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.
When I visit a district to inspect Scouts a big parade of them is held at which as many as possible are present, but though this is the only way in which a large number can be seen at one time, I think we must all feel — Scouts, Scoutmasters, and myself — that it is, after all, a formal affair which really does not give very much opportunity of testing the individual qualities of the boys or the officers.
I therefore make a point of going about whenever I can get a spare hour or two to watch Scouts at their work when not under the limelight of a formal inspection.
I have done a good deal of this lately, as a rule unknown to the Troops concerned, and one or two points which I noted may be of interest.
I have been on the whole very pleased with what I have seen, but I need not enlarge upon this. I would rather point out where I think improvement might in some cases be made, and I am sure Scoutmasters will not think that I am writing in any spirit of faultfinding, but with the sole desire to help them in their work.
In the first place, many Scoutmasters seem to have read Scouting for Boys once, and then to have gone off into other forms of training, some of which are not always very good for the boys. As I have written before now, the Great Aim should be kept before one, whereas some Scoutmasters have evidently fallen back on to certain ideas of training which were familiar to them, but which really have no reference to forming the individual character of the lads.
Too much drill, too little woodcraft, is a usual fault. To make the lads disciplined while using their own wits is our aim — much on the principle of the sailor’s handiness, and not so much on the machine-like routine life of the soldier. When training Scouts stick to the lines of the handbook and develop on them.
From B.P.’s Outlook