Every so often Scouting gets an outside-in evaluation that reveals how we are regarded by those with little or know connection to the movement. I expect many commentaries as Scouting celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Scouting began as, has been, and always will be a work in progress based on the simple goals of making the world a better place. No doubt we will continue to be lauded, chided, loved and hated. If we have the patience and vision to listen to what is being said about us we may gain some valuable insights.
David Smith interviews Ian Hislop (editor of British satirical magazine Private Eye, a team captain on the popular satirical current affairs quiz Have I Got News for You and a comedy scriptwriter) in the Sunday April 22, 2007 issue of The Observer about a film about Scouting he made for BBC4:
‘I was never in the Boy Scouts,’ Hislop said. ‘I think at that age I was probably too busy making jokes about “Baden-Powell’s scouting for boys. Is he? Naughty old Baden-Powell.” Not realising that wasn’t a very new joke, and that it’s always been easy to laugh at Baden-Powell and at the Scouts and it’s become something of a national tradition.
‘But I found, rereading Scouting for Boys, it is an extraordinary book. It’s very radical and it addresses all sorts of issues that we think of as modern: citizenship, what do with disaffected youth, social responsibility. It’s very eccentric, very Edwardian and very English. That’s what appealed then, and that’s what appeals to me now.’
In making Ian Hislop’s Scouting for Boys, a documentary to be shown on BBC4 on Monday 14 May at 9pm, the journalist admits his assumptions were turned upside down.
‘In the Seventies and Eighties, Scouting had been deeply unfashionable and uncool and a slightly naff thing to join, and I’d just taken that on board,’ he said. ‘I went back and had a look at it and thought this is the most bizarre book, quite bonkers but also quite brilliant.’
‘I talked to some Scouts and felt mildly embarrassed that I’d been snotty about it. There were some quite tough lads saying, “This is a brilliant thing and it’s kept me on the straight and narrow, and we’re very grateful about it.” I felt I’d rather missed out.