Yes, Scouting is a game. But sometimes I wonder whether, with all our
pamphlets, rules, disquisitions in the Scouter, conferences, and
training classes for Commissioners and other Scouters, etc., we may not
appear to be making of it too serious a game. It is true that these
things are all necessary and helpful to men for getting the hang of the
thing, and for securing results. But they are apt to grow into big
proportions (like one's own children or one's own mannerisms) without our
noticing it, when all the time it is very patent to those who come suddenly
upon it from outside.
Thus this phalanx of instructional aids appears terribly formidable
to many a Scouter, while to outsiders having a look before they leap into
our vortex it must in many cases be directly deterring. When you come to
look on it as something formidable, then you miss the whole spirit and the
whole joy of it; your boys catch the depression from you, and Scouting,
having lost its spirit, is no longer a game for them.
It becomes like the game of polo which was suggested to me by a
General under whom I served. A melancholy occasion had arisen when the
Troops in the garrison were ordered to go into mourning. This happened on
the very day that an important polo match was to be played. So I was sent as
a deputation to the General to ask whether the match would have to be
cancelled. The General, with a twinkle in his eye, replied: "I think if you
played very slowly and used a black ball it might meet the occasion."
Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly
studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a
military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their
individuality and initiative. No -- it is a jolly game in the out of doors,
where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger
brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.
Many young men are put off Scoutmastering by the fear that they
have got to be Admirable Crichtons and capable of teaching their boys all
the details for the different Badge tests; whereas their job is to enthuse
the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely
to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are
merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods
and of gaining results.
So may I urge upon Scouters that the more important quest for 1931
is to ginger up the joyous spirit of Scouting through camping and
hiking, not as an occasional treat in intervals of parlour or parade
Scouting, but as the habitual form of training for their boys -- and
incidentally for themselves.
SIR GEORGE NEWMAN said recently: "National health is not dependent on
doctors and nurses, but on the people themselves." This impels me to remind
Scouters that that is what we believe in our Movement, and, seeing the
lamentable state of health of the nation as revealed by last year's reports,
let us press on with our effort to strengthen some portion at least of the
1. By encouraging open-air activities and fresh-air "fiendishness";
2. By making the boys wise on questions of feeding, clothing,
teeth, diet, personal hygiene, continence, temperance, etc.;
3. By encouraging development of body and training in physical
fitness through games and athletics;
4. By making each boy feel that he is a responsible being,
and responsible therefore for the care of his body and health; that it is
part of his duty to God to develop his body to the best extent.
By so doing we have it in our power to do a work of national value.
UP here among the Swiss mountains, in the green valley of Kandersteg, one
is very remote from the fuss and hurry of the world. Yet, from where I sit
in the flower-decked balcony of this Châlet, I can see the flags of twenty
nationswaving above the tents, and the camp fires of some threethousand
young men gathered there.
Rover Scouts they are: a brigade, as it were, of storm-troops of
the larger army of over two million Boy Scouts.Their arms are alpenstocks,
their discipline that of goodwillfrom within; their service consists not so
much in fittingthemselves for war as in developing the spirit of
The days are long over when Scouting was looked uponas a useful
game for keeping English boys out of mischief;parents and public have come
to see in it a practical processof education for the use of both sexes; with
the widergrowth of its Brotherhood abroad, its possibilities in thedirection
of human fellowship for developing the spirit ofinternational goodwill are
now becoming generally recognised.
To those who witnessed the Scout Jamboree at Birkenhead in 1929 the
coming together of some fifty thousandboys of various nationalities was
something of a revelation.But the Rover Moot, if it included smaller
numbers, wasnot a whit less impressive, seeing that it showed not merelya
mass of boys linked in friendly comradeship but a growingband of young men
who, within the next few years, will bethe men of affairs in their
Here they were gathered in conference devoting theirhard-earned
time and money to considering ways andmeans of developing Scouting
generally, and their service for the community in particular. This they did
in no spiritof unctuous priggishness or youthful superiority. Far from it;
they discussed their subjects in all earnestness in the great conference
pavilion every day, but in the huge Camp Fire circle at night they were the
jolliest specimens of jovial boyhood that one could wish to see. Never,
during the whole fortnight in camp, was there a suspicion of trouble or
anything but cheery brotherly feeling among the many and varied elements
which went to compose the gathering: Scandinavians, Romanians, Japanese,
Hungarians, Australians, Siamese, West Indians, East Indians, French,
Cingalese, Poles, Armenians, etc. -- a polyglot lot,ut good friends for all
To myself, possibly, the most inspiring part of their varied
programme was when one saw the endless successionof these splendid specimens
of the young manhood of allnations setting out in comradeship together with
heavy packs on their backs and ice-axe in hand to tackle the neighbouring
mountains. The Moot might have been held with greater convenience in any
large city, but this valuableside of it, namely the breeding of mutual
friendship inhealthy sport, would have been lost.
Aye, and something more and above all price, namely,the higher tone
of thought which could not fail to haveinspired the least imaginative among
them in those wonderful surroundings of mountain scenery. Here, among
theeternal snows, face to face with Nature in its grandest andmost sublime
form, they must have felt themselves incloser touch with the Almighty
Creator, and in a newatmosphere, far above the man-made jazz and vulgar
squalor of the town.
Yes, a wide and promising field lies yet before the ScoutMovement.
I HAVE been GLAD to see a good many reports of bad camping by Groups who
should by this time know better. I say I am glad because it means to me that
Commissioners are now really looking into the camping that goes on in then
districts, where formerly such inspections were more sketchy and indulgent.
The fact that the efforts of Scout-masters to have their camps well
organised are appreciated by Commissioners cannot fail to encourage them,
and I am glad to note that these form the very large majority. I have every
hope that the reports at the end of next season will show very few
unsatisfactory camps among the many hundreds which will have been held.
At the same time it is a little disappointing to find that several
Scoutmasters are still ignorant of the first principles of camping. The
reports received too often speak of "unsuitable sites," "bad condition of
latrines," "bad food storage," "untidy uniforms in the town," etc.
All this means, either that we are getting a big lot of new hands
among the Scouters, willing but as yet ignorant, or that we have still a
number of them who have not made use of the Gilwell training or our
handbooks on camping. In either case such Scouters should realise that we
are not pernickety, nor do we want for our own amusement to see clean camps;
they should understand the fact that they have a big responsibility to the
parents on their shoulders for keeping the boys healthy in camp, as well as
instructed in cleanliness and good order.
LAST month I went to Cambridge University at the invitation of the
Vice-Chancellor, to receive the award of Honorary Doctorship of Law, which
had been conferred upon me by the Senate.
A Banquet was the first item I had to face, at which some two
hundred and thirty Rover Scouts were present. It was to me a very cheering
and inspiring affair, since not only did it provide me with a very good free
meal in very good company, but also it gave me a "close-up" impression of
the cheery spirit of keenness and brotherhood which possesses the University
Immediately after the Dinner and the inevitable "few remarks" from
me, I was surprised to learn that the investiture would take place then and
there. It proved to be a most touching and impressive ceremony.
I was handed a handsome green-and-white gown of superfine tussore
cremona material which I donned, together with a hat, rather of the Scout
style, but dyed a deep royal red and decorated with two outsize Wood Badges.
Two bedells, gorgeously apparelled in evening dress, coats, and tall hats,
carried each a great mace, which, between ourselves, looked like a petrol
pump, surmounted as it was by a globe and the superscription "B-P Spirit."
The Vice-Chancellor, the Rev. Gresford Jones, was garbed in a gown similar
to mine. He was, however, almost unrecognisable through having cultivated
since I had last seen him a bushy black beard of the true beaver breed.
I was then introduced by the Public Orator in a Latin Speech of
exquisite artistry. His eloquent, but all-too-flattering remarks gave me--
well, you know, that greasy feeling all down the spine that caused me to
perspire like a bull (not that I have noticed exactly how a bull carries out
this operation, but my condition was like that). This was the address:
OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ, O YEAH ?
O Baden-Powell Gilwellensis, et vos O Magister Scoutorum, et vos
O Roveri Exploralores ! Balbus murum aedificavit, or as the poet puts it
with more felicity:
"Sanatogen radox ellimans embrocation for bruises,
Kolynos veet vapex; vita-wheat varicose veins,
Cascara sagrada zox, enos zambuk ryvita,
Pepsodent euthymol, ellimans also for sprains."
But to the point. There was a famous prophecy which was found
in a bog near Fen Ditton concerning our guest to-night. Not long ago, when
St. Michael of Cambridge was striding up Market Hill, he saw some naughty
little boys playing marbles, and was heard to remark, punning cleverly in a
foreign tongue, "Unus dies, sez I, hi pueri habebunt non rolum or bolum but
polum," which I will translate, in case what I have said is all Greek to
some of you. Unus dies, one day. Now the next word "sez" has puzzled many
commentators and experts, but I think we shall be correct in following
ProfessorEdgar Wallace who translates "sez I" by the old English
"methinks.""One day, methinks, these boys will have non rolum or bolum but
polum ; not a rod or a birch but a powell." Well, I will tell you privately,
on the K.P. infact, this prophecyhas now come true.
For inasmuch, as we were gazing round the world, seeing it whole
but not very steadily, we found everywhere a spirit, a spirit of energy and
strength that takes the knock from a carbonised world. And we asked: What is
this strange spirit to which all roads crooked and straight come alike,
which makes every hill less steep and every load less heavy, and yet always
has something over to tow a less fortunate friend ? For we saw the spirit
spreading, not only through the peoples, the nations and the languages, but
even penetrating the Councils of the Senate, the Satraps, Governors and
Deputies. And on all channels by which it spread were emblazoned just two
letters B.P. So we enquired further and found many of its secrets based on
that sound method so pithily expressed in an epigram, tentatively attributed
to the sage Wodehouse "to curl the grey matter round Mother Nature." And
further, that it was no transient spirit, no one-day-in-the-week spirit that
peters out on Monday morning, for in the words of that great benefactor of
his fellows, grand- father Kruschen, "It is the little daily dose that does
it." It is an ever-active spirit such as made us build a (Cam)bridge whilst
our sister University was content with a (Ox)ford. It is a spirit which
always answers the question "when ?" with the words of that great Latin poet
Horace, "nunc, nunc." So we said we will honour the fountain-head of this
spirit, for it spreads in ever-widening circles yet with its potency
unimpaired, we will therefore call it B.P. Plus. But "tempus fugit," as the
Roman barmaid said to Caesar. If I may be allowed, one last quotation from
the writings of that great saint of the early Church, Pope Gregory Ist,
DUCO AD VOS EXPLORATORUM PRINCIPEM.
How would you like to have such sonorous periods thrown at your
head, especially when after the speech one was hailed with the Japanese
Greeting-- BENZINE ?
But I survived, and revived, when the Vice-Chancellor conferred on
me the dignity of DOCTORUM SCOUTORUM PELARGONIUM (or some such title), and
hung round my neck the badge of that exalted rank in the shape of a gigantic
coupon card. Unfortunately he added some cryptic remark about my enjoying
"long ears," which I thought rather uncalled-for at the moment. In the
procession which was then formed, I walked with such dignity as I could
command, and as much humility as I could assume, which, under the
circumstances, was, perhaps excusably, not much. (See illustration.)
The following day I was made aware of the fact that, great as had
been the ceremony I had gone through, it was not, after all, the final nor
the most exalted one. For the real Vice-Chancellor of the University
conferred upon me, with all the quaint traditional ceremonial in the Senate
House, the dignity of Doctor of Laws. This was in recognition of the work of
the Boy Scout Movement generally, and therefore was an honour done to the
Scouters of all degrees who have brought our Movement and its training to
its present standard of effectiveness.
I would like to congratulate one and all on this new appreciation
of our work by the heads of our great University. I hope that the
consciousness of work well done, which must be yours, will give you all an
extra touch of the happiness which I heartily wish you for Christmas.
THIS is always a useful practice.
As a fisherman you learn to do this when you see a fish rise to
your lure and then dart away from it. You realise that there is something
wrong about the lure, so you change it and substitute something more to his
When a trout is rising to catch tiny gnats, you don't try a big fly
on him; if you did, you would put him oft altogether.
Well, I find that when fishing for Scouters, we have in more than
one place been using the wrong lure.
Of course you want your S.M. to be in earnest about joining us, and
to show that he realises what he is undertaking and really grasps our ideals
and something of our methods. You find that unfortunately I.H.Q. has not so
far devised a questionary for a candidate to answer which would give you all
the information you could wish. So you make up your own questionary, and
send it to him to answer in writing. (I have one before me now containing
twelve questions, asking inter alia the candidate's reasons for
wishing to take up Scout work, which out of a list of some sixteen books he
has read, and other equally important points.) I.H.Q. has, however,
published a pretty complete book of Policy, Organisation and Rules, so you
send him this in order to inform him fully of the responsibilities he is
undertaking in becoming a Scouter. If the candidate then replies
satisfactorily, you feel that you have got the serious-minded type of man
you want-- that is, I repeat, IF he replies.
But what of the dozens that fail to respond ? Look at it from the
point of view of one of them. He says, "I'm a bit of a boy myself still, and
I'd like to get a Troop of cheery youngsters round me whom I could teach to
play games, and incidentally to play the game, and to gather health and
happiness in the out of doors. I'll join the Scouts." But when he finds he
has to fill up stereotyped forms and examination papers, and has to master
this comprehensive mass of rules for regulating his doings, he is deterred--
the fly is not the kind he is after and it puts him down.
Red tape and failure to look at things from the subject's point of
view have killed many an enterprise before now. But it is not going to kill
our Movement, as we are having none of it.
Because I realise the necessity for exercising the greatest care in
the selection of Scouters, I would add that no amount of questionarying will
be half so effective for getting your subject's point of view as a personal
friendly talk with him.
I FEEL rather like the mouse who has been at the leaking whisky cask and
comes out of the cellar shouting, "Now, where's that damned cat ?"
Usually I look back on the past year's work at the end of December,
but I do so rather from a limited point of view.
By the time that St. George's Day comes round, I have seen the many
annual reports from various centres at home and overseas and am then really
able better to judge of our progress and condition.
Fortified by these I am now able to shout, "Now where's that damned
dragon ?" I don't really see any very formidable one in sight, though in my
elated condition I might be excused for seeing two. But, such as I do see,
the one to be attacked is the unemployedness among the youth of the nation.
If we in the Scouts can do something, however small, towards overcoming this
awful canker in our midst, we shall be doing a genuine national and
The present depression in industry should, we may hope, pass away
before long, but the ill-effects of unemployedness will be lifelong on its
victims-- they have before them, as unemployables, an appalling existence as
waste human material open only to bad influences around them.
Most of our Troops have unemployed lads among their members and
many have taken on others as "younger brothers." In either case we can do
something for them to save them from the fate of unemployableness, if we aim
to put into them:
Character, to make them self-reliant and able to make
their own way in the world;
Handcraft, so that they may have some ability;
Health, that they may stand the strain; and
Happiness, through enjoyment of life among good pals.
Thereby can we do something at any rate to rescue them from the
slough of despond in which, through no fault of their own, they are
SPRING is here, though to-day, with a bitter east wind blowing, you might
not know it !
Now is the time for overhauling your camp gear, for planning where
and when you are going to give the boys their heart's desire in a jolly and
healthy camp life. But above all it is the time when, through having his
boys directly under him for days on end in camp, the Scout-master has his
real opportunity for studying each boy's individual mind and temperament,
and for drawing out-- expanding-- educating-- the good that he finds
I am anxious about this Summer.
I am hoping to see a big development in camping. There has, in the
past, been too little of regular and frequent camping, and too much
indifferent amateur camping.
There has been a very promising improvement this last year or two
and I am hoping, now that the large proportion of Scoutmasters know their
job, and that Commissioners have taken to visiting all camps in their
districts, that camping reports this season will show a big step forward in
what is after all the method of training which distinguishes us from all
For Rover Scouts here comes their opportunity-- if only they plan
their holiday aright beforehand. My goodness ! How I wish I were a Rover
again, and able to go on a hike with a good pal or two of the same way of
thinking-- and with the same length of stride !
There should be an object for your hike, but not too over-strict a
time-table. The object of course depends on the tastes of the hiker; he may
be out to render service as a Brenter, or he may want to improve his mind or
develop his tastes while developing his health.
Great Britain offers such wonderful hikes, whether the Rover be an
artist, or keen on cathedrals or castles, or Roman remains.
I'M not satisfied, although one might think I ought to be.
Our numbers are steadily growing-- training centres increasing;
Scout spirit good; and so on. But there is too much leakage, and also too
little character-growth-- as yet. Leakage of Cubs not going up to Scouts; of
Scouts not going up to Rovers, etc.-- this comes from various causes. In
some cases it is difficult to remedy, but in many cases the reason is that
the boys have become tired of Scouting. With an understanding Group
Scoutmaster this seldom happens. But where the same old programme, or want
of programme, goes on week after week, and month after month, boredom is
Where the Scouter is himself a bit of a boy, and can see it all
from the boy's point of view, he can, if he is imaginative, invent new
activities, with frequent variations to meet the boys' thirst for novelty.
Note the theatres in London. If they find that a play does not appeal to the
public, they don't go on hammering away with it in the hope that it will in
the end do so; they take it off and put on some new attraction.
Boys can see adventure in a dirty old duck-puddle, and if the
Scoutmaster is a boy-man he can see it too. It does not require great
expense or apparatus to devise new ideas: the boys themselves can often help
Where a Troop resounds with jolly laughter, and enjoys success in
competitions, and the fresh excitements of new adventures, there won't be
any loss of members through boredom. Then outdoor camping-- not merely
occasional sips of it-- but frequent practice so that the boys become
experienced campaigners-- will hold those of the best typeand will give a
healthy tone to their thoughts and talks.
I have little use for a cut-and-dried routine system ina Scout
Headquarters building, with its temptation tosofter living and parlour
I RECOGNISE more fully than before the great value of Jamborees, provided
that they are only indulged in atwide intervals of time. The average Scout
life of a boy is acomparatively short one, and it is good for each
generationof Scouts to see at least one big Rally, since it enables the boy
to realise his membership of a really great brotherhood,and at the same time
brings him into personal acquaintance with brother Scouts of other districts
and other countries. He learns new Scouting ideas and camping gadgets,
andcomes out a better Scout for the experience.
Furthermore, such a Rally is of infinite value in developing
teamwork and organising qualities on the part of theScouters, and gives them
the opportunity of meeting theirfellows and exchanging experiences. Thereby
the standardof Scouting is raised generally, and its right methods aremore
widely understood and adopted. To the public, theparents, pastors, teachers,
employers and others theseexhibitions of the results, as well as of the
methods, of ourtraining give an invaluable object-lesson such as brings
almost invariably increased understanding and practicalsympathy with our
But, above all, the international spirit of comradeship and
goodwill that is bred in these camps is already becoming a force in the
world, a thing which but ten years ago nobody could have foreseen. These
various national jamborees are doing valuable work in that direction as well
as in their more local development. I look forward, therefore, with all the
greater confidence and hope to our world Jamboree in Hungary, in August next
year, as marking another big step forward in the promotion of that new and
much-needed spirit of broadminded goodwill in place of the old-time narrow
prejudices and jealousies.
I HAVE said in Rovering to Success that travel and reading and
Nature study are all part of self-education, and as such should be commended
to Scouts. Take reading. With your books around you you have a magic power;
when others are fussing and losing their hair over political hopes and
disappointments, you are sitting content with what you have got. You can at
any moment remove yourself and travel through far-off lands, dip into the
history of other times, command the wonders of science, amuse yourself with
good stories, and see beauty in thought through poetry.
Books are the best friends a man can have. You choose those that
you like; you can rely on them at all times; they can help you in your work,
in your leisure, and in your sorrow. You have them always around you at your
beck and call in your home. They are not nowadays very expensive if you only
buy one now and then to make up your collection. At any rate, the nearest
public library will bring almost any book to your hand without expense.
If you can hand on something of the love of books to your Scouts,
you will be giving them friends which will never fail them.
WHETHER the ordinary school education is really preparing them for
life, rather than for scholastic standards, is a question that people
are inclined to argue about, but the fact stands out that for the numbers
leaving school, of whatever class, there is not enough employment to go
round, and, unless a boy has developed character and habits of energy and
self-reliance he is going to be left in the slough of unemployment which
leads directly to unemployability, wastage and crime. The less spirited sink
under it; the more spirited, enthused no doubt by the exploits of gun-men,
as shown on the films, take to the adventure of burglary and highway
robbery. Nor do I blame them, for I should be the first to do it myself were
I in their case.
The spirit of adventure is inherent in almost every boy, but
adventure is hard for him to find in the crowded city.
One reads of gangs of boys of all ages, self-organised for crime,
boarding lorries for systematic robbery, stealing motor cars, holding up
wayfarers, etc. Stout lads ! What Scouts they would make, if we had the men
to handle them ! But what sort of citizens are they going to make, if left
to drift ?
At a session of the British Association last month it was pointed
out that scientific invention, with its development of labour-saving
machinery, of intensive production, of super-rapid transport, etc., is going
too fast for the existing human race. These developments over-produce
commodities, and at the same time reduce employment and the power to
purchase. The tendency to migrate from the country to crowded town life is
developing a quickened, if not a hectic, herd instinct among the people,
with its craving for pleasure, gambling, etc. The conditions under which the
next generation will live will be very different from those of twenty years
We in the Boy Scouts want to prepare our lads for the future that
lies before them. No-- not merely those who are Scouts, but all boys,
especially those who have the worst chances of becoming good citizens. Our
best step is to give them all the joyous adventure that we can through
Scouting activities, camping. Sea Scouting, etc., and to develop above all
their character, their bodies, and their sense of higher things.
STOCKTAKING.-- It doesn't seem like a quarter of a century since we
started on Brownsea Island-- but there it is ! In business a periodical
stocktaking is the necessary gauge of one's standing and progress; so, in
the life of a movement, or equally of an individual, occasional stocktaking
is valuable as showing us where we stand and where we can yet go ahead. So
let us "stocktake" of Scouting.
I won't go into the detailed history of the growth of our Movement
in its twenty-five years; this is recorded very fully elsewhere. But here we
stand on a firm and accepted footing, not only at home but in practically
every civilised country in the world.
OUR aims and methods are becoming understood and approved by
educationists and others outside the Movement . . . (only "becoming," for
without a precious lot of pushing it takes a long time for such knowledge to
sink in). One feels encouraged at any rate when one realises that in spite
of the upset of the war in our early days, and of the unlooked-for whirl of
evolution since then, the elasticity of our organisation and the
whole-hearted team-work of our members have enabled us, not only to meet the
everchanging social conditions, but to render useful services to the
community while making steady internal progress ourselves. It would be
interesting to trace in detail some of the minor points which denote our
progress, as, for instance, the badges won for proficiency in various
handcrafts and in Scout efficiency. I may, however, quote one little item,
namely that, since the Movement started, the Scouts have been the means of
saving some 1,200 lives, 1,120 of which rescues were effected at the risk of
the rescuers' lives.
Our numbers keep going up (853,206 in the Empire, 2 1/2 millions in
the world); our methods are well grasped; our training for Scouters is on a
healthy footing; and the satisfactory effects of Scouting on our boys are
proving themselves as these are arriving at manhood. Foreign countries took
up our training, possibly a little light-heartedly at first, but they have
stuck to it ever since. With unexpected broadmindedness they have accepted
it on our lines, and fostered it, although it was not an indigenous plant in
their own countries to begin with. Scoutcraft as a common activity has
brought the leaders, and subsequently the boys, of the different nations
into mutual touch and understanding, in spite of the differences of race and
creed and tradition. In this connection, side by side with the Scout
movement, the sister international organisation of the Girl Guides is
growing apace, and spreading the same ideals among the women of the
different countries. Their membership now amounts to 1,142,170.
If these numbers continue to grow-- and they are growing rapidly--
and if that comradeship continues to spread itself among the future men and
women of the world, a very potent leaven will have been established of that
spirit of goodwill which is the first essential to the foundation of
universal peace. Altogether, we may justly look back with thankful
satisfaction on our past, and, what is more, we can look forward with high
hope to the future.
It is scarcely yet realised among us how fully the conditions of
life have changed from those of a very few years back-- especially for the
less-endowed boy. These changes are still going on apace. It is up to us
Scouters to recognise this, to study the solution, and to plan our steps for
dealing with it. (What is more, it is important also to let the boys know
that we recognise it, and are doing our best to prepare them for what lies
before them. We shall thereby get their more hearty co-operation and
response to our effort.)
But it is a tough proposition. This year, of the thousands of young
people coming out of school at the age of 14, it is estimated that some
200,000 will be unable to get employment. It isn't that they find it
difficult to get jobs, but impossible. There are no jobs for them. This
happens at a time when the boy population is abnormally low owing to the
diminished birth-rate during the war and in 1923. But the increased
birth-rate after the war means that from now on these numbers will rapidly
increase, and it is computed that by 1937-- here will be 600,000 unemployed
of these boys and girls.
What is to become of them ? They are not at school, and they are
not receiving unemployment benefit until 16. At present the juvenile
instruction centres nominally cater for those between 16 and 18, but in
practice they do not take more than one in six, so the authorities are only
too glad to get the help of voluntary societies. And that is where the Scout
Movement could, and should, and will come in.
There is yet another disturbing feature in the present evolution--
the situation of the young men when they have reached the age of 18, and are
dismissed from training centres. They then find themselves adrift in the
world with nothing to do, with no one to guide them, and too young as yet to
mingle with the older men. What more natural than that, bored with idleness
and disgruntled with fate, they should seek diversion in crime or fall to
the persuasive eloquence of disruptive agents ?
A saving point is that the English character innate in these lads
still remains in them in spite of depressed conditions. They still possess
the spirit of adventure-- although, unless directed aright, it tends to lead
them into crimes of violence. Also they still have something of the stolid
English common sense which, before they commit themselves to extremist
movements, causes them to ask-- "Where is it going to help us ? What is the
next step after the Revolution ?" It is this very spirit of adventure that
gives us Scouts a handle whereby to attract and hold the boys.
Even those who are fortunate enough to have employment find it
difficult in these days of mass production and repetition work to get in
love with their task. Repetition work is not creative work, and is apt to
weary and discourage young workers. They need a good antidote in their
leisure time in the shape of some change of occupation-- but it should be
occupation, not idleness-- and creative occupation at that, where possible.
Allotment gardening caught on and did untold good as a hobby in the Great
War, and it could do so again, Hence comes the need for Scoutmasters to use
their imagination and keenness in constantly devising new hobbies and
activities-- to get the boy to see beyond his bench or desk, and to realise
the larger results of the work he is doing.
The creative instinct should be encouraged in every possible way,
especially if it can be the means of producing objects that will help others
to enjoy life. With such an aim brought to his work the lad would overcome
to some extent the prevailing temptation to gratify his own desires, which
as a rule yields but unsatisfying temporary pleasure.
So, whether a lad is at work or in the ranks of the unemployed.
Scouting, if properly applied, can hold out to him the means of making his
life something better than a mere dreary existence. It can give him healthy
occupation and happiness-- first by providing lots of outdoor activities,
games, hiking, camping, boating, etc., for health and adventure, and,
secondly, by giving hobbies and handcrafts to develop technical skill for
employment, or for occupying leisure time usefully.
To effect results we must :
Increase our membership to take in more boys including the poorest.
Increase the number of Troops to this end. This would need an increase in
the number of our Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters.
Increase the number of Rovers and Rover Crews.
Increase the number of Troop nights in the week (to be run by
A.S.M.s and Rovers).
Form special Training Camps for unemployed in permanent camps of
instruction with allotments, etc. Start in shacks and allotments of their
own those who cannot get employment.
If we co-operate locally, and dovetail in with the Juvenile
unemployed instructional centres, parish councils and other local
authorities, I am convinced that we can do a valuable work in this way.
So much for our possibilities at home and in the British Overseas
Dominions, but in addition to these we have the further prospect before us
of the World Development. The unlooked-for spread of the Movement abroad in
the first twenty-four years of its existence, and the firm footing upon
which, in spite of endless local difficulties, it has established itself,
gives heartening promise of what it will effect in the next quarter of a
century-- provided that the broad-minded spirit on which it has been started
is fully maintained in all countries. The aim of bringing up the oncoming
generation in mutual understanding and comradeship, with an eye to future
goodwill and co-operation, is a far higher one than that of instilling into
them hatreds and differences of their forebears under false ideas of
patriotism. Such development, carried out side by side with that of the Girl
Guides in the same direction, cannot fail eventually to influence the
general spirit of the peoples of the different countries in the direction of
mutual friendship and peace.
But charity starts at home to begin with. So here lies our
opportunity-- truly a big field for patriotic effort ! It is one well worth
working since it means helping in the salvation of our own people.
We are only alive for a time on this earth and through not "looking
wide" we are apt to fritter away those few short years in a round of things
that don't seriously matter.
But here is a job to our hand that is really worth while. Let us
seize it and do our best, with God's help, to make a success of it.
Among other humorous touches which cropped up at the Edinburgh
Conference, one which struck me was on the important occasion of our being
photographed in the Courtyard of the Church Assembly Buildings, where the
statue of John Knox appeared to be addressing us with an earnestness that
was rivaled by that of the photographer beside him.
IN the words of the Pantomime Clown of old times-- here we are again !
Thanks to wonderful surgery, most capable nursing, and to the
buck-up messages from Scouts of all degrees, I have come back to Scouting
all the better for a very unpleasant experience. I return with deep
gratitude to those who have so helped me and with thankfulness to God for
granting me renewed life.
I would thank more particularly those on whose shoulders fell the
work which I ought to have been doing. I come back, like Rip Van Winkle, to
find that in my absence the Movement has gone on all the better for it in
the hands of the different responsible heads. This has been the case
overseas as well as at home.
One thing has not come off to the full extent that I had hoped for,
and that is a big accession of Scoutmasters.
We urgently need to extend the Movement in these days of
out-of-work lads and world unrest, so as to bring the very poorest under
good influences and healthy training. To this end we must exert ourselves to
bring in more men as Scouters.
I am confident that we can do it. There are thousands of them
available, but they are ignorant of our aims and methods, nor do they
realise the vital need of our training for the oncoming nation. Our best
advertisement is the sight of our boys at work; our best recruiting agents
are our Scouters. With the camping season now on, every Scouter can, if he
will, act as spider, with his camp as the parlour into which to lure
Only to-day I heard of a case where a man had been an interested
spectator of certain boys at play, and one day they met him on the road and
announced that they had made up their minds and were all ready.
"Ready for what ?"
"To be Scouts, sir."
"Very good. And who is going to be your leader ?"
"You, sir; we elected you anonymously."
"But, damn it all-- Oh well, I suppose one mustn't swear if one is
going to be a Scoutmaster-- well, you see, I've got a lot of other things to
do-- and-- oh, all right, I'll have a try." (To-day nothing would induce him
to give it up.)
There are loads of men who would join us if they only knew how
valuable their assistance would be, and how natural and attractive our work
is. You might put it somewhat in this way to your fly when you have got him
into your parlour, but wording it according to the requirements of the
"Up till now you have been a busy or an idle man all your life. Any
doctor will tell you that to knock off all work suddenly in the one case or
to continue to vegetate in the other is the sure and short cut to the grave.
I want to suggest to you a remedy. It is to take on a job of work; such a
job is not only lying open to you but is eagerly awaiting you. It beats
monkey gland in bringing you a renewal of your youth; it lands you into a
cheery company of 'good companions'; and it enables you to do a valuable bit
of service for your country and your fellow-men.
"I mean, of course, taking part in the Boy Scout Movement." Some
men appear to imagine that to take on this job means being either a saint or
an Admirable Crichton, or both; that you may not smoke or laugh or swear;
that you must be either a pacifist, a faddist, a Fascist, or some other '
ist '; and that in the Movement we are governed by rules and regulations.
This is all wrong. All that we want is a human man, who can revive his
boyhood in the comradeship of boys, and who can play the game of Scouting
with them in its simplest common-sense form, as given in Scouting for
Tell your fly that he has only to get into the boy's skin, and to
look at things with the boy's eyes and use his own common sense and
imagination. He will find it a fascinating game, bringing results that are
very well worth while from the national point of view as well as being
satisfying to the soul.
As to common-sense education, I was amused to read an article this
week eulogising one of our schools because the boys there are trusted,
and work is to some extent regulated from the boy's point of view. The
author seems to regard this as a novel idea. It has, of course, been the
basis of our training of Scouts for twenty-five years.
Yesterday I was talking with our village schoolmaster, a true
educationist, by the way. He was explaining some of his methods which had
rather raised the hair of an old-time school inspector, but which, in
principle, are much in accord with our methods in Scout training.
Take one of his cases as an example. A girl was hopeless at
arithmetic, so he had a talk with her, and asked her which of the school
subjects she liked best. "Oh, cooking." And which she liked least.
"Well,"-- very confidentially-- "don't tell anyone, but it is just
the same with me. I don't like arithmetic, either. And now, talking of
cooking, how would it be if instead of the arithmetic lesson to-day you
cooked a tea for two, with some good scones and a cake, and we can have it
together. You order the necessary ingredients, but don't make it too
This idea she joyfully carried out. The following day he said--
"That tea was a huge success. Can you manage to cook another, on a larger
scale, say for five, to which we can ask some pals ?" It was duly and
The result was that in working out her quantities, prices, etc.,
the girl had all unconsciously had her arithmetic lesson. Interested in her
job, and proud of being trusted with the responsibility put upon her, she
was not only learning arithmetic but was realising its practical use at the
It is on this same principle that the Scoutmaster, through the
medium of Scouting items which interest the boy, inculcates such qualities
as he wants. He educates the boy by encouraging his self -- expression
instead of disciplining him by police methods of repression.
PERSONALLY I fear there is the danger that a kind of synthetic Scouting
may creep into our training in place of the natural article described in
Scouting for Boys. I would urge District Commissioners to watch out for
this in the course of their inspections and correct the tendency where they
By "synthetic scouting" I mean the Scout system obscured by
overclothing the natural form with rules and instructive literature, tending
to make what originally was, and should be, an open-air game into a science
for the Scouter and a school curriculum for the boy.
IT is all very well to give the oncoming generation a good time, but if
we look around, and if we look forward, we cannot fail to see that there is
something more needed than accustoming the boys to enjoy themselves without
responsibility and with everything found for them. If "we look around," what
do we see? Battle, murder, and sudden death, with all the savagery of
primitive times; and religion totally disregarded by peoples nominally
civilised but entirely lacking in self-control, swayed by mass suggestion,
and only amenable to the rule of force at the hands of dictators.
We have in all conscience enough object-lessons going on around us
in the world to show us that what is needed is the right character in
a people if it is to be a free, peaceful, and happy nation.
We "have been warned," but are we doing anything about it ?
Insidious powers of evil are already at work even among our own people.
Fortunately the British lethargy is hard to move; there is a leaven of
stolid common sense in the average Briton's make-up. But modern developments
of rush and unrest and the increased intercommunication between nations in
the world bring about a sense of restlessness and with it the danger of
contagion, where minds have become at all subject to mass hypnotism.
There are some signs to-day of an increasing lack among our people
of that self-control which has been in the past the attribute of our nation.
The number of murders and suicides, the craving for notoriety, the morbid or
hysterical motion that sends crowds to a tragic funeral or to the arrival of
a film star, all are straws that point that way. Those are bad traits in a
people which may, indeed, is bound to, meet grave national crises in the
near future, where self-restraint and united loyalty will be vitally
It is up to us in the Scouts, therefore, to carry on on the lines
we have set before ourselves, to educate the CHARACTER of our oncoming
generation so that it maintains and develops that personal self-control and
sense of service to the community which mark the good citizen. We want to
educate the lad in a practical way to make the best of his life. "Where
contentment lives, communism dies."
I have used the word "educate" rather than "teach," by which I mean
that we must inspire each individual boy to develop these qualities for
himself rather than impose mere instruction upon him.
It is scarcely necessary for me to go over the old ground of our
principles; they have been the same ever since the Movement started. But
when it started it was on a very simple scheme, and with the growth of years
many new interpretations and many new side lines have been added to it, so
that there is the risk of its becoming over-clothed with these and of the
original ideal and method being lost sight of.
The danger has crept in of the Movement becoming too academical,
demanding high standards of efficiency, testings, and all that. We have to
beware of this.
For Scouters I would urge the serious consideration of plans for
developing our two main issues, namely Physical Health and
Character. For Physical Health, not by physical drill, but rather
through activities and games such as really appeal to the boys' enthusiasm;
and also by practical suggestion of their own responsibility for their
health, through proper diet, rest, and exercise. For Character,
largely through the attraction of the Camp and the Patrol. In Camp the
Scoutmaster has his great opportunity for watching and getting to know the
individual characteristics of each of his boys, and then applying the
necessary direction to their development; while the boys themselves pick up
the character-forming qualities incident to life in camp, where discipline,
resourcefulness, ingenuity, self-reliance, handcraft, woodcraft, boat-craft,
team sense, Nature lore, etc., can all be imbibed under cheery and
sympathetic direction of the understanding Scoutmaster.
The Patrol is the character school for the individual. To the
Patrol Leader it gives practice in Responsibility and in the qualities of
Leadership. To the Scouts it gives subordination of self to the interests of
the whole, the elements of self-denial and self-control involved in the team
spirit of co-operation and good comradeship.
We have hundreds of thousands of boys and girls under our hands at
the moment, and there are many hundreds of thousands more of them needing
the training if we can only find leaders enough to deal with them, and can
hold out sufficient attractions to bring them into our fold.
There is an immense field open to us, in which we can lead the way
to greater developments. No need for us to get depressed over temporary
set-backs or disappointments; these are bound to come from time to time.
They are the salt that savours our progress; let us rise above them and look
to the big import of what we are at. We have set ourselves a noble task
which only needs a spot of courage and persistence to carry it through to
success. Let us tackle it, with all the joy of the adventure in these
dangerous times, to build up with the help of God a valuable breed of young
citizens for the future safety, honour, and welfare of our nation.
LEADERSHIP is the keynote to success-- but leadership is difficult to
define, and leaders are difficult to find. I have frequently stated that
"any ass can be a commander, and a trained man may often make an instructor;
but a leader is more like the poet-- born, not manufactured."
I could tell you of leaders whom I have found and how I found
them-- but that is another story.
One can say, however, that there are four essential points to look
for in a leader :
1. He must have whole-hearted faith and belief in the rightness
of his cause so that his followers catch the contagion, and share his
2. He must have a cheery, energetic personality, with sympathy
and friendly understanding of his followers, and so to secure their
3. He must have confidence in himself through knowing his job.
He thus gains the confidence of his men.
4. What he preaches he must himself-practise, thereby giving
personal example to his team.
The essentials of leadership might, in telegraphic brevity, be
summed up as "Comradeship and Competence." These principles apply whether
the leader is a County Commissioner or a Sixer, but with none is it of
greater importance than in the District Commissioner-- not even excepting
the Scoutmaster, great fellow though he is !
The District Commissioner has the most important as well as the
most interesting job in our organisation. He is the liaison officer, the
link between the administrative chiefs and the executive Scouters.
Leadership through personal touch is the keynote to our success in the
Movement. The County Commissioner is appointed by and deputises for the
Chief Scout, representing him in the County and representing to him
the County's needs. The County Commissioner selects and appoints his
District Commissioners to continue the chain of touch from the Chief Scout
to the Scoutmaster. So, too, the Scoutmaster (Cubber or Rover Leader) passes
on the touch to his Patrol Leaders, and these in their turn, through
competence and comradeship, give the right line to their Scouts.
But it is the District Commissioner who is the powerful link in the
chain and who must possess those four essential qualities to the full if he
is to be a successful leader. It is through the personal touch that he "an
inspire his followers to devoted service.
The Scouting standard of a District exactly reflects the standard
of leadership of its District Commissioner. "By their results shall ye know
A curate's-egg District would imply a "curate's egg" of a District
The District Commissioner, if he is truly a leader, has his finger
on the pulse of his whole District. He can see where a Scouter needs help or
a timely word of encouragement or warning. He knows directly he has got his
team on a competent footing to take up fresh enterprises. Just as a
Scoutmaster continually seeks new adventures for his Troop, or the Patrol
Leader for his Patrol, so the District Commissioner is constantly on the
look out to see where a new step in development, training, or policy is
desirable, and he wheels his pack of Scouters on to the line, and gives them
a definite point to aim for. If he has really inspired them with his
enthusiasm they will go to it like a pack of hounds and make a success of
I have dilated rather largely on the District Commissioner because
his is the important executive position of liaison between the County
Commissioner and the Scoutmaster. But it must obviously rest with the County
Commissioner to select only the right man for this job, and to put himself
into close personal relationship with him.
And again, it rests with the District Commissioner to be very
careful in the selection of each Scoutmaster and to take him fully into his
It is then the duty of the Scouters to play up to the District
Commissioner loyally and whole-heartedly even though it involves extra work
and give-and-take on their part for a time.
This way success lies.
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.