more valuable Scout training.
All the drill we require in Scouting to set our boys up, and get them to move like men and not sheep, is a few minutes silent drill at the beginning of a meeting or an occasional game of “O’Grady says.” Although we do not want to neglect drill altogether, far preferable is the drill in firemanship, trek cart, lifeboat launch- ing, bridge building, and other sets of exercises. These demand equal smartness, activity, and discipline, but the point is that each boy is using his head in doing his own particular share of the work for the success of the whole team. Moreover, competitions in these are of highest interest to the boys as well as to the onlookers. An ulterior point is that they can breed morale and fair play.
It should be “the thing” for the boy’s never to bear envy or to mention unfairness of judging or of the opponents tactics when their team is defeated, and whatever disappointment they may feel they should only show cordial praise for the other side. This means true self-discipline and unselfishness, and it promotes that good feeling all round which is so much needed for breaking down prejudices.
I know a very smart regiment in which the recruits received very little drill; when once they had been shown how to hold themselves they were told that as soon as they could do it habitually they would be allowed to go out and take their pleasures and their duties as ordinary soldiers. It was ‘up to them” to smarten themselves up instead of having deportment drilled into them for months. They drilled themselves and each other, and passed out of the recruit stage in less than half the ordinary time. Education as opposed to instruction once more! The result was obtained by putting the ambition and responsibility on to the men themselves. And that is exactly the way by which, I believe, you can best produce physical development among boys.
But, after all, natural games, plenty of fresh air, wholesome food, and adequate rest do far more to produce well-developed healthy boys than any amount of physical or military drill.
Oxygen for Ox’s Strength. — I once saw some very smart physical drill by a Scout Troop in their headquarters.
It was very fresh and good, but, my wig, the air was not! It was, to say the least, “niffy.” There was no ventilation. The boys were working like engines, but actually undoing their work by sucking in poison instead of strengthening their blood. Fresh air is half the battle towards producing results in physical exercises and it may advantageously be taken through the skin as well as through the nose when possible. Yes — that open air is the secret of success. It is what Scouting is for — to develop the out-of-doors habit as much as possible. I asked a Scoutmaster once, in a great city, how he managed his Saturday hikes, whether in the park or in the country? He did not have them at all. Why not? Because his boys did not care about them. They preferred to come into the meeting room on Saturday afternoons! Of course they preferred it, poor little beggars; they were accustomed to being indoors. But that is what we are out to prevent in the Scouts — our object is to wean them from indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them. Alexandre Dumas fils wrote:–
If I were King of France I wouldn’t allow any child of under twelve years to come into a town. Till then the youngsters would have to live in the open — out in the sun, in the fields, in the woods, in company with dogs and horses, face to face with nature, which strengthens the bodies, lends intelligence to the understanding, gives poetry to the soul, and rouses in them a curiosity which is more valuable to education than all the grammar books in the world.
They would understand the noises as well as the silences of the night; they would have the best of religions — that which God himself reveals in the glorious sight of His daily wonders.
And at twelve years of age, strong, high-minded and full of understand- ing, they would be capable of receiving the methodical instruction which it would then be right to give them, and whose inculcation would then be easily accomplished in four or five years.
Unfortunately for the youngsters, though happily for France, I don’t happen to be King.
All that I can do is to give the advice and to suggest the way. The way is — make physical education of the child a first step in his life.
In the Scouts especially, if we adhere to our proper metier, we ought to make a big step in this direction.
The open-air is the real objective of Scouting, and the key to its success. But with too much town life we are apt to underlook our object and revert to type.
We are not a club — nor a Sunday school — but a school of the woods. We must get more into the open for the health, whether of the body or the soul, of Scout and of Scoutmaster.
The camp is what the boy looks forward to in Scouting, and is the Scoutmaster’s great opportunity. The camp cannot fail to grip every boy with its outdoor life and taste of the wild, with its improvised cooking expedients, the games over woodland or moor, the tracking, the path-finding, the pioneering, the minor hardships and the jolly camp fire sing songs.
We want open-air space, grounds of our own, preferably permanent camp grounds easily accessible for the use of Scouts. As the Movement grows these should form regular institutions at all centres of Scouting.
Besides serving this great purpose such camps would have a double value. They could form centres of instruction for officers, where they could receive training in camp craft and Nature lore, and above all could imbibe the spirit of the out-of-doors — the Brotherhood of the Backwoods.
In the past years many such grounds have been acquired, for use as Training Grounds for Scouters, and Camping Grounds for Scouts. These permanent grounds have well proved their value for camp life, but we want more and that soon before all the ground round our cities has been bought up for building purposes.
I used the expression “camp life.” Keep in mind that “camp life” is different from “living under canvas.”
I was shown a pattern school boy camp not long ago where there were rows of tents smartly pitched and perfectly aligned, with a fine big mess marquee and well- appointed cooks’ quarters. There were brick paths and wooden bathing houses and latrines. It was all exceedingly well planned, and put up by the contractor. The officer who organised it all merely had to pay down a certain sum and the whole thing was done. It was quite simple and businesslike.
My only complaint about it was that it wasn’t camping. Living under canvas is a very different thing from camping. Any ass, so to speak, can live under canvas where he is one of a herd with everything done for him; but he might just as well stop at home for all the good it is likely to do him.
In Scouting we know that what appeals to the boys, and is at the same time an education for them, is real camping — that is, where they prepare their own encampment even to the extent of previously making their own tents and learning to cook their own food.
Then the pitching of tents in separate sites and selected nooks, by Patrols, the arranging of watersupply and firewood, the preparation of bathing places, field kitchens, latrines, grease and refuse pits, etc., the use of camp expedients, and the making of camp utensils and furniture, will give a keen interest and invaluable training.
Where you have a large number of boys in a canvas town you are forced to have drill and special instruction as a means of supplying mass occupation; whereas with a few Patrols, apart from their camp work, which fills up a lot of time, there is the continuous opportunity for education in nature lore and in the development of health of body and mind through cross-country runs and hikes, and the outdoor life of the woods.
My ideal camp is one where everybody is cheery and busy, where the Patrols are kept intact under all circumstances, and where every Patrol Leader and Scout takes a genuine pride in his camp and his gadgets.
In a small camp so very much can be done through the example of the Scout- master. You are living among your boys and are watched by each of them, and imitated unconsciously by them, and probably unobserved by yourself. If you are lazy they will be lazy; if you make cleanliness a hobby it will be- come theirs; if you are clever at devising camp accessories, they will become rival inventors, and so on. But don’t do too much of what should be done by the boys themselves, see that they do it — “when you want a thing done don’t do it yourself” is the right motto. We want not only really healthy and clean camps, carried out in accordance with the local instructions, but camps where the boys can employ the nearest approach to a backwoodsman life and adventure.
The advantages of swimming among many other forms of physical training are these:–
- The boy delights in it, and is keen to learn.
- He gets to enjoy cleanliness.
- He learns pluck in attaining the art.
- He gains self-confidence on mastering it.
- He develops his chest and breathing organs.
- He develops muscle.
- He gains the power of saving life and locks for opportunities of doing it.
Boat-rowing also is an excellent muscle developer, and appeals very greatly to the Scout. It is only allowed after he has qualified in swimming, so induces a good lot of boys to train themselves in that line.
Signalling practice, while it is educating the boy’s intelligence, is at the same time giving him valuable physical exercise hour after hour in body-twisting and arm- work, and in training the eye, but it is a practice which should be taken out-of- doors, so that it does not degenerate into a mere indoor exercise devoid of utility, purpose or romance.
Cleanliness inside as well as out is of prime importance to health. That rub down with a damp rough towel, where baths are impossible, is of very big importance to inculcate as a habit in your boys. Also, the habit of washing hands before a meal and after the daily rear. The need for scrupulous cleanliness may well be inculcated by the practice of “Kill that fly,” not merely as a useful public service which Scouts can perform, but also as a means of introducing them to the minuteness of disease-germs as conveyed on flies’ feet, and yet of such effect as to poison people.
Food is an all-important consideration for the growing lad, yet there is a vast amount of ignorance on the subject on the part of parents, and, therefore, on the part of the boys. It is helpful towards the energy and health of his boys — especially in camp that the Scoutmaster should know something about the matter.
As regards quantity, a boy between thirteen and fifteen requires about 80 per cent of a man’s allowance. He will gladly put down 150 per cent if permitted.
Temperate eating is almost as necessary with the boy as temperate drinking with the man. It is a good lesson in self-restraint for him to curb his appetite, both as regards the quantity and the nature of his food-few have fathomed the extent of a boy’s capacity when it comes to tucking away food of whatever variety. The aim to be held out to him is fitness for athletics. Temperance thus becomes a moral as well as physical detail of training.
Of all the points in the education of a boy the most difficult and one of the most important is that of sex hygiene. Body, mind, and soul, health, morality, and character, all are involved in the question. It is a matter which has to be approached with tact on the part of the Scoutmaster, according to the individual character of each case. It is not as yet dealt with adequately by the Education authorities. But it is one that cannot be ignored in the education of a boy, still less in that of the girl.
There is a great barrier of prejudice and false prudery on the part of parents and public still to be overcome, and this has to be recognised and handled tactfully. It is, of course, primarily the duty of parents to see that their children receive proper instruction, but a very large number of them shirk their duty and then build up excuses for doing so. Such neglect is little short of criminal. As Dr. Allen Warner writes:–
“Fear has often been expressed in the past that such teaching will lead to vicious habits, but there is no evidence that this is true, whilst ex- perience proves that ignorance on this subject has led to the moral and physical wreckage of many lives.”
This is only too true, and I can testify from a fairly wide experience among soldiers and others. The amount of secret immorality that is now prevalent is very serious indeed.
The very fact that the subject is taboo between the boy and grown-ups is provoca- tive, and the usual result is that he gets his knowledge, in a most perverted form, from another boy. In What a Boy Should Know, Drs. Schofield and Jackson write:–
“The sexual development of boys is gradual, and it is an unfortunate fact that habits of abuse are begun and constantly practised at a much younger age. If safety lies in the adage that ?to be forewarned is to be forearmed,’ then boys must be told what is coming to them, for the critical period of puberty lies ahead of them, and no boy should be allowed to reach it in ignorance.”
A Scoutmaster has here a tremendous field for good. He must in the first instance ascertain whether the father of the boy has any objection to his talking to him on the subject, He will do well also to consult with those who know the boy — Pastor, Doctor, Schoolmaster, and to realise that he himself must be possessed of sufficient experience, knowledge and character in order to be in a position to be of real help to the boy.
Then he will best enter into it in a matter-of-fact way among other subjects on which he may be advising him, placing himself on the footing of an elder brother in doing so. To some Scoutmasters who have never done it the question seems a very difficult one to approach. It is in reality as easy as shelling peas. And the value of it cannot be exaggerated.
Personally, apart from explaining as a preliminary how plants, and fishes, and animals reproduce their species, I have found it appeal to boys, as it did to me when I first heard it, to tell them how in every boy is growing the germ of another child to come from him. That germ has been handed down to him from father to son from generations back. He has it in trust from God; it is his duty to keep it until he is married and passes it to his wife for reproduction. He cannot honourably forget his charge and throw it away in the meantime. Temptation will come to him in many forms to do so, but he has got to be strong and to guard it.
Every different boy at each age may need a different way of treatment in the matter. The main thing is for the Scoutmaster to have the lad’s full confidence as a first step, and to be to him in the relation of an elder brother — where both can speak quite openly.
At the same time it is necessary for me to add a word of warning to young and inexperienced Scouters. The fact that they are nearer the boy in age is not necessarily an advantage. Frequently it is a handicap and sometimes a real danger. From what I have written in the past on this subject, an impression has gone abroad that I consider it to be the duty of every Scoutmaster to enlighten each of his Scouts on this subject. That has never been my intention. It would upset the whole fabric of the family system to do so. What I do desire to do is to direct the attention of Scoutmasters to the question and to ask them to try and see that their Scouts receive enlightenment from the right person at the right time. More frequently than not the right person is the Parent, Pastor, Doctor or another — NOT the Scoutmaster.
Somebody once wrote an improved edition of Scouting for Boys, and in it he ordered that “Scouts are on no account to smoke.” It is generally a risky thing to order boys not to do a thing; it immediately opens to them the adventure of doing it contrary to orders.
Advise them against a thing, or talk of it as despicable or silly, and they will avoid it. I am sure this is very much the case in the matter of unclean talk, of gambling, of smoking, and other youthful faults. It is well to establish a good tone and a public opinion among your boys on a plane which puts these things down as “what kids do, in order to look smart before others.”
Walking the Tight Rope
This may strike some readers as a curious means of teaching self-discipline or health. But it has been found by experience to do so.
You may see it being practised in Army gymnasia in the form of men walking a plank fixed up sidewalks it a height of some feet above the floor. It is found that by getting them to concentrate their whole attention on this ticklish test, they gain a close hold over themselves and their nerves. The experiment has been carried further to the extent that it has been found that if a soldier is making bad practice on the rifle-range a few practices in “walking the plank” readily bring back for him the necessary self-control and power of concentration.
It is an exercise that appeals to boys. They can bind several Scout staves together as a balancing pole, which will give them additional power of balance in their first efforts.
As I have already indicated, character is concerned in such exercises too, and that is one of the reasons I deplore the modern tendency to place “Safety first,” before all else. A certain amount of risk is necessary to life, a certain amount of practice in taking risks is necessary to the prolongation of life. Scouts have to be prepared to encounter difficulties and dangers in life. We do not, therefore, want to make their training too soft.
Through Scouting there are numbers of crippled, deaf and dumb, and blind boys now gaining greater health, happiness and hope than they ever had before. Most of these boys are unable to pass all the ordinary Scout tests, and are supplied with special, or alternative tests.
Many of these boys are by no means easy to deal with, and demand far more patience and individual attention than ordinary boys. But the result is well worth it. The testimony of doctors, matrons, nurses and teachers — who in the majority of cases are not Scouts themselves — to the good done to the boys, and through the boys to the Institutions, by Scouting, is overwhelming. The wonderful thing about such boys is their cheeriness and their eagerness to do as much in Scouting as they possibly can. They do not want more special tests and treatment than is absolutely necessary. Scouting helps them by associating them in a world-wide brotherhood, by giving them something to do and to look forward to, by giving them an opportunity to prove to themselves and to others that they can do things — and difficult things too — for themselves.
There is today, as there has always been, a fearful waste of human material. This is. mainly due to ineffective training. The general mass of boys are not taught to like work. Even when they are taught handicrafts or business qualities, they are seldom shown how to apply these to making a career, nor is the flame of ambition kindled in them. Square pegs are too often placed in round holes.
Exactly where the fault lies one cannot say, but the fact remains that it is so.
Consequently, those boys who have not got these gifts naturally are allowed to drift and to become wasters. They are a misery to themselves and a burden even in some cases, a danger to the State. And the large proportion of those who do make some sort of a success would undoubtedly do better were they trained in a more practical way.
In the Boy Scouts we can do something to remedy these evils. We can take some steps towards giving even the poorest boy a start and a chance in life equipped, at any rate, with hope and a handicraft.
How? Naturally one’s thoughts run to handcraft Badges. Though we call these “Handicrafts,” they are, with our standard of tests, little more than “Hobbies.” This, however, is part of our policy of leading the boys on with small and easy beginnings; and these Hobbies become more specialised as vocational training for the Senior Scouts. In the meantime, hobbies have their value; through these the boy learns to use his fingers and his brain, and to take a pleasure in work. For one boy these may remain his hobbies for years; for another they may lead to craftsmanship which will give him a career. In either case, the boy is not so likely to become a waster later on. Hobbies are an antidote to Satan’s little games.
But hobbies or handicrafts are not likely to make a career for a boy without the help of certain moral qualities. Thus, the craftsman must have self-discipline. He must adapt himself to the requirements of his employer and of his fellow-workers, he must keep himself sober, and efficient, and willing.
He must have energy, and that depends on the amount he has of ambition, of skill, of resourcefulness, and of good health.
Now, how do we apply these in the Boy Scout’s training?
The first step towards getting a Scout to take up handiwork is most easily effected in camp, in the practice of hut-building, tree-felling, bridge-building, improvising camp utensils, such as pot-hooks and plate-racks, etc., tent-making, mat-weaving with the camp-loom, and so on. The boys find these tasks to be practical and useful to their comfort in the camping season.
After making a start on these, they will be the more keen to go in for such hobbies in the winter evenings, as will bring them Badges in return for proficiency, and money in return for skillful work. In that way they soon grow into ardent, energetic workers.
Proficiency Badges are established with a view to developing in each lad the taste for hobbies or handicrafts, one of which may ultimately give him a career and not leave him hopeless and helpless on going out into the world.
The Badges are merely intended as an encouragement to a boy to take up a hobby or occupation and to make some sort of progress in it; they are a sign to an outsider that he has done so; they are, not intended to signify that he is a master in the craft he is tested in. If once we make Scouting into a formal scheme of serious instruction in efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of Scout training, and we trench on the work of the schools without the trained experts for carrying it out. We want to get all our boys along through cheery self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without.
But the object of the Badge System in Scouting is also to give the Scoutmaster an instrument by which he can stimulate keenness on the part of every and any boy to take up hobbies that can be helpful in forming his character or developing his skill.
It is an instrument which — if applied with understanding and sympathy — is designed to give hope and ambition even to the dullest and most backward, who would otherwise be quickly outdistanced and so rendered hopeless in the race of life. It is for this reason that the standard of proficiency is purposely left undefined. Our standard for Badge earning is not the attainment of a certain level of quality of knowledge or skill, but the amount of effort the boy has put into acquiting such knowledge or skill. This brings the most hopeless case on to a footing of equal possibility with his more brilliant or better-off brother.
An understanding Scoutmaster who has made a study of his boys’ psychology can thus give to the boy an encouraging handicap, such as will give the dull boy a fair start alongside his betterbrained brother. And the backward boy, in whom the inferiority complex has been born through many failures, can have his first win or two made easy for him so that he is led to intensify his efforts. If he is a trier, no matter how clumsy, his examiner can accord him his Badge, and this generally inspires the boy to go on trying till he wins further Badges and becomes normally capable.
The examination for Badges is not competitive, but just a test for the individual. The Scoutmaster and the examiner must therefore work in close harmony, judging each individual case on its merits, and discriminating where to be generous and where to tighten up.
Some are inclined to insist that their Scouts should be firstrate before they can get a Badge. That is very right, in theory; you get a few boys pretty proficient in this way — but our object is to get all the boys interested. The Scoutmaster who puts his boys at an easy fence to begin with will find them jumping with confidence and keenness, whereas if he gives them an upstanding stone wall to begin, it makes them strong.
At the same time, we do not recommend the other extreme, namely, that of almost giving away the Badges on very slight knowledge of the subjects. It is a matter where examiners should use their sense and discretion, keeping the main aim in view.
There is always the danger of Badge-hunting supplanting Badge-earning. Our aim is to make boys into smiling, sensible, self-effacing, hardworking citizens, instead of showy, self-indulgent boys. The Scoutmaster must be on the alert to check Badge- hunting and to realise which is the Badge-hunter and which is the keen and earnest worker.
Thus the success of the Badge System depends very largely on the Scoutmaster himself and his individual handling of it.
Observation and deduction are the basis of all knowledge. The importance of the power of observation and deduction to the young citizen can therefore not be over- estimated. Children are proverbially quick in observation, but it dies out as they grow older, largely because first experiences catch their attention, which they fail to do on repetition.
Observation is, in fact, a habit to which a boy has to be trained. Tracking is an interesting step towards gaining it. Deduction is the art of subsequently reasoning out and extracting the meaning from the points observed.
When once observation and deduction have been made habitual in the boy, a great step in the development of character has been gained.
The value of tracking and tracking games can thus readily be seen. Tracking out-of-doors and lectures on tracks and tracking in the meeting room should be encouraged in all Scout Troops.
The general intelligence and quick-wittedness of the boys can very considerably be educated by their finding the way with a map, noticing landmarks, estimating heights and distances, noticing and reporting details of people, vehicles, cattle, by the reproduction of Sherlock Holmes stories in scenes, and through numerous other Scout practices. Signalling sharpens their wits, develops their eyesight, and encourages them to study and to concentrate their minds. First aid instruction has also similar educative value.
Winter evenings and wet days can be usefully employed by the Scoutmaster reading the principal items of news in the day’s newspaper, illustrating them by map, etc. The getting-up of plays and pageants bearing on the history of the place is also an excellent means of getting the boys to study, and to express themselves without self-consciousness.
Our Art Badge is devised to lead boys on to express their ideas graphically from their own observation or imagination without attempting thereby to be or to imitate artists. By encouraging drawing, however crude, on the part of the youngster, he can be led on to recognise beauty in color or in form, to realise that even in sordid surroundings there may yet be light and shadow, color and beauty.
A further stage in his education can be brought about by getting him to practice mental photography, that is to notice the details of a scene or incident or person, and fix these in his mind, and then to go and reproduce them on paper.
This teaches observation in the highest degree. Personally I have found by prac- tice that one can develop a certain and considerable power in this direction.
Rhythm is a form of art which comes naturally even to the untrained mind, whether it be employed in poetry or music or in body exercises. It gives a balance and order which has its natural appeal even and especially among those closest to nature-savages. In the form of music it is of course most obvious and universal. The Zulu War Song when sung by four or five thousand warriors is an example of rhythm, in music, poetry and bodily movement combined.
The enjoyment of rendering music is common to all the human family, The song as a setting to words enables the soul to give itself expression which, when adequately done, brings pleasure both to the singer and to his hearer.
Through his natural love of music the boy can be linked up with poetry and sentiment as by a natural and easy transition. It opens a ready means to the Scoutmaster of teaching happiness to his lads and at the same time of raising the tone of their thoughts.
Play-acting also ought to form part of every boy’s education for self-expression.
At school I was encouraged to do a lot of play-acting and I have thanked my stars ever since that I did so. For one thing it taught me to learn yards of stuff by heart; also accustomed me to speak clearly and without nervousness before a lot of people; and it gave me the novel joy of being someone else for a time.
It led one to know the beauties of Shakespeare and other authors, to feel, while expressing them, the emotions of joy and sorrow, love and sympathy.
Above all it gave one the pleasure and happiness of giving pleasure to other people at times when they needed it.
Many troops are giving entertainments in the winter months and are thus not only earning satisfactory additions to their funds, but are giving good training to their boys and pleasure to others.
Hobbies, handcraft, intelligence and health are preliminary steps for developing love of work and ability to carry on, which are essential to successful work. The second stage is fitting the young worker to the right kind of work.
The best workers, like the happiest livers, look upon their work as a kind of game: the harder they play the more enjoyable it becomes. H. G. Wells has said:–
“I have noticed that so called great men are really boys at heart, that is, they are boys in the eagerness of their enjoyment of their task. They work because they like to work, and thus their work is really play to them. The boy is not only father to the man, but he is the man and does not disappear at all.”
Ralph Parlette says truly:–
“Play is Loving to do things, and Work is Having to do things.”
In Scouting we try to help the boys acquire this attitude, by making them person- ally enthused in subjects that appeal to them individually, and that will be helpful to them later on.
We do this first and foremost through the fun and jollity of Scouting. The boys can then by progressive stages be led on naturally and unconsciously to develop themselves for their future.
So much for the lines on which a boy can be practically prepared through Scouting for making a career.
But this only prepares him. It is still in the power of his Scoutmaster to give him further help to making that career a successful one.
First, by showing the lad ways by which he can perfect the superficial instruc- tion received as a Scout; whereby, for instance, he can develop his hobbies into handicrafts. The Scoutmaster can show him where to get higher technical educa- tion, how to get scholarships or apprenticeships, how to train himself for particular professions, how to invest his savings, how to apply for jobs, and so on.
Secondly, by himself knowing the different kinds of employment agencies and how to use them, the terms of service in various professions, the Scoutmaster can give the lad invaluable help, by advising him, on his knowledge of his qualifications, as to which line of life he is best fitted for. All this means that the Scoutmaster must himself look around and inform himself fully on these and like points. By taking a little trouble himself he can make successful lives for many of his boys.
It is encouraging to a lad, even if he is only an errand boy, to know that if he does his errands so well that his employer feels he could not get a better boy, he is safely on the road to promotion. But he must stick to it, and not be led aside by fits of disinclination or annoyance; if he gives way to these he will never succeed. Patience and perseverance win the day. “Softly, softly, catchee monkey.”
The Scoutmaster, by watching and studying the individual character and ability of each boy, can to some extent recognise the line of life for which he is best fitted.
But he should realise that the question of employment is one for the parents and the boy himself to decide.
It is then a matter of consultation with the parents, and for cautioning them against putting their square peg of a son into a round hole of employment for the sake of immediate monetary return. Get them and the boy himself to look well ahead and to see ulterior possibilities that lie open to him, provided that his start is made on the right lines.
Here it is important to discriminate between those employments which offer a future to the boy and those which lead to nothing — so-called “blind alley” jobs. These latter often bring in good money for the time being, to increase the weekly in- come of the family, and are, therefore, adopted for the boy by the parents regardless of the fact that they give no opening to him for a man’s career afterwards.
Those which promise a future need careful selection with regard to the lad’s capabilities, and they can be prepared for, while he is yet a Scout. A skilled employment is essentially better than an unskilled one for the boy’s future success in life. But care should be taken that consideration of this question is not left until the time is past for a boy to conform to the standards and rules for entering into the desired career.
The attributed which we have so far been studying, as tending to make our boys into manly, healthy, happy working citizens, are, to a great extent, selfish ones designed for the good of the individual. We now come to the fourth branch of Scout training, through which, by developing his outlook, the boy gives out good to others.
If I were asked what is the prevailing vice in the world I should say — Selfishness. You may not agree with this at first sight, but look into it and I believe you will come to the same conclusion. Most crimes, as recognised by law, come from the indulgence of selfishness, from a desire to acquire, to defeat, or to wreak vengeance. The average man will gladly give a contribution to feed the poor and will feel satisfied that he has then done his duty, but he is not going to dock himself of his own food and good wine to effect a saving for that purpose.
Selfishness exists in a thousand different ways. Take, for instance, party politics. Men here get to see a question, which obviously has two sides to it, exactly as if there were only one possible side, namely, their own, and they then get to hate another man who looks upon it from the other side. The result may lead men on to commit the greatest crimes under high-sounding names. In the same way, wars between nations have come about from neither party being able to see the other’s point of view, being obsessed entirely by their own interests. Strikes, too, and lockouts are frequently the outcome of developed selfishness. In many cases, employers have failed to see that a hard-working man should, in justice, get a share of the goods of the world in return for his effort, and not be condemned to perpetual servitude simply to secure a certain margin of profits for the shareholders. On the other hand, the worker has to recognise that without capital there would be no work on a large scale, and there can be no capital without some return to the subscribers for the risks they face in subscribing.
In one’s newspaper every day one sees examples of selfishness when one reads the letters of these small-minded men who, at every little grievance, rush headlong to
“write to the papers.” And so it goes on, down to the children playing their games in the streets; the moment that one is dissatisfied at not getting his share of winning he abruptly leaves the scene remarking: “I shan’t play any more!” The fact that he upsets the fun of the others does not appeal to him — unless it be satisfying to his spite.
The Scouting practices tend in a practical way to educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness. Once he becomes charitable he is well on the way to overcome or to eradicate the danger of this habit.
The Promise that a Scout makes on joining has as its first point: “To do my duty to God.” Note that it does not say “To be loyal to God,” since this would merely be a state of mind, but to do something, which is the positive, active attitude.
The main method in the Boy Scout Movement is to give some form of positive training rather than merely to inculcate negative precepts, since the boy is always ready to do rather than to digest. Therefore, we put into his activities the practice of Good Turns in his daily life as a foundation of future goodwill and helpfulness to others. The religious basis underlying this is common to all denominations, and we, therefore, interfere with the form of none.
The boy can then realise better that part of his “Duty to God” is to take care of and develop as a sacred trust those talents with which God has equipped him for his passage through this life; the body with its health and strength and reproductive powers to be used in God’s service; the mind with its wonderful reasoning, memory and appreciation, which place him above the animal world; and the soul, that bit of God which is within him — namely, Love, which can be developed and made stronger by continual expression and practice. Thus we teach him that to do his Duty to God means, not merely to lean on His kindness, but to do His will by practising love towards one’s neighbour.
The curious thing is that this duty of Service for Others through Good Turns is the one to which Scouts rise with the fullest alacrity. On this seemingly small foundation (the giving up of small personal conveniences or pleasures in order to render service) is built the character of self-sacrifice for others. The minor Good Turns which are part of the Scout’s faith are in themselves the first step. Nature study and making friends with animals increase the kindly feeling within him and overcome the trait of cruelty which is said to be inherent in every boy (although, personally, I am not sure that it is so general as is supposed). From these minor Good Turns he goes on to learn first aid and help to the injured, and in the natural sequence of learning how to save life in the case of accidents, he develops a sense of duty to others and a readiness to sacrifice himself in danger. This, again, leads up to the idea of sacrifice for others, for his home, and for his country, thereby leading to patriotism and loyalty of a higher type than that of merely ecstatic flag-waving.
The teaching of service is not merely a matter of teaching in theory, but the devel- opment of two distinct phases — the inculcation of the spirit of goodwill; and the provision of opportunity for its expression in practice.
The teaching is mainly through example, and the Scoutmaster gives exactly the right lead in his patriotic dedication of self to the service of the boy, solely for the joy of doing it, and without thought of material reward.
The opportunity for practice is given by the Scoutmaster suggesting to his boys special service projects.
Public services offer the best opening for practical training in sense of duty to the community, patriotism and self-sacrifice through expression.
The work of Scouts during peace and during wars in voluntarily taking up arduous duties in service of their country is in itself a proof of the keenness of the lads to do good work, and of their readiness to make themselves efficient where they see a good object. In this direction lies a powerful means of developing on practical lines the ideal of citizenship.
As one specific example of public service might be mentioned Boy Scout Acci- dent and Fire Service (Emergency Service) for towns and villages. Such service is especially applicable to Senior Scouts, and acts as an attractive force to the older boy while giving him public services to train for and to render.
The Troop is organised, equipped, and trained primarily for fire fighting, but with the further ability to deal with all kinds of accidents that, are possible in the neighbourhood, such, for instance, as: Street accidents; gas, chemical or other explosions; floods or inundations; electric accidents; railway accidents; fallen trees or buildings; ice accidents; bathing or boating accidents; airplane crashes; etc.
This would demand, in addition to the drill, rescue and first aid required for fire work, knowledge and practice in methods of extricating and rescuing, and rendering the proper first aid in each class of work; such as: Knowledge of gases and chemicals; handling of boats, improvising rafts, use of life line; use of lifebuoys, life saving in the water, artificial respiration; how to deal with frightened animals; how to deal with electric live wires, burning liquids; etc.
In some cases it may be best for each Patrol to specialise in a particular form of accident, but generally if the Patrols practise all in turn they arrive at complete efficiency for the whole Troop. Organisation for an accident would, however, confer specific duties on each Patrol, e.g., a Patrol of rescuers, first aiders, crowd holders, messengers, etc.
The variety of work to be done supplies a whole series of activities such as should appeal to the boys.
Frequent mobilizations to practise on improvised accidents are essential to at- taining efficiency and keenness.
As efficiency becomes evident public interest will be aroused probably to a helpful degree. The scheme will then be recognised as having a double value, an education for the boys, and a blessing for the community.
The repression of self and development of that love and service for others, which means God within, bring a total change of heart to the individual and with it the glow of true Heaven. It makes a different being of him.
The question becomes for him not “What can I get?”, but “What can I give in life?”
No matter what may be his ultimate form of religion, the lad will have grasped for himself its fundamentals, and knowing these through practising them he becomes a citizen with a widened outlook of kindliness and sympathy for his brother men.
The whole object of our Scouting is to seize the boy’s character in its redhot stage of enthusiasm, and to weld it into the right shape and to encourage and develop its individuality so that the boy may educate himself to become a good man and a valuable citizen for his country.
By so doing we may hope to take a useful part in bringing strength, both moral and physical, to the nation.
But in developing national aspirations there is always the danger of becoming narrow and jealous of other nations. Unless we avoid this we bring about the very evil we are anxious to escape.
Fortunately in the Scout Movement we have Brother Scouts organised in almost every civilised country in the world, and we have formed already the tangible nucleus of a World Brotherhood. And the potentialities of this are being supplemented by the wider development of the cooperative sister movement, the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts).
In every country the purpose of the Scouts’ training is identical, namely, efficiency for Service towards others; and with such an object in common, we can, as an International Brotherhood in Service, go forward and do a far-reaching work.
In our training of the boy we develop the individual in both spirit and efficiency to be an effective player in his national team of citizenhood. Acting on the same principle in the case of a nation, we should try to develop the right spirit and efficiency for helping that nation to work effectively in the team of nations.
If each, then, plays in its place, and “plays the game,” there will be greater prosperity and happiness throughout the world, there will be brought about at last that condition which has so long been looked for — of
Peace and Goodwill among men.