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B-P's Blog

There has been a lot written about Scouting. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide Scouting movement, wrote many books and articles directed to Scouters.

From time to time we will publish a selection of articles or from B.P.'s writings in the hope that you’ll draw inspiration and understanding from these timeless ideas.

B-P’s Blog appears on Scoutmastercg.com.


B-P’s Blog – The End Is Character

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ENFORCED solitary leisure spent among mountain tops is so good for the soul that every man would be the better for such “retreat” if he forced himself to take it occasionally. The quiet meditation, remote from the rush and unrest of ordinary life, cleanses the mind, and gives it ease and inspiration.  Sitting here, unperturbed by Press headlines, and looking at Mount Kenya with his hoary old head standing four square as ever, one sees the clouds come and cover him for a time, and though they bring thunder and storm, they rift away again, leaving him standing there unmoved in the sunshine, as he has stood through thousands of years of similar passing showers.

So too, on a larger scale, this world is, from time to time, disturbed by clouds of war and unrest; but these pass away and, together with them, thank goodness, the agitators who brought them about; and the old world wags on unmoved as it has done for thousands of years through similar nightmares.

So you say to yourself, why get rattled about troubles that you can’t prevent? But can’t you? Browning says: “God’s in His Heaven; all’s right with the world.”

But a certain head-hunting tribe says that this is not so. Their belief is that the devil has for the present got possession of the world, and when that possession is over God’s reign of peace will come.

The devil’s agents are, after all, merely men, and it is therefore possible for man also to counter his devilments, and to bring about that reign of Peace and Goodwill which is the reign of God.

Here seems the opportunity– indeed the Duty– for every individual to take his share in preventing recurrence of those evils.  It is in such crusade that I see a goal open to Scouters and Old Scouts.

My mountain says “Look wider; look higher; look further ahead, and a way will be seen.”

Moral Rearmament, a vague term, though much used, is open to many interpretations, but among these few have so far supplied practical steps for making it a definite quality in our citizenship.

Yet the spirit of it is essential. I ventured to write a letter to The Times last year, recommending the adoption of some simple form of self-dedication to the service of Goodwill and Peace, much on the lines of the Boy Scout Promise.

This brought me numbers of letters of approval, but I don’t hear whether anything definite has been done about it. Before the war a scheme for our national education was formulated “to build citizens rather than scholars”; but like many other good intentions it was dropped during the war, and has never been fully revived.

Now, even more than in those days, is such training needed if we, as a nation, are to keep pace with the developments of the age and hold our own, in giving a moral lead to others.

The character of a nation depends on the individual character of its members.

Our falling birth-rate demands extra efficiency in every individual, to compensate for our lack of numbers. The steps taken by totalitarians abroad should be a spur to us where they are enforcing the universal training of their youth. This is done on lines based on Scouting methods, but confined to purely nationalist ideals of citizenship.

Citizenship has been defined briefly as “active loyalty to the community”; but should aim at securing peaceful and friendly relations with other nations. In a free country like ours it is easy, and not unusual, to consider oneself a good citizen by being a law-abiding man, doing your work and expressing your choice in politics, sport, or activities, “leaving it to George” to worry about the nation’s welfare. This is passive citizenship. But the times to-day demand more than passive citizenship if we are to be a sound and solid nation, able to stand up among the others, and able to uphold in the world the virtues of freedom, justice, and honour.

Members of the church realise that it is not possible for them alone to accomplish this change of spirit. Indeed Totalitarian States look on the differing denominations rather as elements of discord in their peoples, where unity is essential for making a nation.

If, however, the individual believes that peace and goodwill are needed it is a matter for that individual, however humble, to contribute to their promotion.

It seems that each has to so discipline his conduct and, character that in his daily life he sees the other fellow’s point of view as well as his own, whether it is in business dealings, or in politics, national and international, and that he is prepared to give Service wherever he can see it needed.

To believe that Peace and Goodwill– instead of war and ill-will– constitute the reign of God in the world is in itself a “religion.” It is a religion to which all can subscribe, and one which no denomination will deny.

Its practice is citizenship of the highest type.

After all, are not these the tenets which are, and always have been, the underlying aim of our training in the Scouts?

If you could get them more fully understood and more widely extended it would be a direct and practical, if minor, contribution towards eventually bringing about the Kingdom of God in the world. Can you see a higher, or more worthwhile. Life Crusade than this for a man?

As very many Scouters have already realised, it opens up a wonderful opportunity for each of us, according to our powers, whether we be Scouters, Rovers, or Old Scouts, to take a hand in spreading by personal example, by teaching and talks, this practical step in the socalled Moral Rearmament. One man cannot hope to do much, but tiny individual coelenterata have built coral islands by co-operation in an ideal. It needs a highly optimistic acorn to start hopefully on producing an oak tree.

But here, in our Movement, we have all the encouragement of a pretty big plant already existing as a nucleus, in our four and a half million of boys and girls in British and other countries.

Then besides them there are the many more millions of Old Scouts and ex-Guides who will rally to the call.

To descend to details:

Let us therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves become too absorbed in the steps.

Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good, turns. Jamboree comradeships are all means, not the end.

The end is CHARACTER– character with a purpose.

And that purpose, that the next generation be sane in an insane world, and develop the higher realisation of Service, the active service of Love and Duty to God and neighbour.

March, 1939.


B-P’s Blog – Adventure

bpblog8WHETHER 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 ago.

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.

October, 1932.


B-P’s Blog – Scoutcraft

bp5Instruction in scoutcraft should be given as far as possible through practices, games, and competitions.

Games should be organized mainly as team matches, where the patrol forms the team, and every boy is playing, none merely looking on.

Strict obedience to the rules to be at all times insisted on as instruction in discipline.

The rules given in the book as to games may be altered by Scout-masters where necessary to suit local conditions.

The ideas given here are merely offered as suggestions, upon which it is hoped that instructors will develop further games, competitions, and displays.

Several of the games given here are founded on those in Mr. Thompson Seton’s “Book of Woodcraft”, called “Spearing the Sturgeon” (Whale Hunt), “Quick Sight” (Spotty Face), “Spot the Rabbit”, “Bang the Bear”, “Hostile Spy” (Stop Thief), etc. A number of non-scouting games are quoted from other sources.

The following is a suggestion for the distribution of the work for the first few weeks. It is merely a Suggestion and in no sense binding.

Remember that the boy on joining, wants to begin “Scouting” right away; so don’t dull his keenness, as is so often done, by too much preliminary explanation at first. Meet his wants by games and scouting practices, and instill elementary details bit by bit afterwards as you go along.

N.B.—The previous paragraph was in the former editions of this book, but it was in some cases ignored by Scoutmasters, with the result that their training was a failure.

Remember also to start small. Six or eight carefully chosen boys will be enough to begin with, and after they have received Scout training for a month or two, they will be fit to lead and instruct fresh recruits as they are admitted.

– Scouting for Boys


B-P’s Blog – I Was A Boy

b-ps-blogI Was A Boy Once.

The best time I had as a boy was when I went as a sea scout with my four brothers about on the sea round the coasts of England. Not that we were real Sea Scouts, because Sea Scouts weren’t invented in those days. But we had a sailing boat of our own on which we lived and cruised about, at all seasons and in all weathers, and we had a jolly good time—taking the rough with the smooth.

Then in my spare time as a schoolboy I did a good lot of scouting in the woods in the way of catching rabbits and cooking them, observing birds and tracking animals, and so on. Later on, when I got into the Army, I had endless fun big-game hunting in the jungles in India and Africa and living among the backwoodsmen in Canada. Then I got real scouting in South African campaigns.

Well, I enjoyed all this kind of life so much that I thought, “Why should not boys at home get some taste of it too?” I knew that every true red-blooded boy is keen for adventure and open-air life, and so I wrote this book to show you how it could be done.

And you fellows have taken up so readily that now there are not only hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts but over six millions about the world!

Of course, a chap can’t expect to become a thorough backwoodsman all at once without learning some of the difficult arts and practices that the backwoodsman uses. If you study this book you will find tips in it showing you how to do them— and in this way you can learn for yourself instead of having a teacher to show you how.

Then, you will find that the object of becoming an able and efficient Boy Scout is not merely to give you fun and adventure but that, like the backwoodsmen, explorers, and frontiersmen whom you are following, you will be fitting yourself to help your country and to be of service to other people who may be in need of help. That is what the best men are out to do.

A true Scout is looked up to by other boys and by grownups as a fellow who can be trusted, a fellow who will not fail to do his duty however risky and dangerous it may be, a fellow who is jolly and cheery no matter how great the difficulty before him.

I’ve put into this book all that is needed to make you a good Scout of that kind. So, go ahead, read the book, practice all that it teaches you, and I hope you will have half as good a time as I have had as a Scout.

– Forward, Scouting for Boys



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