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.
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.