During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
LOTS of Woodcraft and Nature Study should be our Aim.
Autumn is already upon us again. How suddenly it comes, and how it catches us if we haven’t laid our plans, in time! I am glad, however, to feel that Commissioners and Scoutmasters generally appear to have Been Preparing for it with their camping schemes and fixtures.
Preliminary week-end camps for Scoutmasters arranged by Commissioners are of most especial value. Where it is possible to get a few outsiders to come and taste the joys of these and learn the ropes of Scouting, it often is the surest way of recruiting the ranks of officers. Instruction camps or tramps for Patrol Leaders should also have their place in every programme. But above all, let’s hope that not a Troop will miss its outing in the autumn holidays: it is worth the whole of the rest of the year’s training in the club.
Most Troops seem to have arranged their work for helping “on the land,” and no better aim could they have just now. But to Scoutmasters in charge I would say — give your boys all you can of woodcrraft and Nature study; of pioneering and pathfinding actually in practice. The Nature study should be a real close touch with Nature, far beyond the academic dipping into the subject which passes under the name in school. Collecting, whether of plaints or “bugs,” and investigation, whether of beasts or birds, are all-absorbing studies for the boy and mighty good for him.
Don’t let your camping be the idle boring picnic that it can become when carried out on military lines. Scouting and backwoodsmanship is what we’re out for, and what the boys most want. Let them have it good and strong.
It is in camp that the Scoutmaster has his opportunity for inculcating under pleasing means the four main points of training. Character, service for others, skills, and bodily health. But beside all it is his golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of Nature and her store of wonders.