Two simple yet powerful aids to boy training towards happy citizenship
exist ready to hand in --
1. The glowing enthusiasm inherent in the boy himself.
2. The trainer's own experiences of life.
One Scoutmaster tells me that he takes my weekly remarks in the
Scout as his text for his week's work with his boys.
His conclusion after reading a good many of these weekly paragraphs
is that he believes that I "want to make the boy happy."
Well, I am glad that he has realised this, because it is really the
aim of our training. We want to show the boys how to be happy, how to enjoy
life, both (1) in the present, and (2) in the future.
We are not a Cadet Corps or a Council School; with all respect to
these institutions, their methods are not exactly ours; we want to make the
boys happy for ultimate good citizenship. It is true that incidentally in
doing so we give them the benefits that can be got from these other
societies, for Scouting does develop Discipline and Health and Knowledge,
but at the same time it directly aims to make them better citizens through
HAPPINESS AND SERVICE, which is outside the sphere of the others. The
smile and the good turn are our speciality. The want of these in
the average citizen is at the root of much of our social trouble to-day.
In helping the boy to be happy in the present we do so by utilising
and encouraging his impulses and activities, and edging them into the right
direction and control.
In preparing him for happiness ultimately in his life we can each
of us do much by looking at our own experiences and steering him clear of
rocks on which we in our time have very nearly come to grief ourselves.
For instance (if you will forgive a very domestic expose), in my
own case, I can look back and recognise that I have had not merely a happy
life, but an extremely happy life.
I think that much of this has been attributable to the fact that I
never happened to run against the rock of unhealthy personal ambition. By
good luck, rather than by good management, promotion came to me very
rapidly, and yet every step -- except that it brought me accession of salary
(and, goodness knows, I needed it !) -- as regretted by me.
I didn't want to become a Captain because it put me out of the fun
and irresponsibility of being a subaltern; I regretted being promoted to
Colonel because it put me away from personal contact with my men. On one
occasion I was prematurely promoted to General, and was only too thankful
when a few days later it was found that I was under age for the job.
In a word, I was content with what I had.
I cannot remember any period of my life when I had time to be idle
or to be without some object in my hobbies or activities.
It is true, for one thing, that I went in a good deal for
theatricals; this sounds like wasting time, but never did I take part in or
organise a performance without some real reason behind it, such, for
instance, as heartening the men during prevalence of cholera or sickness, or
to counteract temptation in a bad locality.
When I rose to the position of commanding instead of obeying, I
endeavoured to carry out a human instead of an official system of control.
It gave one more trouble to organise, but it gave one greater satisfaction
in the end.
(Excuse these personal reminiscences and theories. I am merely
quoting them with the object of suggesting how every Scoutmaster can in a
similar way draw upon his own experiences of life and use them as his guide
for training his boys.)
So far as my experience goes the passing of happiness to others is
the real key to happiness for oneself.
By encouraging, in a healthy, cheery, and not in a sanctimonious
and looking-for-reward spirit, your Scouts to do good turns as a first step,
and to do service for the community as a development, you can do more for
them even than by encouraging their proficiency or their discipline or their
knowledge, because you are teaching them not how to get a living so much as
how to live.
IT has possibly hardly struck many a Scoutmaster that in his work with
his Troop the results are extending far beyond his comparatively limited
area, that his efforts are being watched, results noted, and his example
followed by others in countries across the sea. But so it is; and out of
such beginnings an international sympathy and understanding is growing up.
Many excellent movements have been thought of and urged upon the
world for all they were worth -- but in spite of the pressing they have not
appealed so widely as their promoters had hoped and have ended in smoke.
Other movements have sprung up almost of their own accord to meet some need,
and have grown and flourished exceedingly. You and I know of one, at any
rate, that has done so. Again it is a case of the natural as opposed to the
artificial. It is this natural automatic growth of a movement that speaks to
its vitality and its possibilities. Nations differ in their characteristics
to a marvellous degree considering their relationship in the human family,
and although modern communication with its interchange of literature,
manufactures, personal visits, etc., ought to have made a vast difference by
now, it hasn't done so. We are still very much strangers to each other.
A League of Nations is to be formed to make us better friends
through force of law. I hope it may. But there is another league of nations
very much in embryo at present but growing up automatically, and that
is in the brotherhood of the Boy Scouts. And since its growth is entirely
natural and not forced in any way, there is immense promise about it.
At the Jamboree we shall, I hope, get the first general expression.
Representatives of twenty-six foreign nations will be among us, and I need
not go further than suggest what tremendous ulterior importance may attach
to the occasion.
A very real responsibility attaches to each one of us because it is
on what we do, what we say, and almost what we think that these different
countries will fashion the future line of their Scout work. I think the
meeting for interchange of ideas comes just at the right moment.
Although we British Scouts are not yet by any means at the highest
attainable standard, we are sufficiently well grounded to give the right
impression; and the foreign Scouts, while fairly well started, are not as
yet so matured that they cannot alter and adapt their methods where they may
have gone a little off the line.
So that even if the Jamboree did nothing towards enthusing the
boys, towards educating the public, or towards bringing help to the
Scoutmasters, yet it would be worth while if through bringing together the
representatives of foreign countries in the one ideal of good citizenship,
it should have promoted that spirit of fraternity and mutual goodwill
without which the formal league of nations can only be an empty shell.
NOT one in a hundred of our own people knows this.
Scouting is not a thing that can be taught by wording it in public
speeches, nor by defining it in print. Its successful application depends
entirely on the grasp of the Scout spirit by both trainer and trainee. What
this spirit is can only be understood by outsiders when they see it ruling,
as it already does to a vast extent, the thoughts and the actions of each
member of our brotherhood.
Thus every Scoutmaster and every Commissioner will be an apostle to
them, not merely through what he says but through what he imparts by
impression and through what he does himself in his own personality.
For this he must, as a first point, be imbued with a real
understanding knowledge of the Scout ideals, the methods we use to gain
them, and the reasons that underlie them.
Among them he realises, for instance :
That the need is urgent of a great social rise out of the present
slough of squalor; That the State education system has its limitations for
developing the character, the health, the technical skill, and the communal
Christianity that are necessary;
That Scouting can help by attracting the boy or girl, or by helping
him or her to acquire these qualities;
That this cannot be done by the imposition of artificial
instruction from without but by the encouragement of the natural impulses
That this is imparted by personal leadership and example on the
part of the Scoutmaster himself, and not by his mere instruction;
That the intelligent application of Nature lore and woodcraft
largely supplies the means and the incentive, while the Promise and the
Scout Law give the direction;
That the growth of the Movement both at home and in every
civilised foreign country is phenomenal, not merely for its numbers but
because it is entirely natural from within and has not been artificially
forced from without;
That it is brotherhood -- scheme which, in practice,
disregards differences of class, creed, country and colour, through the
undefinable spirit that pervades it -- the spirit of God's gentleman.
Now these, you will say, are things that you know already, and
don't need to be told. Yes, that is so. But what I want is that you should
pass them on to those who don't know them.
I SEE that I have been quoted as advocating woodcraft as
"the key activity for true Scouting."
That is correct. But, then, the term "woodcraft" has been explained
as meaning to dress up like Red Indians, and that, therefore, I advocate the
adoption of "scalp locks and wampum, teepees and feathers." This is not
I know a little about the Red Indian, and he is not (and was not in
his prime) all he is pictured by some who write about him only on his sunny
Still, I am not hostile to him. If we pick the plums out of the
pudding, we find his romantic story, picturesque dress and customs appeal,
in some cases, to the boy, and he can thus be useful to us.
So can his African brother, the Zulu, the Haussa, the Somali and
the Arab -- all of whom I know. Nor would I omit the Maori, the Australian
black, the South Sea Islander, the Gurkha, the Burman, the Sikh, etc. All
may have their bad points, but certainly all have something that we can
learn from them.
But woodcraft goes a great deal deeper than the surface attraction
or imitation of one or other of the more primitive tribes of men.
It is rather the power that is common to all these people of
reading from the book of Nature, and their lines of education are through
natural if somewhat primitive methods, which, with us, have been swamped out
under the application of artificial steps.
In observation and deduction, in camp skill, in self-support, in
communal discipline, in physical self-development (including quickness of
eye) and endurance, in simple pleasures and power of enjoyment, there is a
good deal that we may, with advantage, learn from the so-called savage.
This same education, as we see it, applied to the civilised man in
the case of the explorer, the backwoodsman, and the frontiersman makes him
an individual more efficient, more manly and broader in mind and body than
the average school-educated member of the crowd in a city.
I HAVE been asked by two different Scoutmasters whether I approve of the
"Red Indian or Woodcraft Movement" in the Scouts.
Well, this is, to begin with, a mix-up of terms. There need be, and
is, no special "movement" to that end that I know of, though there used to
be one in America which was eventually merged in the Boy Scouts.
Woodcraft is, as I have often pointed out, the key activity in
Scouting. For this frequent camping, boating, and hiking are essential,
coupled with their accessories of pioneering, Nature lore, and
Where these are not so easily accessible Red Indian activities can
in many cases be a valuable help.
But it does not need a separate movement in our Brotherhood, and,
such a step would, for more than one reason, be a bad one.
Personally, I like Red Indian Craft. I was brought up on Catlin and
Red Indian stories. It is true that when I came to know the Red Skin
personally he was no longer all that history and romance had painted him;
so-called civilisation had played havoc with him morally and physically.
At the same time, the picturesque achievements, ritual, and dress
of these braves have a strong appeal for boys -- aye, and even for men in
One is told that it is ridiculous for a town-dweller to assume some
woodcraft name, and to add a sign drawing of it after his signature in
imitation of the Indian way. Well, that is true, but I can assure you that
when I was given the title of "The Lone Pine on the Sky-line" by the Red
Indian Boy Scouts of America in Olympia the other day, I felt just as
thrilled and pleased as when the real Maoris presented me with one of their
most treasured war tokens for service in South Africa, or when the Matabele
warriors hailed me with the title of "Impeesa" for work done in the field.
So, although it may be merely make-believe, yet, as a variation to
the ordinary Scout training. Red Indianism can take hold, and can well be
applied, for a period, in a Scout Troop.
But the Scoutmaster should remember that its appeal must not always
be relied upon to be a lasting one, and boys are apt to tire of it, or to be
ridiculed out of it. Moreover, the Indian training ceases to appeal so
strongly when the boy begins to become the young man, and therefore more
sensitive to the ridiculous.
Whether its practice is a success or not in the Troop depends very
much on the sympathy of the Scoutmaster himself. If he can enjoy Indian Lore
and enter into the make-believe, and knows the backwoods and their craft, he
will make a big thing of it; but boys are critical beggars, and quickly see
through the man who does not believe or who has not "been there."
A SCOUT officer came to me the other day with a scheme for organising the
Movement on a better footing than heretofore. It involved a certain amount
of expense in offices, whole-time secretaries, etc. But there was a plan to
meet this with an adequate contribution of funds from Local Associations.
An integral part of the idea was the formation of a fully
representative committee by general election to manage the whole
organisation ; the advantage was that it could eliminate the present
sporadic and uneven arrangement of Local Associations running their shows on
different lines of their own. In this more centralised and ordered system a
far more accurate record could be kept of the development, a more regular
standard of efficiency among the Troops could be set up, and a better
general supervision maintained.
He was going on to describe further advantages of the scheme when I
felt bound to save him the trouble, and I burst in on him with the remark,
"My dear chap ! But you have not got the hang of Scouting. For one thing the
Movement extends considerably beyond the United Kingdom. Your elected
committee would have to represent all parts of the Empire. How could
election supply the expert heads required for the different departments at
Headquarters ? Local Associations would enjoy subscribing funds to run the
office -- I don't think. These are some of the minor material objections.
But there is another and far greater consideration that upsets the whole
caboodle. WE ARE A MOVEMENT, NOT AN ORGANISATION."
We work through "love and legislation." That is where we differ
from so many other systems; it may be wrong of us, but that is our way, and,
in spite of it, we have somehow managed to do something in the twelve years
of our existence.
I have just got back from a pretty big tour of Scouting in other
parts of the world, and what I have seen there only confirms me in the
conviction that in working through love for the boy, loyalty to the
Movement, and comradeship one with another -- that is, through the SPIRIT OF
SCOUTING -- we are on the right line.
It is true that many have not -- like my friend -- as yet got the
hang of that spirit, but, on the other hand, many have, and many more are
getting it. The spread of the officers' training (eighteen authorised camps
in the United Kingdom this summer) is helping its development very
materially. Our form of administration is one that has its foundations on a
very high principle.
A Scout officer (he's dead now, so I can say it quite openly) once
asked me for a tangible reward for the work which, as he put it, he had done
for me in his capacity as a Scout official.
I had to explain to him a point which he confessed had never struck
him before, and that was that he was working for the boy and not for me.
The suggestion of Scouting has merely been given for the use of
those who have the interest of their country and of their kind at heart. The
men who have taken it up are not a force of masters and servants, officers
and soldiers, but are a team of patriots bound by a common ideal as a
Brotherhood, and that ideal is the betterment of the boy.
IN view of a very elaborate curriculum that was recently drawn up by one
authority for standardising the tests for badges, I was obliged to criticise
it in this sense:
"I hope that the compilers are not losing sight of the aim and
spirit of the Movement by making it into a training school of efficiency
through curricula, marks, and standards.
"Our aim is merely to help the boys, especially the least
scholarly ones, to become personally enthused in subjects that appeal to
them individually, and that will be helpful to them.
"We do this through the fun and jollity of Scouting; by progressive
stages they can then be led on, naturally and unconsciously, to develop for
themselves their knowledge.
"But if once we make it into a formal scheme of serious instruction
for efficiency, we miss the whole point and value of the Scout training, and
we trench on the work of the schools without the trained experts for
carrying it out.
"We have to remember that the Scoutmasters are voluntary play
leaders in the game of Scouting, and not qualified school teachers, and that
to give them a hard-and-fast syllabus is to check their ardour and their
originality in dealing with their boys according to local conditions.
"I could quite imagine it frightening away many Scoutmasters of the
"The syllabus as suggested seems to go a good deal beyond what is
prescribed as our dose in Scouting for Boys; and if the proportions
of the ingredients given in a prescription are not adhered to you cannot
well blame the doctor if the medicine doesn't work.
"Our standard for badge earning -- as I have frequently said -- is
not the attainment of a certain level of quality of work (as in the school),
but the AMOUNT OF EFFORT EXERCISED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE. This brings
the most hopeless case on to a footing of equal possibility with his more
brilliant or better-off brother.
"We want to get them ALL along through cheery self-development from
within and not through the imposition of formal instruction from without."
A FURTHER way of discovering activities that will appeal to the boys is
for the Scoutmaster to save his brains by using his ears.
When in war-time a soldier-scout is out at night and wants to gain
information of the enemy's moves, he does so to a large extent by listening.
Similarly, when a Scoutmaster is in the dark as to what is the inclination
or the character of his boys, he can, to a great extent, get it by
Scouting, the journal of the Boy Scouts of America, in its
February issue, gives a delightful article on the value to Scoutmasters of
listening. Under the suggestive heading "When a hike stubs its toe," the
author urges a Scoutmaster, who is on a hike with his boys and who is
cudgelling his brains what to say to them on the subject of observation of
nature, to listen to what his boys are talking about and to keep his own
They may be arguing together about a prize fight or something
equally remote from the study of trees, but, in listening, he will gain a
close insight into the character of each boy and a realisation of the way in
which he can best be interested.
So, too, in the Court of Honour debates and Camp Fire talks; if
you make listening and observation your particular occupation, you will gain
much more information from your boys than you can put into them by your own
Also, when visiting the parents, don't go with the idea of
impressing on them the value of Scouting so much as to glean from them what
are their ideas of training their boys and what they expect of Scouting or
where they find it deficient.
A few months ago I put forward a small suggestion in the same
direction, namely, when short of ideas don't impose on your Scouts
activities which you think they ought to like; but find out from them by
listening or by questioning which activities appeal most to them, and then
see how far you can get these going -- that is, if they are likely to be
beneficial to the boys.
So, too, in giving instruction it is better by far to get your boys
to debate a point or to ask you questions than to preach information to
them. There's a lot to be got by listening and observing.
The joke about new Scout activities is that they are just like the
new toy that daddy brings home for the kiddies: daddy is the first to take
to playing with the toy himself.
Well, that is just what it should be in Scouting.
IN the Headquarters Report of one of our Oversea branches it is stated
that a large percentage of decrease in numbers of Scouts occurs in about the
third month of their service in the Movement, and Scoutmasters are warned to
look into their method of handling Scouting to make sure that it meets the
expectation of the lads.
I don't know how far such defection goes on among our Scouts in
Britain, but I do know that very much the same thing happened in the army
some years ago, when a considerable proporton of the recruits took to
deserting after about three months of service.
In my own regiment I looked into the matter from the young
soldier's point of view, and I realised that he had figured to himself all
the romance and swagger of thelr soldier's life before he enlisted, and
afterwards found that he was condemned to a long period of drill and
discipline in recruit's clothing and practically imprisoned within the
It was at that time that I tried the experiment of Scouting among
young soldiers, and I got them to learn their soldiering for themselves
through interest instead of having it dinned into them by interminable drill
In a very short while desertion ceased and the men became efficient
in half the time. They found that soldiering was, after all, a game instead
of an infernal affliction.
SOME dear old lady. not being up in the modern developments of patent
razors, etc., sent me a birthday present of a little book of shaving papers.
And I find it most valuable because, instead of hanging idle on my
dressing-table, it hangs there to a useful purpose. I believe it is
generally allowed that great thoughts occur either when one is in one's bath
or shaving. At any rate, personally, at these times I find myself positively
brilliant -- though dull and uninspired at all other times !
So I have a pencil attached to my shaving-paper book, and I jot
down in it the thoughts as they occur when I am lathered.
Here are some of them:
1. What is the object of an inspection ?
Not so much to criticise as to suck the brains of Scoutmasters and
find out new dodges for Scouting.
2. What is going to be the most popular stunt among boys ?
Watch radio work and its developments.
3. Why is a boy's psychology like a violin-string ?
Because it needs tuning to the right pitch and can then give forth
real music. It may or may not have been wrongly handled before coming into
the Scoutmaster's hands, but it is up to him to try its tone and to wind it
to the right key, and then to play upon it with understanding and
4. The futility of abuse.
I had wondered often at the violent line taken by critics when
there was nothing to get excited about.
I see now that Fabre, in writing on glow-worms, points to it being
a natural trait. He says: "Ignorance is always abusive. A man who does not
know is always full of violent affirmations and maligned interpretations."
That is something to know. Won't I hurl it at my next critic !
5. The test of success in education.
This is not what a boy knows after examination on leaving school,
but what he is doing ten years later.
The test of the amount of spirit in the Movement is the
percentage of old Scouts among new Officers.
There was a competition lately between teams of Scouters, and the
winning lot were finally photographed grouped round a challenge trophy.
The trophy was a common or garden cabbage.
An excellent remonstrance against the pot-hunting and
medal-snatching tendency of the age.
Let's have clean sport for sport's sake.
One who signs himself "Disgusted" wrote recently in a newspaper:
"Is it necessary for Boy Scouts to bang drums and play trumpets like tribes
of young Yahoos when out marching or drilling or whatever they do ? How can
babies go to sleep when such a racket is going on outside ?"
Fortunately bands and bugles are dying out in the Movement as they
are found to be out of place in camp and a nuisance in towns. So that I
hope within a short time there will be few people who can sign themselves
"disgusted" with the Scouts.
FROM different sources I have had interesting reports ofˇ@very
satisfactory results of developing the Patrol system. The sum of the whole
thing amounts to this -- every individual in the Patrol is made responsible,
both in den and in camp, for his definite share in the successful working of
This incidentally enhances the Leader's position and
responsibilities, and develops the individual interest and civic capability
of each member, while it builds a stronger esprit de corps for the
The Patrol constitutes itself a Council:
Patrol Leader responsible as Chairman.
| Second ,, ,, ,,
||Vice-Chairman and Quartermaster in charge
of Stores, etc.
| No. 1 Scout ,, ,, ,,
| No. 2 Scout ,, ,, ,,
| No. 3 Scout ,, ,, ,,
||Keeper of the Den.
| No. 4 Scout ,, ,, ,,
| No. 5 Scout ,, ,, ,,
The Council considers such subjects as, for instance, which badges
the Patrol should specially go in for, where to camp or hike, etc., football
and cricket matches, athletic sports and displays, and suggests questions to
be considered and ruled upon by the Troop Court of Honour.
The Scribe keeps the Minutes of this Council as record, which are
read out at the following meeting as usual to be corrected previous to their
signature by the Chairman (the Patrol Leader).
The Scribe also has the duty of keeping a Patrol log in which are
recorded each week, briefly, the doings of the Patrol at home or in the
The existence of these Patrol Councils, when conducted with proper
procedure, at once raises the status of the Troop Court of Honour. If
carried out with the correct routine and ceremonial of a business meeting,
the Court of Honour becomes a sort of Upper Chamber of considerable
importance in the eyes of the boys, as they take a close interest in its
findings; and the whole thing becomes a valuable and practical education to
them in "civics."
Then, in camp, a similar delegation of duties to the individual
members of the Patrol has an excellent effect both on the success of the
outing and in educating the boys.
For instance, the distribution of work may be made on some such
lines as these:
| Patrol Leader
|| In supreme charge, responsible for
assigning duties and seeing that they are carried out.
| Second Leader
|| Quartermaster in charge of supplies
of food and equipment and first aid.
| No. 1 Scout
|| Cook, preparing meals.
| No. 2 Scout
|| Scribe, keeping accounts of moneys
and stores, keeps log of the camp or hike.
| No. 3 Scout
|| Pioneer, making drains, bridges,
| No. 4 Scout
|| Sanitation; keeping camp clean,
| No. 5 Scout
|| Axeman; supplying firewood. Fireman
and waterman, has charge of cooking or camp fire and of water supply.
IN our blessed climate in the British Isles we have to Be Prepared as
much for wet days and long dark evenings as for fine bright ones. Therefore
we cannot limit our activities to the out of doors, though naturally this is
a special aim for our efforts.
The courts and alleys of the slums of our cities are a depressing
sight at the best of times, with their swarms of boys and girls eager and
full of life but uncontrolled, unled; where the stronger impose their will
and the weaker go to the wall.
Is it to be wondered that, growing up among these drab, squalid
surroundings, the youngsters become an unhealthy, selfish, discontented,
indisciplined mob in our midst ?
This nursery of discontent, as I have said, is bad enough at the
best of times, but how far worse when the sleet and rain are driving the
children into their crowded homes, on the long winter evenings, among
over-worked irritable grown-ups, with nothing to do but to grouse and
quarrel among themselves.
We all of us know how a wet day is bad enough for the children even
in our own homes, and we can to some extent realise what it must be in these
Here indeed lies a land of adventure for us in the Scout Movement,
for pioneers who care to enter it. Here can we supply hobbies and home work
for badge earning that will calm and satisfy many a young life.
An idea seems to have got abroad that at Gilwell we don't approve
generally of badge work. This misunderstanding has probably arisen because
in the short time available for our courses we have had to stress the
outdoor activities rather than those of indoors. But it should not be
inferred from this that we do not recognise the value of badge work. On the
contrary, though it may be said by our critics that it is immoral to appeal
to the vanity of the boy, nevertheless this has its uses. They may call it
immoral but at the same time it would be equally true if they termed it a
very usual appeal to human nature.
Through badge work, where applied with discrimination, we can offer
to the dullest and most backward boy a handicap that gives him a fair chance
with his better-off or more brilliant comrade, and we can put into him
ambition and hope, and the sense of achievement which will carry him on to
IF service were made the first aim of our education in place of self, it
would command at least equal interest on the part of the pupils, and the
result would be a very different world in which to live. The other day I was
speaking with an official of the League of Nations, and I asked him,
"How is the old League getting on ?" His reply was,
"All right, but it can never function fully until the time arrives
when its members are men who have been trained as Boy Scouts."
This answer rather took me aback, and I said, "Do you mean that
they should go into camp and cook their own grub ?" He said, "No, not that;
but the only school I know of that teaches service as a first rule of life
is the Boy Scout Movement."
"The League should not be a mere committee of representatives of
different countries, each watching the interests of his own particular
nation, but rather a 'combine' of experts in consultation to bring about the
good of mankind."
So here we have another tribute that should inspire our work, since
it indicates that we are already on the right track.
Our teaching is mainly through example, and our Scouters give
exactly the right lead in their patriotic dedication of self to the service
of the boy, solely for the joy of doing it, and without thought of material
The boys are taught, beginning with the elementary good turn to
mother on the part of the Wolf Cub, through the daily good turn and
preparedness to save life on the part of the Scout, up to the regular
practice of public service for others on the part of the Rover. The
teaching of service is not merely a matter of teaching in theory, but the
development of two distinct phases -- viz., the inculcation of the spirit of
goodwill; and the provision of opportunity for its expression in practice.
I HAVE often heard it suggested that village Troops are more difficult to
keep going than those in towns. In some respects no doubt this is so --
especially if they adhere strictly to the same programme of work as do the
But living as I do in the country I find there are many
possibilities lying open to village Troops which town Troops cannot command.
And I believe that many of these possibilities will not only give healthful
and educative activities to the boys, but will also be of real advantage to
For instance, Village Signs. In a previous issue of The
Scouter I gave a description of the village sign which we have put in my
own particular village as largely the work of the Boy Scouts and their
supporters. This has had a very satisfactory success. It has taught the
villagers, old and young, a lot of history of the place, and has drawn the
attention of tourists and travellers to the interest that the place holds
for them. It has established a certain civic pride in their village among
the inhabitants, which goes to build up an esprit de corps and closer
comradeship among them. Well, I wonder how many troops have so far put up
village signs in their neighbourhood ? But there's the idea. It can be done,
for it has been done -- and with good results.
Then there is nature observation, keeping record of the
early building and blooming of trees and wild flowers, the migration of
birds, the visits of otters, rats, and foxes, etc.
The completion of local maps with latest buildings, etc. The
following up of by-paths and rights-of way to see that they
are still kept open to the public. The seeking out of ancient remains,
of roadways, camps, wells, fossils, etc. The making of an exhibition, or, if
possible, a museum of bygone implements, carvings, pictures,
pillories and stocks, etc. The keeping up of old local industries,
legends, dances, plays, songs, customs, and dishes or drinks. Tracing back
the family descent of the older inhabitants. The care of the War
Memorial and garden round it, etc. etc.
These and many other matters of local interest can be made
objectives for the activity of the boys if the Scoutmaster suggests them
(one only at a time, of course), attaching sufficient romance to them to
bring about their enthusiastic pursuit. The results can be not only good
but very good.
There are tons of history lying buried in every village if only we
would dig for it; and there are antiquarian and field societies in every
county only too ready to provide capable and enthusiastic helpers.
A little over a century ago villages had their system of paying
visits to each other, carrying their totem pole and headed by their band of
instruments or singers. This made for a healthy spirit of neighbourliness
and courtesy while inculcating a certain pride and esprit de corps in
their own village. Something of this kind might well be revived by Scout
Troops and would be no small boon to the country.
IN the Scout and Guide Movements we merely lay before the boys and girls
the simplest fundamental ethics of religion, and then get them to put these
into practice. So simple and fundamental are these that to the superficial
critic Scouting appears to be "without religion." Yet the student and the
user of Scouting know otherwise.
I have said we adhere to simple and fundamental ethics; this is
partly because these can be the more readily digested by the children (and
digestion is essential if food is to do any good), and partly because being
at the base of all denominational forms these ethics offend none of the
various beliefs with whose members we have to deal.
We put them as Christ taught them in their two simple forms:
"Love thy God with all thy heart;
And the second is like unto it ?
Love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
But it is not enough for children to learn texts merely in the
abstract and to repeat them parrot-like on occasion; that would soon pall
and would have little effect on their character or their life.
So we put the two commandments into active form.
Love for God. -- For inducing a better realisation and love
for God we do it to a great extent through investigation of His works.
This, it must be remembered, is a step and not a substitute; and the story
of David Livingstone tells how valuable a step it can be in laying the right
foundation in a young mind.
Nature craft, or the study of Nature in her numerous forms, and the
appreciation of all her wonders and beauties, appeals to almost every child.
The camp or the outdoor hike brings girls and boys into dose touch with the
plants, the animals, the birds, the rocks, and their other comrades as God's
The mystery of the sea and the heavens, and the fascination of the
colouring of the scene, and the modelling of the scenery can all be brought
within their ken where formerly they were blind. The door of the young soul
is thus opened for the understanding teacher.
Even where the out-of-doors observation is difficult, there are new
wonders to be investigated in every inch of our own anatomy, the knowledge
of which (again at the hands of an understanding teacher) can be of infinite
value to both in showing the Creator's marvellous work, in developing a
deeper reverence for this body that has been lent to us, and in showing how
it should be cared for and developed and reproduced as a part of the
performance of one's duty to God.
Love for Neighbour. -- In promoting the second commandment,
love for one's neighbour, we urge our Scouts and Guides to express this in
active form by doing, even in an elementary way, good service for others.
The daily good turn, without desire for reward, which grows by
progressive stages till it becomes a habit of conduct, goes on till it
involves sacrifices in time or money or pleasures, even to the extent of
involving danger to the life of the performer.
We teach the boy that a gift is not his till he has expressed his
gratitude for it. His attitude to God is, therefore, thankfulness for
benefits received; and his method for expressing this is through service, in
behalf of God, to his fellow-men.
This repression of self and development of that love, which means
God within, brings a total change of heart to the individual and with it the
glow of true Heaven. It makes a different being of him. The question becomes
for him not what can I get, but what can I give in life.
No matter what may be the ultimate form of religion that he takes
up, the lad will have grasped for himself its fundamentals, and
knowing these through practising them he becomes a true Christian with a
widened outlook of kindliness and sympathy for his brother men.
Otherwise, we know too well that there are dangers in ignoring the
psychological side and overstressing the theological and spiritual with
We may gain the few but we may lose the many. We may bore them
while under our hand so that the moment they are free they abjure religion
altogether. We may be manufacturing prigs and humbugs; we may be promoting
superstition rather than faith.
But on the foundation prepared as I have described, the subsequent
building of religion in its approved form is comparatively easy; indeed, it
follows almost automatically where well directed.
When we have a leaven of citizens of that mark in our nation,
bringing the Christian practice into their daily occupation, there will be
less of the narrow class and sectional differences and more of the
wide-hearted kindly brotherhood, so that even national patriotism will not
be the highest point of a man's aim, but active goodwill for, and
co-operation with, his fellow-men about the world as being all children of
the one Father.
From this should ensue the reign of peace upon earth.
I WAS invited the other day to contribute to a discussion on the pros and
cons of capital punishment, and in my remarks I suggested that I could
support the death penalty with great heartiness were more discrimination
exercised in its infliction, so as to ensure the noose going on to the right
neck. The average murderer was born into this world with the propensities
and abilities of the average child. The people who in my opinion deserve to
be hanged were the parents who neglected their responsibility to give him a
right and healthy mind in a healthy body, the teacher who gave him
instruction in the three R's in place of education in character and
self-control, the minister who omitted to implant in him the practice
of his religion, and the newspaper editor who developed his morbid and
salacious tastes by pandering to them.
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.