During his lifetime Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.
Each Sunday I’ll publish a selection from his writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from his timeless ideas.
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.