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.
OUR principle of Scouting decentralization is the accepted method for the administration of the Boy Scout Movement.
Scoutmasters are given a free hand in the management and training of their Troops under the general supervision of the representative of Headquarters, viz. the Commissioner, whose business it is to see that the lines of policy on which our charter was granted are not departed from.
These Commissioners also act as the representatives to Headquarters of local needs. For committees we substitute individuals as responsible heads of the different departments of administration. Then the Local Association gives the necessary backing and help that may be needed by the Scoutmasters in their work.
Thus these officers are not bothered with committee or office work, as is so often the drawback in other societies, but are free to devote the whole of their spare time and energy to the main work, namely, the training of the boy.
Frequent conferences of officers give full ventilation to the various questions requiring it, and supply all with a better understanding of what is going on and of what is needed in the Movement.
If and when they find this method does not work satisfactorily, it is open to officers — indeed it is their duty to the Movement — to represent the fact to their Commissioner. The system has been arrived at after very full consideration and after much experience — sometimes bitterly bought. The point is that officers come into the Movement with their eyes open and that this is the form of administration which they accept in doing so, and to which they further bind themselves where they take the promise to carry out, inter alia, the Law of Loyalty.
Every horseman knows that the only successful method for managing a spirited horse is to be on good terms with him, through the rider having a firm seat and giving him his head with a light hand on the guiding rein.
I am certain that it is through our use of this same principle in the form of local government under a light-handed supervision on a well-defined policy that our brotherhood has already shown such splendid corporate energy coupled with that united spirit which is the driving force behind it.