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.
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.