On returning from his service in the Second Boer War Baden-Powell was surprised to learn his book Aids to Scouting (1899) had became popular with many youth groups and teachers in Britain. Aids to Scouting explained military scouting and self-reliance skills Baden-Powell had learned from Frederick Russell Burnham, the British Army Chief of Scouts
In 1906, Ernest Thompson Seton, who later became the Chief Scout of the Boy Scouts of America, discussed youth training ideas with Baden-Powell and shared a copy of his book The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians. Soon after, Baden-Powell decided to revise Aids to Scouting into a book for boys. Baden-Powell wrote a draft, then called Boy Patrols, which he used and tested with 22 boys for one week at camp on Brownsea Island in the summer of 1907.
Scouting for Boys was published in six installments from January to March 1908. His revised book presented Scouting from the perspective of outdoorsmen and explorers rather than military men, and added the Scout Oath, Scout Law, honors and games for youth. The book became one of the best-selling books in history . An estimated 100 to 150 million copies of Scouting for Boys have been sold since 1908.
I am working on a full-online version of Scouting for Boys, here are some excerpts that Scouters will find particularly useful
Scouting has been described by more than one enthusiast as a revolution in education. It is not that.
It is merely a suggestion thrown out at a venture for a jolly outdoor recreation, which has been found to form also a practical aid to education.
It may be taken to be complementary to school training, and capable of filling up certain chinks unavoidable in the ordinary school curriculum. It is, in a word, a school of citizenship through woodcraft.
The subjects of instruction with which it fills the chinks are individual efficiency through development of — Character, Health, and Handicraft in the individual, and in Citizenship through this employment of this efficiency in Service.
These are applied in three grades of progressive training for Wolf Cubs, Scouts, and Rovers. Their development, as this book will show you, is mainly got through camping and backwoods activities, which are enjoyed as much by the instructor as by the boy; indeed, the instructors may aptly be termed leaders or elder brothers since they join in the fun, and the boys do the educating themselves.
This is perhaps why Scouting is called a revolution in education.
The fact is true, however, that it aims for a different point than is possible in the average school training. It aims to teach the boys how to live, not merely how to make a living. There lies a certain danger in inculcating in the individual the ambition to win prizes and scholarships, and holding up to him as success the securing of pay, position, and power, unless there is a corresponding instruction in service for others.
With this inculcation of self-interest into all grades of society it is scarcely surprising that we have as a result a country divided against itself, with self-seeking individuals in unscrupulous rivalry with one another for supremacy, and similarly with cliques and political parties, religious sects and social classes, all to the detriment of national interests and unity.
Therefore the aim of the Scout training is to replace Self with Service, to make the lads individually efficient, morally and physically, with the object of using that efficiency for the service of the community.
I don’t mean by this the mere soldiering and sailoring services; we have no military aim or practice in our movement; but I mean the ideals of service for their fellow-men. In other words, we aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of its theology on Sundays.
The remarkable growth of the Scout movement has surprised its promoters as much as its outside sympathisers. Starting from one little camp in 1907, of which this book was the outcome, the Movement has grown and expanded automatically.
This points to two things: first, the attraction that Scouting has for the boys; secondly, the volume of that innate patriotism which underlies the surface among the men and women of our nation in spite of the misdirection of their education towards Self. Thousands of these form a force of voluntary workers, from every grade of society, giving their time and energies for no reward other than the satisfaction of helping the boys to become good citizens.
The teaching is by example, and the boys are quick to learn service where they have before them this practical exposition of it on the part of their Scoutmasters. The effects of this training where it has been in competent hands have exceeded all expectation in making happy, healthy, helpful citizens.
The aim of these leaders has been to help not merely the promising boys, but also, and more especially, the duller boy. We want to give him some of the joy of life and at the same time some of the attributes and some of the opportunities that his better-off brother gets, so that at least he shall have his fair chance in life.
All countries have been quick to recognise the uses of Scouting, and have in their turn adopted and developed the training exactly on the lines given in this book.
As a consequence there is now a widespread brotherhood of Boy Scouts about the world numbering at present some 6,000,000 (1954) members, all working for the same ideal under the same promise and Law, all regarding each other as brothers, and getting to know each other through interchange of correspondence and personal visits on a considerable scale.
It needs no great imagination to foresee vast international possibilities as the outcome of this fast-growing brotherhood in the near future. This growing spirit of personal friendship and wide-minded goodwill among the future citizens of the nations behind it may not only give it that soul, but may prove a still stronger insurance against the danger of international war in the future. This may seem but a wild dream, but so would it have been a wild dream had anyone imagined forty years ago that this little book was going to result in a Brotherhood of over six million Boy Scouts to-day and a corresponding sisterhood of some three and a quarter million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
But such is the case.
And such vision is not beyond the range of possibility, if men and women come in to take their share in the promotion of the work.
The co-operation of tiny sea insects has brought about the formation of coral islands. No enterprise is too big where there is goodwill and co-operation in carrying it out. Every day we are turning away boys anxious to join the Movement, because we have not the men or women to take them in hand. There is a vast reserve of loyal patriotism and Christian spirit lying dormant in our nation to-day, mainly because it sees no direct opportunity for expressing itself. Here in this joyous brotherhood there is vast opportunity open to all in a happy work that shows results under your hands and a work that is worth while because it gives every man his chance of service for his fellow-men and for God.
Old Socrates spoke truly when he said, “No man goeth about a more godly purpose than he who is mindful of the right upbringing not only of his own, but of other men’s children.”
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.
Instruction in scouting should be given as far as possible through practices, games, and competitions.
Games should be organized mainly as team matches, where the patrol forms the team, and every boy is playing, none merely looking on.
Strict obedience to the rules to be at all times insisted on as instruction in discipline.
The rules given in the book as to games may be altered by Scout-masters where necessary to suit local conditions.
The ideas given here are merely offered as suggestions, upon which it is hoped that instructors will develop further games, competitions, and displays.
Several of the games given here are founded on those in Mr. Thompson Seton’s “Book of Woodcraft”, called “Spearing the Sturgeon” (Whale Hunt), “Quick Sight” (Spotty Face), “Spot the Rabbit”, “Bang the Bear”, “Hostile Spy” (Stop Thief), etc. A number of non-scouting games are quoted from other sources.
The following is a suggestion for the distribution of the work for the first few weeks. It is merely a Suggestion and in no sense binding.
Remember that the boy on joining, wants to begin “Scouting” right away; so don’t dull his keenness, as is so often done, by too much preliminary explanation at first. Meet his wants by games and scouting practices, and instill elementary details bit by bit afterwards as you go along.
N.B.—The previous paragraph was in the former editions of this book, but it was in some cases ignored by Scoutmasters, with the result that their training was a failure.
Remember also to start small. Six or eight carefully chosen boys will be enough to begin with, and after they have received Scout training for a month or two, they will be fit to lead and instruct fresh recruits as they are admitted.