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.
I Was A Boy Once.
The best time I had as a boy was when I went as a sea scout with my four brothers about on the sea round the coasts of England. Not that we were real Sea Scouts, because Sea Scouts weren’t invented in those days. But we had a sailing boat of our own on which we lived and cruised about, at all seasons and in all weathers, and we had a jolly good time—taking the rough with the smooth.
Then in my spare time as a schoolboy I did a good lot of scouting in the woods in the way of catching rabbits and cooking them, observing birds and tracking animals, and so on. Later on, when I got into the Army, I had endless fun big-game hunting in the jungles in India and Africa and living among the backwoodsmen in Canada. Then I got real scouting in South African campaigns.
Well, I enjoyed all this kind of life so much that I thought, “Why should not boys at home get some taste of it too?” I knew that every true red-blooded boy is keen for adventure and open-air life, and so I wrote this book to show you how it could be done.
And you fellows have taken up so readily that now there are not only hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts but over six millions about the world!
Of course, a chap can’t expect to become a thorough backwoodsman all at once without learning some of the difficult arts and practices that the backwoodsman uses. If you study this book you will find tips in it showing you how to do them— and in this way you can learn for yourself instead of having a teacher to show you how.
Then, you will find that the object of becoming an able and efficient Boy Scout is not merely to give you fun and adventure but that, like the backwoodsmen, explorers, and frontiersmen whom you are following, you will be fitting yourself to help your country and to be of service to other people who may be in need of help. That is what the best men are out to do.
A true Scout is looked up to by other boys and by grownups as a fellow who can be trusted, a fellow who will not fail to do his duty however risky and dangerous it may be, a fellow who is jolly and cheery no matter how great the difficulty before him.
I’ve put into this book all that is needed to make you a good Scout of that kind. So, go ahead, read the book, practice all that it teaches you, and I hope you will have half as good a time as I have had as a Scout.
– Forward, Scouting for Boys