CONCENTRATION in education can only be obtained when the work to be done
is suited to the tastes and abilities of the learner.
The natural instinct of the infant is to develop itself by exercise
which we call "Play." It has an inherent desire to accomplish; the young
child wants to do things and to overcome difficulties to its own
Dr. Montessori has proved that by encouraging a child in its
natural desires, instead of instructing it in what you think it ought to do,
you can educate it on a much more solid and far-reaching basis. It is only
tradition and custom that ordain that education should be a labour, and that
as such it is good training for the child in discipline and application.
One of the original objects of Scouting for Boys was to break
through this tradition and to show that, by giving attractive pursuits to
the young, one could lead them to develop for themselves the essentials of
character, health, and handiness.
It is maintained by many interested in education that concentration
on the part of the child is most essential to its successful education, but
is most difficult to obtain in school.
I don't know what happens in school, but I know that it is most
easy to get concentration outside the school if you only give a child its
own task to do in its own way.
The thing is to study the child and see what interests it. Look at
a youngster making sand castles on the beach, how he will go at it hour
after hour until he overcomes his difficulties and builds up his castle to
his satisfaction. He concentrates the whole of his thought and the whole of
his physical energy upon it. If you adapt such whole-hearted keenness to
educational ends, there is no difficulty about obtaining the concentration
This is exactly what happens in the Scout Movement -- on a step
higher than the castles in the sand -- but the success in results is
entirely the outcome of study of the child, and of utilising his bent --
whatever it may be -- for his own development.
Does the school teacher get his certificate for knowledge of the
child or for knowledge of the three R's ?
The main step to success is to develop, not to repress, the child's
character, and at the same time, above all, not to nurse him. He wants to
be doing things, therefore encourage him to do them in the right
direction, and let him do them in his own way. Let him make his mistakes; it
is by these that he learns experience.
Education must be positive, not negative -- active, not passive.
For example, the Scout Law in each of its details says: "A Scout does" --
his, that, or the other.
Authorities have come along to improve the Scout Law, and not
recognising the active side of it, have changed it to the reverse -- a
series of "Don'ts." "Don't," of course, is the distinguishing feature and
motto of the old-fashioned system of repression, and is a red rag to a boy.
It is a challenge to him to do wrong.
Sought knowledge lasts, unsought does not.
Every boy is different in ability, temperament, and mind, and yet
we try to teach them all in a heap the same things. One will come out top of
his class because a subject happens to suit him, but he does not at the top
We have been criticised in the Scout Movement for offering such a
large number of badges for proficiency in different lines. The object of
this was, not that each by should try to win all these badges, but to try to
meet the enormous variety of characters among boys, and to give each one his
chance by selecting his own subject. We so not perpetuate the school custom,
thereby abilities may be equally good but unfortunately not in one of the
subjects which come into the school curriculum.
The aim of the Proficiency Badge is to encourage self-education on
the part of the boy in a subject which interests him.
THE Wolf Cubs have been instituted in order to provide training for boys
of eight to eleven, to help Scoutmasters to keep their Troops composed of
boys over that age.
I saw recently once again a "ridiculous Troop," largely composed
of little chaps in big hats and baggy shorts grasping staffs twice as tall
as themselves. "Why ?" I asked the Scoutmaster. : Can't get bigger boys to
stay in the Troop," was the reply.
I thought it was very unlikely he would be able to do so if he
continued to try to mix big lads with "kiddies." I had hoped that, with the
institution of the Wolf Cubs for this very purpose. We should have seen the
last of these unfortunate attempts to make up numbers with youngsters who
cannot do the work nor maintain the prestige of Scouts.
However, the Wolf Cubs are going ahead now, and will, I hope,
before long take in all the small boys and that " ridiculous Troops" of
Scouts, as they have been described will be no more seen.
AT the age of fourteen out boys finish their schooling in three R's, and
are then supposed to be sufficiently grounded educationally to specialise
for a particular line in life and, after making their choices, to take up
the required form of training in the continuation or the technical school.
But how many of them do this ? Less than half.
The remainder take up some occupation that gives them immediate
pay, without regards to what it is going to hive them later on.
This is not economising out country's future man-power or
mind-power, nor does it help the boys' personal prospects and happiness
later on in life. If we are going to win the war after the war we have got
to put into practice the strictest economy in the prevention of human waste.
Through the Scout Movement we can do a powerful good in this
direction. As matters stand, we lead a boy on in progressive stages from his
early years, and through Proficiency Badges we encourage him to try his hand
at various hobbies till he eventually finds one beyond others at which he
proves him good.
The suggestion now is that he should be further given ambition to
develop this particular gift on to a higher standard so that it may help him
directly in his career.
This encouragement might be given through badges of a higher grade
than the existing ones, such, for instance, as he could work for through a
continuation school, or in technical classes, or by corresponding
This higher grade of badge, however, would not of itself be a
sufficient incentive to some boys to stay on without other more personal
inducements, and therefore it is possible that a distinctive form that of
Scout uniform would also be desirable, differing from that of the younger
boy and placing the senior boy on a distinct footing of his own.
Retaining the Scout shirt, he might war a smart cap in lieu of the
hat, and knee breeches where he preferred them to shorts.
The Senior Scouts in a Troop, that is those of, say, sixteen who
hold a First-class Badge, could form a special Patrol, and would be given
supervisory duties as Assistants to the Scoutmaster in his work in cases
where thy cannot continue as Patrol Leaders.
Such Senior Patrol would form a standing team for public services,
such as fire-brigade duties, work as special constables, accident
first-aiders, emergency signallers, coast-watcher, etc., according to their
I have grouped under headings are these: Commercial, Naval,
Intellectual, Manufacturing, Agricultural, Military, Trade, and Pioneering,
each having at least six alternative subjects for study. The practice of
these would tend to make the boys efficient and fit for careers, while
expanding their minds and tastes in the human direction as well. They would
thus still be retained in their Troops without throwing any extra work on
the Scoutmaster or requiring new organisation.
Whether they had the name or not they would be veritable "Cadets,"
Cadets of citizenhood, of commerce and industry, but as such far more
valuable to the nation for the war that is coming than merely military
A CERTAIN slackness has crept in during the war in some Troops, as
regards wearing shorts, which suggests a possible deficiency in the Scout
It would be an interesting study to find out why each boy who is a
Scout first joined the Scouts. It would also be equally interesting to
ascertain why each ex-Scout left the Scouts.
So far as I have gone in such investigation on my own account the
conclusion that suggests itself is briefly this: Wan of adventure brought
the boy in -- lack of adventure took him out.
By "lack of adventure" I mean too much drill or too much school
method and too little scoutcraft, backwoodsmanship and camping, with a
consequent absence of the Scout spirit.
Signs of this occur in the suggestions which crop up from time to
time for a different hat, the giving up of staffs, and the substitution of
breeches of shorts.
The boys originally joined the Movement with their eyes open,
knowing that shorts were part of the uniform which they wee expected to
adopt, so that where there is any tendency to object to them it gives the
Scoutmaster a good opportunity of teaching a lesson which is very much
needed just now in the rising generation, namely, that it is breaking faith
to go back on the understanding under which they joined; a good fellow will
stick to this word even though it may gall him.
As a matter of fact where elder boys complain that shorts are
"kids' clothing" it gives one a very good hint that their training in
Scoutcraft has scarcely been all that might be desired.
The material answer could of course be given that our athletes,
footballers, and oarsmen, all wear shorts, as do our light infantry and
scouts in the Army.
But it is the spirit of the thing that is the more important
However, in any case, we do not lose many boys over it and we lose
none who are true Scouts.
LOTS of Woodcraft and Nature Studyshould be our Aim.
Autumn is already upon us again. How suddenly it comes, and how it
catches us if we haven't laid our plans, in time ! I am glad, however, to
feel that Commissioners and Scoutmasters generally appear to have Been
Preparing for it with their camping schemes and fixtures.
Preliminary week-end camps for Scoutmasters arranged by
Commissioners are of most especial value. Where it is possible to get a few
outsiders to come and taste the joys of these and learn the ropes of
Scouting, it often is the surest way of recruiting the ranks of officers.
Instruction camps or tramps for Patrol Leaders should also have
their place in every programme. But above all, let's hope that not a Troop
will miss its outing in the autumn holidays: it is worth the whole of the
rest of the year's training in the club.
Most Troops seem to have arranged their work for helping " on the
land," and no better aim could they have just now. But to Scoutmasters in
charge I would say -- give your boys all you can of woodcrraft and Nature
study; of pioneering and pathfinding actually in practice. The Nature study
should be a real close touch with Nature, far beyond the academic dipping
into the subject which passes under the name in school. Collecting, whether
of plaints or "bugs," and investigation, whether of beasts or birds, are
all-absorbing studies for the boy and mighty good for him.
Don't let your camping be the idle boring picnic that it can
become when carried out on military lines. Scouting and backwoodsmanship is
what we're out for, and what the boys most want. Let them have it good and
It is in camp that the Scoutmaster has his opportunity for
inculcating under pleasing means the four main points of training.
Character, service for others, skills, and bodily health. But beside all it
is his golden chance to bring the boy to God through the direct appeal of
Nature and her store of wonders.
I HAVE noticed a slackness in one or two centres lately in the matter of
Scouts being allowed to parade without their staffs, which for several
reasons is regrettable.
The Scout's staff is a distinctive feature about his equipment, and
it has its moral as well as its practical uses.
The essential point is that this should be realised and appreciated
by the Scoutmaster and Commissioner.
I remember when, in pre-war days, I was attending a review of the
German cavalry, the Emperor asked me what I thought of their lances. I
ventured to express the opinion that they were too long to be effective in
war, and that a shorter lance, such as we use for pigsticking in India,
would be more practical. He smiled and explained, "That is true -- but in
peace time we are breeding the spirit in our men. I find that with
every inch that you put on to a man's lance you give him an extra foot of
Well, although the idea is "made in Germany," there is something in
it. The Scout's staff had, as a matter of fact, been in the hands of the
Scouts before that conversation, and I had already realised its value in the
direction of giving smartness to a body of Scouts and a completeness to the
individual which distinguished him from other boys and gave him the esprit
de corps which is so effective a step to efficiency.
There are historical associations connected with it which give the
staff a sentimental value if we look back to the first British Boy Scouts of
a Cuhulain armed with staffs, the pilgrims or "good turn trampers," with
their cockle-shells and staffs, the 'prentice bands of London with their
cloth yards and their staffs, the merry men of Robin Hood with bows and
quarter staffs, down to the present-day mountaineers, war-scouts, and
explorers; these all afford a precedent which should have its romance and
meaning to the boy if properly applied.
The ceremony of enrolment of the Scout can and should be made a
moment of impressive feeling for the boy when he is invested with the hat
and staff that mark the Scout, and which equip him for his pilgrimage on
that path where he "turns up right and keeps straight on." The officer who
fails to use such opportunity is missing one of the most important chances
in the Scout life of his boy.
He should expect of the boy a reverence and affection for his staff
-- such as the swordsman has for his sword, or the hunter for his rifle. Let
the Scout individualise his own staff, even to decorate it in his own way if
he likes, but let him keep to his staff. To jumble all staffs into a bundle
and put them away in a corner after parade, or, worse, to let them get lost
and thus excuse their appearance on parade, is to neglect a valuable help to
the moral training of the lad.
All this, of course, is quite apart from the actual practical uses
of the staff.
OUR principle of decentralisation is the accepted method for the
administration of the Boy Scout Movement.
Scoutmasters are given a free hand in the management and training
of their Troops under the general supervision of the representative of
Headquarters, viz. the Commissioner, whose business it is to see that the
lines of policy on which our charter was granted are not departed from.
These Commissioners also act as the representatives to Headquarters
of local needs.
For committees we substitute individuals as responsible heads of
the different departments of administration. Then the Local Association
gives the necessary backing and help that may be needed by the Scoutmasters
in their work.
Thus these officers are not bothered with committee or office
work, as is so often the drawback in other societies, but are free to devote
the whole of their spare time and energy to the main work, namely, the
training of the boy.
Frequent conferences of officers give full ventilation to the
various questions requiring it, and supply all with a better understanding
of what is going on and of what is needed in the Movement.
If and when they find this method does not work satisfactorily, it
is open to officers -- indeed it is their duty to the Movement -- to
represent the fact to their Commissioner.
The system has been arrived at after very full consideration and
after much experience -- sometimes bitterly bought. The point is that
officers come into the Movement with their eyes open and that this is the
form of administration which they accept in doing so, and to which they
further bind themselves where they take the promise to carry out, inter
alia, the Law of Loyalty.
Every horseman knows that the only successful method for managing a
spirited horse is to be on good terms with him, through the rider having a
firm seat and giving him his head with a light hand on the guiding rein.
I am certain that it is through our use of this same principle in
the form of local government under a light-handed supervision on a
well-defined policy that our brotherhood has already shown such splendid
corporate energy coupled with that united spirit which is the driving force
THE man who has been knocking about the world, the man who has tasted
danger and faced death, the man, in fact, who has seen life in the better
sense of the phrase, is generally deeply religious. But his religion would
not be recognised by some; it is unorthodox -- it has not been formulated by
man, but is the natural outcome of his constant communing with Nature.
He probably could not define it himself, because it has no
doctrine, no ritual.
He has come to appreciate the vastness approaching to infinity in
Nature with nevertheless a regular law underlying it all, and he has come to
realise that even the small things, down to the microscopic germs, have each
their part and responsibility in the working of the whole.
He has thus learnt his own comparative insignificance, and at the
same time his own duty in life. He is conscious of progressive stages to
higher things, to fuller happiness ? from the seed to the flower, from the
flower to the fruit; and that with man these stages are helped by his active
effort towards progress as much as by his passive receptance of the
He realises that happiness is gained by surmounting difficulties,
but that life is barren and unsatisfactory where the effort is solely for
self; that service for others brings the greatest reward.
When St. George overcame the dragon it was not merely for the
triumph of defeating the beast that he strove, but for the greater
satisfaction of helping the lady in distress.
Some may object that the religion of the Backwoods is also a
religion of the backward; and to some extent it is so. It is going back to
the primitive, to the elemental, but at the same time it is to the common
ground on which most forms of religion are based -- namely, the appreciation
of God and service to one's neighbour.
But in many cases form has so overclothed the original simple faith
of Nature that it is hardly recognisable. We have come to judge a religion
very much as we do a person -- if we are snobbish -- by its dress.
Anyone who does not wear the orthodox dress, and who reverts to the
natural, is apt to be looked upon as indecent, or at the least eccentric,
although he is, after all, merely displaying the form in which all are
moulded by Nature -- by God.
Yet the natural form in religion is so simple that a child can
understand it; a boy can understand it, a Boy Scout can understand it. It
comes from within, from conscience, from observation, from love, for use in
all that he does. It is not a formality or a dogmatic dressing donned from
outside, put on for Sunday wear. It is, therefore, a true part of his
character, a development of soul, and not a veneer that may peel off.
Once the true body is there it can be dressed in the clothing best
suited to it, but clothing without the body is a mere scarecrow --
I do not mean by this that we want to divert a boy from the faith
of his fathers; far from it.
The aim is to give him the better foundation for that faith by
encouraging in him perceptions which are understandable by him.
Too often we forget when presenting religion to the boy that he
sees it all from a very different point of view from that of the grown-up.
Nor can true religion be taught as a lesson to a class in school.
It is appalling to think what a vast proportion of our boys have
turned out either prigs or unbelievers through misconception of these points
on the part of their teachers.
As nearly every man will now have political voting power, one of the aims
of education should be to prepare the young citizen for his responsibilities
in this line.
This is a matter, however, that cannot be taught by class
instruction in "civics."
Then how are you to do it in the school training ? Well, that
question has proved a puzzler; it is therefore discreetly left alone by
education with the pious hope that the teachings of history will incline the
boys' minds in the right direction.
A fat lot of -- -- . Well, to my mind, something much more
practical is needed in view of the unprecedented political evolution that is
going on. Formerly the young man took up the same line of politics as his
father had done before him -- just as he did in the question of religion --
not from his own convictions, but from tradition.
Nowadays, with the rapid social developments and changes, what his
father thought is out of date and behind the times for the modern young
We in the Scout Movement are non-political as far as party politics
go, and I hope it will not be thought that in speaking thus I am advocating
any particular party ideas, for I have no such thing in my mind. As a matter
of fact I am so little impressed by any of the present political factions in
Parliament that I have so far never exercised my own voting power for any
one or other of them.
A writer recently stated how he was once authorised to invite me to
stand for Parliament, and though I declined he does not know to this day
what party I favour.
Nor do I.
So I have no party intentions in my remarks, nor should any Scout
officer have it in his mind when preparing his lads for their political
It is statesmanship rather than party politics for which we want to
We, in the Scout Movement, are credited with supplying for the boy,
who has not had the same chance as one brought up in a public school, an
equivalent character training, especially in the directions of
responsibility and discipline.
The practice of responsible authority and obedience to it among the
boys is carried out in the Scout Movement through the Patrol system. But it
is on lines rather more in accordance with the spirit of the age than the
prefect system of the public school.
We have to realise there are two forms of discipline: one is the
expression of loyalty through action, the other submission to orders through
fear of punishment.
In the prefect system authority is deputed by the masters to the
head boys. It is merely the delegation of autocratic rule and, while it puts
the junior boy in his place (not a bad thing at times), it is in no sense
democratic. It does not give the boy freedom of action, except at the risk
of punishment if he takes the line that does not please his superior.
Whereas in the patrol system, where properly carried out, the Leader is
responsible for the success of his Patrol, whether in its games or in its
efficiency, and the Scouts are impelled to carry out the Leader's
instructions through their desire for their Patrol to excel. It is the
expression of their keenness and esprit de corps by doing. In other
words it is "playing the game."
The Leader realises on his part that to gain success he has to
foster this spirit by tact and discrimination and by appealing to the human
In the Court of Honour (again if properly run) the voice of the
boys is heard, and the rules are made for their own guidance by the boys
Similarly in the Patrol Leaders' Conference (again where properly
managed) the ideals and aims of the Movement are considered and the steps to
them discussed among the boys themselves, so that they become possessed of a
wider and less selfish outlook in realising the "cons" as well as the "pros"
of the question which previously may have had but one side to them.
Thus the Patrol becomes a practical school of self-government.
It is a commonly quoted saying that "Only those can lead who have
first learned to obey." Yes, but like many truisms it has its limits. I
prefer also as a leader the man who has learned to lead. There used to be
no greater bully in the army than the N.C.O., who had learned hard
discipline himself as a private and was then promoted and given a
sufficiently free hand in dealing out discipline in his turn. Nowadays he
learns that consideration for his men and regard to the higher aims rather
than his own individual importance give the right impulse that brings
So, too, I suspect that in many shops and factories the workers
would work more happily and more effectively under a foreman who has tact
and human sympathy and who looks beyond the bench to the results of the
work, than under one whose promotion merely as a skilled hand has given him
a swollen head.
Give me a foreman who has learned his job as a Patrol Leader.
These are thoughts that may well be kept in mind when our worker is
at work on his Troop bench, in order that he may so fashion his Court of
Honour and direct the aims of his Patrol Leaders that the Troop may form a
school for training leaders among the next generation of citizens.
THE many questions which have been put to me as to what is our attitude
in the Scout Movement towards reconstruction after the war, shows what an
amount of interest is already being aroused in that direction among our
officers; and this encourages the conviction that it is in our power to do a
valuable work in that line.
I have often said this before, but have evidently been rather vague
in defining exactly what that line is.
Well, considering the difficulty of prophesying what is likely to
come after the war it is not an easy thing even to suggest, much less to lay
down, a definite scheme.
But a few points are fixed and certain, and they will help us on
In the first place, as someone has said lately, "If the war does
not teach lessons that will so dominate those who survive it, and those who
succeed them, as to make new things possible, then the war will be the
greatest catastrophe . . . of which mankind has any record."
That statement no one will gainsay.
Let us think what is a main evil in our midst that ought to be
remedied, and, through the light and experience of the war, possibly could
be remedied for "those who succeed us," if proper steps were taken.
To my mind the condition of the lower working (I won't use the word
"class." I would like to see that word abolished for ever, with all the harm
that it has done), working men and women must and ought to be bettered.
One obstacle to bringing this about has been the barrier between
the "classes," between Capital and Labour, etc.
And yet we are by nature all fellow-creatures, even of the same
blood and family; the class boundary is an entirely artificial erection, and
can, therefore, be pulled down if only we set our minds to it. This is one
lesson which we may well take to heart from the war.
Indeed, the war has almost done the trick for us with its
conscription of all, rich and poor without distinction, with its common
sharing of hardship and danger, and its common sacrifice for a common ideal
at the Front, coupled with the common sorrow and the common service of those
behind the scenes at home.
Are we after the war to allow the fellow-feeling thereby engendered
to be dissipated by a revival of those miserable party politics and social
barriers and industrial quarrels that had brought about such bitter
conditions in pre-war days ? God forbid !
The war will here have helped us if only we determine to make the
best use of it. Our aim should be to mingle class with class, and to bring
about a happier and more human life for all, so that the poorer shall reap
his share of enjoyment just as much as his more well-to-do brother; the
employer should be humanised to the extent of sympathising and dealing
squarely and liberally with his employees; the worker should be shown how to
use his means to the best advantage in making for himself a better home and
fuller life. Both parties should realise that by combination of effort they
can bring about better conditions for each.
Education comes into the question as a key -- and mainly education
Unselfishness, self-discipline, wider fellow-feeling, sense of
honour and duty should be implanted, and such attributes as enable a man,
no matter what his standing, to look beyond his own immediate ledger or
bench and see the good of his work for the community, putting into his
routine some service for others as well as for himself, developing also some
perception of what is beautiful in Nature, in art and in literature, so that
his higher interest may be aroused, and he may get enjoyment from his
surroundings whatever they may be.
These are points of which we in the Scout Movement can do much to
impart the elements and to lay the foundations.
I AM writing this in the train, crowded up with eleven others in
the carriage; no room for luggage, no porters, or taxis at the station to
carry it if I had; and I am starting off on a trip of at least a week.
I take with me my "grip," as the Americans call holding a few small
necessaries but no other clothes. The Standard suit that I am wearing will
suffice for all the different occasions of my trip. Besides travelling by
train I expect to go into camp for a day or two. I have to attend a
conference and also a rally. I hope to stay with friends for a couple of
nights and possibly to get a few hours' fishing. Before the war I should
have wanted a lot of luggage with me to provide the necessary mufti --
evening clothes, fishing kit, and uniform.
As it is I go in my Standard suit, which does equally well for
every one of these functions -- the Scout uniform.
As our uniform has passed muster at Buckingham Palace when one of
our Commissioners appeared in it recently to be decorated by the King for
his work with the Scouts, it is surely good enough to be accepted anywhere
But -- well, I had to comment in The Scout the other day on
the slovenly get-up of some Scouts I had seen, and I am perfectly certain in
my own mind that their Scoutmaster (though I had not seen him) does not
dress himself correctly or well.
Smartness in uniform and correctness in detail seems a small matter
to fuss about, but has its value in the development of self-respect, and
means an immense deal to the reputation of the Movement among outsiders who
judge by what they see.
It is largely a matter of example. Show me a slackly-dressed Troop
and I can "Sherlock" a slackly-dressed Scoutmaster. Think of it,
Scoutmasters, when you are fitting on your uniform or putting that final
saucy cock to your hat. You are the model to your boys and your smartness
will reflect itself in them.
HE may have had his faults -- the Tsar; he may have been a weak man, but
at any rate he was no bloody-minded tyrant. He was merely the representative
of a succession of autocratic rulers of Russia.
And though democratic self-government is a consummation devoutly to
be wished for as a rule, who can say, in the light of recent history, that
all Russia was yet ripe for it ?
It is difficult for us in our little island to realise the strange
contrast of peoples there, and how wide is the variety of different tribes,
half of them Asiatic, and in many parts two hundred years behind the times.
It is not, perhaps, generally realised that Nicholas himself was both
sympathetic and alive to this. In him the people had a better friend than
probably they knew.
One aim he had in view was to build up eventually a modem nation
capable of self-government, and of developing the immense resources of the
But he realised that this was not a matter of a moment that as a
first step education on more up-to-date lines was essential, even though
traditional methods were upset in bringing it about.
He was not too proud to look abroad and see what other folk were
One day he heard the story of the feckless and the persevering
frogs who fell into the cream. This attracted him to read the book in which
it is told -- namely, Scouting for Boys. Then the writer was sent for
to explain the scheme.
In an ordinary quiet little study I had a long and quite informal
talk with the Tsar alone. He had fully grasped the possibilities of the
Scout-training for education up to date, and he saw the meaning underneath
its woodcraft and activities which gave free play to the individual on the
line of self-discipline and service for others.
He explained how the existing system in Russia was to educate the
boys as military cadets. The schoolhouse was a barrack, the masters ranked
as officers, the discipline was that of the Army -- and pretty stiff at
that. No individuality was permitted to the boys, no games or practice that
might develop their character from within; their schooling was a round of
instruction imposed from without.
This, the Tsar felt, was not a way in which to bring a nation up to
date nor to meet the growing instinct for liberty of thought and action. He
saw a road to this in Scouting. He had, therefore, had the book translated
into Russian, and had invited all the schools to try the training on their
By way of encouraging this he had agreed personally to review the
first school which passed its test in Scoutcraft. This happened to be one
away in the Crimea, but the boys were brought up all the way to Petrograd by
special train to be inspected and to receive his praise.
What a day for them !
He now invited me to visit schools and see the boys in their
transition from Cadet training to that of Scouting. He felt the difficulty
might be to change the spirit with the form of education, and for success
this was essential. As he saw it Cadet-training was form without soul,
whereas that of Scouting appeared to be the free expression of the right
individual spirit on the part of the boy. He had grasped the idea himself,
but whether the schoolmasters had done so was another question.
He was at any rate sufficiently impressed by the value of Scouting
to make his own son take it up.
* * * * *
Visits to schools gave one a better understanding of what was in
the Tsar's mind when he recommended them to adopt Scouting.
A typical case occurred at Moscow. The school staff entertained me
at luncheon as a preliminary to the inspection. Needless to say they were
all in uniform, wearing swords, etc. The headmaster was an ancient colonel
who had been in this position for over thirty years !
Before we were through the "zakoushka," or hors d' Šuvre,
my hosts were hard at it endeavouring to fill me up with wine, which still
remained the surest sign of Russian hospitality. It is true that by the
exercise of a certain amount of camouflage I got through the ordeal
safely. But the fact of the attempt speaks for itself.
The parade of the Cadets was wonderful for precision of drill and
smartness, the dormitories were spotless, each commanded by a
non-commissioned officer from the Army. The discipline was of the very
strictest; no games were countenanced, natural tendencies were repressed in
every direction, the boys were taught to fear and to obey.
Yet those lads had all the boyish go and spirit in them waiting to
Such Cadet-training was to me like an ordinary cyclist riding a
motor-bike, and arduously propelling it by the pedals from outside, when all
the time the spirit that was within would have run the whole thing for him
if he only liked to apply it.
The spirit was there right enough. A guard of honour of the Russian
Boy Scouts was formed up at the station to see me off; rigid as stone they
stood in their ranks, but one could see the life and soul of the boy blazing
in those excited eyes as one walked down the line.
It struck me so much that I could not leave them with a mere
glance, so I walked back, shaking hands with each. As I neared the finish
their feelings became too much for them. There was a sudden cry, they broke
their ranks and were all over me in a second, shaking hands, kissing my
clothes, and everyone bent on giving me some sort of keepsake out of his
pocket. The eager enthusiasm of boyhood was there, ready to respond even to
a stranger and a foreigner.
To me it was typical, and accounted for much of what has happened
since on a large scale in Russia.
Give a natural flowing stream its run in the right direction and it
will serve you well. Dam it up with artificial restrictions, and some day it
will burst the bonds and maybe become a raging, ruinous flood.
Imposed discipline leads to reaction; discipline from within needs
Moral: Don't trust to military training as the best preparation for
modern citizenship. For up-to-date self-government up-to-date self-education
seems the right preparatory step. For this new wine old bottles are not
safe. You see the proof in Russia.
OUR record in the war, and the inspiring words of the King to the nation
on its successful conclusion, give us at once our line, our incentive, and
our duty with the Scouts.
The fighting is over at last, and from highest to lowest the
Scouts, whether from home or overseas, have distinguished themselves in
noticeable proportion throughout the war. Among the highest, three out of
the five Army Commanders in France are Scout Commissioners -- Sir Herbert
Plumer, Sir William Birdwood, and Sir Julian Byng.
Then down through the long list of V.C.s, D.S.O.s and very many
other honours won by old Scouts, we pass with heart-strung regret, yet with
admiring pride, to the noble Roll of Honour of those who have given their
lives for right and justice, and -- let us not forget -- for us as well
When we turn to those fine lads of ours who are coming on in the
places of those heroes, we realise that they can be led by the example of
those who have gone on, to uplift their aims on to a higher plane, and the
achievements of the boys in minor war service for their country already
gives promise of a worthy manhood.
With such promise to hearten us, and with the call of the King
ringing in our ears, to "create a better Britain" the least responsive among
us cannot fail to feel that now is the time for forward action.
GOD didn't invent physical "jerks." The Zulu warrior, splendid
specimen though he is, never went through Swedish drill. Even the ordinary
well-to-do British boy, who has played football and hockey, or who has run
his paper chases regularly and has kept himself fit by training exercises
between whiles, seldom needs physical drill to develop him afterwards.
It is good open-air games and sport which bring to the boy health
and strength in a natural and not an artificial way. Nobody will disagree
with this. It is quite simple in theory, but in its practice we find some
few difficulties to overcome.
Your city boy or the factory hand who is at work all day cannot get
out to play games in the open. The outdoor workers and country boy should by
right have a better chance since he lives more in the open air, but it is
seldom that even a country boy knows how to play a game or even how to run !
When inspecting Scouts, Commissioners make a point of seeing them
run in single file, when time and space allow in addition to merely walking
down the line themselves to look at the boys' faces and their dress.
They do this in order to judge to what extent the lads have been
physically trained by their Scoutmaster. The running tells its own tale. It
is perfectly astonishing to see how few boys are able to run.
The natural easy light step comes only with the practice of
running. Without it the poor boy develops either the slow heavy plod of the
clod-hopper or the shuffling paddle of the city man (and what a lot of
character is conveyed in the gait of a man !). The practice of
running is best inculcated through games and sport.
Physical exercises or "jerks" are an intensive form of development
where you cannot get good or frequent opportunity of games, and may well be
used in addition to games, provided that:
1. They are not made entirely a drill, but something that each boy
can really understand and want to practise for himself because of the good
that he knows it does him.
2. The instructor has some knowledge of anatomy and the possible
harm of many physical-drill movements on the young unformed body.
We should do everything to get the boy to interest himself in
steadily exercising his body and limbs, and in practising difficult feats
with pluck and patience until he masters them.
Then a team uniform of sorts is an attraction to the boy, promotes
esprit de corps in his athletic work, and incidentally involves
changing his clothes before and after playing, encourages a rub down -- a
wash -- cleanliness.
"How to keep fit" soon becomes a subject in which the athletic boy
takes a dose personal interest, and can be formed the basis of valuable
instruction in self-care, food values, hygiene, continence, temperance,
etc., etc. All this means physical education.
I saw some very smart physical drill by a Scout Troop quite
recently in their club headquarters. It was very fresh and good, but, my
wig, the air was not ! It was to say the least, "niffy." There was no
ventilation. The boys were working like engines, but actually undoing their
work all the time by sucking in poison instead of strengthening their blood.
Fresh air is half the battle towards producing results in physical
exercises, and it may advantageously be taken through the skin as well as
through the nose when possible.
Yes -- that open air is the secret of success. It is what Scouting
is for -- viz., to develop the out-of-doors habit as much as possible.
I asked a Scoutmaster not long ago, in a great city, how he managed
his Saturday hikes, whether in the park or in the country ? He did not have
them at all. Why not ? Because his boys did not care about them. They
preferred to come into the club room on Saturday afternoons ! Of course they
preferred it, poor little beggars; they are accustomed to being indoors. But
that is what we are out to prevent in the Scouts -- our object is to wean
indoors and to make the outdoors attractive to them.
We want open-air space, grounds of our own, preferably permanent
camp grounds easily accessible for the use of Scouts. As the Movement grows
these should form regular institutions at all centres of Scouting.
Besides serving this great purpose such camps would have a double
value. They could form centres of instruction for officers, where they could
receive training in camp craft and Nature lore, and above all could imbibe
the spirit of the out-of-doors -- he Brotherhood of the Backwoods.
This is the real objective of Scouting, and the key to its success.
With too much town life we are apt to undertook our aims and to
revert to type.
We are not a brigade -- or a Sunday School -- but a school of the
woods. We must get more into the open for the health, whether of the body or
the soul, of Scout and of Scoutmaster.
WHY is Nature Lore considered a Key Activity in Scouting ? That is a
question on which hangs the difference between Scout work and that of the
ordinary Boys' Club or Brigade.
Nature lore, as I have probably insisted only too often gives the
best means of opening out the minds and thoughts of boys, and at the same
time, if the point is not lost sight of by their trainer, it gives them
power of appreciating beauty in Nature, and consequently in art, such as
leads them to a higher enjoyment of life.
This is in addition to what I have previously advocated in Nature
study, namely the realisation of God, the Creator, through His wondrous
work, and the active performance of His will in service for others.
I was in the sitting-room last week of a friend who had just died,
and lying on the table amongst his abandoned pipes and tobacco pouch was a
book by Richard Jefferies, Field and Hedgerow, in which a page was
turned down which said, "The conception of moral good is not altogether
satisfying. The highest form known to us at present is pure unselfishness,
the doing of good, not for any reward now or hereafter, nor for the
completion of any imaginary scheme. That is the best we know, but how
unsatisfactory ! An outlet is needed more fully satisfying to the heart's
most inmost desire than is afforded by any labour of self-abnegation. It
must be something in accord with the perception of beauty and of an ideal.
Personal virtue is not enough. . . . Though I cannot name the ideal good, it
seems to me that it will in some way be closely associated with the ideal
beauty of nature."
In other words, one may suggest that happiness is a matter of inner
conscience and outward sense. It is to be got where the conscience as well
as the senses together are satisfied. If the above-quoted definition be
true, the converse is at least equally certain -- namely, that the
appreciation of beauty cannot bring happiness if your conscience is not at
rest. So that if we want our boys to gain happiness in life we must put into
them the practice of doing good to their neighbours and also the
appreciation of the beautiful.
The shortest step to this is through Nature lore:
"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
Among the masses of poorer boys their eyes have never been opened,
and to the Scoutmaster is given the joy of bringing about this worth-while
Once the germ of woodcraft has entered into the mind of a boy,
observation and deduction develop automatically and become part of his
character. They remain, whatever other pursuits he may afterwards take up.
(I remember suffering from that infliction myself when, as
Inspector-General of Cavalry, I was once riding down the front of a smart
Lancer Regiment, minutely examining each man and horse. To the astonishment
of the whole parade I suddenly turned, put spurs to my charger and dashed
away across the parade ground into a field beyond. I had seen two golden
plovers swoop down from the sky in that direction, and immediately a flock
of other birds -- starlings, rooks, pigeons, etc., had risen in a crowd from
the field. My immediate instinct was to see what had caused the disturbance.
Was it a fox or a gun or the golden plovers ? I looked to where they had
pitched. It was the plovers swooping from the sky that had alarmed the other
birds under the impression that hawks were upon them. I afterwards learned
that this was not an unusual occurrence. But my action had no more to do
with the inspection parade than has my story to do with this "Outlook.")
As the wonders of Nature are unfolded to the young mind, so, too,
its beauties can be pointed out and gradually become recognised. When
appreciation of beauty is once given a place in the mind, it grows
automatically in the same way as observation, and brings joy in the greyest
If I may diverge again, once on a dark raw foggy day I arrived for
a Scout function at the big gloomful station at Birmingham. We were hustled
along in a throng of grimy workers and muddy, travel-stained soldiers. Yet
as we pushed through the crowd I started and looked round, went on, looked
round again and finally had a good eye-filling stare before I went on. I
don't suppose my companions had realised it, but I had caught a gleam of
sunshine in that murky hole such as gave a new pleasure to the day. It was
just a nurse in brown uniform with gorgeous red-gold hair and a big bunch of
yellow and brown chrysanthemums in her arms. Nothing very wonderful, you
say. No, but for those who have eyes to see, these gleams are there even in
the worst of glooms.
It is too common an idea that boys are unable to appreciate beauty
and poetry; but I remember once some boys were being shown a picture of a
stormy landscape of which Ruskin had written that there was only one sign of
peace in the whole wind-torn scene. One of the lads readily pointed to a
spot of blue peaceful sky that was apparent through a rift in the driving
wrack of clouds.
Poetry also appeals in a way that it is difficult to account for,
and when the beautiful begins to catch hold the young mind seems to yearn to
express itself in something other than everyday prose.
Some of the best poetry can, of course, be found in prose writing,
but it is more generally associated with rhythm and rhyme. Rhyme, however,
is apt to become the main effort with the aspiring young poet, and so you
will get the most awful doggerel thrust upon you in your efforts to
encourage poetry. Switch them off doggerel if you can.
It is far too prevalent, when even our National Anthem itself
amounts to it. Rhythm is a form of art which comes naturally even to the
untrained mind, whether it be employed in poetry or music or in body
exercises. It gives a balance and order which has its natural appeal even,
and especially, among those closest to Nature -- savages. In the form of
music it is of course most obvious and universal. The Zulu war song, when
sung by four or five thousand warriors, is a sample of rhythm in music,
poetry and bodily movement combined.
The enjoyment of rendering or of hearing music is common to all the
human family. The song as a setting to words enables the soul to give itself
expression which, when adequately done, brings pleasure both to the singer
and to his hearer.
Through his natural love of music, the boy can be linked up with
poetry and higher sentiment as by a natural and easy transition. It opens a
ready means to the Scoutmaster of teaching happiness to his lads and at the
same time of raising the tone of their thoughts.
NOT long ago I was shown a pattern schoolboy camp where there were rows
of bell-tents smartly pitched and perfectly aligned, with a fine big mess
marquee and clean well-appointed cooks' quarters with a kitchen range.
There were brick paths and wooden bathing houses and latrines, etc.
It was all exceedingly well planned and put up by the contractor.
The officer who organised it all merely had to pay down a certain sum and
the whole thing was done. It was quite simple and businesslike.
My only complaint about it was that it wasn't camping.
Living under canvas is a very different thing from camping. Any ass, so to
speak, can live under canvas where he is one of a herd with everything done
for him; but he might just as well stop at home for all the good it is
likely to do him.
I hope, therefore, that when asked their advice. Scoutmasters will
impress upon camp organisers that what appeals to the boys, and what keeps
them occupied, and is at the same time an education for them, is real
camping ? that is, where they prepare their own encampment even to the
extent of previously making their own tents and learning to cook their own
Then the pitching of tents in separate sites and selected nooks, by
Patrols as far as possible, the arranging of watersupply and firewood, the
preparation of bathing places, field kitchens, latrines, soak and refuse
pits, etc., the use of camp expedients, and the making of camp utensils and
furniture, will give a keen interest and invaluable training.
Where you have a large number of boys in a canvas town you are
forced to have drill and bathing parades as a means of supplying mass
occupation, whereas with a few Patrols, apart from their minor camp work,
which fills up a lot of time, there is the continuous opportunity for
education in Nature lore and in the development of health of body and mind
through cross-country runs and hikes, and the outdoor life of the woods.
Get camp organisers to realise from the start the difference
between camping and living under canvas, and you will have done a
good turn to them and to their boys.
THE year of Peace has been looked forward to by every man, woman, and
child in the land as a release and change from the overclouding horror of
war -- and nobly the weather has played its part in making it so. For us
Scouts in particular it has given the very best encouragement in the
direction of camping -- and I am bound to say we have not missed the
I am trying through the goodwill of our officers to get some sort
of estimate of the number or proportion of boys who have been under canvas
As experts in camping it is going to be possible for Scout officers
to be of real help to the education authorities under the provisions of the
Fisher Act. As experts. But there you are; some of our men have not
so far had much experience in this direction; this naturally makes them shy
of taking their boys out into camp and giving themselves away; they wear
their cowboy hat bravely enough in the clubroom or street, but all the time
their inner self is saying, "If only I could get away quietly and learn how
you really do light a fire with wet sticks, or make yourself comfortable
with a blanket and a pot hook." It is the efficiency that is needed -- and
Gilwell Park is there to help them.
Of course the vast majority of our men know all about it, having
gone through the best of schools -- experience.
At the same time the reports of Commissioners on camps that have
been held this year do show that although the majority were undeniably good,
there were weak points here and there which a little knowledge or attention
could easily eradicate.
For instance, I notice some of the following straws that point to
want of care or experience:
Sites. -- Badly chosen where better were available for
surface drainage, shade, level for games, exposure to prevailing wind, water
Cleanliness of ground. -- No system of keeping camps
clean; paper littered about camp; food refuse not destroyed, and
consequently flies and ill-health; latrines badly placed and not filled in,
Cleanliness of Scouts. -- It seemed to be thought the
correct thing in some instances that when in camp Scouts could go dirty,
unwashed, and unkempt. When I was in Afghanistan -- but that's another story
! In the meantime, camp is the Scoutmaster's opportunity for expecting
cleanliness among apparently difficult conditions. He can show the example
himself and insist on it in his boys -- which, as a matter of minor
discipline and hygiene, is of pertinent value. A change of shoes, and
flannel trousers or gym suit, should be an important part of the camper's
kit. Proper washing and bathing facilities should be a first care in
arranging a standing camp.
Occupation. -- A camp if it is used merely as an excuse for
loafing and slackness is almost worse than no camp at all. Where you have a
large camp, drill becomes necessary to keep the crowd of boys employed,
unless you have enough space for endless football and other games.
Whereas in small Troop camps the varied Scout games and
activities, interspersed with physical team games, can be carried on all the
time without boring or tiring the lads. In too many instances camps were
held without previous intimation being given to the local Scout
Commissioner. This is not only contrary to the unwritten Scout Law of
Courtesy, but in very many cases the Commissioner would have helped the
Troop to far better sites and greater enjoyment had he known they were
And -- Scoutmasters -- wouldn't you enjoin on your boys that as
Scouts they are expected to differ from ordinary boys by carrying out this
simple Irish camping motto:
"On breaking up camp leave two things behind you --
"2. Your thanks."
Scanned by Aziah, used with permission.
||Used to express mild surprise or
||A large bus, typically used for
||sth that neither good nor bad
||Scottish Reformer and founder of
Presbyterianism in Scotland.
||A council or meeting with or of Native
||Reading, Writing, Arithmetic
||Rosemary Convalescent Home for Scouts,
||South African Constabulary
||Small cylindrical beads made from
polished shells and fashioned into strings or belts, formerly used
by certain Native American peoples as currency and jewelry or for
ceremonial exchanges between groups.