Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell


Figure 1.--No other book for, or about, youth organizations has had a greater impact than Baden-Powell's "Scouting for Boys". He borrowed heavily from other pioneers of youth organizaions, especially American naturalist Earnest Thompson Seaton.

General Robert Baden-Powell decided to write down the ideas about Scouting that he had been collecting all his life. As a boy it was the outdoor life that appealed to him. As a soldir it eas the tracking and camping skills. Only later did the idea of a program for boys emerge. Perhaps no other book for, or about, youth organizations has had a greater impact than Baden-Powell's "Scouting for Boys". He borrowed heavily from other pioneers of youth organizaions, especially American naturalist Earnest Thompson Seaton. The style of English is wonderful and it has the most intriguing sections that Scoutmasters and Scouts would balk at today.

The Author

It can be argued that Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell was less than a perfect man. He is today, however, one of the most widely respected man of the 20th century. Because of his love for his nation and a deep desire to train her future leaders, Baden-Powell organized the largest and most positive organizations for building good citizens that the world has ever seen. Few lives in Europe and America have not been touched by his Scouts and the movement is now active in all, but a handful of countries around the world. A Scout's honor continues to be the standard by which men are judged.

Overview

wrote these booklets in 1908. They are a six part set that young boys in England bought by the thousands. The series was an instant success & the English boys started forming patrols and following the writings in the book.

Advise

Baden-Powell offers a great deal of advise to his Scouts on a wide range of topics.

Accidents

Chapter VII, The 'Saving Life or How to Deal with Accidents' section: If are witness to somebody with a bad cut that bleeds profusely, it suggests that you get a stone, wrap it in a handkerchief, and place it ABOVE the wound. Then get a stick, loop it through the handkerchief and twist it round till the bandage is drawn tight to stop the flow of blood. 'Had he not known what to do the man would have bled to death in a few minutes' the book says.

It goes on further in how to make up your mind if you are at railway station and a man falls onto the rails in front of a moving train. One suggestion is that if the train is very close, lie flat between the rails, make the man do the same till the train passes over 'while everybody else would be running about screaming and excited and doing nothing.'

Another alarming section tells what a Boy Scout must do to stop runaway horses. It says you shouldn't run in front of it with your arms waving. Rather run along side it, catch hold of it, seize the reins and bring him up against a wall or a house to compel it to stop.

If that's not enough, there's also a section in how to deal with mad dogs. Pitchforks, sticks, and kicking the dog under the jaw is recommended.

If you are treating 'a man' for burns, cut off his clothes with a sharp instrument and dust the wound with powdered chalk or flour. Or, lay strips of lint well soaked in sweet or linseed oil. If 'the man' is bleeding from the ears and is 'insensible', put cold water or ice on his head to keep him quite till a doctor comes. Should the Boy Scout have the misfortune of coming across 'a man' in a fit, then put a bit of wood or cork between his jaws. Then let him sleep well after the fit.

If that's enough, there's also advice on how to deal with suicides and what to do if you come across a dead body.

Continence

Anothr interesting part of the book deals with, most obtusely, the matter of continence and the problem of "self abuse" as Baden-Powell calls it. It is surreptiouslly titled under the heading 'Continence'. It starts off by saying that smoking and drinking will tempt most fellows, but 'one temptation is pretty sure to come to you at one time or another, and I want just to warn you against it'. It goes on by saying that many boys have written to him (Baden Powell) and have thanked him for his advice against this 'secret vice which gets hold of so many fellows'. Another word for it is 'beastliness', the book says. It is not a man's vice and men have nothing but contempt for a fellow who gives way to it. 'Some boys,like those who start smoking, think it a very and manly thing to tell or listen to dirty stories, but it only shows them to be little fools'. It will lead a thoughtless boy into temptation of self abuse. It is dangerous as it can become a habit, destroy his health and mind, make him feeble which often ends in a lunatic asylum. According to Baden-Powell, the desire is brought on by indigestion, or eating too rich food or constipation. It can be cured by correcting these, and by bathing at once in cold water, or by exercising the upper part of the body by arm exercises or boxing. If you still have problems with it, the book says, then you shouldn't make it a secret and go to your scoutmaster and talk about it. 'All will come right'. 'Bad dreams are another form of want of continence, which often come from sleeping in too warm a bed with too many blankets on, or sleeping on your back; so try to avoid these causes'.

Patriotism

The book is also very patriotic and talks proudly about the expansion of the British Empire and it's conquests on other continents.

Ruyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Rudyard Kipling played an importan role in British Scouting. He was a friend of Baden-Powell. Many of his early writings were about the British soldier in India. One of the most famous chroicled Tommy Atkins, the genesis of the term "Tommie" for a British soldier. He wrote The Jungle Book written in 1894. It was first published in serialized form in the American children's magazine, Saint Nicholas as were other famous stories at the time such as Little Lord Fauntleoy. Kipling also wrote "The Scout's Patrol Song" which was the official Boy Scout song. Kippling contributed a brief version of Kim to Part I of Scouting For Boys. His son became a Scout and he was appointed a comissioner in the British Scouting program. His greatest contribution to Scouting was The Jungle Book which Baden-Powell used as a concept around which to build the Wolf Cubbing program for the younger boys.

Assesment

Winston Churchill provided one of the most succinct assesmnts of Scouting for Boys, "It appealed to all the sense of adventure and love of open-air life which is so strong in youth. But beyond this it stirred those sentiments of knightly chivalry, of playing the game - any game - earnest or fun - hard and fairly, which constitute the most important part of the British system of education." [Churchill]

Sources

Churchill, Winston. Great Contemporaries.








Christopher Wagner





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Created: September 22, 2000
Last updated: August 10, 2002