Baden-Powell’s writings in ‘B.P.’s Outlook’ span nearly four decades (1909-1941) of the last century. I offer them to you here as both a historical document and as guideposts for today’s Scouters.
Many of these writings allude to the events of the day they were written, and reflect the sensibilities of the culture at the time. Political views and personal opinions aside, B.P.’s advice and explaination of exactly what he intended Scouting to be remains a useful resource to inform to our work as Scouters.
Some selections from the his contributions to “The Scouter” from 1909 – 1941
FOUNDER OF THE SCOUT MOVEMENT
WITH A PREFACE BY
LORD SOMERS, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C.
Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire, 1941-1944
C. Arthur Pearson Limited, 1941
In 1941 when this selection from our Founder’s “Outlook” was first published, Lord Somers was Chief Scout. He himself had been chosen by B.-P. to follow him, and his early death was a source of the greatest sorrows to Scouts everywhere. We feel that it is only fitting that Lord Somers’ introduction should remain in this edition.
FOR thirty yeas B.-P. contributed to the The Scouter (magazine) notes and comments under the title “The Outlook.” The reader turned to these first, for he knew that he would there find encouragement, advice, and inspiration — all written in that very personal style which seemed like conversation. It was in this way that B.-P. trained those who were trying to carry out Scouting for Boys. Even when a training system was begun at Gilwell, these notes continued to be the chief means by which B.-P. could pass on his ideas and suggestions to the great army of Scouters everywhere.
Now that he has gone, it is desirable that some permanent record of his words should be available, not only for those who remember his help with gratitude but for the benefit of those who will follow. However circumstances may change in the future, the fundamental principles and methods of Scouting will endure, and B.-P.’s own statements can never be out of date.
To reprint all his Outlooks would have demanded a bigger book than most of us could afford — or than could be produced in war-time. In making a selection, therefore, the following points were taken into consideration: matter which B.-P. himself incorporated in one of his books (he often tried our ideas in The Scouter) has been omitted; records of his Empire and World Tours have been left out; nor did it seem useful to include references to passing events and minor difficulties.
The extracts have been arranged in chronological order, as there is an additional interest in tracing the development of ideas and of needs through the years. A full index will, however make it a simple matter to read all that is given on any one subject.
A selection of B.-P.’s sketches has also been included, for he used his skill as an artist to illustrate his words; sometimes it would be to poke fun at some extravagance; at others it would be to put ideas in the form as a memorable sketch. In the early years these drawings are rare, but later he made more and more use of them, and as they are so typical of his outlook, they will be welcomed by all readers.
This is a book to dip into from time rather to read straight through; it will be found a companionable volume, recalling for many of us earlier days and the voice of the leader whom we so gladly followed.
Somers was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Boy Scouts in 1932, was deputy Chief Scout from 1935 to 1941, and was designated by Lord Baden-Powell as his successor as Chief Scout. On the death of Baden-Powell in March 1941 Somers was appointed Chief Scout of the British Empire. He was succeeded by Lord Rowallan in 1944.
THE object of a camp is (a) to meet the boy’s desire for the open-air life of the Scout, and (b) to put him completely in the hands of his Scoutmaster for a definite period for individual training in character and initiative and in physical and moral development.
These objects are to a great extent lost if the camp be a big one. The only discipline that can there be earned out is the collective military form of discipline, which tends to destroy individuality and initiative instead of developing them; and, owing to there being too many boys for the ground, military drill has to a great extent to take the place of scouting practices and nature study.
So it results that Scouts’ camps should be small — not more than one Troop camped together; and even then each Patrol should have its own separate tent at some distance (at least 100 yards) from the others. This latter is with a view to developing the responsibility of the Patrol Leader for his distinct unit. And the locality of the camp should be selected for its Scouting facilities.
SOME few Scoutmasters are still behind the time, and consequently their Troops are behind the average, in not making sufficient use of their Patrol Leaders.
They ought to give the sub-officers as much liberty of action as they like to get themselves from their District Associations or Commissioners.
They must hold the Patrol Leader responsible for everything good or bad that occurs in his Patrol.
They must put responsibility upon him, let him do his job, and if he makes mistakes let him do so, and show him afterwards where he went wrong — in this way only can he learn. Half the value of our training is to be got by putting responsibility on young shoulders. It is especially valuable for taming the wilder spirits; it gives them a something which they like to take up instead of their equally heroic but less desirable hooligan pursuits.
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.
IN the Army we have certain points to aim for in training our men; but in the long course of years the steps in training have become so absorbing and important that in many cases the aim has come to be lost sight of.
Take, for instance, the sword exercise. Here a number of recruits are instructed in the use of the sword in order to become expert fighters with it. They are put into a squad and drilled to stand in certain positions and to deliver certain cuts, thrusts, and guards on a certain approved plan. So soon as they can do this accurately and together like one man — and it is the work of months to effect this — they are passed as efficient swordsmen, but they can no more fight an enemy than can my boot. The aim of their instruction has been overlooked in the development of the steps to it.
I hope the same mistake is never likely to occur with us in the Boy Scouts. We must keep the great aim ever before us and make our steps lead to it all the time.
This aim is to make our race a nation of energetic, capable workers, good citizens, whether for life in Britain or overseas.
The best principle to this end is to get the boys to learn for themselves by giving them a curriculum which appeals to them, rather than by hammering it into them in some form of dry-bones instruction. We have to remember that the mass of the boys are already tired with hours of school or workshop, and our training should, therefore, be in the form of recreation, and this should be out of doors as much as possible.
That is the object of our badges and games, our examples and standards.
If you would read through your Scouting for Boys once more, with the Great Aim always before you, you will see its meaning the more clearly.
And the Great Aim means not only the practice of give-and-take with your own officers, but also with other organisations working to the same end.
In a big movement for a big object there is no room for little personal efforts; we have to sink minor ideas and link arms in a big “combine” to deal effectively with the whole. We in the Boy Scouts are players in the same team with the Boys’ Brigade, Church Lads, Y.M.C.A., and Education Department, and others. Co-operation is the only way if we mean to win success.
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. Stick to the lines of the handbook and develop on them.
AS the camping season is now upon us, I may say that one or two of the camps which I have already seen have been unfortunately on wrong lines, though others were very satisfactory. I strongly advise small camps of about half a dozen Patrols; each Patrol in a separate tent and on separate ground (as suggested in Scouting for Boys), so that the Scouts do not feel themselves to be part of a big herd, but members of independent responsible units. Large camps prevent scout-work and necessitate military training; and one which I visited the other day, though exceedingly well carried out as a bit of Army organisation, appealed to me very little, because not only was it entirely on military lines, but the Patrols — the essence of our system — were broken up to fit the members into the tents.
Patrols should be kept intact under all circumstances. If more than six or seven Patrols are out at the same time, they should preferably be divided into two camps located at, say, two miles or more apart.
THE best progress is made in those Troops where power and responsibility are really put into the hands of the Patrol Leaders. It is the secret of success with many Scoutmasters, when once they have half-a-dozen Patrol Leaders, really doing their work as if they were Assistant Scoutmasters. The Scoutmasters find themselves able to go on and increase the size of their Troops by starting new Patrols or adding recruits to existing ones.
Expect a great deal of your Patrol Leaders and nine times out of ten they will play up to your expectation; but if you are going always to nurse them and not to trust them to do things well, you will never get them to do anything on their own initiative.
IN making our young citizens, therefore, it is essential to try to get into them the habit of cheery co-operation, of forgetting their personal wishes and feelings in bringing about the good of the whole business in which they are engaged — whether it be work or play. One can teach the boy that it is exactly as in football. You must play in your place and play the game; don’t try to be referee when you are playing half-back; don’t stop playing because you have had enough of the game, but shove along, cheerily and hopefully, with an eye on the goal in order that your side may win, even though you may yourself get a kick on the shins or a muddy fall in helping it.
But the best form of instruction of all for a Scoutmaster to give is by the force of example. It is essential if he is going to succeed in putting the right character into his boys that he should himself practise what he preaches. Boys are imitative, and what the Scoutmaster gives off, that they pick up and reflect. Instructions, and especially orders, are apt to have different and even opposite effects with boys — order a boy not to smoke and he is at once tempted to try it as an adventure; but give him the example, show him that any fool can smoke but a wise Scout doesn’t, and it is another matter.
Therefore, it is of first importance that every Scout-master, with this great responsibility on his shoulders, should examine himself very closely, suppress any of the minor faults which he may — in fact, is bound to — possess, and train himself to practise what he preaches, so as to give the right example to his lads for the shaping of their lives, characters, and careers. It is laid down in our handbook that a Scoutmaster should go through a period of three months’ probation before getting finally appointed.
The object of this is to enable him to find out whether Scouting really suits him after all, whether he is capable of treading down little personal worries and pinpricks, can endure the many preliminary difficulties and disappointments, can fit himself into the place assigned to him, and loyally carry out instructions, though they may not be exactly what he would like; whether he can, in a word, play in his place and play the game for the good of the whole. If he can do this he will be doing the most valuable work that a man can do, viz. teach his younger brothers the great virtues of endurance and discipline, pluck and unselfishness. If, on the other hand, he cannot, his only honourable course is to resign in preference to the unmanly one — typical, by the way, of men who fail in whatever line of life — of whining about his so-called rights, complaining of his bad luck.
WITH the winter season coming on we now get our opportunity for training or retraining our boys in handicrafts and efficiency.
Abler men than I, I suppose, can keep their boys busy and progressing in knowledge without working on any special system; but I confess that I cannot. The only way by which, personally, I can effect anything is by laying down definite programmes beforehand and working on them — a general one for the winter season, a more particular one for each week, with a detailed one for each working evening as it comes round.
I don’t make them too cut-and-dried, but leave margins and openings for unforeseen occurrences. In this way a great amount of worry and waste of time is saved; in fact, it is scarcely exaggeration to say that the results obtained by a systematic plan of work have four times the value of those where arrangements have been haphazard. It is good for their “character” to teach the boys also to plan their work beforehand; and, knowing what they are aiming for, they become twice as keen.
One or two Scoutmasters tell me that their idea for the winter session is to take up the training in, say, four handicrafts — for instance, cooking, leather working, electricity, and signaling. They get an expert to come and instruct their Troop either one night a week on each subject or for a fortnight at one subject, then get another expert in for a fortnight at the next, and so on. In this way they hope during the winter to get all their boys trained sufficiently to gain four badges apiece by the end of the winter.
Other Scoutmasters talk of having an exhibition and sale of Scout manufactures at the end of the winter, using various inducements for getting the boys to do the work in the clubroom in the evenings by helping with tools, patterns, storage, etc., and by the reading aloud of adventure books, camp-fire yarns, etc., while work is going on, with occasional games and singsongs to refresh the workers.
Any system of this kind is of value, but must necessarily vary according to local conditions and Scoutmasters’ originality, and I am glad to see so many good ideas being started.
For training boys towards work, and pride in their work, there is nothing like giving them handiwork to do, but it must be of such a kind as to really interest them from the first. And it is all the better if it can be the work of one gang (or Patrol) in competition with another — i.e. cooperative work.
“I SHAN’T play any more in your yard,” was the refrain of a charming song, which was very typical of the child who does not, after all, like the way the game is played, so it “cuts off its nose to spite its face,” and goes and tries for another game elsewhere, or goes and “tell Mother.”
It makes the grown-up onlooker smile, but the grown-up himself is not always free from the same sort of self-centred conceit.
I have frequently figured in the part of “mother,” and it is almost beyond belief that grown-up, or nearly grown-up, men can take little matters so seriously and so narrowly as some of them do. If they had only a sense of humour, or had a slightly wider range of view, so that they could see the other side of the question or its greater aim, they, too, would smile at the littleness of it all.
It reminds one so much of what one feels on returning from our big, open Empire into the little old island and finding here our politicians tearing each other’s eyes out over some defect in the parish pump! They do not realise that their little word-war is only laughed at by the onlookers outside.
They probably feel quite hurt when they die because they are not buried in Westminster
Abbey under the label of “Statesman,” but are only sized up as “Petty Politicians,”
As “mother” I was appealed to the other day in a case which was evidently considered of vast importance by the contending parties, but which would have seemed ridiculously simple to an outsider who saw both sides and the higher motive which was supposed to be their joint aim.
My reply to them was one which might apply to many similar cases where the contestants cannot at once see the| right line to take. It was this:
“It is curious to me that men who profess to be good Christians often forget, in a difficulty of this kind, to ask themselves the simple question, ‘What would Christ have done under the circumstances? ‘ and be guided accordingly.”
Try it next time you are in any difficulty or doubt as to how to proceed.
In the earlier days of our Movement there were many of the little local rows which are really incidental to most committees, and which would never occur if the members could remember their duty and to take the above line. Of late, however, those debating societies seem to have died down and given place to co-operative councils for mutual advice and help, and all goes well.
“WHAT is the matter with your patient?” I ask the Ambulance Scout who has just bandaged up another in most approved fashion.
“Please, sir — broken clavicle.”
“Yes. Now what bone is this?”
“The femur, sir. No — it’s — it’s the tibi — it’s the —- “
” Well, what would you call it, if you got a kick on it, and were telling your pal about it? “
When I asked the instructor why it is considered necessary to confuse the boys’ minds with the Latin names for ordinary bones, he said that it was necessary in order to pass the doctor’s examination for badges or certificates.
I hope that all Commissioners and Scoutmasters will explain to their First-aid instructors that we want to teach the boys how to deal practically with accidents, not how to pass examinations.
I attach very little value to the smartly done bandaging where each boy is told beforehand what injury he is to tie up, and has all the appliances ready, and has merely to fold and tie neatly and know the Latin names of the bones he is dealing with. No, I very much prefer the more practical demonstration, which I am glad to see is now becoming so prevalent with the Scouts, and that is the closest possible imitation of an accident. A patient is found covered with mud and blood, which has to be gently sponged or squirted away before the card is found giving the nature of the injury (fixed face downwards to prevent obliteration) The first Scout to reach him, or one selected by the inspector or audience, takes charge of the case, does the work and directs the others — and does not use Latin words. It is all the better if improvised materials are used and the wound really dealt with properly, instead of merely superficially bandaged over. For instance, the motions should be gone through of slitting the clothes, plugging a wound, or whatever may be the detail in the case.
I CANNOT impress on Scoutmasters too highly the value of the camp in the training of Scouts; in fact, I think that its whole essence hangs on this.
Many Scoutmasters who value the moral side of our training are almost inclined to undervalue the importance of the camp, but the camp is everything to the boys. We have to appeal to their enthusiasm and tastes in the first place, if we are ever going to do any good in educating them.
An eminent educational authority assured me only to-day that our school education is all on wrong lines; that book learning was introduced by the monks in order to kill the more manly training in skill at arms and hunting which, in the Middle Ages, occupied the time of the boys, and which undoubtedly produced so large a percentage of men of character among them. It was done with a narrow-minded aim, and although it has done some good in certain lines, it has done infinite harm to our race in others.
He said: “You should first of all develop the natural character of the boy by encouraging him in the natural athletic exercises which tend to make him manly, brave, obedient, and unselfish; later give him the desire for reading for himself which will eventually lead him on to study for himself. The fallacy of trying to force him to read what the pedagogue wants him to know is the secret of so much ignorance and absence of studious work amongst our lads to-day.”
This same authority would like to see Scouting or some similar scheme introduced into our continuation schools, and attendance at these made obligatory for all boys of fourteen to sixteen.
I hope that his wish may yet be gratified. I believe it will be if Scoutmasters continue in the way in which they have begun and prove to the education authorities in their neighbourhood the educative value which underlies our Movement.
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I WRITE my notes this month from camp. I hope that many a Scoutmaster will have been able, like me, to take his holiday this year in camp. If he has enjoyed it half as much as I am enjoying mine, he will have done well.
I am certain that a week or two of such life is the best rest-cure and the best tonic for both mind and body that exists for a man, whether he be boy or old ‘un. And for both it is a great educator. By camp I mean a woodland camp, not the military camp for barracking a large number at one time under canvas. That is no more like the kind of camp I advocate than a cockchafer is like a goose.
A Boy Scouts’ camp should be the woodland kind of camp, if it is going to be any real good as an educator. Many, nay most, military camps are liable to do more harm than good to boys, unless exceptionally well-managed and closely supervised. Whereas a woodsman’s camp, if properly carried out, gives the lads occupation and individual resourcefulness all the time.
A large camp has of necessity to be carried on with a considerable amount of routine discipline. Parades have to be held to give the boys instruction and occupation, fatigue parties, tent inspections, roll-calls, bathing parades, and so on. Were it not for the fresh, open-air life this kind of camp might almost as well be carried on in town barracks; it teaches the boys nothing of individuality, resourcefulness, responsibility, nature lore, and many little (though really great) bits of character education for which the woodsman’s camp is the best, if not the only, school.
But such a camp can only be carried out with a small number of boys; from thirty to forty being the full number with which it is possible. And then only if the Patrol system is really and entirely made use of.
Of course, it is easy for one to write from an ideal camp of the kind and imagine that everybody has the same advantages, but I don’t altogether mean to do that. I know the difficulties that one has to contend with as a Scoutmaster in England, but I want to put the ideal before those who have not perhaps thought out the question very carefully, and who, by custom or example, are inclined to take the military form of camp as being the usual and right one for boys. The ideal can then be followed as nearly as local circumstances will allow.
Here I am camped by a rushing river between forest-clad hills. It is close on ten in the morning. I turned out at five, and yet those five hours have been full of work for me, albeit it was no more than little camp jobs.
The fire had to be lit, coffee and scones to be made. Then followed boiling and sandscrubbing the cooking utensils; collecting of firewood for the day (both kindling and emberforming wood); a new crossbar and pot-hooks had to be cut and trimmed; a pair of tongs for the fire, and a besom for cleaning the camp ground had to be cut and made. Bedding had to be aired and stowed; moccasins to be greased; the camp ground swept up and rubbish burned; the trout had to be gutted and washed. Finally, I had a shave and a bathe; and here I am ready for the day’s work whatever it may be. But this took five hours to do.
My comrade went in yesterday to the nearest hamlet, and will be back to-day with our letters and supplies. He will find me away fishing or sketching, and gathering berries for our “sweet” of stewed fruit at dinner; but he will find the camp swept and garnished, fire laid ready to be lit, cooking pots, cups, and plates all ready and clean for his use, and food handy. We may probably “up-stick” and travel on later in the day, and see some more of the beauties of the land, as we “hump our packs” to the next nice-looking site for camp. Then comes all the business of pitching camp, getting water and firewood, cooking food, and making oneself comfortable. All a succession of very little jobs, but which in their sum are important. They all give enjoyment and satisfaction to the older man, while to the boy they bring delight, experience, resourcefulness, self-reliance, thought for others, and that excellent discipline of camp-tradition and of being expected to do the right thing for himself. They have no time for idleness, and give no room for a shirker. But that is a very different thing from the streets of canvas town where the supplies are sent in by a contractor and cooked and served by paid servants, the boys in a herd, merely doing what they are ordered to do.
IN a small camp so very much can be done by example. You are living among your boys and are watched by each of them, and imitated unconsciously by them, and probably unobserved by yourself.
If you are lazy they will be lazy; if you make cleanliness a hobby it will become theirs; if you are clever at devising camp accessories, they will become rival inventors, and so on. But don’t do too much of what should be done by the boys themselves, see that they do it — “when you want a thing done don’t do it yourself” is the right motto. When it is necessary to give orders, the secret for obtaining obedience is to know exactly what you want done and to express it very simply and very clearly. If you add to the order an explanation of the reason for it, it will be carried out with greater willingness and much greater intelligence. If you add to the order and its explanation a smile, you will get it carried out with enthusiasm — or, remember, “a smile will carry twice as far as a snarl.” A pat on the back is a stronger stimulus than a prick with a pin.
EXPECT a great deal of your boys and you will generally get it.
I AM glad to have had from some Commissioners already their ideas of what they propose in the way of systematic instruction of Troops in the winter months.
The winter will soon be upon us, and unless plans are drawn up in good time, one finds that it is liable to be over before they have got well into working order.
One suggestion is to go steadily over the whole course given in Scouting for Boys, and I think this a very good one because most Scoutmasters and Scouts, after reading the book, carry out the ideas in it rather according to what they remember of them, and add new ones on similar lines (which is what I like to see), but without much further reference to the book, and in the end a good many minor points are apt to get dropped out of the training — and though they may be small and apparently insignificant, they all have their meaning. Take, for instance, the suggestions on cleaning teeth and making camp tooth-brushes; it is a little point which has probably quite dropped out of recollection in some Troops, but it is nevertheless quite an important one in its way; and there are hundreds of others like it. Then tenderfoots will probably have joined Troops which were originally trained, before they came, on the lines of the book, but they have only come in for the subsequent form of training, and so know little of the original teaching. Scoutmasters themselves on re-reading the book after the interval will probably see some of its points in quite a new light. So, for various reasons, it may in many cases be well to run through the book training during the winter months.
THE different foreign countries — some twelve there are — which have adopted Scouting for their boys are now forming a friendly alliance with us for mutual interchange of views, correspondence, and visits, and thereby to promote a closer feeling of sympathy between the rising generations.
International peace can only be built on one foundation, and that is an international desire
for peace on the part of the peoples themselves in such strength as to guide their Governments.
If the price of one Dreadnought were made available to us for developing this international friendliness and comradeship between the rising generations, I believe we in the Scouts would do more towards preventing war than all the Dreadnoughts put together.
ONE of the most important possibilities before us lies in the direction of Education. We have by other lines arrived at much the same conclusions as have the education authorities through their experiences.
This is briefly, that the secret of sound education is TO GET EACH PUPIL TO LEARN
FOR HIMSELF, INSTEAD OF INSTRUCTING HIM BY DRIVING KNOWLEDGE INTO
HIM ON A STEREOTYPED SYSTEM. The method is to lead the boy on to tackle the
OBJECTIVE of his training, and not to bore him with the preliminary steps at the outset. The education authorities have come to recognise us as would-be helpers in the same field, the aim of both of us being to produce healthy, prosperous citizenship. They take the intellectual development, we go rather more for the development of “character,” and that, after all, is the most important attribute for prevention of the social diseases of slackness and selfishness, and gives the best chance to a man of a successful career in any line of life.
We are endeavouring to help the education authorities in every way that we can. They are working entirely in accord with us in a number of important centres.
VERY closely allied with education comes the important matter of religion. Though we hold no brief for any one form of belief over another, we see a way to helping all by carrying the same principle into practice as is now being employed in other branches of education, namely, to put the boys in touch with their objective, which in this case is to do their duty-to God through doing their duty to their neighbour. In helping others in doing daily good turns, and in rescuing those in danger, pluck, self-discipline, unselfishness, chivalry, become acquired, and quickly form part of their character. These attributes of character, coupled with the right study of Nature, must of necessity help to bring the young soul in closer touch spiritually with God.
Personally, I have my own views as to the relative value of the instruction of children in Scripture history within the walls of the Sunday-school, and the value of Nature study and the practice of religion in the open air, but I will not impose my personal views upon others. I prefer to be guided by collective opinions of experienced men, and here a remarkable promise stands before us. Scouting has been described by various men and women of thought and standing as “a new religion” — three times I have read it this week. It is not, of course, a “new religion,” it is merely the application to religious training of the principle now approved for secular training — that of giving a definite objective and setting the child to learn and practise for himself — and that, I think everybody’s experiences will tell him, is the only training which really sticks by a man for good and ultimately forms part of his character.
OUR attitude in the Boy Scout Movement is that we do not wish to be in conflict with any political, educational, religious, or other body, but we are very glad to have their advice or suggestions.
Our aim is to be at peace with all and to do our best in our own particular line. Probably the majority of us are in sympathy with the Socialist ideal, though we may not see with the same eye the practicability of its details or its methods.
We, in the Scouts, desire not so much to cure present social evils as to prevent their recurrence in the rising generation; to try to lessen the great waste of human life now going on in our city slums where so many thousands of our fellow humans are living an existence of misery through being “unemployable”; this is not always from their own fault, but simply because they have never been given a chance.
Our main effort is to attract the boys and to beckon them on to the right road for success in life; we endeavour to equip them — especially the poorest — with “character” and with craftsmanship so that each one of them may at least get a fair start. If after this he fails it is then his fault and not, as at present, the fault of us who are in a position to give a helping hand to our less fortunate brothers.
The fact is, that justice and fair play do not always form part of our school curriculum. If our lads were trained as a regular habit to see the other fellow’s point of view before passing their own judgment on a dispute, what a difference it would at once make in their manliness of character!
Such lads would not be carried away, as is at present too commonly the case, by the first orator who catches their ear on any subject, but they would also go and hear what the other side has to say about it, and would then think out the question and make up their own minds as men for themselves.
And so it is in almost every problem of life; individual power of judgment is essential, whether in choice of politics, religion, profession, or sport — and half our failures and threequarters of our only partial successes among our sons is due to the want of it.
We want our men to be men, not sheep. And, in the greater proposition of International
Peace, it seems to me that before you can abolish armaments, before you can make treaty promises, before you build palaces for peace delegates to sit in, the first step of all is to train the rising generations — in every nation — to be guided in all things by an absolute sense of justice. When men have it as an instinct in their conduct of all affairs of life to look at the question impartially from both sides before becoming partisans of one, then, if a crisis arises between two nations, they will naturally be more ready to recognise the justice of the case and to adopt a peaceful solution, which is impossible so long as their minds are accustomed to run to war as the only resource.
In the Scout Movement we have it in our power to do a very great thing in introducing a practical training in justice and “fair play,” both through games and competitions in the field, and through arbitrations, courts of honour, trials, and debates in the clubroom.
THERE is one point to which I specially want to draw the attention of Scoutmasters and Commissioners. It is this:
I find that unless one occasionally looks up one’s book of instructions, whether it be the Gospel, or the King’s Regulations, or the rules for one’s guidance in any time of life, one is apt to get into a groove of one’s own original reading of them, and to act rather on the memory than on the actual spirit of them. One needs an occasional “refresher” course of reading.
I notice that it is very often the case among Scoutmasters as regards Scouting / or Boys; they carry out their training on lines of their own, which were originally founded on the book, and are in many cases an improvement on what they found there; but sometimes essentials have gradually dropped out, and it is this that we want to avoid. May I ask Scoutmasters to re-read their book occasionally? Say once a year?
I suggest that St. George’s Day is an easy one to remember, since he is held to be the patron saint of Scouts. I believe it would be helpful to Scoutmasters and helpful to the cause if on this occasion annually they would read through our handbook, especially the Scout Law and its application, so as to ensure the right spirit being impressed upon the boys.
MY recent tour round the world showed me how strong is already that feeling of brotherhood throughout our Movement. Whether it was in Africa or Australia, Canada or New Zealand, America or Malta, Scouts felt that they were with and of us in the parent Movement at home, and I was impressed with the idea that, if this sentiment were only promoted, it would mean an immense deal for the strengthening of the bonds of our Empire, and even beyond that, for the assurance of peace in the world through a better understanding and fellowship between the nations.
Internally and locally our brotherhood is already doing good in that direction. Counties in England are often fairly jealous of each other, provinces in Ireland can nearly be at war; States in overseas Dominions can be suspicious or envious between themselves — just from want of a little broadmindedness or a common tie. It is a failing that cannot be cured by preaching to the present men, but it may be prevented in the next generation by eradication? that is by bringing the mass of the boys into sympathy and mutual touch through the feeling of “brotherhood.” Local racial differences run strong, and are hard to wash out in such instances as between Boer and Briton in South Africa, French and British in Canada, Eurasian and White in India, Maltese and British in Malta, between the eight nationalities in Shanghai, and so on. But it struck me very forcibly in the course of my visit to these countries that the Boy Scout Movement, young as it is, is already doing a good deal in that direction.
Boys of whatever origin are equally attracted by Scouting: once they find themselves in the same uniform, under the same promise, working for the same ends, inspired with the same ideals, and competing in the same games, they forget their respective little differences and feel that they are brother-Scouts before all. If a sufficient number of them are encouraged to take up Scouting, this must in the next generation go a considerable way to abolishing the present absurd jealousies between localities. If the ties of the brotherhood can be strengthened by mutual interchange of correspondence and of visits, a further link will be forged for consolidating our Empire by the development of personal sympathy and sense of comradeship between the manhood of all the different overseas States and the Mother Country.
Should the Scout Movement develop on to a more general footing, then I have no doubt whatever that the same principle of “brotherhood” will extend its influence for good among those who will be the men of the different nations within the next few years, and must, of necessity, prove a genuine factor for the maintenance of peace where they are in personal touch and sympathy with each other.
I SHOULD like to urge upon all Scoutmasters the great importance of getting their boys into camp during this summer. The camp is the thing that appeals to the lads. It is in the camp that the Scoutmaster really has his opportunity. He can enthuse his boys with the spirit that is required; the spirit is everything. Once that is developed, everything comes easy; without it, success in training the boys is practically impossible.
I don’t care what sort of camps they are — tramping camp, week-end camp (provided that they come frequently), boat cruising, or woodland camp; all are equally valuable for the purpose in hand. But camp, in one form or other, is, I think, essential to the successful training of a Troop.
And when in camp, it is again essential to have a definite programme of work laid down for each day — with an alternative in case of its turning out wet. The camp must be a busy one and not a school for aimless loafing. I hope to hear of great developments in this line during the present summer.
I REMEMBER once seeing a picture in a public gallery on the Continent which attracted a great crowd of people round it, and so excited them that one heard frequent ejaculations from them such as “Shame!”, “The brutes!”, and so on. I don’t think I have ever seen another picture have so direct an effect on those looking at it.
The subject was a regiment of infantry marching along a hot, sunny road. One man had fallen dead by the way-side, his comrades were glancing at him with varying expressions of pity as they passed, one of them was placing a few flowers on his breast, while an officer strode by apparently unmoved.
That was all: but just at that time there was a great outcry against the officers of the army of that country because of the large number of deaths from sunstroke which were occurring among the young soldiers at manoeuvres. The feeling was so strong that in numerous cases officers were stoned by the villagers as they passed. And, though an officer myself, I could not help sympathising with the feeling against them — because the deaths were largely the outcome of bad scouting.
Bad scouting in two senses. In the first place, the officers at that time — I am speaking of a good many years ago, mind you — were very bad at map-reading: they would start out at early dawn with their troops to get to their destination before the heat of the day came on, but with no bump of locality and poor ability in reading maps they were, at high noon, still wandering about the country, utterly lost, with their men played out, struggling along under a pitiless sun.
That was bad scouting in one sense, and they were also bad scouts in that they did not see to what extent their men were suffering until it was too late. They themselves marched at the head, trying to find their way — leading on at a hurried pace, unencumbered with much kit, and anxious to get home, while their young recruits struggled along behind them, loaded up with heavy accoutrements, crowded together in the dust, fagged and tired, literally, to death. Things are different now in that army, but I am grieved to find that there is a sign here and there in our own Movement of somewhat similar bad scouting on a minor scale.
Some young Scoutmasters, from over-keenness, have been putting their boys to tasks of endurance that are really beyond them in the way of long marches or long-distance despatch rides. Fortunately, only one or two cases have occurred, but I venture to give this hint in the hope that it will make others, who may be contemplating such expeditions, pause and consider.
I know it is very tempting, when you have got a smart Troop of well-trained, keen, athletic boys, to go ahead and do a big thing with them — and the boys themselves are eager for it. But it leads to competition, to making “records,” and to over-exertion, which may do little harm to the well-formed young man at the head, but may be fatal in laying seeds of heart disease, strained ligaments, lung troubles, etc., in the lad whose organs and muscles are immature and only now forming themselves. The evil may show no sign at the time even to a Scoutmaster who is a good Scout and reads signs below the surface. The great thing is to avoid the risk of it by never calling on the boys to exert themselves to their full extent of endurance.
A father wrote to me last year, very proudly, of the achievement of himself and his Scout son in doing a great bicycle ride within a short space of hours. I am afraid I wrote rather rudely in reply, which drew on me a rebuke from him. At the same time I remain unrepentant, because I know the danger of such feats to the ultimate health of the boy. It is no use to put immature creatures to tests of their powers of endurance. The thing for us who are training the future men of our race is to build up in them the foundation of good, sound organs and healthy bodies by encouraging the use of nourishing food and welldesigned moderate exercise. This will enable them to endure when they come to be men, instead of breaking them down while they are still in the critical period — the growing stage. It has been suggested to me that a Regulation should be made forbidding such tests of endurance, but for our brotherhood I hate “Regulations.” I am certain that the more experienced Scoutmasters all agree with me in this very plain but none the less important truth about endurance tests. What I hope is that they will impress it when giving advice to their younger fellow-Scoutmasters.
I HAVE said before now: “I don’t care a fig whether a Scout wears uniform or not so long as his heart is in his work and he carries out the Scout Law.” But the fact is that there is hardly a Scout who does not wear uniform if he can afford to buy it.
The spirit prompts him to it.
The same rule applies naturally to those who carry on the Scout Movement — the Scoutmasters and Commissioners; there is no obligation on them to wear uniform if they don’t like it. At the same time, they have in their positions to think of others rather than of themselves.
Personally, I put on uniform, even if I have only a Patrol to inspect, because I am certain that it raises the moral tone of the boys. It heightens their estimation of their uniform when they see it is not beneath a grown man to wear it; it heightens their estimation of themselves when they find themselves taken seriously by men who also count it of importance to be in the same brotherhood with them.
I have been in the habit of wearing shorts instead of knee-breeches when in Scout uniform, but I do it intentionally, not merely because I am much more comfortable in shorts, but because it puts me more closely on a level with the boys and less on the standing of an “officer,” as we understand him in the Army.
A Scout official’s line is rather that of an elder brother or a father to his boys than of an officer or a schoolmaster. And the more he assimilates his inward ideas and his outward dress with theirs, the more he is likely to be in sympathy with them and they with him.
As regards camps, I am delighted to see Scout camps being held in every county, if not in every parish, in the land. The camp is the real attraction to the boy, as it is also the real opportunity to the Scoutmaster. It is the one practical school for moulding the Scout spirit and for character-making.
It is a great thing to have got the camp recognised as the great feature of the year for Boy Scouts. The next thing is to ensure that, having got into the way of having camps, we do not, as has been rather often the case, confine our programme to the same line year after year. It is best to change one’s locality each season, as this in itself alters to some extent the routine, and also suggests new subjects for training, according to local conditions. The daily routine should be progressive and new, and so should, as far as may be possible, be the successive annual or other camps.
I should like to urge on Scoutmasters who manage camps that they should, if only in their own interests, communicate with the Commissioner of the District before they go into camp, as he may be able to facilitate their arrangements. In so many instances the
Commissioner knows which landowners are well-disposed or the contrary, and whereabouts in the district other Scouts may be camping.
And, in addition to this, it is, after all, only right and courteous, and therefore Scout-like, to let the Commissioner know when you intend to invade his district.
I HAVE endeavoured to explain our position in regard to education, on the following lines. The new scheme of National Education, so far as it has been recently fore-shadowed, may be indeed an improvement on the past, but it does not apparently pretend to anything much more than that already employed in America and elsewhere. Hard to beat if you look at it from the theoretical point of view, and if you are convinced by the reports of some of those responsible for it in those countries, but not so satisfactory if you regard its practical effects upon the nation.
At present the country spends so many millions on education, that is on training its sons and daughters to be good, healthy, prosperous citizens, and if education successfully effected this result there would be little to say against it.
But we have to look at the other side of the balance sheet as it actually exists. Here we find that we spend an equal number of millions on punishing our “educated” people for failing to be the good citizens they ought to be, or on trying to remedy their defects in this direction.
Prisons and police, poor relief and unemployed, aged poor and infant mortality, squalor, irreligion, seething discontent — what a crop of tares for all our sowing of expensive seed! All traceable more or less directly to the want of education — not education in the three R’s, but education in high ideals, in self-reliance, in sense of duty, in fortitude, in self-respect and regard for others — in one word, in those Christian attributes that go to make “Character,” which is the essential equipment for a successful career.
Is this being looked to in the new scheme of education?
In the Boy Scout Movement our aim is, as far as possible, so to shape our syllabus as to make it a practical form of character training, and to render it complementary to the scholastic training of the schools.
The necessary points to develop in our youth in order to evolve good citizens are:
These are stated in their order of importance.
Number 2 is taught in the schools. Number I is left to the pupils to pick up for themselves out of school hours, according to their environment. Number I is precisely what the Scout Movement endeavours to supply.
The two main methods of training are:
(1) By Education: that is by “drawing out” the individual boy and giving him the ambition and keenness to learn for himself.
(2) By Instruction: that is by impressing and drumming knowledge into the boy.
Number 2 of these is still too often the rule. In the Scout Movement we use Number I. By appealing to the instincts and nature of the boy we give him ambitions, and we afford him the opportunities for the venting of his animal spirits in a good direction.
In this way we are doing what we can to help the school authorities, and to complete their work.
I HAVE had a conundrum propounded to me as to the relation between a good turn and the knot in the Scout’s tie. My idea was, and is, that the Scout should, in the morning, tie an extra knot in his necktie, or leave his necktie hanging outside his waistcoat, until he had done his good turn for that day, when he could resume the ordinary fashion of wearing his tie inside his waistcoat or with only a single knot in it. Through stupid wording on my part some confused impressions on the subject got abroad; but I don’t think it mattered much — the good turns were done all the same.
THE long evenings of winter are our great opportunity with the Scouts — we can get them together to hear good exciting yarns, to play basket-ball or other games, to practise handicrafts, and to pass their tests. The season is coming on apace, and it will pass by just as fast. It is well, therefore, to look ahead and to frame our programmes of work in good time. Now is the moment to do this. The imagination of the Scoutmaster here comes in; and many ingenious schemes will no doubt be evolved. Among other ideas, I propose, for my own little centre, to write up a little play bringing in the ancient history and lore of the village, for the Scouts to act. The rehearsals, the making of scenery and properties, the acting and singing, all have their uses from the training point of view, while they appeal warmly to the boys’ instincts. And possibly the results may be satisfactory also from a financial point of view. For Scoutmasters generally then I would say: “Be Prepared to put your winter evenings to good use.”
I FEEL that anything that can be devised for fostering the Patrol spirit and the responsibility of Patrol Leaders cannot but be valuable from the point of view of character training, apart from the fact that it also tends to relieve the over-taxed Scoutmaster of much minor work. One suggestion as to this may be taken from the custom which prevails with best effect at Winchester, where every boy has to report to his prefect weekly that he has done five hours’ “exercise” during the week. Exercise means the playing of certain games or practice of certain equivalents in the athletic line. I am glad to see that at least one Troop carries out a somewhat similar scheme, and I should like to see it more general.
My idea roughly is that each Patrol Leader should send weekly a report to his Scoutmaster to show to what extent each of his Scouts has carried out Scouting exercises, has attended parades, and has paid up his subscription during the week. It is expected of each Scout that he should do at least four Scouting exercises weekly. “Scouting Exercises” would include parades. Scout games, tramps or rallies, attendances at Scout instruction class, doing Scout work on his own, such as making a map or a report, or handicraft work, playing a recognised health-giving game, such as football, rounders, paper-chase, or basket ball, for an hour. Good turns do not count as “Scout Exercises,” as they should be done every day in any case. They may, however, be noted in the report in addition to the exercises.
THE more I see of Troops which are successful, the more I realise the value of the system of making the Patrol the responsible unit of the Troop, and the treatment of the Patrol Leader as a responsible being, just as if he were grown up. As a further step in this direction, and one which I think will be helpful to Scoutmasters, we are getting out a Patrol Report Form which the Patrol Leader can fill in weekly and hand to his Scoutmaster. It gives the attendance and performance of each Scout during the week at Scout exercises, rallies, games, church, etc. The percentage of such attendances can then go to the Patrol score for deciding the order of merit of the several Patrols in the Troop.
Such competition cannot but be useful to the boys, and puts life into their everyday work. In some Troops each Patrol has its motto, which is an excellent device in the same direction for developing the Patrol spirit. The motto is, as a rule, selected or composed by the Patrol itself, and usually applies in some way to the Patrol animal. Thus, for instance, the Lions Patrol might have as their guiding phrase, “Brave as the Lions”; the Frogs, “We are not croakers though we croak”; the Hounds, “Alert as watch dogs”; or “Faithful Friends,” and so on.
I SEE that in one of the newspapers lately the original inventor of Scouting has discovered himself.
He is the fourth who has done so within the last four years. I was under the impression that the original founder, Epictetus, died many hundreds of years ago.
This particular one tells us that we have perverted his ideals and that we are not sufficiently military.
The truth is that these gentlemen see a similarity in our body to something that they have thought of for themselves, but they have not studied its soul and have not, therefore, grasped its meaning or its possibilities.
What is our aim? They don’t seem to regard that as of any special importance in their argument. But it happens to be the keystone on which the whole question stands. Our aim is to get hold of the boys and to open up their minds, to bring out each lad’s character (and no two are exactly alike), to make them into good men for God and their country, to encourage them to be energetic workers and to be honourable, manly fellows with a brotherly feeling for one another.
As our Movement attracts all classes (the poorest get equal chances and consideration with the more fortunate), much of the present human wastage will be turned into valuable citizenhood.
It is by the character of its citizens, not by the force of its arms, that a country rises superior to others.
If we can get that character and sense of brotherhood instilled into all our boys at home and in the British Dominions overseas, we shall forge a stronger link to that which at present holds the whole Empire together.
And as the Movement gets a hold, as it is doing, in foreign countries as well, it will promote a common bond of sympathy which makes for peace between the nations. Our opportunities and possibilities in these directions are immense; and these are the aims which our Scoutmasters have before them in planning their work.
But our original inventors have apparently never thought of these ends. It is certain they could no more attain them by drill than they could attain them by teaching their grandmothers to walk the tight-rope.
Personally, I would not presume to speak were it not that I have had some little experience in this particular line. A good part of my life has been spent in training lads to be soldiers, cadets, or Territorials, and I have served with all of them on active service in more than one campaign. I have since had opportunities of seeing again the cadets in South Africa and Canada, and, for the first time, in New Zealand and Australia. These visits have confirmed me in the opinion which I then expressed, namely, that with the excellent material that one finds among our boys all over the Empire it is quite possible to turn out a very smart-looking army of cadets, all able to drill steadily, to hold themselves well, to dress smartly, and to show a high percentage of marksmen on the range. But many people seem to have the idea that well-drilled men are necessarily good soldiers. I have tried them on service and have very little use for them. The better the soldier is drilled, the less he can be trusted to act as a responsible individual.
Their so-called discipline was too apt to come from fear of punishment or reprimand instead of from the spirit of playing the game. Yet this is essential, if you don’t want a mere veneer of obedience which won’t stand the test of service.
In the Army the well-meaning boys who came to us as recruits had been taught their three R’s in the day schools, but they had no idea of having responsibility thrust upon them, of having to tackle difficulties or dangers, of having to shift for themselves, and having to dare death from a sense of duty.
These things and the many other attributes of good soldiers, which may be summed up in the word character, had all to be instilled into them before one could consider them as fit for drill and military smartness. These are, in reality, only the final polish, and not, as many seem to think, the first step in making a fighting man.
The Boers were never drilled, yet they made very good fighters, and stood up to our drilled troops through a campaign of over two years.
Why was this? Because they had all the proper ground-work of character for the work — they were self-reliant and resourceful, practised at using to the best advantage their courage, common sense, and cunning (the three C’s that go to make good soldiers). Those men only needed the final polish of drill and a little stronger discipline to make the very best of soldiers.
That is the sequence of training that is wanted. If you apply it the reverse way, you get the veneer. You must, as an essential, first have character established as your groundwork.
Now, what is the aim of these men who go in for drilling their boys?
Drill will never make a citizen, that is fairly obvious.
Their object must therefore be either (a) to make potential soldiers of them or (b) to catch boys with the glamour of drill and thereby to bring them under some form of discipline and exercise that is good for them.
In the first of these cases it is essential that the Scoutmasters should have exceptionally good instructors, otherwise the discipline learnt in the parades of once or even twice a week is not likely to have a very lasting effect on the lads’ characters; and also the drill palls on a boy after a time and puts him off becoming a soldier later on. If he does join the service he thinks that he knows all about it, and his soul, accustomed to it as a temporary infliction, resents discipline when he comes under the real thing as a permanency.
As an officer I quite sympathise with the one who said that he would rather have recruits who had never been drilled than those whom he described as “half-baked buns who had to be uncooked, rekneaded, and baked again before they were any good as soldiers.”
In any case the leaders of these boys would surely be better advised to turn them into genuine cadets and not masquerade them as Boy Scouts.
In the other event, (b), the catching and training of wild boys is certainly most commendable, and it is far the easier way to deal with them so far as the officer is concerned. But, then, why not join the Boys’ Brigade or Church Lads, whose training lies in that direction?
By mutating our dress, but not our ideals, they spread false notions as to our intentions. Parents and clergy naturally suppose that soldiering is the end and aim of the Scouts’ training and resent it accordingly. They do not realise that we are working on a far higher plane than that, namely, to make good and successful citizens.
Of course there are many Scoutmasters in our Movement who would like to give a more definitely national note to the training of their boys. They feel that the boys themselves do not quite realise that the character training they an getting as Scouts will be the very finest groundwork for goal results later on, whether they become soldiers or sailors, citizens or colonists.
(A small proof in this direction is to be found in the Cadet Corps of Overseas Dominions. I made inquiry as I went inspecting the cadets, and I found that something like 80 per cent of the cadet non-commissioned officers had been Boy Scouts to start with.)
Well, I am fully in sympathy with this feeling on the part of those Scoutmasters, and I think that they will find their opening in the new scheme of Senior Scouts now being promulgated, when, the groundwork having been laid and the boys having come to an age for judging for themselves, they can specialise in any of the above lines that may appeal to them.
THE other inventors of Scouting invariably give the dates on which they hit on the idea, so it may be interesting to some who are not already aware of the origin of our scheme if I give a few facts about our particular Boy Scouts.
The first idea of such training came to me a very long time ago when training soldiers. When I was adjutant of my regiment in 1883 I wrote my first handbook on training soldiers by means which were attractive to them, developing their character for campaigning as much as their drill-ability. This was followed by another, and yet a third in 1898. This latter, Aids to Scouting, came somehow to be used in a good many schools and by captains of Boys’ Brigades, and other organisations for boys, in spite of the fact that it had been written entirely for soldiers. I therefore rewrote it for developing character in boys by attractions which appealed more directly to them.
The uniform, in every detail, was taken from a sketch of myself in the kit which I wore in South Africa, 1887 and 1896, and in Kashmir in 1897-8.
Our badge was taken from the “North Point” used on maps for orientating them with the North; it was sanctioned for use for Trained Scouts in the Army in 1898.
Our motto, “Be Prepared,” was the motto of the South African Constabulary, in which I served.
Many of our ideas were taken from the customs of the Zulus and Red Indians, and Japanese, many were taken from the code of the Knights of the Middle Ages, many were cribbed from other people, such as Cuhulain of Ireland, Dr. Jahn, Sir W. A. Smith, Thompson Seton, Dan Beard, etc., and some were of my own invention !
A BOY does not really get the value of the Scout training until he is a First-class Scout. The Second-class is only a step to that standing. But it is a lamentable fact that a good many are content to remain as Second-class Scouts once they have gained a few badges of proficiency. It is for that reason, mainly, that the All Round Cords are now obtainable only by First-class Scouts. This move has been welcomed by Scoutmasters as giving an incentive to the lads to keep progressing in their training.
Of course, the main objection to it is that it necessitates the boys learning to swim, and facilities for this do not exist in all centres. It has, therefore, been suggested in one or two cases that this rule should be relaxed. I am afraid that I have been very “sticky” about it, and although I generally make things as elastic as possible, I may have appeared unnaturally obstinate in this one particular; but I had reasons, and experience has now shown that those reasons were right.
When a boy has become a First-class Scout — but not before then — he has got a grounding in the qualities, mental, moral, and physical, that go to make a good useful man. And I look on swimming as a very important step, combining as it does attributes of all three of those classes? mentally it gives the boy a new sense of self-confidence and pluck; morally, it gives him the power of helping others in distress and puts a responsibility upon him of actually risking his life at any moment for others; and physically, it is a grand exercise for developing wind and limb.
Every man ought to be able to swim; and in Norway and Sweden, the home of practical education, every boy and girl is taught swimming at school.
The fact that swimming has got to be learnt by the Boy Scout before he can gain his firstclass badge has had the effect of putting the character of the lads in very many cases to a hard and strengthening test.
At first they complained that there was no place near where they could learn to swim. But when they found this was not accepted as an excuse, they set to work to make places or to get to where such places existed. I have heard of boys riding five miles on their bicycles day after day to swimming-baths; streams in many country places have been dammed up, and bathing-places made by the Scouts; the summer Camp has been established at some seaside or river-side spot for the special purpose of getting everyone trained in swimming. It can be done if everybody sets his mind to it. If the boys are put to extra trouble in bringing it about, so much the better for their character training. In any case, I look upon swimming as an essential qualification for First-class Scout, and for every man. Also, I don’t consider a boy is a real Scout till he has passed his first-class tests.
I HAD, last month, a most interesting conference with a number of members of the Peace Society and of the Society of Friends.
They wanted to understand better the ideals underlying the Boy Scout training, since their attention had been drawn to the Movement by the fact that we had declined help from the Lucas-Tooth Fund.
I gave to the meeting a general outline of our work and aims, and invited questions and suggestions from those present. In reply to some of these, I made it plain that though we were against war, we were not, therefore, against self-defence.
Also, I pointed out that you cannot do away with war by abolishing armies; you might just as well try to do away with crime by abolishing the police. What would be the result in either case?
As regards war with civilised nations, that is, no doubt, a brutal and out-of-date method of settling differences. But there are still, even in Europe, many nations only partly civilised. It is all a matter of education and character, and mutual knowledge and regard for each other. The only way towards bringing about universal peace in Europe is not by trying to cure the present generation of their prejudices, not even by building palaces for peace conferences, but by educating the next generation to better mutual sympathy and trust and the larger-minded exercise of give-and-take.
The only really practical step so far taken to that end is in the Boy Scout Movement, where, with our brotherhood already established in every country and getting daily into closer touch and fellow-feeling by means of correspondence and interchange of visits, we are helping to build the foundation for the eventual establishment of common interests and friendships which will ultimately and automatically bring about disarmament and a permanent peace.
I NOTICE whenever we have people rising up to improve our code of Scout Law, etc., they are generally blind to the spirit which underlies it. They think that we have forgotten some of the boyish vices, and they start to set us right by ordering the boys not to do this and not to do that. What happened a few years ago in Ireland? A certain political faction there issued notices everywhere “No boy is to be a Boy Scout.” “Boy Scout? What is that?” at once asked every boy. When he found it was a young backwoodsman with bare legs and a hat and staff, and he was forbidden to be one, Patrols and Troops sprang up like mushrooms!
MANY Scoutmasters and others did not, at first, recognise the extraordinary value which they could get out of the Patrol system if they liked to use it, but I think that most of them seem to be realising this more and more. The Patrol system, after all, is merely putting your boys into permanent gangs under the leadership of one of their own number, which is their natural organisation whether bent on mischief or for amusement. But to get first-class results from this system you have to give the leader a real freehanded responsibility — if you only give partial responsibility you will only get partial results. By thus using your Leaders as officers you save yourself an infinite amount of the troublesome detail work. At the same time, the main object is not so much saving the Scoutmaster trouble as to give responsibility to the boy, since this is the very best of all means for developing character. It is generally the boy with the most character who rises to be the leader of a mischief gang. If you apply this natural scheme to your own needs it brings the best results.
It is the business of the Scoutmaster to give the aim, and the several Patrols in a Troop vie with each other in attaining it, and thus the standard of keenness and work is raised all round.
I WAS brought up on some of the old seamen’s chanties as sung by the tars in bygone days, as they tramped round the capstan or walked away with the main brace or the boat-falls. But these, like many other good old institutions, are dying out.
The words are not always perhaps of the highest moral delicacy in every song, but in very many cases they have a rugged, manly poetry of their own, and the better ones should appeal much to Scouts when doing hard, combined work, such as rigging bridges, tautening rocket apparatus, hauling ropes, pulling trek-carts, etc. And the learning of songs and choruses is a form of education which much attracts them. These chanties are of the simplest and easiest character for such purpose.
THE calmness and the cheerfulness of trained Scouts when doing their work has often been commented upon. It is what results from giving them aims and ambitions which they can carry out for themselves, and from which they CM gain personal satisfaction. The secret of the Montessori system is that the teacher merely organises the work, suggests the ambition, and the child has full liberty in accomplishing the object aimed for. Freedom without organised aim would be chaos. It is for this reason, without doubt, that Scouting has been defined as the continuation of the Montessori system with boys. The Scoutmaster initiates the ambition in the boy, leaving him free to gain his objective in his own way — he does not instruct, he leads the boy on to learn for himself.
Thus it is that as he successfully accomplishes one step after another the boy develops the calmness of confidence and self-reliance, and the cheerfulness of freedom and triumph.
Calmness and cheerfulness are much needed in our citizens of to-day.
They may be called the two most important qualities. They are taught very largely by example, and cannot, therefore, be inculcated by a man who is himself fussy or selfish, or even argumentative. I remember well a French soldier being executed when I was in Algeria — the charge against him seemed a small one for such a punishment, but the President of the Court Martial, in justifying it said, “In any case he was a very argumentative fellow,” and that seemed reason enough.
Of course, no selfish man can ever recognise his own vice. Let us assume, therefore, that every single one of us without exception possesses selfishness in a greater or less degree, and let us each from this moment forward try to reduce that degree. We shall feel the kick of it at times when we want to assert ourselves as of old, on certain points in which we know ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong. Well, now, we have to hold our tongues and to accept the judgment of others, smilingly and willingly. Life is too short for arguing. We shall soon find it goes all the more smoothly and comfortably for our “offering the other cheek.” This comfort is only part of the reward that comes to us, for if we are Scoutmasters we very soon find that our example is taken up by the boys, and whatever self-discipline and unselfishness we exhibit is very soon adopted by them, to the improved running of the machinery in all its wheels. Petty squabbles, loss of temper, selfishness, all disappear by force of example when they are not indulged in by superiors, and a zealous playing of the game for the whole and increased efficiency rapidly ensue.
THE sudden rush to arms on the part of the great nations of Europe against each other over a comparatively small incident in Servia, shows why it is so essential to Be Prepared at all times for what is possible, even though it may not be probable.
Also it shows how little are the peoples of these countries as yet in sufficient mutual sympathy as to render wars impossible between them. This will be so until better understanding is generally established. Let us do what we can through the Scout brotherhood to promote this in the future. For the immediate present we have duties to our country to perform.
WAR is going to be on its trial before a jury of the nations. It has to show whether its causes and the ultimate results can justify the immense destruction of the best manhood of a continent, the vast commerce, the reversion to brute force and bloodshed, and the misery inflicted upon millions of innocents.
Whether war is, as the various authorities would have us to suppose, the work of armament makers, or of ambitious monarchs, or simply of human nature that sweeps aside without a thought the palaces of peace, the office-made rules of the game of war, the protests of anti-militarists, and so on, we have yet to know.
The Damoclesian sword of war ever hanging over a country has its value in keeping up the manliness of a people, in developing self-sacrificing heroism in its soldiers, in uniting classes, creeds, and parties, and in showing the pettiness of party politics in its true proportion.
In any case, this war will have proved how essential to the safety of a nation it is to be prepared, in season and out, not merely for what may be probable, but for what may even be possible.
The waste of wealth involved in maintaining this state of readiness has grown to be enormous. Though it may be true that the money is spent within the country, it is nevertheless a non-profit-bearing turnover and does not, therefore, add to the nation’s wealth or prosperity. It is at best an insurance of our ship against storms.
The point to be considered is whether these storms are due to laws of Nature, to the hand of God, or to the machinations of men. If the latter, could not some more effective method be devised than this clogging preparation which in the end not only fails in its object of preventing war, but brings it about on a bigger scale when it eventually comes?
These are matters which every lover of his kind and of his God should think out and fit himself to pronounce judgment upon.
The awful drama is being unfolded before him; he may himself before long be an actor in it; he will, in any case, have ample opportunity for studying the question.
But the lessons of this war, when grasped, should not then be thrown away and forgotten; they should give urgent reason for a more effective education in the brotherhood of man such as shall prevent the recurrence in future generations of the horror now falling upon us and upon millions of innocent fellow sufferers of all nations.
I believe that with the dawn of peace after this terrible storm-cloud has rolled away our Scout brotherhood may take a big place in the scheme of uniting the nations in a closer and better bond of mutual understanding and sympathy such as will tend to fulfil that hope.
I HAVE been asked by so many as to my views on war that I feel impelled to state them here. Captain John Smith, the old Elizabethan hero, after his first campaign in Flanders, was oppressed by the feeling that it was immoral for people professing Christianity to fight against their brother Christians. He unfortunately felt that, nevertheless, he must fight somebody, so he took service with the Austrians against the Turks and other infidels. A dear friend of mine was, in his principles, strongly opposed to war, and his antipathy to causing death was so great that, even though he was a young country gentleman of the right type, a good sportsman and horseman, and fond of dogs, yet he would not go shooting because of his repugnance to taking life.
The South African War came on. He felt it his duty to take his share in the defence of the Empire of which he was a member. He therefore went out to South Africa as an officer in the Yeomanry; but he went unarmed. He fell dead at the head of his men when leading a gallant charge, doing his duty to his country and at the same time obeying his conscience by having no weapon in his hand. Paul Sabatier said the other day, when speaking of the war, that, though a strong pacificist himself, he was at this moment a belligerent. In this he is acting like thousands of others. He says that “blindly to advocate peace at this moment is to be a traitor to one’s country and to the highest principles. No peace can be true or lasting that is not based on justice.”
In this war we are fighting for justice and honour, and therefore for peace.
A man who has any doubt about his duty at this juncture need merely ask himself these questions:
Do I want to save my home, my womenfolk and youngsters, or those of my fellowcountrymen, from the horrors that we now know that the Germans inflict on non-combatants, or shall I leave it to other fellows to do?
Do I believe in honour in the matter of keeping to an agreement, and in justice to weaker states or people; in other words, do I believe in chivalry and fair play? If so, am I prepared to stick up for these principles?
Am I against militarism, and do I desire free and democratic government for my country, or shall I let things slide and come under German discipline of “blood and iron”?
Do I owe any duty to my King, Country, or Empire?
ONCE when I was at sea in a fishing yacht owned by my brothers, we ran on the rocks. I thought that all was up with us, and was anxiously watching my eldest brother, our skipper, for a sign to get into a life-belt and take to the boat; but when at length he looked at me it was to glare and shout angrily, “Look out for that boat-hook, which is slipping away under your very nose.”
When I found that he was thinking of such details as this I began to recognise that the danger was not overwhelming, and that by attention to minor steps we might pull through successfully and without loss; which we eventually did. So it is with the Boy Scout Movement. Nervous souls seem to apprehend disintegration of the Movement owing to the war taking the best of our Commissioners and Scoutmasters. I am all the more delighted then to see that there are those who are “looking out for the boat-hook,” who are doing their “Scout business as usual.” In taking away a number of our Commissioners and Scoutmasters the war is in reality doing a great good to the Movement. It could not have come at a more opportune moment for forcing upon us what I have always urged, namely, the value of the Patrol system and the usefulness of the Patrol Leaders if only they are properly trained and invested with responsibility.
CONCENTRATION in education can only be obtained when the work to be done is suited to the tastes and abilities of the learner.
The natural instinct of the infant is to develop itself by exercise which we call “Play.” It has an inherent desire to accomplish; the young child wants to do things and to overcome difficulties to its own satisfaction.
Dr. Montessori has proved that by encouraging a child in its natural desires, instead of instructing it in what you think it ought to do, you can educate it on a much more solid and far-reaching basis. It is only tradition and custom that ordain that education should be a labour, and that as such it is good training for the child in discipline and application. One of the original objects of Scouting for Boys was to break through this tradition and to show that, by giving attractive pursuits to the young, one could lead them to develop for themselves the essentials of character, health, and handiness.
It is maintained by many interested in education that concentration on the part of the child is most essential to its successful education, but is most difficult to obtain in school. I don’t know what happens in school, but I know that it is most easy to get concentration outside the school if you only give a child its own task to do in its own way.
The thing is to study the child and see what interests it. Look at a youngster making sand castles on the beach, how he will go at it hour after hour until he overcomes his difficulties and builds up his castle to his satisfaction. He concentrates the whole of his thought and the whole of his physical energy upon it. If you adapt such whole-hearted keenness to educational ends, there is no difficulty about obtaining the concentration desired.
This is exactly what happens in the Scout Movement — on a step higher than the castles in the sand — but the success in results is entirely the outcome of study of the child, and of utilising his bent — whatever it may be — for his own development.
Does the school teacher get his certificate for knowledge of the child or for knowledge of the three R’s?
The main step to success is to develop, not to repress, the child’s character, and at the same time, above all, not to nurse him. He wants to be doing things, therefore encourage him to do them in the right direction, and let him do them in his own way. Let him make his mistakes; it is by these that he learns experience.
Education must be positive, not negative — active, not passive. For example, the Scout Law in each of its details says: “A Scout does” — his, that, or the other.
Authorities have come along to improve the Scout Law, and not recognising the active side of it, have changed it to the reverse — a series of “Don’ts.” “Don’t,” of course, is the distinguishing feature and motto of the old-fashioned system of repression, and is a red rag to a boy. It is a challenge to him to do wrong.
Sought knowledge lasts, unsought does not.
Every boy is different in ability, temperament, and mind, and yet we try to teach them all in a heap the same things. One will come out top of his class because a subject happens to suit him, but he does not at the top in life.
We have been criticised in the Scout Movement for offering such a large number of badges for proficiency in different lines. The object of this was, not that each by should try to win all these badges, but to try to meet the enormous variety of characters among boys, and to give each one his chance by selecting his own subject. We so not perpetuate the school custom, thereby abilities may be equally good but unfortunately not in one of the subjects which come into the school curriculum.
The aim of the Proficiency Badge is to encourage self-education on the part of the boy in a subject which interests him.
THE Wolf Cubs have been instituted in order to provide training for boys of eight to eleven, to help Scoutmasters to keep their Troops composed of boys over that age.
I saw recently once again a “ridiculous Troop,” largely composed of little chaps in big hats and baggy shorts grasping staffs twice as tall as themselves. “Why?” I asked the Scoutmaster. : Can’t get bigger boys to stay in the Troop,” was the reply.
I thought it was very unlikely he would be able to do so if he continued to try to mix big lads with “kiddies.” I had hoped that, with the institution of the Wolf Cubs for this very purpose. We should have seen the last of these unfortunate attempts to make up numbers with youngsters who cannot do the work nor maintain the prestige of Scouts.
However, the Wolf Cubs are going ahead now, and will, I hope, before long take in all the small boys and that ” ridiculous Troops” of Scouts, as they have been described will be no more seen.
AT the age of fourteen out boys finish their schooling in three R’s, and are then supposed to be sufficiently grounded educationally to specialise for a particular line in life and, after making their choices, to take up the required form of training in the continuation or the technical school.
But how many of them do this? Less than half.
The remainder take up some occupation that gives them immediate pay, without regards to what it is going to hive them later on.
This is not economising out country’s future man-power or mind-power, nor does it help the boys’ personal prospects and happiness later on in life. If we are going to win the war after the war we have got to put into practice the strictest economy in the prevention of human waste.
Through the Scout Movement we can do a powerful good in this direction. As matters stand, we lead a boy on in progressive stages from his early years, and through Proficiency Badges we encourage him to try his hand at various hobbies till he eventually finds one beyond others at which he proves him good.
The suggestion now is that he should be further given ambition to develop this particular gift on to a higher standard so that it may help him directly in his career.
This encouragement might be given through badges of a higher grade than the existing ones, such, for instance, as he could work for through a continuation school, or in technical classes, or by corresponding instruction.
This higher grade of badge, however, would not of itself be a sufficient incentive to some boys to stay on without other more personal inducements, and therefore it is possible that a distinctive form that of Scout uniform would also be desirable, differing from that of the younger boy and placing the senior boy on a distinct footing of his own.
Retaining the Scout shirt, he might war a smart cap in lieu of the hat, and knee breeches where he preferred them to shorts.
The Senior Scouts in a Troop, that is those of, say, sixteen who hold a First-class Badge, could form a special Patrol, and would be given supervisory duties as Assistants to the Scoutmaster in his work in cases where thy cannot continue as Patrol Leaders.
Such Senior Patrol would form a standing team for public services, such as fire-brigade duties, work as special constables, accident first-aiders, emergency signallers, coast-watcher, etc., according to their locality.
I have grouped under headings are these: Commercial, Naval, Intellectual, Manufacturing, Agricultural, Military, Trade, and Pioneering, each having at least six alternative subjects for study. The practice of these would tend to make the boys efficient and fit for careers, while expanding their minds and tastes in the human direction as well. They would thus still be retained in their Troops without throwing any extra work on the Scoutmaster or requiring new organisation.
Whether they had the name or not they would be veritable “Cadets,” Cadets of citizenhood, of commerce and industry, but as such far more valuable to the nation for the war that is coming than merely military cadets.
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.
LOTS of Woodcraft and Nature Study should be our Aim.
Autumn is already upon us again. How suddenly it comes, and how it catches us if we haven’t laid our plans, in time! I am glad, however, to feel that Commissioners and Scoutmasters generally appear to have Been Preparing for it with their camping schemes and fixtures.
Preliminary week-end camps for Scoutmasters arranged by Commissioners are of most especial value. Where it is possible to get a few outsiders to come and taste the joys of these and learn the ropes of Scouting, it often is the surest way of recruiting the ranks of officers. Instruction camps or tramps for Patrol Leaders should also have their place in every programme. But above all, let’s hope that not a Troop will miss its outing in the autumn holidays: it is worth the whole of the rest of the year’s training in the club.
Most Troops seem to have arranged their work for helping “on the land,” and no better aim could they have just now. But to Scoutmasters in charge I would say — give your boys all you can of woodcrraft and Nature study; of pioneering and pathfinding actually in practice. The Nature study should be a real close touch with Nature, far beyond the academic dipping into the subject which passes under the name in school. Collecting, whether of plaints or “bugs,” and investigation, whether of beasts or birds, are all-absorbing studies for the boy and mighty good for him.
Don’t let your camping be the idle boring picnic that it can become when carried out on military lines. Scouting and backwoodsmanship is what we’re out for, and what the boys most want. Let them have it good and strong.
It is in camp that the Scoutmaster has his opportunity for inculcating under pleasing means the four main points of training. Character, service for others, skills, and bodily health. But beside all it is his golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of Nature and her store of wonders.
I HAVE noticed a slackness in one or two centres lately in the matter of Scouts being allowed to parade without their staffs, which for several reasons is regrettable.
The Scout’s staff is a distinctive feature about his equipment, and it has its moral as well as its practical uses.
The essential point is that this should be realised and appreciated by the Scoutmaster and Commissioner.
I remember when, in pre-war days, I was attending a review of the German cavalry, the Emperor asked me what I thought of their lances. I ventured to express the opinion that they were too long to be effective in war, and that a shorter lance, such as we use for pigsticking in India, would be more practical. He smiled and explained, “That is true — but in peace time we are breeding the spirit in our men. I find that with every inch that you put on to a man’s lance you give him an extra foot of self-esteem.”
Well, although the idea is “made in Germany,” there is something in it. The Scout’s staff had, as a matter of fact, been in the hands of the Scouts before that conversation, and I had already realised its value in the direction of giving smartness to a body of Scouts and a completeness to the individual which distinguished him from other boys and gave him the esprit de corps which is so effective a step to efficiency.
There are historical associations connected with it which give the staff a sentimental value if we look back to the first British Boy Scouts of a Cuhulain armed with staffs, the pilgrims or “good turn trampers,” with their cockle-shells and staffs, the ‘prentice bands of London with their cloth yards and their staffs, the merry men of Robin Hood with bows and quarter staffs, down to the present-day mountaineers, war-scouts, and explorers; these all afford a precedent which should have its romance and meaning to the boy if properly applied.
The ceremony of enrolment of the Scout can and should be made a moment of impressive feeling for the boy when he is invested with the hat and staff that mark the Scout, and which equip him for his pilgrimage on that path where he “turns up right and keeps straight on.” The officer who fails to use such opportunity is missing one of the most important chances in the Scout life of his boy.
He should expect of the boy a reverence and affection for his staff — such as the swordsman has for his sword, or the hunter for his rifle. Let the Scout individualise his own staff, even to decorate it in his own way if he likes, but let him keep to his staff. To jumble all staffs into a bundle and put them away in a corner after parade, or, worse, to let them get lost and thus excuse their appearance on parade, is to neglect a valuable help to the moral training of the lad.
All this, of course, is quite apart from the actual practical uses of the staff.
OUR principle of decentralisation 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.
THE man who has been knocking about the world, the man who has tasted danger and faced death, the man, in fact, who has seen life in the better sense of the phrase, is generally deeply religious. But his religion would not be recognised by some; it is unorthodox — it has not been formulated by man, but is the natural outcome of his constant communing with Nature. He probably could not define it himself, because it has no doctrine, no ritual. He has come to appreciate the vastness approaching to infinity in Nature with nevertheless a regular law underlying it all, and he has come to realise that even the small things, down to the microscopic germs, have each their part and responsibility in the working of the whole.
He has thus learnt his own comparative insignificance, and at the same time his own duty in life. He is conscious of progressive stages to higher things, to fuller happiness? from the seed to the flower, from the flower to the fruit; and that with man these stages are helped by his active effort towards progress as much as by his passive receptance of the inevitable. He realises that happiness is gained by surmounting difficulties, but that life is barren and unsatisfactory where the effort is solely for self; that service for others brings the greatest reward.
When St. George overcame the dragon it was not merely for the triumph of defeating the beast that he strove, but for the greater satisfaction of helping the lady in distress. Some may object that the religion of the Backwoods is also a religion of the backward; and to some extent it is so. It is going back to the primitive, to the elemental, but at the same time it is to the common ground on which most forms of religion are based — namely, the appreciation of God and service to one’s neighbour.
But in many cases form has so overclothed the original simple faith of Nature that it is hardly recognisable. We have come to judge a religion very much as we do a person — if we are snobbish — by its dress.
Anyone who does not wear the orthodox dress, and who reverts to the natural, is apt to be looked upon as indecent, or at the least eccentric, although he is, after all, merely displaying the form in which all are moulded by Nature — by God.
Yet the natural form in religion is so simple that a child can understand it; a boy can understand it, a Boy Scout can understand it. It comes from within, from conscience, from observation, from love, for use in all that he does. It is not a formality or a dogmatic dressing donned from outside, put on for Sunday wear. It is, therefore, a true part of his character, a development of soul, and not a veneer that may peel off.
Once the true body is there it can be dressed in the clothing best suited to it, but clothing without the body is a mere scarecrow — camouflage.
I do not mean by this that we want to divert a boy from the faith of his fathers; far from it.
The aim is to give him the better foundation for that faith by encouraging in him perceptions which are understandable by him.
Too often we forget when presenting religion to the boy that he sees it all from a very different point of view from that of the grown-up. Nor can true religion be taught as a lesson to a class in school.
It is appalling to think what a vast proportion of our boys have turned out either prigs or unbelievers through misconception of these points on the part of their teachers.
As nearly every man will now have political voting power, one of the aims of education should be to prepare the young citizen for his responsibilities in this line.
This is a matter, however, that cannot be taught by class instruction in “civics.” Then how are you to do it in the school training? Well, that question has proved a puzzler; it is therefore discreetly left alone by education with the pious hope that the teachings of history will incline the boys’ minds in the right direction.
A fat lot of — — . Well, to my mind, something much more practical is needed in view of the unprecedented political evolution that is going on. Formerly the young man took up the same line of politics as his father had done before him — just as he did in the question of religion — not from his own convictions, but from tradition.
Nowadays, with the rapid social developments and changes, what his father thought is out of date and behind the times for the modern young patriot.
We in the Scout Movement are non-political as far as party politics go, and I hope it will not be thought that in speaking thus I am advocating any particular party ideas, for I have no such thing in my mind. As a matter of fact I am so little impressed by any of the present political factions in Parliament that I have so far never exercised my own voting power for any one or other of them.
A writer recently stated how he was once authorised to invite me to stand for Parliament, and though I declined he does not know to this day what party I favour.
Nor do I.
So I have no party intentions in my remarks, nor should any Scout officer have it in his mind when preparing his lads for their political responsibilities.
It is statesmanship rather than party politics for which we want to prepare them. We, in the Scout Movement, are credited with supplying for the boy, who has not had the same chance as one brought up in a public school, an equivalent character training, especially in the directions of responsibility and discipline.
The practice of responsible authority and obedience to it among the boys is carried out in the Scout Movement through the Patrol system. But it is on lines rather more in accordance with the spirit of the age than the prefect system of the public school.
We have to realise there are two forms of discipline: one is the expression of loyalty through action, the other submission to orders through fear of punishment.
In the prefect system authority is deputed by the masters to the head boys. It is merely the delegation of autocratic rule and, while it puts the junior boy in his place (not a bad thing at times), it is in no sense democratic. It does not give the boy freedom of action, except at the risk of punishment if he takes the line that does not please his superior. Whereas in the patrol system, where properly carried out, the Leader is responsible for the success of his Patrol, whether in its games or in its efficiency, and the Scouts are impelled to carry out the Leader’s instructions through their desire for their Patrol to excel. It is the expression of their keenness and esprit de corps by doing. In other words it is “playing the game.”
The Leader realises on his part that to gain success he has to foster this spirit by tact and discrimination and by appealing to the human side.
In the Court of Honour (again if properly run) the voice of the boys is heard, and the rules are made for their own guidance by the boys themselves.
Similarly in the Patrol Leaders’ Conference (again where properly managed) the ideals and aims of the Movement are considered and the steps to them discussed among the boys themselves, so that they become possessed of a wider and less selfish outlook in realising the “cons” as well as the “pros” of the question which previously may have had but one side to them.
Thus the Patrol becomes a practical school of self-government.
It is a commonly quoted saying that “Only those can lead who have first learned to obey.” Yes, but like many truisms it has its limits. I prefer also as a leader the man who has learned to lead. There used to be no greater bully in the army than the N.C.O., who had learned hard discipline himself as a private and was then promoted and given a sufficiently free hand in dealing out discipline in his turn. Nowadays he learns that consideration for his men and regard to the higher aims rather than his own individual importance give the right impulse that brings success.
So, too, I suspect that in many shops and factories the workers would work more happily and more effectively under a foreman who has tact and human sympathy and who looks beyond the bench to the results of the work, than under one whose promotion merely as a skilled hand has given him a swollen head.
Give me a foreman who has learned his job as a Patrol Leader.
These are thoughts that may well be kept in mind when our worker is at work on his
Troop bench, in order that he may so fashion his Court of Honour and direct the aims of his Patrol Leaders that the Troop may form a school for training leaders among the next generation of citizens.
What Scouting can do towards it
THE many questions which have been put to me as to what is our attitude in the Scout Movement towards reconstruction after the war, shows what an amount of interest is already being aroused in that direction among our officers; and this encourages the conviction that it is in our power to do a valuable work in that line.
I have often said this before, but have evidently been rather vague in defining exactly what that line is.
Well, considering the difficulty of prophesying what is likely to come after the war it is not an easy thing even to suggest, much less to lay down, a definite scheme.
But a few points are fixed and certain, and they will help us on our way.
In the first place, as someone has said lately, “If the war does not teach lessons that will so dominate those who survive it, and those who succeed them, as to make new things possible, then the war will be the greatest catastrophe . . . of which mankind has any record.” That statement no one will gainsay.
Let us think what is a main evil in our midst that ought to be remedied, and, through the light and experience of the war, possibly could be remedied for “those who succeed us,” if proper steps were taken.
To my mind the condition of the lower working (I won’t use the word “class.” I would like to see that word abolished for ever, with all the harm that it has done), working men and women must and ought to be bettered.
One obstacle to bringing this about has been the barrier between the “classes,” between Capital and Labour, etc.
And yet we are by nature all fellow-creatures, even of the same blood and family; the class boundary is an entirely artificial erection, and can, therefore, be pulled down if only we set our minds to it. This is one lesson which we may well take to heart from the war. Indeed, the war has almost done the trick for us with its conscription of all, rich and poor without distinction, with its common sharing of hardship and danger, and its common sacrifice for a common ideal at the Front, coupled with the common sorrow and the common service of those behind the scenes at home.
Are we after the war to allow the fellow-feeling thereby engendered to be dissipated by a revival of those miserable party politics and social barriers and industrial quarrels that had brought about such bitter conditions in pre-war days? God forbid!
The war will here have helped us if only we determine to make the best use of it. Our aim should be to mingle class with class, and to bring about a happier and more human life for all, so that the poorer shall reap his share of enjoyment just as much as his more well-todo brother; the employer should be humanised to the extent of sympathising and dealing squarely and liberally with his employees; the worker should be shown how to use his means to the best advantage in making for himself a better home and fuller life. Both parties should realise that by combination of effort they can bring about better conditions for each.
Education comes into the question as a key — and mainly education in character. Unselfishness, self-discipline, wider fellow-feeling, sense of honour and duty should be implanted, and such attributes as enable a man, no matter what his standing, to look beyond his own immediate ledger or bench and see the good of his work for the community, putting into his routine some service for others as well as for himself, developing also some perception of what is beautiful in Nature, in art and in literature, so that his higher interest may be aroused, and he may get enjoyment from his surroundings whatever they may be. These are points of which we in the Scout Movement can do much to impart the elements and to lay the foundations.
No need of it for Scoutmasters
I AM writing this in the train, crowded up with eleven others in the carriage; no room for luggage, no porters, or taxis at the station to carry it if I had; and I am starting off on a trip of at least a week.
I take with me my “grip,” as the Americans call holding a few small necessaries but no other clothes. The Standard suit that I am wearing will suffice for all the different occasions of my trip. Besides travelling by train I expect to go into camp for a day or two. I have to attend a conference and also a rally. I hope to stay with friends for a couple of nights and possibly to get a few hours’ fishing. Before the war I should have wanted a lot of luggage with me to provide the necessary mufti — evening clothes, fishing kit, and uniform.
As it is I go in my Standard suit, which does equally well for every one of these functions — the Scout uniform.
As our uniform has passed muster at Buckingham Palace when one of our
Commissioners appeared in it recently to be decorated by the King for his work with the Scouts, it is surely good enough to be accepted anywhere else.
But — well, I had to comment in The Scout the other day on the slovenly get-up of some Scouts I had seen, and I am perfectly certain in my own mind that their Scoutmaster (though I had not seen him) does not dress himself correctly or well.
Smartness in uniform and correctness in detail seems a small matter to fuss about, but has its value in the development of self-respect, and means an immense deal to the reputation of the Movement among outsiders who judge by what they see.
It is largely a matter of example. Show me a slackly-dressed Troop and I can “Sherlock” a slackly-dressed Scoutmaster. Think of it, Scoutmasters, when you are fitting on your uniform or putting that final saucy cock to your hat. You are the model to your boys and your smartness will reflect itself in them.
HE may have had his faults — the Tsar; he may have been a weak man, but at any rate he was no bloody-minded tyrant. He was merely the representative of a succession of autocratic rulers of Russia.
And though democratic self-government is a consummation devoutly to be wished for as a rule, who can say, in the light of recent history, that all Russia was yet ripe for it?
It is difficult for us in our little island to realise the strange contrast of peoples there, and how wide is the variety of different tribes, half of them Asiatic, and in many parts two hundred years behind the times. It is not, perhaps, generally realised that Nicholas himself was both sympathetic and alive to this. In him the people had a better friend than probably they knew.
One aim he had in view was to build up eventually a modem nation capable of selfgovernment, and of developing the immense resources of the country.
But he realised that this was not a matter of a moment that as a first step education on more up-to-date lines was essential, even though traditional methods were upset in bringing it about.
He was not too proud to look abroad and see what other folk were doing.
One day he heard the story of the feckless and the persevering frogs who fell into the cream. This attracted him to read the book in which it is told — namely, Scouting for Boys.
Then the writer was sent for to explain the scheme.
In an ordinary quiet little study I had a long and quite informal talk with the Tsar alone. He had fully grasped the possibilities of the Scout-training for education up to date, and he saw the meaning underneath its woodcraft and activities which gave free play to the individual on the line of self-discipline and service for others.
He explained how the existing system in Russia was to educate the boys as military cadets. The schoolhouse was a barrack, the masters ranked as officers, the discipline was that of the Army — and pretty stiff at that. No individuality was permitted to the boys, no games or practice that might develop their character from within; their schooling was a round of instruction imposed from without.
This, the Tsar felt, was not a way in which to bring a nation up to date nor to meet the growing instinct for liberty of thought and action. He saw a road to this in Scouting. He had, therefore, had the book translated into Russian, and had invited all the schools to try the training on their boys.
By way of encouraging this he had agreed personally to review the first school which passed its test in Scoutcraft. This happened to be one away in the Crimea, but the boys were brought up all the way to Petrograd by special train to be inspected and to receive his praise.
What a day for them!
He now invited me to visit schools and see the boys in their transition from Cadet training to that of Scouting. He felt the difficulty might be to change the spirit with the form of education, and for success this was essential. As he saw it Cadet-training was form without soul, whereas that of Scouting appeared to be the free expression of the right individual spirit on the part of the boy. He had grasped the idea himself, but whether the schoolmasters had done so was another question.
He was at any rate sufficiently impressed by the value of Scouting to make his own son take it up.
* * * * *
Visits to schools gave one a better understanding of what was in the Tsar’s mind when he recommended them to adopt Scouting.
A typical case occurred at Moscow. The school staff entertained me at luncheon as a preliminary to the inspection. Needless to say they were all in uniform, wearing swords, etc. The headmaster was an ancient colonel who had been in this position for over thirty years!
Before we were through the “zakoushka,” or hors d’ æuvre, my hosts were hard at it endeavouring to fill me up with wine, which still remained the surest sign of Russian hospitality. It is true that by the exercise of a certain amount of camouflage I got through the ordeal safely. But the fact of the attempt speaks for itself.
The parade of the Cadets was wonderful for precision of drill and smartness, the dormitories were spotless, each commanded by a non-commissioned officer from the Army.
The discipline was of the very strictest; no games were countenanced, natural tendencies were repressed in every direction, the boys were taught to fear and to obey.
Yet those lads had all the boyish go and spirit in them waiting to be utilised. Such Cadet-training was to me like an ordinary cyclist riding a motor-bike, and arduously propelling it by the pedals from outside, when all the time the spirit that was within would have run the whole thing for him if he only liked to apply it.
The spirit was there right enough. A guard of honour of the Russian Boy Scouts was formed up at the station to see me off; rigid as stone they stood in their ranks, but one could see the life and soul of the boy blazing in those excited eyes as one walked down the line. It struck me so much that I could not leave them with a mere glance, so I walked back, shaking hands with each. As I neared the finish their feelings became too much for them. There was a sudden cry, they broke their ranks and were all over me in a second, shaking hands, kissing my clothes, and everyone bent on giving me some sort of keepsake out of his pocket. The eager enthusiasm of boyhood was there, ready to respond even to a stranger and a foreigner.
To me it was typical, and accounted for much of what has happened since on a large scale in Russia.
Give a natural flowing stream its run in the right direction and it will serve you well. Dam it up with artificial restrictions, and some day it will burst the bonds and maybe become a raging, ruinous flood.
Imposed discipline leads to reaction; discipline from within needs none.
Moral: Don’t trust to military training as the best preparation for modern citizenship. For up-to-date self-government up-to-date self-education seems the right preparatory step. For this new wine old bottles are not safe. You see the proof in Russia.
OUR record in the war, and the inspiring words of the King to the nation on its successful conclusion, give us at once our line, our incentive, and our duty with the Scouts.
The fighting is over at last, and from highest to lowest the Scouts, whether from home or overseas, have distinguished themselves in noticeable proportion throughout the war. Among the highest, three out of the five Army Commanders in France are Scout Commissioners — Sir Herbert Plumer, Sir William Birdwood, and Sir Julian Byng.
Then down through the long list of V.C.s, D.S.O.s and very many other honours won by old Scouts, we pass with heart-strung regret, yet with admiring pride, to the noble Roll of Honour of those who have given their lives for right and justice, and — let us not forget — for us as well
When we turn to those fine lads of ours who are coming on in the places of those heroes, we realise that they can be led by the example of those who have gone on, to uplift their aims on to a higher plane, and the achievements of the boys in minor war service for their country already gives promise of a worthy manhood.
With such promise to hearten us, and with the call of the King ringing in our ears, to “create a better Britain” the least responsive among us cannot fail to feel that now is the time for forward action.
GOD didn’t invent physical “jerks.” The Zulu warrior, splendid specimen though he is, never went through Swedish drill. Even the ordinary well-to-do British boy, who has played football and hockey, or who has run his paper chases regularly and has kept himself fit by training exercises between whiles, seldom needs physical drill to develop him afterwards. It is good open-air games and sport which bring to the boy health and strength in a natural and not an artificial way. Nobody will disagree with this. It is quite simple in theory, but in its practice we find some few difficulties to overcome.
Your city boy or the factory hand who is at work all day cannot get out to play games in the open. The outdoor workers and country boy should by right have a better chance since he lives more in the open air, but it is seldom that even a country boy knows how to play a game or even how to run!
When inspecting Scouts, Commissioners make a point of seeing them run in single file, when time and space allow in addition to merely walking down the line themselves to look at the boys’ faces and their dress.
They do this in order to judge to what extent the lads have been physically trained by their Scoutmaster. The running tells its own tale. It is perfectly astonishing to see how few boys are able to run.
The natural easy light step comes only with the practice of running. Without it the poor boy develops either the slow heavy plod of the clod-hopper or the shuffling paddle of the city man (and what a lot of character is conveyed in the gait of a man!). The practice of running is best inculcated through games and sport.
Physical exercises or “jerks” are an intensive form of development where you cannot get good or frequent opportunity of games, and may well be used in addition to games, provided that:
- They are not made entirely a drill, but something that each boy can really understand and want to practise for himself because of the good that he knows it does him.
- The instructor has some knowledge of anatomy and the possible harm of many physical-drill movements on the young unformed body.
We should do everything to get the boy to interest himself in steadily exercising his body and limbs, and in practising difficult feats with pluck and patience until he masters them. Then a team uniform of sorts is an attraction to the boy, promotes esprit de corps in his athletic work, and incidentally involves changing his clothes before and after playing, encourages a rub down — a wash — cleanliness.
“How to keep fit” soon becomes a subject in which the athletic boy takes a dose personal interest, and can be formed the basis of valuable instruction in self-care, food values, hygiene, continence, temperance, etc., etc. All this means physical education.
Oxygen for Ox’s Strength
I saw some very smart physical drill by a Scout Troop quite recently in their club headquarters. It was very fresh and good, but, my wig, the air was not! It was to say the least, “niffy.” There was no ventilation. The boys were working like engines, but actually undoing their work all the time by sucking in poison instead of strengthening their blood. Fresh air is half the battle towards producing results in physical exercises, and it may advantageously be taken through the skin as well as through the nose when possible. Yes — that open air is the secret of success. It is what Scouting is for — viz., to develop the out-of-doors habit as much as possible.
I asked a Scoutmaster not long ago, in a great city, how he managed his Saturday hikes, whether in the park or in the country? He did not have them at all. Why not? Because his boys did not care about them. They preferred to come into the club room on Saturday afternoons! Of course they preferred it, poor little beggars; they are accustomed to being indoors. But that is what we are out to prevent in the Scouts — our object is to wean them from indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them.
We want open-air space, grounds of our own, preferably permanent camp grounds easily accessible for the use of Scouts. As the Movement grows these should form regular institutions at all centres of Scouting.
Besides serving this great purpose such camps would have a double value. They could form centres of instruction for officers, where they could receive training in camp craft and Nature lore, and above all could imbibe the spirit of the out-of-doors — he Brotherhood of the Backwoods.
This is the real objective of Scouting, and the key to its success.
With too much town life we are apt to undertook our aims and to revert to type. We are not a brigade — or a Sunday School — but a school of the woods. We must get more into the open for the health, whether of the body or the soul, of Scout and of Scoutmaster.
WHY is Nature Lore considered a Key Activity in Scouting? That is a question on which hangs the difference between Scout work and that of the ordinary Boys’ Club or Brigade. Nature lore, as I have probably insisted only too often gives the best means of opening out the minds and thoughts of boys, and at the same time, if the point is not lost sight of by their trainer, it gives them power of appreciating beauty in Nature, and consequently in art, such as leads them to a higher enjoyment of life.
This is in addition to what I have previously advocated in Nature study, namely the realisation of God, the Creator, through His wondrous work, and the active performance of His will in service for others.
I was in the sitting-room last week of a friend who had just died, and lying on the table amongst his abandoned pipes and tobacco pouch was a book by Richard Jefferies, Field and Hedgerow, in which a page was turned down which said, “The conception of moral good is not altogether satisfying. The highest form known to us at present is pure unselfishness, the doing of good, not for any reward now or hereafter, nor for the completion of any imaginary scheme. That is the best we know, but how unsatisfactory! An outlet is needed more fully satisfying to the heart’s most inmost desire than is afforded by any labour of self-abnegation. It must be something in accord with the perception of beauty and of an ideal. Personal virtue is not enough. . . . Though I cannot name the ideal good, it seems to me that it will in some way be closely associated with the ideal beauty of nature.”
In other words, one may suggest that happiness is a matter of inner conscience and outward sense. It is to be got where the conscience as well as the senses together are satisfied. If the above-quoted definition be true, the converse is at least equally certain — namely, that the appreciation of beauty cannot bring happiness if your conscience is not at rest. So that if we want our boys to gain happiness in life we must put into them the practice of doing good to their neighbours and also the appreciation of the beautiful. The shortest step to this is through Nature lore:
“Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
Among the masses of poorer boys their eyes have never been opened, and to the Scoutmaster is given the joy of bringing about this worth-while operation. Once the germ of woodcraft has entered into the mind of a boy, observation and deduction develop automatically and become part of his character. They remain, whatever other pursuits he may afterwards take up.
(I remember suffering from that infliction myself when, as Inspector-General of Cavalry, I was once riding down the front of a smart Lancer Regiment, minutely examining each man and horse. To the astonishment of the whole parade I suddenly turned, put spurs to my charger and dashed away across the parade ground into a field beyond. I had seen two golden plovers swoop down from the sky in that direction, and immediately a flock of other birds — starlings, rooks, pigeons, etc., had risen in a crowd from the field. My immediate instinct was to see what had caused the disturbance. Was it a fox or a gun or the golden plovers? I looked to where they had pitched. It was the plovers swooping from the sky that had alarmed the other birds under the impression that hawks were upon them. I afterwards learned that this was not an unusual occurrence. But my action had no more to do with the inspection parade than has my story to do with this “Outlook.”)
As the wonders of Nature are unfolded to the young mind, so, too, its beauties can be pointed out and gradually become recognised. When appreciation of beauty is once given a place in the mind, it grows automatically in the same way as observation, and brings joy in the greyest of surroundings.
If I may diverge again, once on a dark raw foggy day I arrived for a Scout function at the big gloomful station at Birmingham. We were hustled along in a throng of grimy workers and muddy, travel-stained soldiers. Yet as we pushed through the crowd I started and looked round, went on, looked round again and finally had a good eye-filling stare before I went on. I don’t suppose my companions had realised it, but I had caught a gleam of sunshine in that murky hole such as gave a new pleasure to the day. It was just a nurse in brown uniform with gorgeous red-gold hair and a big bunch of yellow and brown chrysanthemums in her arms. Nothing very wonderful, you say. No, but for those who have eyes to see, these gleams are there even in the worst of glooms.
It is too common an idea that boys are unable to appreciate beauty and poetry; but I remember once some boys were being shown a picture of a stormy landscape of which Ruskin had written that there was only one sign of peace in the whole wind-torn scene. One of the lads readily pointed to a spot of blue peaceful sky that was apparent through a rift in the driving wrack of clouds.
Poetry also appeals in a way that it is difficult to account for, and when the beautiful begins to catch hold the young mind seems to yearn to express itself in something other than everyday prose.
Some of the best poetry can, of course, be found in prose writing, but it is more generally associated with rhythm and rhyme. Rhyme, however, is apt to become the main effort with the aspiring young poet, and so you will get the most awful doggerel thrust upon you in your efforts to encourage poetry. Switch them off doggerel if you can.
It is far too prevalent, when even our National Anthem itself amounts to it. Rhythm is a form of art which comes naturally even to the untrained mind, whether it be employed in poetry or music or in body exercises. It gives a balance and order which has its natural appeal even, and especially, among those closest to Nature — savages. In the form of music it is of course most obvious and universal. The Zulu war song, when sung by four or five thousand warriors, is a sample of rhythm in music, poetry and bodily movement combined. The enjoyment of rendering or of hearing music is common to all the human family. The song as a setting to words enables the soul to give itself expression which, when adequately done, brings pleasure both to the singer and to his hearer.
Through his natural love of music, the boy can be linked up with poetry and higher sentiment as by a natural and easy transition. It opens a ready means to the Scoutmaster of teaching happiness to his lads and at the same time of raising the tone of their thoughts.
NOT long ago I was shown a pattern schoolboy camp where there were rows of bell-tents smartly pitched and perfectly aligned, with a fine big mess marquee and clean wellappointed cooks’ quarters with a kitchen range.
There were brick paths and wooden bathing houses and latrines, etc.
It was all exceedingly well planned and put up by the contractor. The officer who organised it all merely had to pay down a certain sum and the whole thing was done. It was quite simple and businesslike.
My only complaint about it was that it wasn’t camping. Living under canvas is a very different thing from camping. Any ass, so to speak, can live under canvas where he is one of a herd with everything done for him; but he might just as well stop at home for all the good it is likely to do him.
I hope, therefore, that when asked their advice. Scoutmasters will impress upon camp organisers that what appeals to the boys, and what keeps them occupied, and is at the same time an education for them, is real camping. That is, where they prepare their own encampment even to the extent of previously making their own tents and learning to cook their own food.
Then the pitching of tents in separate sites and selected nooks, by Patrols as far as possible, the arranging of watersupply and firewood, the preparation of bathing places, field kitchens, latrines, soak and refuse pits, etc., the use of camp expedients, and the making of camp utensils and furniture, will give a keen interest and invaluable training.
Where you have a large number of boys in a canvas town you are forced to have drill and bathing parades as a means of supplying mass occupation, whereas with a few Patrols, apart from their minor camp work, which fills up a lot of time, there is the continuous opportunity for education in Nature lore and in the development of health of body and mind through cross-country runs and hikes, and the outdoor life of the woods.
Get camp organisers to realise from the start the difference between camping and living under canvas, and you will have done a good turn to them and to their boys.
THE year of Peace has been looked forward to by every man, woman, and child in the land as a release and change from the overclouding horror of war — and nobly the weather has played its part in making it so. For us Scouts in particular it has given the very best encouragement in the direction of camping — and I am bound to say we have not missed the opportunity.
I am trying through the goodwill of our officers to get some sort of estimate of the number or proportion of boys who have been under canvas this season.
As experts in camping it is going to be possible for Scout officers to be of real help to the education authorities under the provisions of the Fisher Act. As experts. But there you are; some of our men have not so far had much experience in this direction; this naturally makes them shy of taking their boys out into camp and giving themselves away; they wear their cowboy hat bravely enough in the clubroom or street, but all the time their inner self is saying, “If only I could get away quietly and learn how you really do light a fire with wet sticks, or make yourself comfortable with a blanket and a pot hook.” It is the efficiency that is needed — and Gilwell Park is there to help them.
Of course the vast majority of our men know all about it, having gone through the best of schools — experience.
At the same time the reports of Commissioners on camps that have been held this year do show that although the majority were undeniably good, there were weak points here and there which a little knowledge or attention could easily eradicate.
For instance, I notice some of the following straws that point to want of care or experience:
Sites. — Badly chosen where better were available for surface drainage, shade, level for games, exposure to prevailing wind, water supply, etc.
Cleanliness of ground. — No system of keeping camps clean; paper littered about camp; food refuse not destroyed, and consequently flies and ill-health; latrines badly placed and not filled in, etc.
Cleanliness of Scouts. — It seemed to be thought the correct thing in some instances that when in camp Scouts could go dirty, unwashed, and unkempt. When I was in Afghanistan — but that’s another story! In the meantime, camp is the Scoutmaster’s opportunity for expecting cleanliness among apparently difficult conditions. He can show the example himself and insist on it in his boys — which, as a matter of minor discipline and hygiene, is of pertinent value. A change of shoes, and flannel trousers or gym suit, should be an important part of the camper’s kit. Proper washing and bathing facilities should be a first care in arranging a standing camp.
Occupation. — A camp if it is used merely as an excuse for loafing and slackness is almost worse than no camp at all. Where you have a large camp, drill becomes necessary to keep the crowd of boys employed, unless you have enough space for endless football and other games.
Whereas in small Troop camps the varied Scout games and activities, interspersed with physical team games, can be carried on all the time without boring or tiring the lads. In too many instances camps were held without previous intimation being given to the local Scout Commissioner. This is not only contrary to the unwritten Scout Law of Courtesy, but in very many cases the Commissioner would have helped the Troop to far better sites and greater enjoyment had he known they were coming.
And — Scoutmasters — wouldn’t you enjoin on your boys that as Scouts they are expected to differ from ordinary boys by carrying out this simple Irish camping motto: “On breaking up camp leave two things behind you — “1. Nothing. “2. Your thanks.”
Two simple yet powerful aids to boy training towards happy citizenship exist ready to hand in —
- The glowing enthusiasm inherent in the boy himself.
- The trainer’s own experiences of life.
One Scoutmaster tells me that he takes my weekly remarks in the Scout as his text for his week’s work with his boys.
His conclusion after reading a good many of these weekly paragraphs is that he believes that I “want to make the boy happy.”
Well, I am glad that he has realised this, because it is really the aim of our training. We want to show the boys how to be happy, how to enjoy life, both (1) in the present, and (2) in the future.
We are not a Cadet Corps or a Council School; with all respect to these institutions, their methods are not exactly ours; we want to make the boys happy for ultimate good citizenship. It is true that incidentally in doing so we give them the benefits that can be got from these other societies, for Scouting does develop Discipline and Health and Knowledge, but at the same time it directly aims to make them better citizens through HAPPINESS AND SERVICE, which is outside the sphere of the others. The smile and the good turn are our speciality. The want of these in the average citizen is at the root of much of our social trouble to-day.
In helping the boy to be happy in the present we do so by utilising and encouraging his impulses and activities, and edging them into the right direction and control.
In preparing him for happiness ultimately in his life we can each of us do much by looking at our own experiences and steering him clear of rocks on which we in our time have very nearly come to grief ourselves.
For instance (if you will forgive a very domestic expose), in my own case, I can look back and recognise that I have had not merely a happy life, but an extremely happy life. I think that much of this has been attributable to the fact that I never happened to run against the rock of unhealthy personal ambition. By good luck, rather than by good management, promotion came to me very rapidly, and yet every step — except that it brought me accession of salary (and, goodness knows, I needed it!) — as regretted by me.
I didn’t want to become a Captain because it put me out of the fun and irresponsibility of being a subaltern; I regretted being promoted to Colonel because it put me away from personal contact with my men. On one occasion I was prematurely promoted to General, and was only too thankful when a few days later it was found that I was under age for the job.
In a word, I was content with what I had.
I cannot remember any period of my life when I had time to be idle or to be without some object in my hobbies or activities.
It is true, for one thing, that I went in a good deal for theatricals; this sounds like wasting time, but never did I take part in or organise a performance without some real reason behind it, such, for instance, as heartening the men during prevalence of cholera or sickness, or to counteract temptation in a bad locality.
When I rose to the position of commanding instead of obeying, I endeavoured to carry out a human instead of an official system of control. It gave one more trouble to organise, but it gave one greater satisfaction in the end.
(Excuse these personal reminiscences and theories. I am merely quoting them with the object of suggesting how every Scoutmaster can in a similar way draw upon his own experiences of life and use them as his guide for training his boys.)
So far as my experience goes the passing of happiness to others is the real key to happiness for oneself.
By encouraging, in a healthy, cheery, and not in a sanctimonious and looking-for-reward spirit, your Scouts to do good turns as a first step, and to do service for the community as a development, you can do more for them even than by encouraging their proficiency or their discipline or their knowledge, because you are teaching them not how to get a living so much as how to live.
IT has possibly hardly struck many a Scoutmaster that in his work with his Troop the results are extending far beyond his comparatively limited area, that his efforts are being watched, results noted, and his example followed by others in countries across the sea. But so it is; and out of such beginnings an international sympathy and understanding is growing up. Many excellent movements have been thought of and urged upon the world for all they were worth — but in spite of the pressing they have not appealed so widely as their promoters had hoped and have ended in smoke. Other movements have sprung up almost of their own accord to meet some need, and have grown and flourished exceedingly. You and I know of one, at any rate, that has done so. Again it is a case of the natural as opposed to the artificial. It is this natural automatic growth of a movement that speaks to its vitality and its possibilities. Nations differ in their characteristics to a marvellous degree considering their relationship in the human family, and although modern communication with its interchange of literature, manufactures, personal visits, etc., ought to have made a vast difference by now, it hasn’t done so. We are still very much strangers to each other.
A League of Nations is to be formed to make us better friends through force of law. I hope it may. But there is another league of nations very much in embryo at present but growing up automatically, and that is in the brotherhood of the Boy Scouts. And since its growth is entirely natural and not forced in any way, there is immense promise about it. At the Jamboree we shall, I hope, get the first general expression. Representatives of twenty-six foreign nations will be among us, and I need not go further than suggest what tremendous ulterior importance may attach to the occasion.
A very real responsibility attaches to each one of us because it is on what we do, what we say, and almost what we think that these different countries will fashion the future line of their Scout work. I think the meeting for interchange of ideas comes just at the right moment. Although we British Scouts are not yet by any means at the highest attainable standard, we are sufficiently well grounded to give the right impression; and the foreign Scouts, while fairly well started, are not as yet so matured that they cannot alter and adapt their methods where they may have gone a little off the line.
So that even if the Jamboree did nothing towards enthusing the boys, towards educating the public, or towards bringing help to the Scoutmasters, yet it would be worth while if through bringing together the representatives of foreign countries in the one ideal of good citizenship, it should have promoted that spirit of fraternity and mutual goodwill without which the formal league of nations can only be an empty shell.
NOT one in a hundred of our own people knows this.
Scouting is not a thing that can be taught by wording it in public speeches, nor by defining it in print. Its successful application depends entirely on the grasp of the Scout spirit by both trainer and trainee. What this spirit is can only be understood by outsiders when they see it ruling, as it already does to a vast extent, the thoughts and the actions of each member of our brotherhood.
Thus every Scoutmaster and every Commissioner will be an apostle to them, not merely through what he says but through what he imparts by impression and through what he does himself in his own personality.
For this he must, as a first point, be imbued with a real understanding knowledge of the Scout ideals, the methods we use to gain them, and the reasons that underlie them.
Among them he realises, for instance:
That the need is urgent of a great social rise out of the present slough of squalor; That the State education system has its limitations for developing the character, the health, the technical skill, and the communal Christianity that are necessary;
That Scouting can help by attracting the boy or girl, or by helping him or her to acquire these qualities;
That this cannot be done by the imposition of artificial instruction from without but by the encouragement of the natural impulses from within;
That this is imparted by personal leadership and example on the part of the Scoutmaster himself, and not by his mere instruction;
That the intelligent application of Nature lore and woodcraft largely supplies the means and the incentive, while the Promise and the Scout Law give the direction;
That the growth of the Movement both at home and in every civilised foreign country is phenomenal, not merely for its numbers but because it is entirely natural from within and has not been artificially forced from without;
That it is brotherhood — scheme which, in practice, disregards differences of class, creed, country and colour, through the undefinable spirit that pervades it — the spirit of God’s gentleman.
Now these, you will say, are things that you know already, and don’t need to be told. Yes, that is so. But what I want is that you should pass them on to those who don’t know them.
I SEE that I have been quoted as advocating woodcraft as
“the key activity for true Scouting.”
That is correct. But, then, the term “woodcraft” has been explained as meaning to dress up like Red Indians, and that, therefore, I advocate the adoption of “scalp locks and wampum, teepees and feathers.” This is not correct.
I know a little about the Red Indian, and he is not (and was not in his prime) all he is pictured by some who write about him only on his sunny side.
Still, I am not hostile to him. If we pick the plums out of the pudding, we find his romantic story, picturesque dress and customs appeal, in some cases, to the boy, and he can thus be useful to us.
So can his African brother, the Zulu, the Haussa, the Somali and the Arab — all of whom
I know. Nor would I omit the Maori, the Australian black, the South Sea Islander, the Gurkha, the Burman, the Sikh, etc. All may have their bad points, but certainly all have something that we can learn from them.
But woodcraft goes a great deal deeper than the surface attraction or imitation of one or other of the more primitive tribes of men.
It is rather the power that is common to all these people of reading from the book of Nature, and their lines of education are through natural if somewhat primitive methods, which, with us, have been swamped out under the application of artificial steps.
In observation and deduction, in camp skill, in self-support, in communal discipline, in physical self-development (including quickness of eye) and endurance, in simple pleasures and power of enjoyment, there is a good deal that we may, with advantage, learn from the so-called savage.
This same education, as we see it, applied to the civilised man in the case of the explorer, the backwoodsman, and the frontiersman makes him an individual more efficient, more manly and broader in mind and body than the average school-educated member of the crowd in a city.
I HAVE been asked by two different Scoutmasters whether I approve of the “Red Indian or Woodcraft Movement” in the Scouts.
Well, this is, to begin with, a mix-up of terms. There need be, and is, no special “movement” to that end that I know of, though there used to be one in America which was eventually merged in the Boy Scouts.
Woodcraft is, as I have often pointed out, the key activity in Scouting. For this frequent camping, boating, and hiking are essential, coupled with their accessories of pioneering, Nature lore, and backwoodsmanship generally.
Where these are not so easily accessible Red Indian activities can in many cases be a valuable help.
But it does not need a separate movement in our Brotherhood, and, such a step would, for more than one reason, be a bad one.
Personally, I like Red Indian Craft. I was brought up on Catlin and Red Indian stories. It is true that when I came to know the Red Skin personally he was no longer all that history and romance had painted him; so-called civilisation had played havoc with him morally and physically.
At the same time, the picturesque achievements, ritual, and dress of these braves have a strong appeal for boys — aye, and even for men in some cases.
One is told that it is ridiculous for a town-dweller to assume some woodcraft name, and to add a sign drawing of it after his signature in imitation of the Indian way. Well, that is true, but I can assure you that when I was given the title of “The Lone Pine on the Sky-line” by the Red Indian Boy Scouts of America in Olympia the other day, I felt just as thrilled and pleased as when the real Maoris presented me with one of their most treasured war tokens for service in South Africa, or when the Matabele warriors hailed me with the title of “Impeesa” for work done in the field.
So, although it may be merely make-believe, yet, as a variation to the ordinary Scout training. Red Indianism can take hold, and can well be applied, for a period, in a Scout Troop.
But the Scoutmaster should remember that its appeal must not always be relied upon to be a lasting one, and boys are apt to tire of it, or to be ridiculed out of it. Moreover, the Indian training ceases to appeal so strongly when the boy begins to become the young man, and therefore more sensitive to the ridiculous.
Whether its practice is a success or not in the Troop depends very much on the sympathy of the Scoutmaster himself. If he can enjoy Indian Lore and enter into the make-believe, and knows the backwoods and their craft, he will make a big thing of it; but boys are critical beggars, and quickly see through the man who does not believe or who has not “been there.”
A SCOUT officer came to me the other day with a scheme for organising the Movement on a better footing than heretofore. It involved a certain amount of expense in offices, whole-time secretaries, etc. But there was a plan to meet this with an adequate contribution of funds from Local Associations.
An integral part of the idea was the formation of a fully representative committee by general election to manage the whole organisation; the advantage was that it could eliminate the present sporadic and uneven arrangement of Local Associations running their shows on different lines of their own. In this more centralised and ordered system a far more accurate record could be kept of the development, a more regular standard of efficiency among the Troops could be set up, and a better general supervision maintained.
He was going on to describe further advantages of the scheme when I felt bound to save him the trouble, and I burst in on him with the remark, “My dear chap! But you have not got the hang of Scouting. For one thing the Movement extends considerably beyond the United Kingdom. Your elected committee would have to represent all parts of the Empire. How could election supply the expert heads required for the different departments at Headquarters? Local Associations would enjoy subscribing funds to run the office — I don’t think. These are some of the minor material objections. But there is another and far greater consideration that upsets the whole caboodle. WE ARE A MOVEMENT, NOT AN ORGANISATION.”
We work through “love and legislation.” That is where we differ from so many other systems; it may be wrong of us, but that is our way, and, in spite of it, we have somehow managed to do something in the twelve years of our existence.
I have just got back from a pretty big tour of Scouting in other parts of the world, and what I have seen there only confirms me in the conviction that in working through love for the boy, loyalty to the Movement, and comradeship one with another — that is, through the SPIRIT OF SCOUTING — we are on the right line.
It is true that many have not — like my friend — as yet got the hang of that spirit, but, on the other hand, many have, and many more are getting it. The spread of the officers’ training (eighteen authorised camps in the United Kingdom this summer) is helping its development very materially. Our form of administration is one that has its foundations on a very high principle.
A Scout officer (he’s dead now, so I can say it quite openly) once asked me for a tangible reward for the work which, as he put it, he had done for me in his capacity as a Scout official.
I had to explain to him a point which he confessed had never struck him before, and that was that he was working for the boy and not for me.
The suggestion of Scouting has merely been given for the use of those who have the interest of their country and of their kind at heart. The men who have taken it up are not a force of masters and servants, officers and soldiers, but are a team of patriots bound by a common ideal as a Brotherhood, and that ideal is the betterment of the boy.
IN view of a very elaborate curriculum that was recently drawn up by one authority for standardising the tests for badges, I was obliged to criticise it in this sense:
“I hope that the compilers are not losing sight of the aim and spirit of the Movement by making it into a training school of efficiency through curricula, marks, and standards. “Our aim is merely to help the boys, especially the least scholarly ones, to become personally enthused in subjects that appeal to them individually, and that will be helpful to them.
“We do this through the fun and jollity of Scouting; by progressive stages they can then be led on, naturally and unconsciously, to develop for themselves their knowledge. “But if once we make it into a formal scheme of serious instruction for efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of the Scout training, and we trench on the work of the schools without the trained experts for carrying it out.
“We have to remember that the Scoutmasters are voluntary play leaders in the game of Scouting, and not qualified school teachers, and that to give them a hard-and-fast syllabus is to check their ardour and their originality in dealing with their boys according to local conditions.
“I could quite imagine it frightening away many Scoutmasters of the right sort. “The syllabus as suggested seems to go a good deal beyond what is prescribed as our dose in Scouting for Boys; and if the proportions of the ingredients given in a prescription are not adhered to you cannot well blame the doctor if the medicine doesn’t work.
“Our standard for badge earning — as I have frequently said — is not the attainment of a certain level of quality of work (as in the school), but the AMOUNT OF EFFORT
EXERCISED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE. This brings the most hopeless case on to a footing of equal possibility with his more brilliant or better-off brother.
“We want to get them ALL along through cheery self-development from within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without.”
A FURTHER way of discovering activities that will appeal to the boys is for the Scoutmaster to save his brains by using his ears.
When in war-time a soldier-scout is out at night and wants to gain information of the enemy’s moves, he does so to a large extent by listening. Similarly, when a Scoutmaster is in the dark as to what is the inclination or the character of his boys, he can, to a great extent, get it by listening.
Scouting, the journal of the Boy Scouts of America, in its February issue, gives a delightful article on the value to Scoutmasters of listening. Under the suggestive heading “When a hike stubs its toe,” the author urges a Scoutmaster, who is on a hike with his boys and who is cudgelling his brains what to say to them on the subject of observation of nature, to listen to what his boys are talking about and to keep his own mouth shut.
They may be arguing together about a prize fight or something equally remote from the study of trees, but, in listening, he will gain a close insight into the character of each boy and a realisation of the way in which he can best be interested.
So, too, in the Court of Honour debates and Camp Fire talks; if you make listening and observation your particular occupation, you will gain much more information from your boys than you can put into them by your own talk.
Also, when visiting the parents, don’t go with the idea of impressing on them the value of Scouting so much as to glean from them what are their ideas of training their boys and what they expect of Scouting or where they find it deficient.
A few months ago I put forward a small suggestion in the same direction, namely, when short of ideas don’t impose on your Scouts activities which you think they ought to like; but find out from them by listening or by questioning which activities appeal most to them, and then see how far you can get these going — that is, if they are likely to be beneficial to the boys.
So, too, in giving instruction it is better by far to get your boys to debate a point or to ask you questions than to preach information to them. There’s a lot to be got by listening and observing.
The joke about new Scout activities is that they are just like the new toy that daddy brings home for the kiddies: daddy is the first to take to playing with the toy himself.
Well, that is just what it should be in Scouting.
IN the Headquarters Report of one of our Oversea branches it is stated that a large percentage of decrease in numbers of Scouts occurs in about the third month of their service in the Movement, and Scoutmasters are warned to look into their method of handling Scouting to make sure that it meets the expectation of the lads.
I don’t know how far such defection goes on among our Scouts in Britain, but I do know that very much the same thing happened in the army some years ago, when a considerable proporton of the recruits took to deserting after about three months of service.
In my own regiment I looked into the matter from the young soldier’s point of view, and I realised that he had figured to himself all the romance and swagger of thelr soldier’s life before he enlisted, and afterwards found that he was condemned to a long period of drill and discipline in recruit’s clothing and practically imprisoned within the barrack walls.
It was at that time that I tried the experiment of Scouting among young soldiers, and I got them to learn their soldiering for themselves through interest instead of having it dinned into them by interminable drill and routine.
In a very short while desertion ceased and the men became efficient in half the time.
They found that soldiering was, after all, a game instead of an infernal affliction.
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.
FROM different sources I have had interesting reports of very satisfactory results of developing the Patrol system. The sum of the whole thing amounts to this — every individual in the Patrol is made responsible, both in den and in camp, for his definite share in the successful working of the whole.
This incidentally enhances the Leader’s position and responsibilities, and develops the individual interest and civic capability of each member, while it builds a stronger esprit de corps for the group.
The Patrol constitutes itself a Council:
Patrol Leader responsible as Chairman.
|Second||Vice-Chairman and Quartermaster in charge of Stores, etc.|
|No. 1 Scout||Scribe.|
|No. 2 Scout||Treasurer.|
|No. 3 Scout||Keeper of the Den.|
|No. 4 Scout||Games Manager.|
|No. 5 Scout||Librarian.|
The Council considers such subjects as, for instance, which badges the Patrol should specially go in for, where to camp or hike, etc., football and cricket matches, athletic sports and displays, and suggests questions to be considered and ruled upon by the Troop Court of Honour.
The Scribe keeps the Minutes of this Council as record, which are read out at the following meeting as usual to be corrected previous to their signature by the Chairman (the Patrol Leader).
The Scribe also has the duty of keeping a Patrol log in which are recorded each week, briefly, the doings of the Patrol at home or in the field.
The existence of these Patrol Councils, when conducted with proper procedure, at once raises the status of the Troop Court of Honour. If carried out with the correct routine and ceremonial of a business meeting, the Court of Honour becomes a sort of Upper Chamber of considerable importance in the eyes of the boys, as they take a close interest in its findings; and the whole thing becomes a valuable and practical education to them in “civics.”
Then, in camp, a similar delegation of duties to the individual members of the Patrol has an excellent effect both on the success of the outing and in educating the boys.
For instance, the distribution of work may be made on some such lines as these:
|Patrol Leader||In supreme charge, responsible for assigning duties and seeing that they are carried out.|
|Second Leader||Quartermaster in charge of supplies of food and equipment and first aid.|
|No. 1 Scout||Cook, preparing meals.|
|No. 2 Scout||Scribe, keeping accounts of moneys and stores, keeps log of the camp or hike.|
|No. 3 Scout||Pioneer, making drains, bridges, latrines.|
|No. 4 Scout||Sanitation; keeping camp clean, incinerator.|
|No. 5 Scout||Axeman; supplying firewood. Fireman and waterman, has charge of cooking or camp fire and of water supply.”|
IN our blessed climate in the British Isles we have to Be Prepared as much for wet days and long dark evenings as for fine bright ones. Therefore we cannot limit our activities to the out of doors, though naturally this is a special aim for our efforts.
The courts and alleys of the slums of our cities are a depressing sight at the best of times, with their swarms of boys and girls eager and full of life but uncontrolled, unled; where the stronger impose their will and the weaker go to the wall.
Is it to be wondered that, growing up among these drab, squalid surroundings, the youngsters become an unhealthy, selfish, discontented, indisciplined mob in our midst? This nursery of discontent, as I have said, is bad enough at the best of times, but how far worse when the sleet and rain are driving the children into their crowded homes, on the long winter evenings, among over-worked irritable grown-ups, with nothing to do but to grouse and quarrel among themselves.
We all of us know how a wet day is bad enough for the children even in our own homes, and we can to some extent realise what it must be in these poorer dwellings.
Here indeed lies a land of adventure for us in the Scout Movement, for pioneers who care to enter it. Here can we supply hobbies and home work for badge earning that will calm and satisfy many a young life.
An idea seems to have got abroad that at Gilwell we don’t approve generally of badge work. This misunderstanding has probably arisen because in the short time available for our courses we have had to stress the outdoor activities rather than those of indoors. But it should not be inferred from this that we do not recognise the value of badge work. On the contrary, though it may be said by our critics that it is immoral to appeal to the vanity of the boy, nevertheless this has its uses. They may call it immoral but at the same time it would be equally true if they termed it a very usual appeal to human nature.
Through badge work, where applied with discrimination, we can offer to the dullest and most backward boy a handicap that gives him a fair chance with his better-off or more brilliant comrade, and we can put into him ambition and hope, and the sense of achievement which will carry him on to greater ventures.
IF service were made the first aim of our education in place of self, it would command at least equal interest on the part of the pupils, and the result would be a very different world in which to live. The other day I was speaking with an official of the League of Nations, and I asked him,
“How is the old League getting on?” His reply was,
“All right, but it can never function fully until the time arrives when its members are men who have been trained as Boy Scouts.”
This answer rather took me aback, and I said, “Do you mean that they should go into camp and cook their own grub?” He said, “No, not that; but the only school I know of that teaches service as a first rule of life is the Boy Scout Movement.”
“The League should not be a mere committee of representatives of different countries, each watching the interests of his own particular nation, but rather a ‘combine’ of experts in consultation to bring about the good of mankind.”
So here we have another tribute that should inspire our work, since it indicates that we are already on the right track.
Our teaching is mainly through example, and our Scouters give exactly the right lead in their patriotic dedication of self to the service of the boy, solely for the joy of doing it, and without thought of material reward.
The boys are taught, beginning with the elementary good turn to mother on the part of the Wolf Cub, through the daily good turn and preparedness to save life on the part of the Scout, up to the regular practice of public service for others on the part of the Rover. The teaching of service is not merely a matter of teaching in theory, but the development of two distinct phases — viz., the inculcation of the spirit of goodwill; and the provision of opportunity for its expression in practice.
I HAVE often heard it suggested that village Troops are more difficult to keep going than those in towns. In some respects no doubt this is so — especially if they adhere strictly to the same programme of work as do the town Troops.
But living as I do in the country I find there are many possibilities lying open to village Troops which town Troops cannot command. And I believe that many of these possibilities will not only give healthful and educative activities to the boys, but will also be of real advantage to their villages.
For instance, Village Signs. In a previous issue of The Scouter I gave a description of the village sign which we have put in my own particular village as largely the work of the Boy Scouts and their supporters. This has had a very satisfactory success. It has taught the villagers, old and young, a lot of history of the place, and has drawn the attention of tourists and travellers to the interest that the place holds for them. It has established a certain civic pride in their village among the inhabitants, which goes to build up an esprit de corps and closer comradeship among them. Well, I wonder how many troops have so far put up village signs in their neighbourhood? But there’s the idea. It can be done, for it has been done — and with good results.
Then there is nature observation, keeping record of the early building and blooming of trees and wild flowers, the migration of birds, the visits of otters, rats, and foxes, etc. The completion of local maps with latest buildings, etc. The following up of by-paths and rights-of way to see that they are still kept open to the public. The seeking out of ancient remains, of roadways, camps, wells, fossils, etc. The making of an exhibition, or, if possible, a museum of bygone implements, carvings, pictures, pillories and stocks, etc. The keeping up of old local industries, legends, dances, plays, songs, customs, and dishes or drinks. Tracing back the family descent of the older inhabitants. The care of the War Memorial and garden round it, etc. etc.
These and many other matters of local interest can be made objectives for the activity of the boys if the Scoutmaster suggests them (one only at a time, of course), attaching sufficient romance to them to bring about their enthusiastic pursuit. The results can be not only good but very good.
There are tons of history lying buried in every village if only we would dig for it; and there are antiquarian and field societies in every county only too ready to provide capable and enthusiastic helpers.
A little over a century ago villages had their system of paying visits to each other, carrying their totem pole and headed by their band of instruments or singers. This made for a healthy spirit of neighbourliness and courtesy while inculcating a certain pride and esprit de corps in their own village. Something of this kind might well be revived by Scout Troops and would be no small boon to the country.
IN the Scout and Guide Movements we merely lay before the boys and girls the simplest fundamental ethics of religion, and then get them to put these into practice. So simple and fundamental are these that to the superficial critic Scouting appears to be “without religion.” Yet the student and the user of Scouting know otherwise.
I have said we adhere to simple and fundamental ethics; this is partly because these can be the more readily digested by the children (and digestion is essential if food is to do any good), and partly because being at the base of all denominational forms these ethics offend none of the various beliefs with whose members we have to deal.
We put them as Christ taught them in their two simple forms: “Love thy God with all thy heart; And the second is like unto it?
Love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
But it is not enough for children to learn texts merely in the abstract and to repeat them parrot-like on occasion; that would soon pall and would have little effect on their character or their life.
So we put the two commandments into active form.
Love for God. — For inducing a better realisation and love for God we do it to a great extent through investigation of His works. This, it must be remembered, is a step and not a substitute; and the story of David Livingstone tells how valuable a step it can be in laying the right foundation in a young mind.
Nature craft, or the study of Nature in her numerous forms, and the appreciation of all her wonders and beauties, appeals to almost every child. The camp or the outdoor hike brings girls and boys into dose touch with the plants, the animals, the birds, the rocks, and their other comrades as God’s great family.
The mystery of the sea and the heavens, and the fascination of the colouring of the scene, and the modelling of the scenery can all be brought within their ken where formerly they were blind. The door of the young soul is thus opened for the understanding teacher. Even where the out-of-doors observation is difficult, there are new wonders to be investigated in every inch of our own anatomy, the knowledge of which (again at the hands of an understanding teacher) can be of infinite value to both in showing the Creator’s marvellous work, in developing a deeper reverence for this body that has been lent to us, and in showing how it should be cared for and developed and reproduced as a part of the performance of one’s duty to God.
Love for Neighbour. — In promoting the second commandment, love for one’s neighbour, we urge our Scouts and Guides to express this in active form by doing, even in an elementary way, good service for others.
The daily good turn, without desire for reward, which grows by progressive stages till it becomes a habit of conduct, goes on till it involves sacrifices in time or money or pleasures, even to the extent of involving danger to the life of the performer.
We teach the boy that a gift is not his till he has expressed his gratitude for it. His attitude to God is, therefore, thankfulness for benefits received; and his method for expressing this is through service, in behalf of God, to his fellow-men.
This repression of self and development of that love, which means God within, brings a total change of heart to the individual and with it the glow of true Heaven. It makes a different being of him. The question becomes for him not what can I get, but what can I give in life.
No matter what may be the ultimate form of religion that he takes up, the lad will have grasped for himself its fundamentals, and knowing these through practising them he becomes a true Christian with a widened outlook of kindliness and sympathy for his brother men. Otherwise, we know too well that there are dangers in ignoring the psychological side and overstressing the theological and spiritual with children.
We may gain the few but we may lose the many. We may bore them while under our hand so that the moment they are free they abjure religion altogether. We may be manufacturing prigs and humbugs; we may be promoting superstition rather than faith. But on the foundation prepared as I have described, the subsequent building of religion in its approved form is comparatively easy; indeed, it follows almost automatically where well directed.
When we have a leaven of citizens of that mark in our nation, bringing the Christian practice into their daily occupation, there will be less of the narrow class and sectional differences and more of the wide-hearted kindly brotherhood, so that even national patriotism will not be the highest point of a man’s aim, but active goodwill for, and cooperation with, his fellow-men about the world as being all children of the one Father.
From this should ensue the reign of peace upon earth.
I WAS invited the other day to contribute to a discussion on the pros and cons of capital punishment, and in my remarks I suggested that I could support the death penalty with great heartiness were more discrimination exercised in its infliction, so as to ensure the noose going on to the right neck. The average murderer was born into this world with the propensities and abilities of the average child. The people who in my opinion deserve to be hanged were the parents who neglected their responsibility to give him a right and healthy mind in a healthy body, the teacher who gave him instruction in the three R’s in place of education in character and self-control, the minister who omitted to implant in him the practice of his religion, and the newspaper editor who developed his morbid and salacious tastes by pandering to them.
WHEN I was in Tunis a good many years ago I made the acquaintance of a wonderful brotherhood, the White Brothers of the Sahara. The late Cardinal Lavigerie had organised them. They were a kind of revival of the Knights Crusaders. Recruited mainly from the best families in France these young men were a military force of Monks, missionaries prepared to fight in defence of the peaceful folk of their faith if need be. Their territory bordered on that of the Senussi, a race of armed fanatics. Thus, like was set to meet like. The fact that they were warriors as well as monks gave them a double bond of brotherhood where they gave themselves voluntarily, in an ascetic law and dangerous life, to the service of others and to the service of each other. They were a living example of what is possible on a small scale in the direction of goodwill and co-operation, which we want to bring about more generally in the world to-day.
The White Brothers, like the Scouts, were a movement rather than an organisation. That is, they came into it of their own desire to do something for their kind without thought of reward. So long as that spirit is there the Brotherhood is all right. But, mind you, self slips in unexpectedly sometimes; maybe it takes the form of a feeling that one is blessed with a gift for making a specially fine troop, or one is keen to show one’s patriotism to be greater than one’s neighbour’s; or one rather fancies oneself in a backwoodsman’s kit, and so on.
Harmless weaknesses, but giving expression to Self.
Search yourself and see that you are free from it. Otherwise there is bound to follow some little sense of rivalry, some little difference of ideals with your neighbours, from which springs, if not envy or dislike, at least aloofness. In other words, not quite the right spirit is engendered.
Brothers we are to our boys, brothers to each other we must be, if we are going to do any good. Only the other day I saw a letter from a Scouter who had been having a hard struggle to carry on his Troop single-handed in a poor slum, and his spirit had been depressed not by his difficulties but by his “utter isolation and the very little spirit” of fellowship “shown by those around him who might” have given a helping hand.
Whose fault it was I don’t know, but such aloofness or jealousy could not exist where there is the true ideal of brotherhood. What we need, and what, thank God, we’ve got in most places in our movement, is not merely the spirit of good-natured tolerance but of watchful sympathy and readiness to help one another. We not only need it but we’ve “got to have it” if we are going to teach our boys by the only sound way, that is through our own example, that greatest of principles — goodwill and co-operation.
I HAVE been asked exactly what this part of the Scout and Guide Promise implies, especially for those overseas.
We have heard of the disintegration of the British Empire that is going on owing to the different Dominions becoming entirely self-governing nations. I think this thought is generally fathered by the wish of some disgruntled foreigner.
One foreigner at any rate saw otherwise, namely the American writer, Emerson, when he prophetically said of Great Britain: “I see her not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark days before, indeed with a kind of instinct that she sees a little better in a cloudy day, and that, in a storm of battle and calamity, she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon.”
In place of becoming disintegrated by decentralisation, the Empire is becoming closer knit through mutual interests and by improved communications. Every day its distant parts are being brought nearer together through modem developments, so that where it took months to communicate by sea, it now takes days by air and less than seconds by wireless. My own belief is that we are seeing only the beginning of the Empire coming into its full strength and power as a beneficent organisation for ensuring peace in the world.
We see around us small countries, encouraged by nationalist sentiment, claiming their independence and self-determination, with what result remains to be seen; but in many cases their jealousy or fear of their neighbours demands their being ready to defend themselves at any moment, and no common tie exists between them to bring them to peace and real power. But with the British States it is different. There is no such jealousy. Though independent in their administration, they are interdependent in commerce. Wars in the past have put to the test their self-sacrificing loyalty to one another, and to the mother country. That mother country fostered them until they could run alone, so that now, while able to manage their own affairs, and to make their own life like sons in a family, they still preserve the bond of blood and still look to the King as their joint head.
So long as they do this they will be a commonwealth of federal nations distributed over every part of the globe and having a joint power such as never before existed in history. But it is a power of which the races of the world need have no fear. It will be a power for the peace and prosperity of all. As a “nation of shopkeepers,” war is not in our line, so “to do our duty to the King,” as enjoined on Scouts and Guides, means that Scouters and Guiders should inculcate this idea of the British Commonwealth into the oncoming generation in our respective countries, and what is more, we should urge them in their turn to impress it on their children for the good of all.
If we look forward we can realise that our million Scouts and Guides in existence to-day represent probably another million who have passed through the training, and that they are the prospective fathers and mothers of the next generation and will be bringing up some two or three more million boys and girls within the next few years on the same line of thought and action as their own.
Thus we have a wonderful opportunity and a great responsibility. Therefore we must so shape our training with the right vision that we shall not be content merely to have smart Troops and temporary success, but we must be sure that the highest ideals have been actually inculcated, and that the boys and girls really bring a Christian spirit into their daily life and practices; that they overcome selfishness with service, and that they substitute goodwill and co-operation for the two prevalent states of narrow patriotism and jealousies.
ALMOST every night for the past few weeks Scouts and Rovers in twos and threes have been camping at my home in their hikes about the country. It is a real joy to me to see them and to note their various forms of camp kit and cooking, and their ingenious gadgets which show the true backwoodsmanship that is developing more widely among them.
When one looks back twenty years there was no such thing among our boys, and now already it is becoming widespread. If we Scouters did nothing else than promote this side of Scouting it would be worth while. Look at the open air, the health, the enjoyment of life, the happy friendships, the appreciation of Nature, the knowledge of our country, the self-reliance and resourcefulness, and the many other attributes that camping brings in its train.
I have noted more than one Troop camped in the neighbourhood as sending out two boys at a time to practise hiking and camping for the night on their own, away from the standing camp.
I have lately had with me Scouters from other countries who so far had believed that nowhere could their perfectly organised camps be surpassed. It has been amusing to watch doubt creeping over them as they saw these sturdy, keen-eyed youngsters set to work to put up their little tents, to make their cooking fire with a very few dry sticks, and to rig up their various little camp brooms, pot-hangers, plate-racks, grease pits, and so, on, with nobody to direct them and ignorant of all idea of contractors doing their cooking and tentage for them. It has been an eye-opener to our friends, and they have gone away with a new impression of the British boy and of Scouting.
Go on with it, Scouters, it is a grand development.
I AM afraid I must appear to many Scouters to be very stuffy and unresponsive to their various requests, but I believe they would appreciate my difficulty and sympathise with me if they took over my postbag for a day.
As an example I jotted down this morning the subject of each letter in turn as I opened it.
The list may amuse you.
- A former Segt. in my Regiment asks me to help him get work.
- The Grammar School at R. invites me to give an address.
- 48th Hussars want me to preside at Dinner.
- A correspondent claims to have originated Scouting.
- Request to advertise the S.A.C. Dinner.
- An author wants a “brief account” of my life.
- County Commissioner wants me to approve a step that has been turned down by Headquarters.
- Govt. Museum wants me to organise visits of Scouts and Guides.
- Girl Scouts of America want my opinion on a Memorial.
- Communist writes derogatory remarks on me.
- Sporting Journal wants an article of 1,000 words.
- Invitation to visit Rosemary Home.
- Drawing of a Wolf Cub wanted for making a statuette.
- Editor of the Scout wants an article on Hobbies.
- Blind Institute wants me to fill up a Questionnaire.
- Newspaper wants an opinion on Military Procession for Armistice Day.
- Suggestions wanted for raising funds for South African Scouts.
- Rover asks advice about getting work.
- School at A. wants me to present prizes.
- Two requests for Autographs.
- Chief Commissioner Wales suggests ten days’ motor tour of Scouts.
- Invitation to join in forming an Arbitration League.
- Request for four drawings for Art Gallery.
- Article for Scouter wanted to-morrow.
(So I send this in.)
I HAVE lately been renewing my youthful experiences in seeing my boy pass up from his Preparatory to his Public School, and it brought back memories of half a century ago when I left my happy nest in the small school where I was a somebody to find myself a stranger and a worm under the foot of a mass of bigger boys in the big community at Charterhouse. The Master and Dame whom I had left had been father and mother to me; the new masters were many, and in an orbit far above me, overlooking a crowd of boys, assisted by energetic but unsympathetic monitors.
Had my translation to the bigger school been optional to me I should never have gone there, or at any rate I should not have stopped there long.
Well, I can’t help thinking it is rather like this, in some cases, where Wolf Cubs go up into their Scout Troop.
For very similar reasons too often they have no desire to go up, or if they go they slack off and leave the Troop.
It is a point which Scoutmasters and their Assistants and, particularly, their Patrol Leaders should study; and they should aim to make things easy for the young Tender-foot. A little extra sympathy and help to him just at first repays itself in stopping leakage, and is after all part of their job as brother Scouts. I only make this suggestion as a reminder, for I have heard of cases where it is needed.
I REMEMBER how my education in Greek was a dead washout because they tried to teach me the grammar first, with all its intricacies and uninteresting detail, before showing me anything of the beauty of the language itself. In the same way a youngster who is anxious to draw is often put off by having to go through a course of making straight lines and curves up to the required standard and drawing blocks and cubes, etc. Whereas to the young mind eager to express itself one can do better, I think, by encouraging a boy to paint a volcano in eruption, if you want to encourage his colour vision, or to draw any incident that interests him.
The inclination to draw lies there in every human mind, as one sees from the Bushman drawings in caves all over South Africa. Wonderful pictures, full of life and colour, drawn by wild creatures so near to animals that they have neither dwellings nor coherent language of their own.
But self-expression is one of the results that can be got by encouraging drawing, however crude, on the part of the youngster. With a sympathetic critic or instructor, he can then be led on to recognise beauty in colour or in form, to realise that even in sordid surroundings there may yet be light and shadow, colour and beauty.
A further stage in his education can be brought about by getting him to practise mental photography, that is to notice the details of a scene or incident or person, and fix these in his mind, and then to go and reproduce them on paper.
This teaches observation in the highest degree. Personally I have found by practice that one can develop a certain and considerable power in this direction.
Apart from the quick observation or snapshotting details, I learned from a Japanese artist the idea of sitting down and gazing at, say, a view for a considerable time, noting colour and form, in general and in detail, and having got it fully impressed on the mind, of taking it home and developing the picture. This I termed “time exposure.”
If this art of snapshotting and time exposure is encouraged without any idea of making artists, it can have great success in developing observation, imagination, self-expression, sense of beauty and therefore a heightened form of enjoyment of life.
THERE are few who can deny that Sunday is the most viceful day of the whole week. In the Scouts we have it in our power, when in camp, to make it the most uplifting day. If camp is within reach of a church we naturally take the boys there in the morning, or have what most of us Scouters and Scouts enjoy — a Scouts’ service on our own.
After that, not a loafing afternoon, please. That is where the harm comes in. Let us have a definite Nature bike by Patrols or otherwise, followed by a general pow-wow, a description of what they have observed, giving an opportunity for a Nature talk by the Scoutmaster to wind up.
In the evening a jolly camp-fire sing-song, winding up on the right note with a good popular hymn or two.
I heard this week from a clergyman complaining that Scouting on Sunday takes boys away from church and Sunday school.
We must avoid doing this, but provided that care is taken to give an adequate substitute, I am not sure that a boy does not imbibe personally and more directly a clearer impression of God where the wonders and beauties of Nature are pointed out to him, and eventually he gains a better conception of his duty to God and to his neighbour.
While observing Sunday we have to remember that there is always the danger that if we make it too totally unlike a weekday, the boys are apt to think that religious thought and action is for Sundays only — a fatal error.
A bishop — who, by the way, is also a keen Scoutmaster — was recently asked his opinion about people playing golf on Sunday; and he said that in his church he was always glad to see men come in flannels or sports clothes, ready to go and take healthy exercise after they had attended their service. He held that God’s day was not intended to be a day of idleness nor of mourning.
On the whole, a Troop camp is where the Scoutmaster gets his real chance of training the boy. He can have led up to it through the winter season by taking the different practices and activities that go to make up a successful camp; but when in camp he gets into closer touch with his boys individually, and they with each other; they get into touch with Nature, too, in the happiest way, and there begins the real school of the out-of-doors, where all the best in the future man’s character can be brought out and developed.
Responsibility and initiative in practice, two of the most important points in character and the most difficult to teach, have here their fuller opportunity.
I THINK we are happier people now than we were a few years ago. We are more generally getting enjoyment out of life, largely thanks to the development of transport in increased railway facilities, motor ‘buses, charabancs, cars and bicycles, which have brought gardencities and the country and the seaside within reach of town workers. And the workers are getting better pay than they used to.
Moreover, a great amount of the enjoyment consists in out-of-door activities which are healthful to body and mind.
But the fly in the ointment that I am afraid of is that with the rush of people to this enjoyment many may be frittering away their savings on their pleasures without looking forward and preparing for the pains that come later with age.
Thanks to a newspaper having stated figuratively (and rightly) that I am one of the richest men in the world, many people have taken it literally. Consequently I am saddened by a flow of appeals for monetary help.
The women who apply are to a large extent retired governesses and sick-nurses, while the men are almost invariably old soldiers or constables.
It is perfectly impossible for one to help them to any material extent. The evil is hard to cure.
But we Scouters and Guiders can do a great deal to prevent the recurrence of this unhappy condition in the next generation if we only preach and get them to practise economy and thrift.
I gave a lift the other day to a young seaman of the Royal Navy, whom I overtook on the road, and in reply to my questions he said that he had served for six years and had enjoyed the service; had travelled all over the world at Government expense; had had a taste of active service in China; and was putting by a good sum to set himself up in civil life when he left the Navy.
He confirmed of the Navy what I already knew of the Army, namely that an ordinary seaman or trooper can usually save £30 a year and upwards during the period of his service – if he would only think of it.
So, too, in very many walks of life. If a man would only determine while yet young, and with a good earning capacity, to save every penny and not fritter away money on things that won’t help him afterwards, he would be able to set himself up in life with a fair provision for old age.
Going into camp and (among three hundred Troops this year) tours to foreign countries, have happily now become a general practice with Scouts. To do this they have learned the art of earning and saving up funds for the purpose.
This is a great step and can be made of greater value still if it teaches them the art of similarly earning and saving up for their personal well-being later on.
No general rule for doing so could be laid down, but Scouters could get it practised according to local conditions and it will mean a great deal for the future of their boys.
FOR an open Troop, or for Troops in camp, I think the Scouts’ Own should be open to all denominations, and carried on in such manner as to offend none. There should not be any special form, but it should abound in the right spirit, and should be conducted not from any ecclesiastical point of view, but from that of the boy. Everything likely to make an artificial atmosphere should be avoided. We do not want a kind of imposed Church Parade, but a voluntary uplifting of their hearts by the boys in thanksgiving for the joys of life, and a desire on their part to seek inspiration and strength for greater love and service for others. A Scouts’ Own should have as big an effect on the boys as any service in Church, if in conducting the Scouts’ Own we remember that boys are not grown men, and if we go by the pace of the youngest and most uneducated of those present. Boredom is not reverence, nor will it breed religion.
To interest the boys, the Scouts’ Own must be a cheery and varied function. Short hymns (three verses are as a rule quite enough — never more than four); understandable prayers; a good address from a man who really understands boys (a homely “talk” rather than an address), which grips the boys, and in which they may laugh or applaud as the spirit moves them, so that they take a real interest in what is said. If a man cannot make his point to keen boys in ten minutes he ought to be shot! If he has not got them keen, it would be better not to hold a Scouts’ Own at all.
I AM sure it is a good thing to do a bit of play-acting when you are young. At school I was encouraged to do a lot of it and I have thanked my stars ever since that I did so.
For one thing it taught me to learn yards of stuff by heart; also it accustomed me to speak clearly and without nervousness before a lot of people: and it gave me the novel joy of being someone else for a time.
It led one to know the beauties of Shakespeare and other authors, to feel, while expressing them, the emotions of joy and sorrow, love and sympathy.
Above all it gave one the pleasure and happiness of giving pleasure to other people at times when they needed it.
For instance, in the deadly hot season in India when cholera was about, the Colonel of my Regiment saw that something was needed to cheer the men against the nervy depression which came of seeing their pals suddenly snatched away by death. Therefore he encouraged the officers to keep getting up theatricals, concerts, and varied shows of that kind in order to get them to laugh and so to take their minds off the terror.
Someone has written: “When I become Archbishop of Canterbury I shall insist on every candidate for Holy Orders going through a course of acting, and acting a performance before the examiners prior to being ordained. In this way I should ensure his being able to grip his congregation, to sense their thoughts, and to put such deeper meaning into his words as will move their feelings and be an inspiration to them.”
The practice of acting undoubtedly helps you tremendously in the event of your having to speak in public, and this is valuable to every man. Even if you don’t go into Parliament you will at any rate have to return thanks one day at your wedding breakfast.
Play-acting ought to form part of every boy’s education.
So for these and many reasons I am glad to see that more and more Scouts are earning the Entertainer’s Badge. More Troops are giving entertainments in the winter months and are thus not only earning satisfactory additions to their hinds, but are giving good training to their boys and, moreover, are giving pleasure and happiness to other people.
AT the risk of being a bore I would like to point out once again a direction in which we want to progress. Provided we don’t aim too high or go too fast or too damn seriously, there is one job which we CAN do through our boys.
It is the great little service of happifying. This old English word is one to carry in our minds in training our boys — more especially at this Christianising season of the year. If a boy only makes himself wear a cheery countenance in, the street it is something. (Don’t forget he gains it from the example of his Scoutmaster.) It happifies or brightens up numbers of his passers by, among the depressing hundreds of glum faces that they otherwise meet. The glum or the bright is equally infectious. To get the boy to do this as a step to greater happifying services is a thing worth trying for. The desire to happify once instilled into the character of the boy is going to make all the difference in his relations with his fellow-men, and in his attitude to the community in after-life. It will make him the “happy, helpful citizen” whom we need, and this, after all, is the real aim of our endeavour in Scouting.
“I’m Out of Patience with You”
THAT’S a good old English phrase when you come to analyse it — seldom heard nowadays except when Mrs. Washtub is smacking her boy. But it means a lot — and patience is a bad thing to be out of.
If you’re “out of” food you starve; if you’re “out of” temper you make a fool of yourself; but if you’re “out of” patience you may ruin your career.
I have known lots of men who ruined their career through drink, through deceit, through wine, and through women; but I have known more who have done so through want of patience.
For instance, it is just as difficult to be patient in the army under a nagging commanding officer or non-commissioned officer as it is in civil life to keep from giving a puck under the ear to a sneering foreman or a cynical boss. But it has got to be done if you mean to get on. So, too, with your own neighbours, or with the fellow working under you, or your stupidest Scout. In dealing with such characters the best step to gaining patience with them is to act on the old phrase, “See the worst but look at the best.” Don’t expect to find any man perfect — he is bound to have defects. Any ass can see the bad points in a man. The thing is to discover his good points and keep these uppermost in your mind so that they gradually obliterate his bad ones. If you can make this your habit it will enable you to stand a lot from your foreman, you will be able to suffer the fools and bores more gladly among your acquaintances, and you will be able yourself unmoved to stand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
THE Chief Guide and I, with our youngsters, took a delightful holiday In August in Jam-Roll (the Jamboree car) and “Eccles” (the caravan) with six lightweight tents.
We wandered and camped in Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Devon, and we realised once again that England has beauties and interests quite as good as any you can find abroad. Those splendid open downs of Mariborough and the Mendips with their wonderful ancient British relics, like Silbury and Avebury and Stonehenge; the cliffs and crags of the
Cheddar Gorge and its stalactite caves, the lovely old-world villages like Sandy Lane and
Lacock; the splendid Elizabethan great houses like those at Corsham, Montacute and
Cranbome, with their treasures in pictures and furniture of bygone days; cathedrals like Wells, Exeter and Salisbury; and ruins like Glastonbury with all their glory and history; then the setting of the whole, in typical English scenery in August, could not be surpassed in any land.
Of course the weather wasn’t all sunshine — it seldom is in the English August; but it was like shell fire, when you see it from indoors it looks bad, but when you are out in it you don’t notice it so much.
And then when, after a few days of gale and rain squalls under leaden clouds, you get a glorious cloudless day how much more fully you appreciate the sun and all his warmth and glory — especially when he dries your sodden dishcloths.
Indeed the glorious air of the Mendips was all the more exhilarating because it was not deadly hot.
The whole outing was perfect, and what added to my particular enjoyment of it was — well, it is like the story of the two American ladies (N.B. told to me by an American) who motored through the country, both of them chewing gum heartily the while.
One of them, pouching her gum for a moment in her cheek, exclaimed, “This scenery is perfectly lovely!” To which the other responded: “Yes — it sure adds so.” But it was the gum which mainly appealed all the time.
So while I admired and enjoyed the scenery the thing which “added so” to my enjoyment was the frequent sight of Scout or Guide Camps, and, best of all, of hefty sun-tanned Rovers in ones and twos hiking through the country.
One couldn’t help feeling that if Scouting had done nothing else, it had, at any rate, encouraged the development of the out-of-door healthy man.
But these fellows were all going a bit further and evidently drinking in the beauties and wonders of our country, developing clean healthiness of mind as well as of body, together with happy comradeships.
It was very good to see. Yes — “it sure added”!
I am confident that you Scouters and your Scouts little realise what a great good turn you were doing to me when you gave me “Jam-Roll” and “Eccles.”
I WRITE this in a nursing home. I call it a “beauty parlour” because I am in it for a tiny operation to my face, namely, to remove a little pimplet from my nose. Sounds ridiculous, but let me warn you against following in my footsteps.
Have you ever thrown your thoughts back to recall what period in your life you would like to live over again? In my case, when I do so, “memory keeps on a-takin’ of me back to the days” (as Bill Hugley in Rosebud of Stinging Nettle Farm used to say) when I was serving in Rhodesia against the Matabele. Not exactly a Club armchair by a blazing fire was that experience! All one possessed in the shape of change of clothes, toilet apparatus, food, cooking utensils, maps, office correspondence, bedding, tentage, arms and ammunition, was carried on your person and your one horse; therefore, it was considerably limited. For instance, my tent consisted by day of my coat poised over a thornbush; by night it was the blanket which had served as a “numnah” under the saddle of my horse’s back during the day, and was therefore both wet and horse-scented (strongly) when I came to wear it at night. The nights were cold and frosty, though the days were baking hot under a blazing sun in a parched and waterless land.
Yet, I LOVED IT ALL. Thereby hangs my story. In that climate lips and hands got badly chapped, eyes bloodshot, and those bits of face which failed to secure the shade of your hat-brim — namely nose-tips, cheek-bones, and earlobes — got flayed into sores by the sun. The common remedy for this would have been cold cream or vaseline, but, as we did not carry many such cosmetics in our kit, we had to content ourselves with a finger-load of axle grease out of the wheel of the nearest wagon. This stuff, little distinguishable from boot-blacking in appearance and consistency, did not tend to make beauties of us, though it may have alleviated our sufferings. It was bad enough to suffer then, but it does seem hard luck that in our old age those who thought they had successfully come through the sun-burning ordeal should now find themselves liable to its after-effects !
A quite harmless-looking little spot appears on one’s proboscis. Grog blossom? No, just a little spot which on closer inspection displays a tiny pinprick of a hole in the centre through which from time to time every drop of blood in your body seems anxious to make its escape. Sometimes but a few drops ooze out: at others there is quite a little rivulet, generally when you are dressing for a dinner party or are in a hurry to catch a train.
But enough of this disgusting story, which I only quote to explain my reason for being here in this nursing home. A little operation upon my nose (akin to inserting a cork-screw into a cork) is the only way to cure the infliction. When you remember that every nerve in your body seems to have a rallying-place in the tip of your nose you can realise that the operation is not one to be sought after without an anaesthetic. So I have had all the fun of a first-class major operation for merely a tiny pimple, but it was interesting to taste the terrifying experience which this involves. Arriving at the home on the previous evening, I was shown my bed and told to undress and get into it — at six o’clock in the evening, I trouble you! Then came a nurse who took my temperature and pulse and recorded them. Then another who wanted the name and address of my nearest of kin and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, in case of urgency their telephone number! Then entered a surgical nurse warning me that at 7.45 the next morning she would inject morphia into me, and place me on the trolley ready for removal to the operating theatre; the operation would be carried out at 8.30. Gosh! She had scarcely turned her back before in came a doctor who again examined my pulse and heart, lungs and blood-pressure. Another knock at the door, and I was quite prepared to see the undertaker with a yard measure, but to my great relief it was the night nurse with hot-water bottle and a glass of milk, to tuck me up for the night.
It was only when left to myself that I began to hear the music incidental to this beauty parlour into which I had let myself. I soon realised that, besides having a front room in a narrow but much-frequented street, the home was at the junction of a cross-street; consequently every car approaching from each of the four directions made its presence known by letting fly its hooter, siren or horn. I had never known before that such variety of these existed in our motor trade.
There were, moreover, other sounds to swell the chorus in that echoing street. There were horse-drawn vehicles with rackety wheels and clappity-clopping horses; there were motorbikes poppeting along like machine-gun fire; there were steam-lorries puffeting along with a thundering rumble that shook the house.
At a moment long after midnight when I thought all was still there came the sounds of revelry by night. A party of roysterers came singing down the street, and then paused for an hour or so below my window to argue some such point as the possibilities before the Round Table Conference. On breaking up with all loyalty they made an effort to sing “God save the King,” but it trailed off into “We won’t go home till morning.” And morning was already at hand, for the market carts came clattering by, and the milk vans with their rattling cans proclaimed the day.
Soon followed my promised itinerary — but the blessed slumber which had been promised as the result of the morphia injection did not materialise, because by that time the orchestra outside had been supplemented by a pneumatic drill or a riveting machine on a new building hard by. Then the trolley ride through passages and up in the lift, till it ran alongside “the table” in the theatre with the doctors and nurses to welcome me.
The speeches were neither long nor interesting. “Hold this between your teeth and breathe quite easily” — and the last thing I knew was a hand gently stroking its way over my forehead, as instinct told me, to lift an eyelid and see if I was safely off. A lovely sleep!
Somebody is pulling my feet into a more comfortable position in the bed. Someone else had evidently hit me his hardest bang on the nose; I didn’t care, I would just go on sleeping — though my mouth was dry as a kiln — and pop-pop-pop, the sweet music was at it again. Yes – I was back in bed again — very sleepy — all was over — just have another doze. “Burbpurp” goes a motor horn; don’t care! “Oompah — ompah — pahp!” Eh? Yap-ping dog — carpenter sawing — horse cloppity-clop-clop — two boys carrying on a conversation as they go along opposite sides of the street — Keek-keek (motor whistle) and the whining groan of a starting car — kop-kop of a carpenter’s hammer; these are the chief soloists in an orchestra of roaring, whirling traffic noise. BANG, BANG (Pistol? No, back-fire!), and so to sleep again. But all things come to an end. Human nature can stand a good deal. The good-natured negro who lay on his back in the sun and allowed flies of every description to come and walk about on his tummy was at last aroused out of his complacency by an exceedingly discourteous wasp who came along, landed on him, and without any provocation stung him. The negro thus roused sang out — “That lets you out! Get along the whole lot of you. I’ll have nothing more to do with you.” And he got up and went about his business.
Well, my lethargic enjoyment (?) of my concert came also to an abrupt end. I thought I had heard about every kind of noise that could arise in one street when suddenly there blared out with a crash the sound of a loud piano-organ, with a drum and tambour accompaniment, playing jazz-music for a raucous-voiced vocalist. This put the lid on. I sprang up and rang for the nurse to put a stop to the whole concert; and from that moment I started into life again.
Though I had only a limited field of view owing to the bandages over my face I took up my pen and paper with the intention of writing my Outlook. But I have already used a lot of space in telling you all this, so I can only add this moral to it. Use safety first, and when in the tropics give your nose a “sheltered occupation” if you can. And, if you MUST go into a nursing home, Be Prepared for terrifying preparations but blessed results. Also be content, if not insistent, to take a back room in a cul-de-sac.
Yes, Scouting is a game. But sometimes I wonder whether, with all our pamphlets, rules, disquisitions in the Scouter, conferences, and training classes for Commissioners and other Scouters, etc., we may not appear to be making of it too serious a game. It is true that these things are all necessary and helpful to men for getting the hang of the thing, and for securing results. But they are apt to grow into big proportions (like one’s own children or one’s own mannerisms) without our noticing it, when all the time it is very patent to those who come suddenly upon it from outside.
Thus this phalanx of instructional aids appears terribly formidable to many a Scouter, while to outsiders having a look before they leap into our vortex it must in many cases be directly deterring. When you come to look on it as something formidable, then you miss the whole spirit and the whole joy of it; your boys catch the depression from you, and Scouting, having lost its spirit, is no longer a game for them.
It becomes like the game of polo which was suggested to me by a General under whom I served. A melancholy occasion had arisen when the Troops in the garrison were ordered to go into mourning. This happened on the very day that an important polo match was to be played. So I was sent as a deputation to the General to ask whether the match would have to be cancelled. The General, with a twinkle in his eye, replied: “I think if you played very slowly and used a black ball it might meet the occasion.”
Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their individuality and initiative. No — it is a jolly game in the out of doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.
Many young men are put off Scoutmastering by the fear that they have got to be Admirable Crichtons and capable of teaching their boys all the details for the different Badge tests; whereas their job is to enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods and of gaining results.
So may I urge upon Scouters that the more important quest for 1931 is to ginger up the joyous spirit of Scouting through camping and hiking, not as an occasional treat in intervals of parlour or parade Scouting, but as the habitual form of training for their boys — and incidentally for themselves.
SIR GEORGE NEWMAN said recently: “National health is not dependent on doctors and nurses, but on the people themselves.” This impels me to remind Scouters that that is what we believe in our Movement, and, seeing the lamentable state of health of the nation as revealed by last year’s reports, let us press on with our effort to strengthen some portion at least of the oncoming generation:
- By encouraging open-air activities and fresh-air “fiendishness”;
- By making the boys wise on questions of feeding, clothing, teeth, diet, personal hygiene, continence, temperance, etc.;
- By encouraging development of body and training in physical fitness through games and athletics;
- By making each boy feel that he is a responsible being, and responsible therefore for the care of his body and health; that it is part of his duty to God to develop his body to the best extent.
By so doing we have it in our power to do a work of national value.
UP here among the Swiss mountains, in the green valley of Kandersteg, one is very remote from the fuss and hurry of the world. Yet, from where I sit in the flower-decked balcony of this Châlet, I can see the flags of twenty nations waving above the tents, and the camp fires of some three thousand young men gathered there.
Rover Scouts they are: a brigade, as it were, of storm-troops of the larger army of over two million Boy Scouts. Their arms are alpenstocks, their discipline that of goodwill from within; their service consists not so much in fitting themselves for war as in developing the spirit of universal peace.
The days are long over when Scouting was looked upon as a useful game for keeping English boys out of mischief; parents and public have come to see in it a practical process of education for the use of both sexes; with the wider growth of its Brotherhood abroad, its possibilities in the direction of human fellowship for developing the spirit of international goodwill are now becoming generally recognised.
To those who witnessed the Scout Jamboree at Birkenhead in 1929 the coming together of some fifty thousand boys of various nationalities was something of a revelation. But the Rover Moot, if it included smaller numbers, was not a whit less impressive, seeing that it showed not merely a mass of boys linked in friendly comradeship but a growing band of young men who, within the next few years, will be the men of affairs in their respective countries.
Here they were gathered in conference devoting their hard-earned time and money to considering ways and means of developing Scouting generally, and their service for the community in particular. This they did in no spirit of unctuous priggishness or youthful superiority. Far from it; they discussed their subjects in all earnestness in the great conference pavilion every day, but in the huge Camp Fire circle at night they were the jolliest specimens of jovial boyhood that one could wish to see. Never, during the whole fortnight in camp, was there a suspicion of trouble or anything but cheery brotherly feeling among the many and varied elements which went to compose the gathering: Scandinavians, Romanians, Japanese, Hungarians, Australians, Siamese, West Indians, East Indians, French, Cingalese, Poles, Armenians, etc. — a polyglot lot, of good friends for all that.
To myself, possibly, the most inspiring part of their varied programme was when one saw the endless succession of these splendid specimens of the young manhood of all nations setting out in comradeship together with heavy packs on their backs and ice-axe in hand to tackle the neighbouring mountains. The Moot might have been held with greater convenience in any large city, but this valuable side of it, namely the breeding of mutual friendship in healthy sport, would have been lost.
Aye, and something more and above all price, namely, the higher tone of thought which could not fail to have inspired the least imaginative among them in those wonderful surroundings of mountain scenery. Here, among the eternal snows, face to face with Nature in its grandest and most sublime form, they must have felt themselves in closer touch with the Almighty Creator, and in a new atmosphere, far above the man-made jazz and vulgar squalor of the town.
Yes, a wide and promising field lies yet before the Scout Movement.
I HAVE been GLAD to see a good many reports of bad camping by Groups who should by this time know better. I say I am glad because it means to me that Commissioners are now really looking into the camping that goes on in then districts, where formerly such inspections were more sketchy and indulgent. The fact that the efforts of Scout-masters to have their camps well organised are appreciated by Commissioners cannot fail to encourage them, and I am glad to note that these form the very large majority. I have every hope that the reports at the end of next season will show very few unsatisfactory camps among the many hundreds which will have been held.
At the same time it is a little disappointing to find that several Scoutmasters are still ignorant of the first principles of camping. The reports received too often speak of “unsuitable sites,” “bad condition of latrines,” “bad food storage,” “untidy uniforms in the town,” etc.
All this means, either that we are getting a big lot of new hands among the Scouters, willing but as yet ignorant, or that we have still a number of them who have not made use of the Gilwell training or our handbooks on camping. In either case such Scouters should realise that we are not pernickety, nor do we want for our own amusement to see clean camps; they should understand the fact that they have a big responsibility to the parents on their shoulders for keeping the boys healthy in camp, as well as instructed in cleanliness and good order.
LAST month I went to Cambridge University at the invitation of the Vice-Chancellor, to receive the award of Honorary Doctorship of Law, which had been conferred upon me by the Senate.
A Banquet was the first item I had to face, at which some two hundred and thirty Rover Scouts were present. It was to me a very cheering and inspiring affair, since not only did it provide me with a very good free meal in very good company, but also it gave me a “closeup” impression of the cheery spirit of keenness and brotherhood which possesses the University Rovers.
Immediately after the Dinner and the inevitable “few remarks” from me, I was surprised to learn that the investiture would take place then and there. It proved to be a most touching and impressive ceremony.
I was handed a handsome green-and-white gown of superfine tussore cremona material which I donned, together with a hat, rather of the Scout style, but dyed a deep royal red and decorated with two outsize Wood Badges. Two bedells, gorgeously apparelled in evening dress, coats, and tall hats, carried each a great mace, which, between ourselves, looked like a petrol pump, surmounted as it was by a globe and the superscription “B-P Spirit.” The ViceChancellor, the Rev. Gresford Jones, was garbed in a gown similar to mine. He was, however, almost unrecognisable through having cultivated since I had last seen him a bushy black beard of the true beaver breed.
I was then introduced by the Public Orator in a Latin Speech of exquisite artistry. His eloquent, but all-too-flattering remarks gave me– well, you know, that greasy feeling all down the spine that caused me to perspire like a bull (not that I have noticed exactly how a bull carries out this operation, but my condition was like that). This was the address:
OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ, O YEAH ?
O Baden-Powell Gilwellensis, et vos O Magister Scoutorum, et vos O Roveri Exploralores ! Balbus murum aedificavit, or as the poet puts it with more felicity:
“Sanatogen radox ellimans embrocation for bruises, Kolynos veet vapex; vita-wheat varicose veins,
Cascara sagrada zox, enos zambuk ryvita,
Pepsodent euthymol, ellimans also for sprains.”
But to the point. There was a famous prophecy which was found in a bog near Fen Ditton concerning our guest to-night. Not long ago, when St. Michael of Cambridge was striding up Market Hill, he saw some naughty little boys playing marbles, and was heard to remark, punning cleverly in a foreign tongue, “Unus dies, sez I, hi pueri habebunt non rolum or bolum but polum,” which I will translate, in case what I have said is all Greek to some of you. Unus dies, one day. Now the next word “sez” has puzzled many commentators and experts, but I think we shall be correct in following Professor Edgar Wallace who translates “sez I” by the old English “methinks.””One day, methinks, these boys will have non rolum or bolum but polum ; not a rod or a birch but a powell.” Well, I will tell you privately, on the K.P. in fact, this prophecy has now come true.
For inasmuch, as we were gazing round the world, seeing it whole but not very steadily, we found everywhere a spirit, a spirit of energy and strength that takes the knock from a carbonised world. And we asked: What is this strange spirit to which all roads crooked and straight come alike, which makes every hill less steep and every load less heavy, and yet always has something over to tow a less fortunate friend ? For we saw the spirit spreading, not only through the peoples, the nations and the languages, but even penetrating the Councils of the Senate, the Satraps, Governors and Deputies. And on all channels by which it spread were emblazoned just two letters B.P. So we enquired further and found many of its secrets based on that sound method so pithily expressed in an epigram, tentatively attributed to the sage Wodehouse “to curl the grey matter round Mother Nature.” And further, that it was no transient spirit, no one-day-in-the-week spirit that peters out on Monday morning, for in the words of that great benefactor of his fellows, grand- father Kruschen, “It is the little daily dose that does it.” It is an ever-active spirit such as made us build a (Cam)bridge whilst our sister University was content with a (Ox)ford. It is a spirit which always answers the question “when ?” with the words of that great Latin poet Horace, “nunc, nunc.” So we said we will honour the fountain-head of this spirit, for it spreads in ever-widening circles yet with its potency unimpaired, we will therefore call it B.P. Plus. But “tempus fugit,” as the Roman barmaid said to Caesar. If I may be allowed, one last quotation from the writings of
that great saint of the early Church, Pope Gregory Ist, “Alleluia.”
DUCO AD VOS EXPLORATORUM PRINCIPEM.
How would you like to have such sonorous periods thrown at your head, especially when after the speech one was hailed with the Japanese Greeting– BENZINE ?
But I survived, and revived, when the Vice-Chancellor conferred on me the dignity of DOCTORUM SCOUTORUM PELARGONIUM (or some such title), and hung round my
neck the badge of that exalted rank in the shape of a gigantic coupon card. Unfortunately he added some cryptic remark about my enjoying “long ears,” which I thought rather uncalledfor at the moment. In the procession which was then formed, I walked with such dignity as I could command, and as much humility as I could assume, which, under the circumstances, was, perhaps excusably, not much. (See illustration.)
The following day I was made aware of the fact that, great as had been the ceremony I had gone through, it was not, after all, the final nor the most exalted one. For the real ViceChancellor of the University conferred upon me, with all the quaint traditional ceremonial in the Senate House, the dignity of Doctor of Laws. This was in recognition of the work of the Boy Scout Movement generally, and therefore was an honour done to the Scouters of all degrees who have brought our Movement and its training to its present standard of effectiveness.
I would like to congratulate one and all on this new appreciation of our work by the heads of our great University. I hope that the consciousness of work well done, which must be yours, will give you all an extra touch of the happiness which I heartily wish you for Christmas.
Put Yourself in His Place
THIS is always a useful practice.
As a fisherman you learn to do this when you see a fish rise to your lure and then dart away from it. You realise that there is something wrong about the lure, so you change it and substitute something more to his taste.
When a trout is rising to catch tiny gnats, you don’t try a big fly on him; if you did, you would put him oft altogether.
Well, I find that when fishing for Scouters, we have in more than one place been using the wrong lure.
Of course you want your S.M. to be in earnest about joining us, and to show that he realises what he is undertaking and really grasps our ideals and something of our methods. You find that unfortunately I.H.Q. has not so far devised a questionary for a candidate to answer which would give you all the information you could wish. So you make up your own questionary, and send it to him to answer in writing. (I have one before me now containing twelve questions, asking inter alia the candidate’s reasons for wishing to take up Scout work, which out of a list of some sixteen books he has read, and other equally important points.) I.H.Q. has, however, published a pretty complete book of Policy, Organisation and Rules, so you send him this in order to inform him fully of the responsibilities he is undertaking in becoming a Scouter. If the candidate then replies satisfactorily, you feel that you have got the serious-minded type of man you want– that is, I repeat, IF he replies.
But what of the dozens that fail to respond? Look at it from the point of view of one of them. He says, “I’m a bit of a boy myself still, and I’d like to get a Troop of cheery youngsters round me whom I could teach to play games, and incidentally to play the game, and to gather health and happiness in the out of doors. I’ll join the Scouts.” But when he finds he has to fill up stereotyped forms and examination papers, and has to master this comprehensive mass of rules for regulating his doings, he is deterred– the fly is not the kind he is after and it puts him down.
Red tape and failure to look at things from the subject’s point of view have killed many an enterprise before now. But it is not going to kill our Movement, as we are having none of it.
Because I realise the necessity for exercising the greatest care in the selection of Scouters, I would add that no amount of questionarying will be half so effective for getting your subject’s point of view as a personal friendly talk with him.
I FEEL rather like the mouse who has been at the leaking whisky cask and comes out of the cellar shouting, “Now, where’s that damned cat?”
Usually I look back on the past year’s work at the end of December, but I do so rather from a limited point of view.
By the time that St. George’s Day comes round, I have seen the many annual reports from various centres at home and overseas and am then really able better to judge of our progress and condition.
Fortified by these I am now able to shout, “Now where’s that damned dragon?” I don’t really see any very formidable one in sight, though in my elated condition I might be excused for seeing two. But, such as I do see, the one to be attacked is the unemployedness among the youth of the nation. If we in the Scouts can do something, however small, towards overcoming this awful canker in our midst, we shall be doing a genuine national and Christian service.
The present depression in industry should, we may hope, pass away before long, but the ill-effects of unemployedness will be lifelong on its victims– they have before them, as unemployables, an appalling existence as waste human material open only to bad influences around them.
Most of our Troops have unemployed lads among their members and many have taken on others as “younger brothers.” In either case we can do something for them to save them from the fate of unemployableness, if we aim to put into them:
Character, to make them self-reliant and able to make their own way in the world;
Handcraft, so that they may have some ability;
Health, that they may stand the strain; and
Happiness, through enjoyment of life among good pals.
Thereby can we do something at any rate to rescue them from the slough of despond in which, through no fault of their own, they are involved.
SPRING is here, though to-day, with a bitter east wind blowing, you might not know it! Now is the time for overhauling your camp gear, for planning where and when you are going to give the boys their heart’s desire in a jolly and healthy camp life. But above all it is the time when, through having his boys directly under him for days on end in camp, the Scout-master has his real opportunity for studying each boy’s individual mind and temperament, and for drawing out– expanding– educating– the good that he finds therein.
I am anxious about this Summer.
I am hoping to see a big development in camping. There has, in the past, been too little of regular and frequent camping, and too much indifferent amateur camping.
There has been a very promising improvement this last year or two and I am hoping, now that the large proportion of Scoutmasters know their job, and that Commissioners have taken to visiting all camps in their districts, that camping reports this season will show a big step forward in what is after all the method of training which distinguishes us from all other Movements.
For Rover Scouts here comes their opportunity– if only they plan their holiday aright beforehand. My goodness! How I wish I were a Rover again, and able to go on a hike with a good pal or two of the same way of thinking– and with the same length of stride!
There should be an object for your hike, but not too over-strict a time-table. The object of course depends on the tastes of the hiker; he may be out to render service as a Brenter, or he may want to improve his mind or develop his tastes while developing his health. Great Britain offers such wonderful hikes, whether the Rover be an artist, or keen on cathedrals or castles, or Roman remains.
I’M not satisfied, although one might think I ought to be.
Our numbers are steadily growing– training centres increasing; Scout spirit good; and so on. But there is too much leakage, and also too little character-growth– as yet. Leakage of Cubs not going up to Scouts; of Scouts not going up to Rovers, etc.– this comes from various causes. In some cases it is difficult to remedy, but in many cases the reason is that the boys have become tired of Scouting. With an understanding Group Scoutmaster this seldom happens. But where the same old programme, or want of programme, goes on week after week, and month after month, boredom is only natural.
Where the Scouter is himself a bit of a boy, and can see it all from the boy’s point of view, he can, if he is imaginative, invent new activities, with frequent variations to meet the boys’ thirst for novelty. Note the theatres in London. If they find that a play does not appeal to the public, they don’t go on hammering away with it in the hope that it will in the end do so; they take it off and put on some new attraction.
Boys can see adventure in a dirty old duck-puddle, and if the Scoutmaster is a boy-man he can see it too. It does not require great expense or apparatus to devise new ideas: the boys themselves can often help with suggestions.
Where a Troop resounds with jolly laughter, and enjoys success in competitions, and the fresh excitements of new adventures, there won’t be any loss of members through boredom. Then outdoor camping– not merely occasional sips of it– but frequent practice so that the boys become experienced campaigners– will hold those of the best type and will give a healthy tone to their thoughts and talks.
I have little use for a cut-and-dried routine system in a Scout Headquarters building, with its temptation to softer living and parlour Scouting.
I RECOGNISE more fully than before the great value of Jamborees, provided that they are only indulged in at wide intervals of time. The average Scout life of a boy is a comparatively short one, and it is good for each generation of Scouts to see at least one big Rally, since it enables the boy to realise his membership of a really great brotherhood, and at the same time brings him into personal acquaintance with brother Scouts of other districts and other countries. He learns new Scouting ideas and camping gadgets, and comes out a better Scout for the experience.
Furthermore, such a Rally is of infinite value in developing teamwork and organising qualities on the part of the Scouters, and gives them the opportunity of meeting their fellows and exchanging experiences. Thereby the standard of Scouting is raised generally, and its right methods are more widely understood and adopted. To the public, the parents, pastors, teachers, employers and others these exhibitions of the results, as well as of the methods, of our training give an invaluable object-lesson such as brings almost invariably increased understanding and practical sympathy with our work.
But, above all, the international spirit of comradeship and goodwill that is bred in these camps is already becoming a force in the world, a thing which but ten years ago nobody could have foreseen. These various national jamborees are doing valuable work in that direction as well as in their more local development. I look forward, therefore, with all the greater confidence and hope to our world Jamboree in Hungary, in August next year, as marking another big step forward in the promotion of that new and much-needed spirit of broadminded goodwill in place of the old-time narrow prejudices and jealousies.
I HAVE said in Rovering to Success that travel and reading and Nature study are all part of self-education, and as such should be commended to Scouts. Take reading. With your books around you you have a magic power; when others are fussing and losing their hair over political hopes and disappointments, you are sitting content with what you have got. You can at any moment remove yourself and travel through far-off lands, dip into the history of other times, command the wonders of science, amuse yourself with good stories, and see beauty in thought through poetry.
Books are the best friends a man can have. You choose those that you like; you can rely on them at all times; they can help you in your work, in your leisure, and in your sorrow. You have them always around you at your beck and call in your home. They are not nowadays very expensive if you only buy one now and then to make up your collection. At any rate, the nearest public library will bring almost any book to your hand without expense. If you can hand on something of the love of books to your Scouts, you will be giving them friends which will never fail them.
WHETHER the ordinary school education is really preparing them for life, rather than for scholastic standards, is a question that people are inclined to argue about, but the fact stands out that for the numbers leaving school, of whatever class, there is not enough employment to go round, and, unless a boy has developed character and habits of energy and self-reliance he is going to be left in the slough of unemployment which leads directly to unemployability, wastage and crime. The less spirited sink under it; the more spirited, enthused no doubt by the exploits of gun-men, as shown on the films, take to the adventure of burglary and highway robbery. Nor do I blame them, for I should be the first to do it myself were I in their case.
The spirit of adventure is inherent in almost every boy, but adventure is hard for him to find in the crowded city.
One reads of gangs of boys of all ages, self-organised for crime, boarding lorries for systematic robbery, stealing motor cars, holding up wayfarers, etc. Stout lads! What Scouts they would make, if we had the men to handle them! But what sort of citizens are they going to make, if left to drift?
At a session of the British Association last month it was pointed out that scientific invention, with its development of labour-saving machinery, of intensive production, of super-rapid transport, etc., is going too fast for the existing human race. These developments over-produce commodities, and at the same time reduce employment and the power to purchase. The tendency to migrate from the country to crowded town life is developing a quickened, if not a hectic, herd instinct among the people, with its craving for pleasure, gambling, etc. The conditions under which the next generation will live will be very different from those of twenty years ago.
We in the Boy Scouts want to prepare our lads for the future that lies before them. No– not merely those who are Scouts, but all boys, especially those who have the worst chances of becoming good citizens. Our best step is to give them all the joyous adventure that we can through Scouting activities, camping. Sea Scouting, etc., and to develop above all their character, their bodies, and their sense of higher things.
STOCKTAKING.– It doesn’t seem like a quarter of a century since we started on Brownsea Island– but there it is ! In business a periodical stocktaking is the necessary gauge of one’s standing and progress; so, in the life of a movement, or equally of an individual, occasional stocktaking is valuable as showing us where we stand and where we can yet go ahead. So let us “stocktake” of Scouting.
I won’t go into the detailed history of the growth of our Movement in its twenty-five years; this is recorded very fully elsewhere. But here we stand on a firm and accepted footing, not only at home but in practically every civilised country in the world. OUR aims and methods are becoming understood and approved by educationists and others outside the Movement . . . (only “becoming,” for without a precious lot of pushing it takes a long time for such knowledge to sink in). One feels encouraged at any rate when one realises that in spite of the upset of the war in our early days, and of the unlooked-for whirl of evolution since then, the elasticity of our organisation and the whole-hearted team-work of our members have enabled us, not only to meet the everchanging social conditions, but to render useful services to the community while making steady internal progress ourselves. It would be interesting to trace in detail some of the minor points which denote our progress, as, for instance, the badges won for proficiency in various handcrafts and in Scout efficiency. I may, however, quote one little item, namely that, since the Movement started, the Scouts have been the means of saving some 1,200 lives, 1,120 of which rescues were effected at the risk of the rescuers’ lives.
Our numbers keep going up (853,206 in the Empire, 2 1/2 millions in the world); our methods are well grasped; our training for Scouters is on a healthy footing; and the satisfactory effects of Scouting on our boys are proving themselves as these are arriving at manhood. Foreign countries took up our training, possibly a little light-heartedly at first, but they have stuck to it ever since. With unexpected broadmindedness they have accepted it on our lines, and fostered it, although it was not an indigenous plant in their own countries to begin with. Scoutcraft as a common activity has brought the leaders, and subsequently the boys, of the different nations into mutual touch and understanding, in spite of the differences of race and creed and tradition. In this connection, side by side with the Scout movement, the sister international organisation of the Girl Guides is growing apace, and spreading the same ideals among the women of the different countries. Their membership now amounts to 1,142,170.
If these numbers continue to grow– and they are growing rapidly– and if that comradeship continues to spread itself among the future men and women of the world, a very potent leaven will have been established of that spirit of goodwill which is the first essential to the foundation of universal peace. Altogether, we may justly look back with thankful satisfaction on our past, and, what is more, we can look forward with high hope to the future. Prospect
It is scarcely yet realised among us how fully the conditions of life have changed from those of a very few years back– especially for the less-endowed boy. These changes are still going on apace. It is up to us Scouters to recognise this, to study the solution, and to plan our steps for dealing with it. (What is more, it is important also to let the boys know that we recognise it, and are doing our best to prepare them for what lies before them. We shall thereby get their more hearty co-operation and response to our effort.)
But it is a tough proposition. This year, of the thousands of young people coming out of school at the age of 14, it is estimated that some 200,000 will be unable to get employment. It isn’t that they find it difficult to get jobs, but impossible. There are no jobs for them. This happens at a time when the boy population is abnormally low owing to the diminished birthrate during the war and in 1923. But the increased birth-rate after the war means that from now on these numbers will rapidly increase, and it is computed that by 1937– here will be 600,000 unemployed of these boys and girls.
What is to become of them? They are not at school, and they are not receiving unemployment benefit until 16. At present the juvenile instruction centres nominally cater for those between 16 and 18, but in practice they do not take more than one in six, so the authorities are only too glad to get the help of voluntary societies. And that is where the Scout Movement could, and should, and will come in.
There is yet another disturbing feature in the present evolution– the situation of the young men when they have reached the age of 18, and are dismissed from training centres. They then find themselves adrift in the world with nothing to do, with no one to guide them, and too young as yet to mingle with the older men. What more natural than that, bored with idleness and disgruntled with fate, they should seek diversion in crime or fall to the persuasive eloquence of disruptive agents?
A saving point is that the English character innate in these lads still remains in them in spite of depressed conditions. They still possess the spirit of adventure– although, unless directed aright, it tends to lead them into crimes of violence. Also they still have something of the stolid English common sense which, before they commit themselves to extremist movements, causes them to ask– “Where is it going to help us? What is the next step after the Revolution?” It is this very spirit of adventure that gives us Scouts a handle whereby to attract and hold the boys.
Even those who are fortunate enough to have employment find it difficult in these days of mass production and repetition work to get in love with their task. Repetition work is not creative work, and is apt to weary and discourage young workers. They need a good antidote in their leisure time in the shape of some change of occupation– but it should be occupation, not idleness– and creative occupation at that, where possible. Allotment gardening caught on and did untold good as a hobby in the Great War, and it could do so again, Hence comes the need for Scoutmasters to use their imagination and keenness in constantly devising new hobbies and activities– to get the boy to see beyond his bench or desk, and to realise the larger results of the work he is doing.
The creative instinct should be encouraged in every possible way, especially if it can be the means of producing objects that will help others to enjoy life. With such an aim brought to his work the lad would overcome to some extent the prevailing temptation to gratify his own desires, which as a rule yields but unsatisfying temporary pleasure.
So, whether a lad is at work or in the ranks of the unemployed. Scouting, if properly applied, can hold out to him the means of making his life something better than a mere dreary existence. It can give him healthy occupation and happiness– first by providing lots of outdoor activities, games, hiking, camping, boating, etc., for health and adventure, and, secondly, by giving hobbies and handcrafts to develop technical skill for employment, or for occupying leisure time usefully.
To effect results we must:
Increase our membership to take in more boys including the poorest. Increase the number of Troops to this end. This would need an increase in the number of our Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters.
Increase the number of Rovers and Rover Crews.
Increase the number of Troop nights in the week (to be run by A.S.M.’s and Rovers). Form special Training Camps for unemployed in permanent camps of instruction with allotments, etc. Start in shacks and allotments of their own those who cannot get employment.
If we co-operate locally, and dovetail in with the Juvenile unemployed instructional centres, parish councils and other local authorities, I am convinced that we can do a valuable work in this way.
So much for our possibilities at home and in the British Overseas Dominions, but in addition to these we have the further prospect before us of the World Development. The unlooked-for spread of the Movement abroad in the first twenty-four years of its existence, and the firm footing upon which, in spite of endless local difficulties, it has established itself, gives heartening promise of what it will effect in the next quarter of a century– provided that the broad-minded spirit on which it has been started is fully maintained in all countries. The aim of bringing up the oncoming generation in mutual understanding and comradeship, with an eye to future goodwill and co-operation, is a far higher one than that of instilling into them hatreds and differences of their forebears under false ideas of patriotism. Such development, carried out side by side with that of the Girl Guides in the same direction, cannot fail eventually to influence the general spirit of the peoples of the different countries in the direction of mutual friendship and peace.
But charity starts at home to begin with. So here lies our opportunity– truly a big field for patriotic effort! It is one well worth working since it means helping in the salvation of our own people.
We are only alive for a time on this earth and through not “looking wide” we are apt to fritter away those few short years in a round of things that don’t seriously matter. But here is a job to our hand that is really worthwhile. Let us seize it and do our best, with God’s help, to make a success of it.
Among other humorous touches which cropped up at the Edinburgh Conference, one which struck me was on the important occasion of our being photographed in the Courtyard of the Church Assembly Buildings, where the statue of John Knox appeared to be addressing us with an earnestness that was rivaled by that of the photographer beside him.
IN the words of the Pantomime Clown of old times– here we are again!
Thanks to wonderful surgery, most capable nursing, and to the buck-up messages from Scouts of all degrees, I have come back to Scouting all the better for a very unpleasant experience. I return with deep gratitude to those who have so helped me and with thankfulness to God for granting me renewed life.
I would thank more particularly those on whose shoulders fell the work which I ought to have been doing. I come back, like Rip Van Winkle, to find that in my absence the Movement has gone on all the better for it in the hands of the different responsible heads.
This has been the case overseas as well as at home.
One thing has not come off to the full extent that I had hoped for, and that is a big accession of Scoutmasters.
We urgently need to extend the Movement in these days of out-of-work lads and world unrest, so as to bring the very poorest under good influences and healthy training. To this end we must exert ourselves to bring in more men as Scouters.
I am confident that we can do it. There are thousands of them available, but they are ignorant of our aims and methods, nor do they realise the vital need of our training for the oncoming nation. Our best advertisement is the sight of our boys at work; our best recruiting agents are our Scouters. With the camping season now on, every Scouter can, if he will, act as spider, with his camp as the parlour into which to lure possible converts.
Only to-day I heard of a case where a man had been an interested spectator of certain boys at play, and one day they met him on the road and announced that they had made up their minds and were all ready.
“Ready for what?”
“To be Scouts, sir.”
“Very good. And who is going to be your leader?”
“You, sir; we elected you anonymously.”
“But, damn it all– Oh well, I suppose one mustn’t swear if one is going to be a Scoutmaster– well, you see, I’ve got a lot of other things to do– and– oh, all right, I’ll have a try.” (To-day nothing would induce him to give it up.)
There are loads of men who would join us if they only knew how valuable their assistance would be, and how natural and attractive our work is. You might put it somewhat in this way to your fly when you have got him into your parlour, but wording it according to the requirements of the particular case:
“Up till now you have been a busy or an idle man all your life. Any doctor will tell you that to knock off all work suddenly in the one case or to continue to vegetate in the other is the sure and short cut to the grave. I want to suggest to you a remedy. It is to take on a job of work; such a job is not only lying open to you but is eagerly awaiting you. It beats monkey gland in bringing you a renewal of your youth; it lands you into a cheery company of ‘good companions’; and it enables you to do a valuable bit of service for your country and your fellow-men.
“I mean, of course, taking part in the Boy Scout Movement.” Some men appear to imagine that to take on this job means being either a saint or an Admirable Crichton, or both; that you may not smoke or laugh or swear; that you must be either a pacifist, a faddist, a Fascist, or some other ‘ ist ‘; and that in the Movement we are governed by rules and regulations. This is all wrong. All that we want is a human man, who can revive his boyhood in the comradeship of boys, and who can play the game of Scouting with them in its simplest common-sense form, as given in Scouting for Boys.”
Tell your fly that he has only to get into the boy’s skin, and to look at things with the boy’s eyes and use his own common sense and imagination. He will find it a fascinating game, bringing results that are very well worthwhile from the national point of view as well as being satisfying to the soul.
As to common-sense education, I was amused to read an article this week eulogising one of our schools because the boys there are trusted, and work is to some extent regulated from the boy’s point of view. The author seems to regard this as a novel idea. It has, of course, been the basis of our training of Scouts for twenty-five years.
Yesterday I was talking with our village schoolmaster, a true educationist, by the way. He was explaining some of his methods which had rather raised the hair of an old-time school inspector, but which, in principle, are much in accord with our methods in Scout training.
Take one of his cases as an example. A girl was hopeless at arithmetic, so he had a talk with her, and asked her which of the school subjects she liked best. “Oh, cooking.” And which she liked least. “Arithmetic.”
“Well,”– very confidentially– “don’t tell anyone, but it is just the same with me. I don’t like arithmetic, either. And now, talking of cooking, how would it be if instead of the arithmetic lesson today you cooked a tea for two, with some good scones and a cake, and we can have it together. You order the necessary ingredients, but don’t make it too expensive.” This idea she joyfully carried out. The following day he said– “That tea was a huge success. Can you manage to cook another, on a larger scale, say for five, to which we can ask some pals?” It was duly and enthusiastically done.
The result was that in working out her quantities, prices, etc., the girl had all unconsciously had her arithmetic lesson. Interested in her job, and proud of being trusted with the responsibility put upon her, she was not only learning arithmetic but was realising its practical use at the same time.
It is on this same principle that the Scoutmaster, through the medium of Scouting items which interest the boy, inculcates such qualities as he wants. He educates the boy by encouraging his self — expression instead of disciplining him by police methods of repression.
PERSONALLY I fear there is the danger that a kind of synthetic Scouting may creep into our training in place of the natural article described in Scouting for Boys. I would urge District Commissioners to watch out for this in the course of their inspections and correct the tendency where they spot it.
By “synthetic scouting” I mean the Scout system obscured by overclothing the natural form with rules and instructive literature, tending to make what originally was, and should be, an open-air game into a science for the Scouter and a school curriculum for the boy.
IT is all very well to give the oncoming generation a good time, but if we look around, and if we look forward, we cannot fail to see that there is something more needed than accustoming the boys to enjoy themselves without responsibility and with everything found for them. If “we look around,” what do we see? Battle, murder, and sudden death, with all the savagery of primitive times; and religion totally disregarded by peoples nominally civilised but entirely lacking in self-control, swayed by mass suggestion, and only amenable to the rule of force at the hands of dictators.
We have in all conscience enough object-lessons going on around us in the world to show us that what is needed is the right character in a people if it is to be a free, peaceful, and happy nation.
We “have been warned,” but are we doing anything about it? Insidious powers of evil are already at work even among our own people. Fortunately the British lethargy is hard to move; there is a leaven of stolid common sense in the average Briton’s make-up. But modern developments of rush and unrest and the increased intercommunication between nations in the world bring about a sense of restlessness and with it the danger of contagion, where minds have become at all subject to mass hypnotism.
There are some signs today of an increasing lack among our people of that self-control which has been in the past the attribute of our nation. The number of murders and suicides, the craving for notoriety, the morbid or hysterical motion that sends crowds to a tragic funeral or to the arrival of a film star, all are straws that point that way. Those are bad traits in a people which may, indeed, is bound to, meet grave national crises in the near future, where self-restraint and united loyalty will be vitally essential.
It is up to us in the Scouts, therefore, to carry on the lines we have set before ourselves, to educate the CHARACTER of our oncoming generation so that it maintains and develops that personal self-control and sense of service to the community which mark the good citizen. We want to educate the lad in a practical way to make the best of his life. “Where contentment lives, communism dies.”
I have used the word “educate” rather than “teach,” by which I mean that we must inspire each individual boy to develop these qualities for himself rather than impose mere instruction upon him.
It is scarcely necessary for me to go over the old ground of our principles; they have been the same ever since the Movement started. But when it started it was on a very simple scheme, and with the growth of years many new interpretations and many new side lines have been added to it, so that there is the risk of its becoming over-clothed with these and of the original ideal and method being lost sight of.
The danger has crept in of the Movement becoming too academical, demanding high standards of efficiency, testings, and all that. We have to beware of this.
For Scouters I would urge the serious consideration of plans for developing our two main issues, namely Physical Health and Character. For Physical Health, not by physical drill, but rather through activities and games such as really appeal to the boys’ enthusiasm; and also by practical suggestion of their own responsibility for their health, through proper diet, rest, and exercise. For Character, largely through the attraction of the Camp and the Patrol. In Camp the Scoutmaster has his great opportunity for watching and getting to know the individual characteristics of each of his boys, and then applying the necessary direction to their development; while the boys themselves pick up the character-forming qualities incident to life in camp, where discipline, resourcefulness, ingenuity, self-reliance, handcraft, woodcraft, boat-craft, team sense, Nature lore, etc., can all be imbibed under cheery and sympathetic direction of the understanding Scoutmaster.
The Patrol is the character school for the individual. To the Patrol Leader it gives practice in Responsibility and in the qualities of Leadership. To the Scouts it gives subordination of self to the interests of the whole, the elements of self-denial and self-control involved in the team spirit of co-operation and good comradeship.
We have hundreds of thousands of boys and girls under our hands at the moment, and there are many hundreds of thousands more of them needing the training if we can only find leaders enough to deal with them, and can hold out sufficient attractions to bring them into our fold.
There is an immense field open to us, in which we can lead the way to greater developments. No need for us to get depressed over temporary set-backs or disappointments; these are bound to come from time to time. They are the salt that savours our progress; let us rise above them and look to the big import of what we are at. We have set ourselves a noble task which only needs a spot of courage and persistence to carry it through to success. Let us tackle it, with all the joy of the adventure in these dangerous times, to build up with the help of God a valuable breed of young citizens for the future safety, honour, and welfare of our nation.
LEADERSHIP is the keynote to success– but leadership is difficult to define, and leaders are difficult to find. I have frequently stated that “any ass can be a commander, and a trained man may often make an instructor; but a leader is more like the poet– born, not manufactured.”
I could tell you of leaders whom I have found and how I found them– but that is another story.
One can say, however, that there are four essential points to look for in a leader:
- He must have whole-hearted faith and belief in the rightness of his cause so that his followers catch the contagion, and share his fanaticism.
- He must have a cheery, energetic personality, with sympathy and friendly understanding of his followers, and so to secure their enthusiastic co-operation.
- He must have confidence in himself through knowing his job. He thus gains the confidence of his men.
- What he preaches he must himself-practise, thereby giving personal example to his team.
The essentials of leadership might, in telegraphic brevity, be summed up as
“Comradeship and Competence.” These principles apply whether the leader is a County Commissioner or a Sixer, but with none is it of greater importance than in the District Commissioner– not even excepting the Scoutmaster, great fellow though he is !
The District Commissioner has the most important as well as the most interesting job in our organisation. He is the liaison officer, the link between the administrative chiefs and the executive Scouters. Leadership through personal touch is the keynote to our success in the Movement. The County Commissioner is appointed by and deputises for the Chief Scout, representing him in the County and representing to him the County’s needs. The County Commissioner selects and appoints his District Commissioners to continue the chain of touch from the Chief Scout to the Scoutmaster. So, too, the Scoutmaster (Cubber or Rover Leader) passes on the touch to his Patrol Leaders, and these in their turn, through competence and comradeship, give the right line to their Scouts.
But it is the District Commissioner who is the powerful link in the chain and who must possess those four essential qualities to the full if he is to be a successful leader. It is through the personal touch that he “an inspire his followers to devoted service.
The Scouting standard of a District exactly reflects the standard of leadership of its
District Commissioner. “By their results shall ye know them.”
A curate’s-egg District would imply a “curate’s egg” of a District Commissioner!
The District Commissioner, if he is truly a leader, has his finger on the pulse of his whole District. He can see where a Scouter needs help or a timely word of encouragement or warning. He knows directly he has got his team on a competent footing to take up fresh enterprises. Just as a Scoutmaster continually seeks new adventures for his Troop, or the Patrol Leader for his Patrol, so the District Commissioner is constantly on the look out to see where a new step in development, training, or policy is desirable, and he wheels his pack of Scouters on to the line, and gives them a definite point to aim for. If he has really inspired them with his enthusiasm they will go to it like a pack of hounds and make a success of the run.
I have dilated rather largely on the District Commissioner because his is the important executive position of liaison between the County Commissioner and the Scoutmaster. But it must obviously rest with the County Commissioner to select only the right man for this job, and to put himself into close personal relationship with him.
And again, it rests with the District Commissioner to be very careful in the selection of each Scoutmaster and to take him fully into his confidence.
It is then the duty of the Scouters to play up to the District Commissioner loyally and whole-heartedly even though it involves extra work and give-and-take on their part for a time.
This way success lies.
IT has been said that youth is fortified by hope and old age is soothed by content. Youth looks forward with hope, old age looks round with content, and some day, when I grow old, I am going to look round with great content. In the meantime you who are not over eighty-one must go on with the work you are doing; there couldn’t be better work, and you will be earning your old-age pension of content when you will be able to look back with satisfaction on having done a work that was worth while. And to the younger ones I say press forward with Hope; mix it with optimism and temper it with the sense of humour which enables you to face difficulties with a sense of proportion. Press forward with a Faith in the soundness of the Movement and its future possibilities, and press forward with Love which is the most powerful agent of all. That spirit of love is, after all, the spirit of God working within you. Remember, “Now abideth Faith, and Hope, and Love– these three. But the greatest of these is Love.”
Carry on in that spirit and you cannot fail.
ENFORCED solitary leisure spent among mountain tops is so good for the soul that every man would be the better for such “retreat” if he forced himself to take it occasionally. The quiet meditation, remote from the rush and unrest of ordinary life, cleanses the mind, and gives it ease and inspiration. Sitting here, unperturbed by Press headlines, and looking at Mount Kenya with his hoary old head standing four square as ever, one sees the clouds come and cover him for a time, and though they bring thunder and storm, they rift away again, leaving him standing there unmoved in the sunshine, as he has stood through thousands of years of similar passing showers.
So too, on a larger scale, this world is, from time to time, disturbed by clouds of war and unrest; but these pass away and, together with them, thank goodness, the agitators who brought them about; and the old world wags on unmoved as it has done for thousands of years through similar nightmares.
So you say to yourself, why get rattled about troubles that you can’t prevent? But can’t you? Browning says: “God’s in His Heaven; all’s right with the world.”
But a certain head-hunting tribe says that this is not so. Their belief is that the devil has for the present got possession of the world, and when that possession is over God’s reign of peace will come.
The devil’s agents are, after all, merely men, and it is therefore possible for man also to counter his devilments, and to bring about that reign of Peace and Goodwill which is the reign of God.
Here seems the opportunity– indeed the Duty– for every individual to take his share in preventing recurrence of those evils. It is in such crusade that I see a goal open to Scouters and Old Scouts.
My mountain says “Look wider; look higher; look further ahead, and a way will be seen.”
Moral Rearmament, a vague term, though much used, is open to many interpretations, but among these few have so far supplied practical steps for making it a definite quality in our citizenship.
Yet the spirit of it is essential. I ventured to write a letter to The Times last year, recommending the adoption of some simple form of self-dedication to the service of Goodwill and Peace, much on the lines of the Boy Scout Promise.
This brought me numbers of letters of approval, but I don’t hear whether anything definite has been done about it. Before the war a scheme for our national education was formulated “to build citizens rather than scholars”; but like many other good intentions it was dropped during the war, and has never been fully revived.
Now, even more than in those days, is such training needed if we, as a nation, are to keep pace with the developments of the age and hold our own, in giving a moral lead to others.
The character of a nation depends on the individual character of its members.
Our falling birth-rate demands extra efficiency in every individual, to compensate for our lack of numbers. The steps taken by totalitarians abroad should be a spur to us where they are enforcing the universal training of their youth. This is done on lines based on Scouting methods, but confined to purely nationalist ideals of citizenship.
Citizenship has been defined briefly as “active loyalty to the community”; but should aim at securing peaceful and friendly relations with other nations. In a free country like ours it is easy, and not unusual, to consider oneself a good citizen by being a law-abiding man, doing your work and expressing your choice in politics, sport, or activities, “leaving it to George” to worry about the nation’s welfare. This is passive citizenship. But the times to-day demand more than passive citizenship if we are to be a sound and solid nation, able to stand up among the others, and able to uphold in the world the virtues of freedom, justice, and honour.
Members of the church realise that it is not possible for them alone to accomplish this change of spirit. Indeed Totalitarian States look on the differing denominations rather as elements of discord in their peoples, where unity is essential for making a nation.
If, however, the individual believes that peace and goodwill are needed it is a matter for that individual, however humble, to contribute to their promotion.
It seems that each has to so discipline his conduct and, character that in his daily life he sees the other fellow’s point of view as well as his own, whether it is in business dealings, or in politics, national and international, and that he is prepared to give Service wherever he can see it needed.
To believe that Peace and Goodwill– instead of war and ill-will– constitute the reign of God in the world is in itself a “religion.” It is a religion to which all can subscribe, and one which no denomination will deny.
Its practice is citizenship of the highest type.
After all, are not these the tenets which are, and always have been, the underlying aim of our training in the Scouts?
If you could get them more fully understood and more widely extended it would be a direct and practical, if minor, contribution towards eventually bringing about the Kingdom of God in the world. Can you see a higher, or more worthwhile. Life Crusade than this for a man?
As very many Scouters have already realised, it opens up a wonderful opportunity for each of us, according to our powers, whether we be Scouters, Rovers, or Old Scouts, to take a hand in spreading by personal example, by teaching and talks, this practical step in the socalled Moral Rearmament. One man cannot hope to do much, but tiny individual coelenterata have built coral islands by co-operation in an ideal. It needs a highly optimistic acorn to start hopefully on producing an oak tree.
But here, in our Movement, we have all the encouragement of a pretty big plant already existing as a nucleus, in our four and a half million of boys and girls in British and other countries.
Then besides them there are the many more millions of Old Scouts and ex-Guides who will rally to the call.
To descend to details:
Let us therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves become too absorbed in the steps.
Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good, turns. Jamboree comradeships are all means, not the end.
The end is CHARACTER– character with a purpose.
And that purpose, that the next generation be sane in an insane world, and develop the higher realisation of Service, the active service of Love and Duty to God and neighbour.
HIPPOS became bracketed with Gilwell in my mind to-day, when I was being “carred” (new word, meaning carried by car or carted) by the Chief Guide on a trip to inspect Girl Guides. While she busies herself with inspections, I sit tight and make sketches. On this occasion I had some subject for a sketch.
We came across a charming farmhouse with a glorious view over woodland, lake, and mountain. The owner was out, but his native servant told us of hippo in the lake nearby, and gave us an imp of a boy to guide us there.
He came, we found, from our village– Nyeri– and proved particularly willing and communicative.
As we approached a small lake, an offshoot of the greater one, the Chief Guide (who is always over-eager and sees what she wants to see before it is actually in sight) clutched my arm excitedly.
“There they are! Can’t you see them– there. A whole herd of them, lying in the water.”
“Rocks, my dear, rocks. Don’t get jittery about it.”
Then one of the rocks suddenly raised its great blubber-nosed head, and sat up and took notice of us. After a sleepy stare it saw that we meant no harm, and slumped down again, pillowing its chin on a neighbour’s pink belly.
So those great grey rounded rocks were all hippos– twenty-four of them– sun-bathing in the shallows. Alongside, and around them, were hundreds of water fowl, including flamingos, duck, small waders, and black-headed ibis. As we quietly approached, these last took alarm and rose with a loud flutter into the air.
The effect on the hippos was an exact replica of what would happen in a club smokingroom in the after-lunch hour if the club bore had suddenly bounded into the room crying: “I say. Bunny, have you heard the news? Old Stocky has married Baby-Face after all.” There was a general upheaval of fat bodies looking round indignantly, a lot of grunting disapproval as they shifted their position a few yards away, and sloshed down in the water again.
The two vast bulls on either flank of the herd merely, as it were, grumbled, “I don’t believe a word of it,” and settled themselves the more comfortably to sleep in their muddy arm-chairs. They had evidently had to travel far in the night to get their food, and were now well-fed and sleepy.
Finding them so peacefully disposed, we walked up to within a few yards of them, and took portraits of their huge podgy forms and great ungainly heads.
An hour later we had chosen a spot for our usual picnic lunch. It was high up, at 8,000 feet, on a spur of the Aberdare Range overlooking a vast panorama of hill and dale. Sunshine and cloud shadows rang a continual change of light and colour across the scene.
Presently the empty solitude was broken by the figure of a man, striding over the down, and a white man at that, with his terrier. Soon it was evident that we were his objective, a fine typical specimen of a settler, in shirt and shorts, eyes and teeth shining bright through the tan of his face.
“Can I be any help to you?”
We hastily explained that he could help in disposing of our food and drink with us, but otherwise we were not, as he had supposed, held up by a car mishap.
We found that he lived close by, and that the crop of pyrethrum which we were admiring was his. Altitude and plentiful rain were necessary to it, and it got these all right up here. “You are well away from wild animals here, I suppose, though you have forests in your valleys?”
“M’yes. Elephants only come occasionally; but there are buffalo and leopards down there– plenty of them. By the way, aren’t you B.-P.? My name’s Gibbs. I was brought up at
Gilwell, where my grandfather lived.”
So in a few moments, up on that hill-top away in Africa, we realised that the world is not so very large after all; and, with anecdotes of his childhood in the old place with its ghostly passages and its charming gardens, we were “Back at Gilwell, happy land.”
But is it a “happy land” just now? In the strain of war, with the tension of A.R.P., and while the flower of our youth is exposed to death amid floods and wintry gales. Over here we sit shamefacedly unable to lend a hand, in this really happy land of sunshine and peace. Under war conditions it seems futile to wish you a Merry Christmas; nevertheless, I have little doubt that you will make the best of it all.
The hearty good wishes of the Chief Guide and myself go out to you, and also the hope that the coming of the New Year may see the end of the war– and of Public Enemy Number One.
I HAVE had such a flood of wishes for a Happy New Year that I don’t know how to thank for them. I mean not only from the excess of my gratitude, but also from the physical impossibility of thanking everyone individually, as I haven’t a secretary nor an office to help me. (Not forgetting the further fact that postage is now 1s. 3d.a time! )
So I have to resort to this collective way of saying to all of you, and that very cordially, “Thank You!”
Two reasons already promise that it wilt be a happy year for me. One is that the acid test of war has shown me that thanks to the work of Scouters the Movement is on a sounder footing than ever, and doing valuable service for the nation. Secondly it is most happifying to me to realise that in spite of– or probably thanks to– my enforced absence from I.H.Q., and my increasing age, the Movement goes on extending its usefulness and extending its possibilities, without my interference.
Talking of increasing age, you need not pity me. As I enter my 84th year I recognise how ripping is old age!
I don’t know whether it is innate laziness now coming out, or the after-effects of a life which has, unintentionally, been strenuous since early youth, but anyway I do enjoy being considered exempt from extra work or responsibilities.
The Duke of Cambridge, when he was well over 80, said to me: “Because I’m a bit gone in the knees” (and no wonder, for he weighed about a ton!),” those damn fools think that therefore my brain is correspondingly weak. I’ll show ’em!”
I feel much the same way, though I have no intention of “showing ’em”– it is much easier to use the shelter supplied by their thought that you are a bit gagga.
As soon as one passes the threshold of eighty and becomes an octogenarian nothing is expected of one, which is such a blessing! On the contrary, everybody is out to help you, you sit still and good turns are showered upon you.
I don’t know who the philosopher was who made it, but I fully agree with his remark: “I
just LOVE work. I could sit for days watching other people doing it.”
Well, that just describes my present attitude, the attitude of the rock– “. . . a-sittin’ on a hill and doing nothing all the day, but just a-sittin’ still.
I needn’t eat, I needn’t sleep, I needn’t even wash, I can just sit there a thousand years, and rest myself– BY GOSH.”
I can look on at others doing what I ought to be at. But when I see the work that you fellows are doing so successfully in this time of stress and strain I confess a surge of shame comes over me, that I am not doing more to help.
Although 84 might serve as excuse for some, it does not hold true in my case. I don’t believe I am physically any older than sixty, but the doctor, not appreciating this fact, has declined to pass me fit for even light service. So that’s that. And, here I am, just a rock.
I can only applaud and shout to you from outside: “Good lads! Go to it!”
Just one thing is needed to make 1940 a happier year for us all, so I heartily wish it to you, and that is that our Public Enemy No. 1 may by some unfortunate chance come to a bad end.
Then when the war is over and Right has come into its own, let your earnest aim be to attain the age of eighty-four, and you will then know what it is to have nothing expected of you, and to be a rock with leisure to look back in happy retrospect.
I READ in the Bombay Scout Gazette for February this sentence:
“The long-expected war has come at last with all its devastating calamities, and it cannot be helped.
“The Scout Movement, an institution of Peace and Service, pledged itself to serve its
generation, tried its utmost through its different organisations, but failed . . .” I am sorry, but I do not quite agree that it has failed.
On the West Coast of Africa, in a place then known as the “White Man’s Grave,” I met a missionary who told me that the average life of his predecessors in that spot had been four years, and he expected that this would be about the length of his own life there.
I started to argue why waste the life and knowledge he possessed in trying to convert a few illiterate natives, when he might be employing his talents more usefully, for a long term of years, among his own heathen fellow countrymen in the slums of England. But he felt “called” to this work, and said that though lie would not live to see the fruits of his labours he was sowing the seed which would ultimately ripen and produce good fruit in due season. The beginnings of any great development must naturally be small. The Christian religion itself started with only a tiny group of men who had faith, and from them, after some hundreds of years, it spread through Europe; and only now, two thousand years later, was it beginning to make its appeal to untutored peoples about the world.
Scouting is by comparison as yet in its early babyhood, it has to grow for many generations before it can have gained sufficient hold on the minds and actions of men generally to secure Peace. But we are on the right road, and already showing the way. Only a sprinkling of Scouts about the world have as yet reached man’s estate, but they are well distributed among the different nations. The seed has been widely sown. More and more boys are growing up in their thousands to be the fathers of yet more Scouts in their millions. Most of us who have been sowing the seed will not in the nature of things be here to see the harvest; but we may well feel thankful, indeed jubilant, that our crop is already so well advanced as it is, considering the very short time that has elasped since its original sowing. But it means that if that harvest is eventually to come, our job in the meantime is to see that the growing crop is adequately tended, that the boys now in our hands have the higher aims of Scouting so instilled into them that these become their principles for their lives, and not only for their own lives but for the lives of the sons they ultimately father into the world. But this instillation cannot be done by preaching, it can only be impressed through example and through such steps as appeal to the boyish instinct and temperament.
Patience is needed at this stage on the part of the trainers. Patience is hard to practise; you are eager to see immediate results; but I think patience can be acquired if you look forward to the ulterior aim and realise how necessary must be the intermediate steps. But one blessing about training Scouts is that even while the ultimate aims may seem as far off as the moon, you are all the time giving Happiness, fresh Interests and Character to each individual you are privileged to have as your disciple.
I have heard Scouters lamenting that they cannot find enough war work for their Scouts, but I should not worry too much about that, valuable though it is for the boys.
You are, or can be, preparing them for helping in the greater cause of Peace.
Look forward. The existing world war-quake is a man-made catastrophe, and can only be redeemed by man. Our present generation is out to effect this by defeating force by force. On the next generation will lie the duty of bringing about Peace through peaceful actions. No one knows what form that Peace will take. Federal Unions, Economics, resuscitated Leagues of Nations, United States of Europe, and so on, are variously suggested; but one thing is essential to general and permanent peace of whatever form, and that is a total change of spirit among the peoples, the change to closer mutual understanding, to subjugation of national prejudices, and the ability to see with the other fellow’s eye in friendly sympathy. But although it will be difficult to get men of the present generation entirely to change their spots, we Scouters have two great assets to help us in impressing these ideas on the minds and actions of their on-coming successors. We have young and mouldable minds to deal with, and secondly the war, instead of hampering us in our work, actually gives us object lessons with which to ram home our points.
For instance, the splendid courage of our seamen of all kinds and of our airmen and soldiers, without glorifying militarism, can inspire the boys on their part also to deeds of gallantry and sacrifice of self. The presence of our overseas brothers from all parts of the Empire can give them fuller appreciation of their membership of our great Commonwealth, and its high aims which bring us together.
By contrast the exhibition of brute force now being exercised ruthlessly against weaker people will rouse in them a yet stronger instinct for justice and fair play. The appalling suffering of their own Fellow Scouts in other countries will touch them very nearly, and will excite their fuller personal sympathy and friendship for those boys, although of different nationalities.
These friendships can be more fully developed, if Scouters set their minds to it, through increased interchange of correspondence, pen-palships, visits, hospitality to refugees, study of maps and histories of other countries, and by reminding the boys that we are all sons of the same Father, Whose direction to us is “Love your neighbour.”
Such training in friendship has no precedent outside our own Brotherhood, but if the unprecedented chaos of war is to be settled in peace, unprecedented steps to that end are not only justifiable but essential.
Hatred, born of war, and revengeful feeling, will naturally be weeds in the path with many boys. But as your plants grow up from the seeds which you have sown labelled “Broad-minded outlook,” “Love,” and “Desire to bind up the wounds of war,” such weeds will eventually be choked and Goodwill and Peace will be your harvest!
THE war, with its day-to-day developments, has taught us, if anything were needed to do so, the value of our motto, to “Be Prepared,” not only for what is probable but for what might in any way be possible. The fate of Holland falling into the grasp of the Nazis must recall, by contrast, to many of us the picture of the great peace and happiness which centred round our camp three years ago at the Jamboree at Bloemendaal. That was a wonderful experience for all of us. On the conclusion of that great Rally I had reminded the boys that it was, in all human probability, the last time that many of us would see each other. I was, of course, thinking of my own declining years compared with their rising into strength and manhood. Little did I or anyone then imagine the possibility that only three years later the reverse would be the case, that I should be living and so many of them dead. They were Dutch, Norwegians, Finns, Danes, Czechs, as well as British boys, and among these were numbers who, though growing up with the spirit of mutual goodwill that was to make peace in the world, are now laid low by the fell stroke of brute force against national freedom. Considering the short period of our existence, the Scout crusade had already made remarkable progress in the world, and the Rally at that Jamboree seemed to strengthen and consolidate the right spirit in the coming generation and so to consummate all that we had hoped for in its world expansion. Then has come this crushing set-back of the war. But I look on it as only a temporary set-back. The war is bound to end with the triumph of Freedom, and though it may take some years to materialise I am confident that the steps we have taken in the development of international goodwill will then prove their value as a practical aid towards peace.
Though the war may have killed very many of our dear comrades and companions of that camp it has not killed all, and it has not killed the spirit. You Scouters and Scouts who still live will carry on that same spirit, and will now develop it with all the greater force when
you realise that you are taking up the torch which was dropped by those who have been struck down.
Few of those comrades of ours could have foreseen that within a short time they would be fighting and giving their lives for their country, but we do know that through “Being Prepared” as Scouts they were the better able to face their fate with courage and good cheer. As your tribute to their memory it is open to you to make goodwill and friendship for brother Scouts abroad your aim more directly than ever before.
When the war is over and the bullies of the world have been defeated we must Be Prepared for establishing peace, a peace that will ensure for ever the end of war.
How this will be carried out in detail none can say, but one point of principle is certain and that is that the road to peace will be the more easy and effective where the young men and women of different countries are already good friends and comrades, as in the Scouts and Guides.
So let us Be Prepared with steadfastness for what may befall in the war, and afterwards do our part in bringing about the essential spirit for peace.
I HAVE been pruning roses in my garden here in Kenya. Not a very high-class job of service in war-time! I am not proud of it, but it is all that I am allowed of out-door exercise, by my doctor. At any rate, pruning has its moral for us Scouters. I had cut some of the plants to such an extent that I feared I had overdone it and possibly had killed them, but not a bit of it. With our alternate sunshine and rain, they are all sending out fine, strong shoots and are coming to bloom better than ever, thanks to the operation.
So it will be in our Scout rose garden. The war has pruned our Movement by taking away the Scouters and Rovers, and has scattered many of the Scouts as evacuees in various parts of the kingdom. In other countries the pruning has been even more drastic. In many cases the Nazis have pruned the local bushes down to the very ground, and have tried to replace them with other plants, such as Hitler Youth and the Balilla. But the roots are still there! When the Spring-time of peace returns, in God’s good time, the plants will put out their new shoots in greater strength and profusion than ever, and, vitalised by the test they have gone through, they will very materially help to restore the glory of their respective national gardens.
Reports come to me from all parts, telling how the Patrol Leaders and Courts of Honour are proving themselves the tap roots of our plants, since, in the absence of their
Scoutmasters, they are playing the game splendidly by keeping their Troops going in spite of the difficulties of war, and inspired, no doubt, by the sense of Duty and Service which the war itself has emphasised.
Thus the teaching of the Scoutmasters and of the training courses for Patrol Leaders have not been thrown away.
With such promising plants it is up to us gardeners, whether we are Scoutmasters or Rovers, Old Scouts or members of Local Associations, not to let these boys down, but to do our best to tend the “roots” and keep them encouraged to carry on cheerily, and so Be Prepared with confidence for the season of bloom ahead.
“The Old Order Changeth, Yielding Place to New.”
A KIND friend in Canada has sent me an original and interesting book called First Things in Acadia. Acadia was the old name for the Eastern Maritime Provinces of Canada from Newfoundland as far as Washington, D.C.
The book is a compilation of the origins of the main enterprises that have gone to make Canada what she is to-day. For instance, it includes such varied things as the first discovery of America by John Cabot; the first white child born in Canada; the first Atlantic cable from England to America; the first boys’ school, the first ship built in Canada, and so on. In other words, it is a book which should give the younger generation a self-education in the history, tradition, and romance of their country’, and, to those who have vision, a suggestion of the possibilities which yet lie before Canada and her future development. Yes. First Things in Acadia is an inspiring book about youth. But what about us old ‘uns? For those who have reached a certain age — say those who have crossed the octogenarian line — a corresponding compilation might be permissible, a sequel entitled “Last Things in One’s Life.”
I remarked only recently that my dress tail coat had done yeoman service, but instead of ordering a new one, I told it “You can last out my time.” As I write a young fellow goes swaggering down from the golf links, throwing a chest, with head erect, arms swinging and legs stretching their back sinews, just like me — ten or fifteen years ago. But not now. A young fellow complained to me yesterday that he was suffering from polo elbow. “My dear fellow,” I replied, “I had the same trouble years ago, but in the end it cured itself.” I did not add that it cured itself too late in life for me to take up polo again. My polo days were over.
The happiest of my many birthdays was my 80th, which I spent with my regiment in India.
They had a full-dress mounted parade in my honour, and I had to get on a horse once more in my beloved uniform to review them. I felt forty years younger on the spot. It was for me my last mounted parade.
As a matter of fact, it was also about the last ceremonial mounted parade for the regiment, since their horses were shortly afterwards taken away and they were changed into a mechanised unit. I had been their Colonel-in-Chief for over 30 years. But I was a hardboiled Cavalry Officer of the old type, and I saw that it was no longer possible for me to deal with mechanised units and modernised tactics.
I therefore resigned my post into younger hands to a man more conversant with machines and modern ideas.
It has been very much the same with the Scout Movement. After being in it up to the neck for over thirty years, I went for three months’ holiday to Kenya. There I developed a tired heart, and a radiumed eye, under a doctor whose orders were “You must stay put here.” His orders were further enforced by Hitler and his war, and she who must be obeyed added her voice to the decision.
So here I am, staying put. Many kind friends have written to me in the terms of
Longfellow’s brawny blacksmith “Under the spreading chestnut tree,” with his slogan — “Something attempted, something done
Has earned a night’s repose.”
That’s all very well. The repose will come before very long. But in the meantime he doesn’t mention the waking interval between the end of the work and the oncoming sleep. So here I lie idle, watching others doing my work, without lifting a finger to help them. The great consolation, however, is that they are young, keen and energetic, devoted to the welfare of the Movement, far better able than I to steer it through present difficulties, and having a wide outlook which enables them to recognise and grasp the opportunities which will come, for making the Movement of yet greater national and international value in the organisation of peace after the war.
With great content I leave it all in their hands; and to them I whisper “God bless you and prosper your efforts.”
Published, March, 1941.