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.
A CERTAIN slackness has crept in during the war in some Troops, as regards wearing shorts, which suggests a possible deficiency in the Scout spirit.
It would be an interesting study to find out why each boy who is a Scout first joined the Scouts. It would also be equally interesting to ascertain why each ex-Scout left the Scouts. So far as I have gone in such investigation on my own account the conclusion that suggests itself is briefly this: Want of adventure brought the boy in — lack of adventure took him out.
By “lack of adventure” I mean too much drill or too much school method and too little scoutcraft, backwoodsmanship and camping, with a consequent absence of the Scout spirit. Signs of this occur in the suggestions which crop up from time to time for a different hat, the giving up of staffs, and the substitution of breeches of shorts.
The boys originally joined the Movement with their eyes open, knowing that shorts were part of the uniform which they we expected to adopt, so that where there is any tendency to object to them it gives the Scoutmaster a good opportunity of teaching a lesson which is very much needed just now in the rising generation, namely, that it is breaking faith to go back on the understanding under which they joined; a good fellow will stick to this word even though it may gall him.
As a matter of fact where elder boys complain that shorts are “kids’ clothing” it gives one a very good hint that their training in Scoutcraft has scarcely been all that might be desired.
The material answer could of course be given that our athletes, footballers, and oarsmen, all wear shorts, as do our light infantry and scouts in the Army.
But it is the spirit of the thing that is the more important reason.
However, in any case, we do not lose many boys over it and we lose none who are true Scouts.