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.
SOME dear old lady, not being up in the modern developments of patent razors, etc., sent me a birthday present of a little book of shaving papers.
And I find it most valuable because, instead of hanging idle on my dressing-table, it hangs there to a useful purpose. I believe it is generally allowed that great thoughts occur either when one is in one’s bath or shaving. At any rate, personally, at these times I find myself positively brilliant — though dull and uninspired at all other times!
So I have a pencil attached to my shaving-paper book, and I jot down in it the thoughts as they occur when I am lathered.
Here are some of them:
- What is the object of an inspection?
Not so much to criticise as to suck the brains of Scoutmasters and find out new dodges for Scouting.
- What is going to be the most popular stunt among boys? Watch radio work and its developments.
- Why is a boy’s psychology like a violin-string?
Because it needs tuning to the right pitch and can then give forth real music. It may or may not have been wrongly handled before coming into the Scoutmaster’s hands, but it is up to him to try its tone and to wind it to the right key, and then to play upon it with understanding and discretion.
- The futility of abuse.
I had wondered often at the violent line taken by critics when there was nothing to get excited about.
I see now that Fabre, in writing on glow-worms, points to it being a natural trait. He says:
“Ignorance is always abusive. A man who does not know is always full of violent affirmations and maligned interpretations.”
That is something to know. Won’t I hurl it at my next critic!
- The test of success in education.
This is not what a boy knows after examination on leaving school, but what he is doing ten years later.
The test of the amount of spirit in the Movement is the percentage of old Scouts among new Officers.
There was a competition lately between teams of Scouters, and the winning lot were finally photographed grouped round a challenge trophy.
The trophy was a common or garden cabbage.
An excellent remonstrance against the pot-hunting and medal-snatching tendency of the age.
Let’s have clean sport for sport’s sake.
One who signs himself “Disgusted” wrote recently in a newspaper: “Is it necessary for Boy Scouts to bang drums and play trumpets like tribes of young Yahoos when out marching or drilling or whatever they do? How can babies go to sleep when such a racket is going on outside?”
Fortunately bands and bugles are dying out in the Movement as they are found to be out of place in camp and a nuisance in towns. So that I hope within a short time there will be few people who can sign themselves “disgusted” with the Scouts.