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.
WE have recently approved of a number of badges of efficiency, which it is hoped will serve as encouragement to Scouts to qualify themselves as useful men, whether at home or in a colony.
While these were under consideration there reached us a complaint that in certain centres the difficulty of passing the tests for any badges was becoming so great that what had been an attractive measure for the boys was now fast becoming another ” examination bugbear.” This, I am afraid, is due to faults in the application of the idea.
These 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 which he is tested in. Therefore, the examiners should not aim at too high a standard, especially in the first badge. Some are inclined to insist that their Scouts should be first-rate 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, and every boy started on one or two hobbies, so that he may eventually find that which suits him the best and which may offer him a career for life.
The Scoutmaster who uses discretion in putting his boys at an easy fence or two to begin with will find them jumping with confidence and keenness, whereas if he gives them an upstanding stone wall to begin with, it makes them shy of leaping at all.
At the same time we do not recommend the other extreme, of which there is also the danger, 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.
From B.P.’s Outlook