THE BOY SCOUT MOVEMENT.
An address delivered in Toronto by Lieut.-General Sir R. S. S. Baden-Powell, at a joint special meeting of the Canadian and Empire Clubs-with Mr. J. P. MacKay, President of the Canadian Club, in the chair-on August 31st, 1910.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen
It is very difficult for me to express to you any very sincere 'thanks to the members of the two Societies who have so kindly agreed to meet me here today in combination, for it gives me the unique opportunity of meeting the very men I want to meet in this great city. I have come here with a fad of my own, and I find it has already been received as something that may be of value to your country, and indeed, if it spreads and extends as it promises to do here, it will be of value also to our great Empire.
It was merely a suggestion I made in the matter of training bovs, which you seem to have taken up with the idea of making it a real success for your country and the Empire at large. If you succeed in doing this, (for I leave that with the citizens themselves) I think you will be doing a great work, but it will be no credit to me. Whether it succeeds or not depends entirely upon .the men in the different centres and the manner in which they handle the work. The boys seem ready enough to accept training and it merely rests with the men of the country to adopt it and put it in working order. I will briefly, in the short time available, give you a sketch or outline of the scheme; what the need of it, how carried on, and what are the possibilities lying before it in your own country.
Scouting, as you know, may be taken from a military point of view, but we take this scouting entirely from a peace point of view. The aim is to cultivate the principles which actuated the pioneers of civilization in nearly all corners of the globe, that is to say, trappers, explorers, frontiersmen, backwoodsmen, soldiers, and such men as you have in your North-West Mounted Police. These men promoted civilization under exceptional difficulties of climate or surroundings, relying entirely upon themselves to carry out their work, full of resource, energy, endurance, hope and pluck. Such men do their work far away from all applause simply because it is their duty, full of chivalry and self-sacrifice, possessing the best type of manliness in our race.
These are the types we hold up to these lads as their ideals to follow, whatever class, city or country they may come from, or whatever religion or nationality they may be. Therefore, I believe the training and elementary work begun, and the supplementary work they are to receive, as the Scout masters gradually introduce these other attributes of frontiersmen and backwoodsmen and so on, will. tend to make for manliness of character and good citizenship among the boys.
Whether there is need of such a movement in your country is for you to decide. In the Old Country it seems very desirable, with its great teeming cities of lads drifting to "the parting of the ways," where they either become shirkers or workers. The boys can learn the three R.'s in the schools, but do not learn character, manliness or energy such as will be useful to them in after life. For, after all, take any man who succeeds in this world it is not the school learning he gets at school, but the character he develops in himself which counts. A school for character, therefore, seems to be very much needed among our rising generation, particularly in the Old Country, in 'the great cities and. the state of over-civilization in which we live. In your country it is another matter. You do not suffer from this same disease of unemployedness and unemployableness. There are points about your lads which are similar to lads in every part of the world, they want character putting into them. Your boys have plenty of self-reliance, resourcefulness, and independence the only danger is that they may get too much of it. You want also discipline. (Loud applause.) and self-sacrifice, then courtesy and chivalry. (Applause.) All this gets very readily instilled into these boys once you get hold, of them by means which are really attractive to them.
In Canada you are engaged in the making of a great nation, and in order to do that you have to use a great many different ingredients, many nationalities, and you want to weld them together with some "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin," and this is one of the small means of doing it--this association of boys, spreading as it is in different countries, not only in this great Dominion, but in countries all over the world, bringing them into touch with one another in a way those who started the movement could hardly hope for. The boys all recognize that they are joining a great brotherhood, feel themselves comrades, bound to back their brothers up, and to be friends in whatever part of the globe they may be, whatever their nation, religion or standing in life-they are all brothers.
This is a great thing in my mind if you are going to hold, together the rising generation of various nationalities you have amongst you. If you can succeed in making them feel they are brothers it will be of inestimable value to, your nation in the future, for it must be remembered you not only need material for the making of a nation, you want spirit as well.
The methods by which we bring about this training are, as I have hinted, those which appeal to the boy himself. So many of our systems of education do not directly appeal 20 a boy. We tell a boy to be good, and if he has any spirit he turns around and goes the other way. We tell him to be a Scout, to go hunting in the woods, be a Red Indian, anything you like, but come into the open air and play the game, and, he is only too ready to do it, whatever the game may be; and then we instruct him on those points which go to make up a really good man, with strength of character, physical as well as moral. Our scheme merely gives the outline for doing it, and we leave to individual men, who are trainers, to produce the best results possible with the ingredients in their hands, that is to say we offer badges for skill in the art of scouting. A boy begins to get Scout's badges when he has qualified himself in the elementary work of backwoodsmanship, when he can look out for himself, light his own fire, cook his own food, manage a boat, be able to swim, signal his friends, find his way by day or night in the woods, by the stars or sun, etc., make maps; all those kind of things which make a backwoodsman. After he has passed an examination in these things he gets a badge. Then we teach him some handicraft, and try to make a useful citizen out of him, offering him a badge for proficiency as a carpenter, boat-builder, baker, dairyman, anything he likes which is liable to be useful and which stimulates boyish ambition. We have 33 different kind of trades and crafts for which we give badges. The method we follow is this--suppose a boy wants to get a badge, he selects some trade to his liking and finds a friend of his who is an expert in that line, to teach hire what he wants to know, and if he passes our examination our Board gives him a badge. A Scout in this way gradually accumulates a number of badges of proficiency. Probably he will select one or other occupation and make it his profession or calling for life, and not be absolutely helpless or hopeless like so many wasters at home today. In fact, one of the qualifications before a Scout can have a badge is that he trust have a balance in the Bank. It is not very large, only one shilling, but it is something, it has broken the ice and given him his bank-book.
Well, gentlemen, this scheme is popular with boys; they have taken it up for themselves in most parts of the world, and our only difficulty is to get them officers who can teach them their work-officers with the tune and inclination to do the work. That is what we want to produce, the right inclinations among the young fellowsand I find that in Canada a young fellow ranges in age from 18 to 81. Once they take up the training they find it very attractive and fascinating, and they soon gather around them a few friends, and we have an organization produced. First of all in each Province we have a Council of leaders, men who take the responsible authority. Then in each city or centre we have a local Association of representative gentlemen interested in the training of boys, and under them we have the Scout-masters, officers who raise troops and train them in the different local centres. These troops are divided into units of 8 boys, each unit having an older boy as leader. In this way we bring the responsibility down upon the shoulders of the boys themselves. There is nothing like putting responsibility upon them at a very early age to get the right spirit of discipline into them.
Our training is not in opposition to any other existing form of training. We work in unison with the Boy's Brigade, the Church Lads and the Y.M.C.A. All of these are great organizations doing the same work as the Boy Scouts but in a different way. We have been accused of not having much religion in our training, but we do not attempt to take the place of pastors or parents in teaching what kind of religion a boy ought to take up; but we do expect every boy to have soave form of religion of his own, and not merely to profess it, but put it in practice while .he is with us. And one of the main steps towards putting it into practice is that each boy is expected, and we put him on his honor to carry out, some good turn every day to some animal or person. I have today received information of one of your local Scouts, who wakened up in the night to find he had forgotten to do his good turn. He heard a mouse in the trap. So he went to that mouse, tenderly removed it from the trap--and gave it to the cat! I trust, gentlemen, you will excuse this digression.
Another point in our training which excites a good deal of interest among you as loyal citizens, is what is our attitude as regards Cadets. Well, we hope we back up the Cadet movement by filling up the blanks in the organization of Cadets where the Cadet movement is not possible, that is to say in widely-scattered communities such as you have in your outlying districts. The Scout movement comes into such places because we have these small units of eight bays, which can be raised in any township, hamlet or homestead. The training we give the Scouts is different from military (training, which we try to avoid rather than otherwise, because military training tends to make a boy part of a machine, while we wash to develop individuality, bring out his personal qualities, and make the most of them. The discipline we putt into the boys is a different kind from the mere veneer of military discipline, where a young fellow obeys his officer while on parade but forgets his discipline immediately he is off parade. We try to make the Scout recognize his master as his friend, one he is bound to serve from sheer loyalty. Whatever his failings he overlooks them and backs him up from a spirit of loyalty and chivalry.
A great many religious denominations and parents have conscientiously objected to boys belonging to a military organization because of the spirit of warfare, engendered in them; therefore, to avoid military training we find many of these denominations and parents send their boys to join the Scouts simply for the training of good citizenship which they receive. At the same time, of course, we do not neglect patriotism but encourage it as much as we can, so that eventually when they take up the idea of their duty to their country and join a defence force, as many of them no doubt will, with the experience they have gained in campaigning and woodcraft--knowing how to cross rivers, signal, find their way in a strange place day or night-.all these traits of good soldiers which are scarcely touched upon in the training of Cadets, will make the Scout a far superior soldier than if he received merely the usual Cadet Training. Sometimes we have Cadet Corps take up our training in addition to their own as they realize the superiority of it in the case of actual warfare; because it is only reasonable, when you come to think of it, how the Boers were able to maintain themselves in the field so long against a much superior force simply because they were good campaigners, never having had a day's military drill in their lives. Plain men of the woods with an all-round training are better than the men who receive the more narrow military discipline. So it commends itself to most trainers of boys even though we don't insist upon military training as the ultimate aim of it.
Our methods are so elastic that the Scout-masters are allowed to train troops along any number of lines they like. So we have a number of different kind of troops, including Missioner troops, Soldier troops and Sailor troops as well. In connection with the last ones I mentioned, I think you have a great opportunity in this country. We have them in almost every sea-port in Great Britain-Sea Scouts who take to sailoring as their special branch. With your Great Lakes, rivers and creeks, it would be quite possible to raise a large force of SeaScout troops, and in view of the Navy, it may be useful in time too come. The only instruments required for it are a few ships or hulks, to be used as training-ships. These could be moored alongside your city, somewhere out in the bay, and would make a splendid club-house where the boys could spend their evenings or week-ends learning the elements of seamanship. I referred to this in VanoDuver .and a gentleman came forward and offered then and there to provide a ship for that purpose, and I understand another one has been provided in Victoria. A few more and we will have the Sea Scout movement started in Canada. So if any of you gentlemen have an old ship you don't know what-to do with, instead of breaking it up, better hand it over to the Boy Scouts.
Well, gentlemen, I am not going to detain you longer. I thank you for all your kindness to me. You see for yourselves the possibility of the Scout movement. So far as I have gone in Ontario, the Scouts in Toronto are the most promising lot I have seen, but it is only the beginning of what the movement is going to be, judging, by the splendid spirit shown towards the work by the citizens.* It only requires encouragement on the part of men like yourselves to spread this movement far and wide, so give the movement all the encouragement you possibly can, and thus help the boys to become good citizens as they grow up and prosper with your country; for, after all the strength and greatness of a nation does not depend so much upon great armaments as .it does upon the spirit and character of the nation. And what makes up the nation but the individual units of the nation? And this scheme will build up character in the rising generation, so that your nation in the future will be a nation of character, and therefore one of the greatest and strongest units in our great Empire.
*Editor's Note--At the close of 1910 there were about 5,000 Boy Scouts in Canada.