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.
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.