In the Birch Bark Roll (Link to PDF version) first published in 1902 Earnest Thompson-Seton describes camp leadership. (Many of his ideas were adapted by Baden-Powell in his Scouting for Boys.)
When two or three young people camp out, they can live as a sort of family, especially if a grown-up be with them, but when a dozen or more go, it is necessary to organize.
There are four possible forms of government:
- First, the patriarchal, as above; it answers fairly for two or three, but fails with a considerable party.
- Second; the school system, which, for several reasons, has not succeeded out of doors.
- Third, the Brigade, which many object to, chiefly because it fosters militarism; and last, the Tribal or Indian form.
Fundamentally this is a republic or limited monarchy, and has proved far the best. It makes its members self-governing. It offers appropriate things to do outdoors; it is so plastic that it can be adopted in whole or in part, at once or gradually; its picturesqueness takes immediate hold of the boys, and it lends itself so well to existing ideas that soon or late most camps are forced into its essentials, call them what they will.
No large band of boys ever yet camped out for a month without finding it necessary to recognize leaders, a senior form, or ruling set whose position rests on merit, some wise grown person to guide them in difficulties, and a place to display the emblems of the camp; that is, they have adopted the system of Chiefs, Council, Medicine-man and Totem-pole.
Seton’s “wise grown person” became Powell’s Scoutmaster. I like the idea of Scoutmaster as medicine man. In Seton’s interpretation of tribal government the medicine man was there to be called upon when needed to advise or explain and to judge competitions. Seton did not go into great detail explaining the role of the medicine man in the Birch Bark Roll.
It would be some years before any substantial explanation of the adult role in Scouting but Seton’s original ideas indicate that adults influence was intended to be advisory to the self government of the boys themselves.