- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jan 1947, p. 167-173
- Spry, Major-General D.C., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A great need for those in Scouting continuously to speak about this great Movement due to the considerable lack of knowledge of the aims and intentions. The purpose and endeavours of Scouting. The very great part that Scouting has to play in conjunction with the church, the home and the school, in the development of young Canadians. How Scouting is a "way of life." Bringing together different nationalities under one Scouting Camp. Ways in which Scouting can overcome some of Canada's traditional geographical problems. Scouting overcoming traditional "fences" which have been erected over the years between various regions, denominations and races. A similar phenomenon in the armed forces, with illustrative example from the speaker's experience. Scouting endeavouring to guide boys to take their place in "one atomic world."
- Date of Original
- 23 Jan 1947
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- Full Text
- THE BROADER ASPECTS OF SCOUTING
AN ADDRESS BY MAJOR-GENERAL D. C. SPRY, C.B.E., D.S.O.
Chairman: The President, Major F. L. Clouse
Thursday, January 23, 1947
MAJOR CLOUSE: In 1923, as a guest of this Club, the late Gen. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, in speaking from this platform, stated that the predominant idea behind his organization of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in the year 1908 was " to provide good citizenship in the rising generation". He went on to say "the Boy Scout organizations will spread brotherhood and will perpetuate from generation to generation that great comradeship that was sealed by blood between our different British nations during the late war."
How prophetic were those words! The Scouts and
Guides of 1923--true to Gen. Baden-Powell's prediction--a, generation later--formed the background of our heroic fighting services- on the sea, on land and in the aid in the last great war.
And today we welcome as our guest of honour the Chief Executive Commissioner for Canada of that great organization "The Boy Scouts Association".
Major General Spry was born in Winnipeg and at nine years of age joined the Wolf Cubs, later becoming a Scout-I should add-a good Scout. He received his early education in England and later graduated from Dalhousie University. While a university student he joined the Reserve Army--was commissioner in the R. C. R's. and served with distinction in the late war. Promoted to the rank of Maj. Gen. at the age of 31--he was the youngest officer in the British Commonwealth to attain that rank. In 1946 he was appointed Vice-Chief of the Army, General Staff, an appointment he relinquished to become Executive Commissioner of the Scout Movement in Canada.
It is my pleasure to introduce
MAJ. GEN. D. C. SPRY, C.B.E., D.S.O. who will speak to us on
"THE BROADER ASPECTS OF SCOUTING"
MAJ.-GEN. D. C. SPRY: It is a very great privilege for me to be permitted to come here and speak to you today.
I am sure that there, are many of you who have had much to do with Scouting and other organizations with similar aims. Therefore, I feel that I may perhaps be speaking to you about a matter upon which you are better informed than I am. I am reminded of the well-worn story of the young Negro pastor who received his first appointment to a small church in the deep South. After some thought he decided to give his first sermon on the subject of "Motherhood." After some sweat arid tears of preparation he delivered his sermon. On his way out of the church he found himself walking behind two ladies, one a spinster and the other a mother of ten children. He could not help overhearing the spinster saying, "Liza, we sho' am lucky to have a fine new preacher like that, what marvellous command of de language, what wonderful diction,, what magnificent delivery!" To this the mother of ten replied "Mandy, I only wish I knew as little about the subject as he does!"
So, as I sat, it is probably impudent for me to speak to a group such as this about any type of community, or public service.
However, with this risk in mind. I am bound to say that there is a great need for those of us in Scouting continuously to speak about this great Movement, for there is a considerable lack of knowledge of our aims and intentions.
The purpose of Scouting is to produce the kind of citizens which you and I would like to have around us. As Lord Rowallan, the Empire Chief Scout has said, "It is not a game for little boys in short pants, it is some thing greater than this, it is 'a way of life'." Scouting endeavours to develop in the boys good character, not for its own sake but character with a purpose-the purpose -good citizenship. It also instills in the boys a sense of responsibility to their fellow beings and a high standard of self-reliance which should prepare them for the shocks of the times.
We feel that Scouting has a very great part to play in conjunction with the church, the home and the school, in the development of young Canadians. It is a well known fact that only about fifty percent of our population has any real religious affiliation. The results of this are well known to all of you. In many cases our homes are not contributing to the up-bringing of young lads the way they did in the past. I draw your attention to the greatly increased divorce rate and to the housing shortage, both of which have unfortunate results in the standards of family life and on the way in which our young people are being brought up. In the case of the schools, we are all willing to put our children into somebody else's hands for several hours each day and yet we accept the fact that our school teachers are amongst the most unfortunately paid group in the country. What are we doing about it? I am well aware that there are all sorts of organizations endeavouring to correct this situation--I can only draw your attention to the results attained. I feel that Scouting can: help greatly in the work of the church, home and school among young lads and can assist them by strengthening their influences and filling the gaps between these institutions wherever these occur.
I said earlier that Scouting is a "way of life." Through its common Promise and Law, which require Duty to God, loyalty to their country, and helpfulness to others, its method of training, and its unity of purpose and community of interest, this Movement is able to bring together boys of all races, creeds and colours: Scouting provides that common ground upon which tolerance, fellowship and good-will can flourish. For example, even today through Scouting it is possible to bring Moslem and Hindu boys together in India; it is possible to bring the Arab and the Jewish boy together in the same Scout camp. This Movement has grown from a small handful of boys on Brownsea Island in 1908 to some five million members in some fifty countries of the world. If it is possible to do this under such difficult conditions, surely there must be something which Scouting can contribute to this Canada of ours.
I know that here in Toronto great efforts have been made by the various supporters of the Movement. I can only ask you to add your support in any way which may appear to you to be possible. If you are in any doubt, I suggest that you visit your nearest Scout Troop and find out for yourself something of this spirit of Scouting.
As you know better than I do, the history of Canada is one of continual struggle against geography. I feel that Scouting can overcome traditional "fences" which have been erected over the years between various regions, denominations and races. I know that this is not an impossibility. Each division in the Canadian Army in this last war was a cross-section of the Dominion. It had regiments and battalions from every part of the country. I had the good fortune to go overseas with the 1st Division and so had the opportunity of observing the other divisions as they arrived in England. The strenuous training exercises and long marches did something towards breaking down the suspicions which one group had of another, but it was not until each division had been subjected to the full test of battle that it developed a really sound divisional spirit. From this test of fire the Nova Scotia miner's son found that the lad from Quebec was just as good a fighter as he was; and that the Ontario boy fought side by side with the Prairie farmer's son; and that the boy from the foothills could fight his tank as gallantly as anyone else; and the British Columbia lad "looked over the mountains" and saw that the rest of Canada wasn't so bad after all. As some of you know, every Canadian division developed tremendous "esprit de corps." This was possible because of the knowledge and confidence and trust which each unit and each individual had in his fellows. This spirit was the subject of comment time and again by officers of other Allied formations who visited us. It has occurred to many of us who have returned from overseas, that if it was possible to bring such groups together so successfully in war, it must be possible to do so in peace. I suggest to you that Scouting, because of its common purpose and community of interest can do much for Canada by assisting in the development of this grand spirit among the youth of today--the men of tomorrow, so that one day Canada will attain that full greatness which she so richly deserves.
There are some million Canadian veterans who saw something of this possibility during their service. In addition, Scouting is training one hundred thousand young lads to the same outlook. Such a number in a country of our population is most certainly a great step in the right direction.
Scouting is a world brotherhood, and I believe it can assist in the development of a large group of people all over this globe who have something in common. It seems to me that if you can develop this common ground there is some hope for the world. If we do not, there does not seem to be much hope, and if there is no hope, we must consider the last six years of war entirely wasted.
It has taken some centuries of political development to reach our present stage of social organization. In the days of the old city states and down through history our social organization has evolved so that it is now possible for people to live in a community in some state of tranquility. We have now reached the stage where the will of the majority is executed by elected representatives. These representatives employ some form of force such as a policeman to enforce the will of the majority. We now accept this as a normal condition in a democracy. We have even reached a stage now where provinces do not fight one another, at least not openly. This is quite a step forward. Unfortunately, while we are able to establish and maintain the peace, order and good government within our own political boundaries, we have not carried this thought forward into the international field. We have not yet reached a stage of political development where nations can agree any too readily. Perhaps we will never reach such a stage of perfection, but I can assure you that so long as we fail to organize the peoples of this world so that the will of the majority can be implemented through its elected representatives who are capable of enforcing this will, there will continue to be a state of anarchy amongst nations. I doubt if it is possible to so organize ourselves unless there is a great mass of world citizens dedicated to the belief of such a conception. We have a long way to go, yet all of you will agree that it seems rather senseless that nations should have to bang their heads together every twenty or twenty-five years. I feel that the world-wide Scout Movement can help to bring up young people of today to be worthy citizens of tomorrow,--citizens, intelligent enough to appreciate democracy, and prepared to play their part in the establishment of a world free from insecurity and suspicion.
Our intellectual growth has produced for us now the atomic bomb, and we have thus outstripped our moral and spiritual development. The atomic bomb has now become a red-hot cannonball. Unfortunately, we are not quite sure what we should do with it. It will require great moral and spiritual strength for those charged with these great decisions but it will also require the peoples of the world to learn to work and live together so that there may be peace on earth and goodwill towards all men, which after all is what we all so earnestly desire. I would ask you to keep in mind that Scouting is endeavouring to guide boys-the men of tomorrow-to take their place in "one atomic world." As Lord BadenPowell said: "We are trying to bring up our lads to live sanely in an insane world." It is a long term job and it is not an easy one. It requires the support of every right-thinking citizen and I would ask you all to give whatever support and assistance you can to this great endeavour.
The task which Scouting has before it reminds me of the situation which faced Sir Francis Drake as he turned course for Cadiz Harbour to singe the King of Spain's beard. He knew that it was going to be a tough job and that it would not be completed any too easily. He said
"Oh Lord God, when thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory."