35 1 min 14 yrs

100 years ago,  Lord  Robert Paden-Powell harnessed that unique British genius for inspiring groups of people to do the     proper thing when he organized the Scouting Movement.

Typically British, scouting emphasizes the great outdoors and outdoor adventures.  Scouting teaches a code for living,  a code for a  happy, healthy and productive life, but leaves it up to the individual scout to make the right choices.   Scouting is not proscriptive.

Scouting, democratic in nature,  emphasizes “learning by doing.”  Leadership is decentralized and scout leaders, troops and the scouts, themselves, have free rein within the general framework.

100 years later, scouting thrives and the movement is helping youth throughout the world establish happy, healthy and productive lives. 

Representing the very best of the British genius, scouting celebrates its centennial this summer in London.

 

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35 thoughts on “Scouting. Quintessentially British. 100 years old. Thriving.

  1. 100 years ago, Lord Robert Paden-Powell harnessed that unique British genius for inspiring groups of people to do the proper thing when he organized the Scouting Movement.

    A great movement the scouts, extremely popular across the world. Was a member myself as were my siblings and my dad was heavily involved…

    But whats with the "unique British genius" label though… what are you implying, that the British are the only people on the planet that can come up with ideas that inspire their young ? weird!

  2. Or was it that this method of inspiring the young had a uniquely British Character ?

    Or – are you one of Them boys that gets his back up every time they hear suggestions of a unique and unparalleled British achievement ? Thinking your own nation the best in the world is quite right and proper. The British have more reason to do this than most.

    does anyone know if you can get Lord Baden-Powell’s original scouting book ? complete with positive references to the Empire and booting dogs in the chops ?

  3. Or was it that this method of inspiring the young had a uniquely British Character ?

    The method… hmm.. as in outdoor adventures and stuff. I suppose yes, there is an argument there alright. The ‘Outdoor Adventure’ plays a big part in British literature for children, the famous 5 being the obvious example…

    Or – are you one of Them boys that gets his back up every time they hear suggestions of a unique and unparalleled British achievement ? Thinking your own nation the best in the world is quite right and proper.

    Credit is due where credit is due Juan… but I find it a weird trait of the British to claim themselves ‘unique’ in certain character traits… anyway, as I say, I just found it weird to say to claim that the ability to inspire their young to "to do the proper thing" , was uniquely ‘British’.

    Anyway, back on topic, and a slap on the wrist for me for taking it off topic…

    So, any stories from your childhood regarding the scouting movement. Manys a summer I spent camping with the folks in Kerry or Galway. It gave me a great gra for the outdoor life, walking, hiking, swimming, and so on. Unfortunately it appears to be in decline in my home town, where insurance has crippled the ability to partake in most activities, also people are less likely to volunteer their time to scouting movements these days.

  4. it was the boys brigade for me kloot.

    do you fell there are traits of national character that are uniquely Irish ?

  5. it was the boys brigade for me kloot.

    Sea Scouts down my direction, but would you believe that because of insurance worries and all that, they cant go near water that much any more. When I was a kid it was all about raft making, knots, tents, cooking food in a makeshift oven, kites, hiking…

    do you fell there are traits of national character that are uniquely Irish ?

    Every nation has unique traits I suppose. And the British have their fair share both good and bad, again, the same in cultures across the world. But across the world the are many common character traits as well, protection of your family, respect for your parents, children and so on.

    Do the Irish have some unique traits…. I duno… maybe.. i think its the sum of the character traits that makes the people, some of which might be unique and some common.

    The Irish have an amazing ability to talk themselves down… or to badmouth the person who makes a success of themselves… they are inquisitive about others.. they like to know who you are and where are you from…they like a good story… they have long memories… they try to make people feel welcome… they are generous I believe…

    Again, these traits arent unique to Irish people, but its the sum total of them that forms the people if you know what I mean

  6. Kloot,

    Unique to Ireland? – Can a Blarney Stone be found anywhere else?…:-)

    As you both are saying – it is a sum total of qualities that make the character, – you might almost say it is what ‘makes the culture’.

  7. Can a Blarney Stone be found anywhere else?…:-)

    LOL… Ernest… you would think the EU would have shut that down years ago due to how unhygienic it is πŸ™‚

  8. Kloot,

    Just saw on TV here that all but six countries in the world have a Scout Movement. What are the odds that the exceptions are mostly in communist countries?

    Mind you, a Taliban Scout troop probably means something quite different to what we are used to.

  9. Just saw on TV here that all but six countries in the world have a Scout Movement. What are the odds that the exceptions are mostly in communist countries?

    What an amazing movement it is. And all voluntary. I was just reading on wiki that the Irish movement formed within a year of the English one.

    Some facts from wiki:

    – In 2007, Scouting and Guiding together have over 38 million members in 216 countries

    – The first recognized overseas unit was chartered in Gibraltar in 1908

    – "Duty to God" is a principle of Scouting, though it is applied differently in various countries.

    – The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) take a strong position, excluding atheists

    – The Scout Motto, ‘Be Prepared’, has been used in various languages by millions of Scouts since 1907. Less well-known is the Scout Slogan, ‘Do a good turn daily’.

    Here’s a weird one..The swastika was used as an early symbol by the British Boy Scouts and others. According to "Johnny" Walker, its earliest use in Scouting was on the Thanks Badge introduced in 1911.. apparently from their travels in India

    Mind you, a Taliban Scout troop probably means something quite different to what we are used to.

    Indeed, I wonder how much pressure some of these movements came under to adopt a more militaristic form for future manipulation

  10. Kloot: Well, perhaps you’re right and "unique" is abit hyperbolic. Is it inaccurate to say that the Irish have a unique genius for music and poetry? Or that Americans have a unique talent for marketing?

    I’m not British; I’m 100% American — My attempt is to point out — from my outsider’s vantage point– what I see as a unique British genius. It is the British genius to teach a "proper way to live" — a code for leading to a healthy, happy and productive life — which enabled her colonies, such as India and America, to thrive when she left.

    Sadly, multi-culturalism has led Britain to doubt her genius, to abandon that which made her such a potent and positive force in the world for so long.

    Interesting to note that through scouting this spirit lives on.

  11. In third grade my son researched Hitler, and the Nazis (and the swastika).

    Before Hitler adopted the swastika, this design was an American Indian symbol and it stood for good things like strength, unity etc.

    Hitler held a logo contest (!) for his Nazi movement and the swastika entry won.

    Through its association with Hitler,the swastika, a perfectly acceptable design, has been relegated to the trash bin of ignonimy.

  12. Patty,

    Is it inaccurate to say that the Irish have a unique genius for music and poetry? Or that Americans have a unique talent for marketing?

    Those are traits that people tend to associate with both peoples alright..

    Sorry for dragging the thread off topic a tad…

  13. Through its association with Hitler,the swastika, a perfectly acceptable design, has been relegated to the trash bin of ignonimy.

    I noticed its use in Japan on religious monuments in the street… all pre nazi of course. Weird to see it though. I doubt it can ever return to its previous meaning in the eyes of joe public.

  14. Kloot: Interesting that you saw the swastika in Japan.

    The pointed hood is another great symbol which suffers due to its association with the wrong kind.

    When I was in Seville, Spain — during Semana Santa (Easter week) I was shocked when I first saw paraders marching towards me in pointed hoods.

    In the American South, this costume stands for the KKK, dark nights and rascist murders and mayhem.

    I think the costume dates from the Middle Ages. In Seville, it stood for the unnamed dead, I believe.

  15. Excellent post Patty.
    All three of my boys are (or were) scouts, My husband leads a troop and I led my grown son’s when he was a boy. This a wonderful organization with excellent activities for boys that teach teamwork, morality, love and pride of country. Scouting also gives the boys a good example of how decent adults, particularly men, should behave.

  16. Daphne,

    "boys a good example of how decent adults, particularly men, should behave.

    Interesting comment! – is the fact that we now have Girl Scouts, a sign of the changing times?…:-)

    A few good things also taught – self-reliance, improvisation, and above all, a self belief!

  17. I’m helping out at one of the "attractions" at the World Scout Jamboree at Hylands Park.
    There have been some downsides:- Sunday everywhere was a sea of mud, and the staff car park had to be closed.
    From where I leave the car there is a walk of nearly a mile to the site of our tented attraction; not so bad going, but hell at the end of a day’s work.
    The organization is a bit haphazard, and the admin people often don’t know what is supposed to be happening. I read somewhere that Chelmsford Council has been planning it for ten years and certainly it is a mammoth event. Apart from the 30,000 scouts, there are 10,000 adults, either troop leaders or admin people, or running the attractions.
    I should think every bus, coach and minibus within a forty mile radius has been pressed into service, both for taking the kids out for trips and community service, and for a shuttle service back and forth to Writtle Agricultural College and North Weald Airfield, amongst others where there are sub camps. Added to which the site is awash with Thrifty vans and minibuses, so all of this must be adding to the local economy.
    There is even an enclosure full of golf buggies for the staff, and bicycles to be hired.
    But, it’s been some experience. I personally have talked to groups of scouts from 40 or 50 countries, although the one who tried to convince me this afternoon that he was from Antarctica eventually admitted he wasn’t. They have all been keen to join in the activities we were providing. The galling thing is that there is at least one in every group who speaks very passable English.
    The one overwhelming impression is how delightful all these young people are. The foreign groups, particularly the European ones, have far more girls, often 50%. All of them are bright, friendly and utterly charming. They are all enjoying themselves, and the Jamboree is clearly a success.

  18. I am very admiring of the whole scouts movement , our societies would be much better places and the future would be a lot more assured and happier i think if millions more of our young people were encouraged to join. I am a bit shocked though that the US movement bars atheists. I think that is wrong and unfair.

  19. Sepoy Agent: Great comment. Very interesting to hear your first hand report. The mud and rain sound daunting.

    "The galling thing is that there is at least one in every group who speaks very passable English."

    Along with scouting, the British gave the world English…I’m not complaining. πŸ˜‰

  20. Colm,

    My experience with the anti-atheist thing in the Boy Scouts here in the USA is that it comes down to a "don’t ask, don’t tell" kind of thing. My wife who has had experience only with the Girl Scouts was shocked to find out about the Boy Scouts’ limitations because the Girl Scouts don’t have them.

    Anyway, our son dropped out after Cub Scouts, so I only had to hide my horns for a few years.

  21. What are ya’lls problem with the athiest thing in the boy scouts? They very clearly state in their literature that they are organized on a belief in God. They don’t like gay men being invovled either. I think there are many places you can go if you are an athiest or homosexual, we don’t have to include you folks in every activity do we? Maybe you atheist or homosexual people ought to start your own childrens group.
    (rolling eyes) Go start your own pc correct childrens group and leave our kids alone.

    Alan –

    The Girl Scouts do have rules. A gay boy can’t join just because he feels more comfortable selling cookies than shooting arrows.

  22. Daphne,

    My point was on the atheist issue in the (or non-issue) in the Girl vs. Boy Scouts. Since you raise the homosexual question regarding the Girl Scouts, do they ban lesbians?

    BTW, Boy Scouts ban gay scouts as well as leaders.

  23. The Boy Scout Oath does in fact contain a reference to God that would seem to be inconsistent with atheism. And the oath I believe goes back to 1910 so it isn’t some invention of the religious right. I wish they were more inclusive but they have the right not to be.

    I personally was a Cub Scout and made it to the next branch Webelos – the pronunciation of which was the source of numerious 8th grade jokes. Never made it to the Boy Scouts, but they do good work as they say.

  24. Mahons,

    You are right about the oath. A dissembling atheist Scout might omit those two words in saying the oath much as anti-monarchist MP’s cross their fingers behind their backs when they swear allegiance to the Queen.

  25. Oh, yes, and, Mahons, you are right that the Boy Scouts of America is a private club supported by private contributions and can discriminate in its membership. It’s not as if it accepted public funds or provided public accommodations (like a bed and breakfast) and had to obey anti-discrimination laws.

  26. Daphne

    I fully accept that the Scout movement is a private organisation and I would never seek to have any authority order them to take members for reasons of ‘inclusivity’ but I think that as they are an excellent organisation that would and should benefir any child it’s sad that they would refuse children because they come from households which may be atheist or non-Christian. Yes of course we can have asll sorts of other exclusive groups but in my opinion there is no reason for it. Children together playing and camping and learning and enjoyng all the adventures of scouting should have nothing to do with individual religous affiliations.

  27. I have no idea what the Girl Scouts allow. I was kicked out the Brownies half through my first year. I don’t recall why, but my mother tells me it was because of my anarchist tendencies.

    The boy scout troups in our area accept anyone willing to join and abide by the program. Our area is very international and ethnically diverse. I would imagine that many of the Indian families involved aren’t Christians and I personally know of quite a few families that never attend church. But they don’t make a stink about saying the pledge or boy scout motto and they remain silent and respectfull during opening prayer.

    I suppose I get huffy when other groups insist that changes be made to accommodate their beliefs or lifestyle. If they like a program, they are certainly welcome to copy it to suit their unique needs and membership.

  28. Fair enough Daphne, but you know me , I just think we should all forget our differences and hold hands in perfect harmony…… now repeat after me ,"I’d like to teach the world to sing…

  29. Wouldn’t you know one of my son’s best friends in Boy Scouts is a Muslim from Pakistan. ..life is always so complicated.

  30. I was a beaver, cub, scout and venture scout. and loved every minute of it.

    some of the best times of my life. from campfire chats and song to pretending to vomit over the side of the old belfast to liverpool ferry with a mouthful of UHT milk.

  31. Bourbon – scotch is a foul brew.

    That was a lovely story Daytripper, thanks for sharing.

  32. Thank you Patty for your well deserved tribute to the Scouts. My father was a scout in a small town outside Worcester in the early 20th century and his scoutmaster was Mr. Baden Powell. He used to tell stories of his experiences and I know that in his case they helped build an honorable man who I greatly loved and admired. And yes I believe you are correct that the scouting movement, with it’s norms and values, could only have arisen in Britain. It is deeply intertwined with British history and character. I wish the scouting movement many more productive years.

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