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Chapter X
Life Number Two-The Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
Part One

Double Harness — Origin of the Boy Scouts and Guides — National Need for Character Training — The Educational Value of Training in the Army — The Application of Scout Training to Citizen Training — The Framework — Analysis of the Scout Scheme of Training — The Scoutmaster— Uniform — Garters — The Scout's Badge — The Motto — The Knot — Scout's Staff — Proficiency Badges.

I NOW started on my second life in this world.

I had definitely left the Army in 1910. I was now settling down to be a good citizen as a Warden of the Mercers' Company (N.B.-A Mercer, like a poet, is born such, he is not made); and the Boy Scout movement had started itself and was finding its feet far and wide.

This, though it promised to be the biggest job of my life, was at the same time the easiest since everybody connected with it met me more than half-way with their keenness.

In 1912 all was going smoothly and well when out of the blue an entirely new kind of bomb suddenly caught me in the midriff!


It was in this way. During my first life I had had my time fairly fully occupied, with little leisure for thinking of such extraneous matters as marriage; indeed, I had been railed by my best friend, "Ginger" Gordon, 15th Hussars, on being a confirmed old bachelor; and when I said that I had no desire to get married and I felt sure that nobody would desire to marry me, he looked at me quizzically for a space and then remarked, with the laugh of one who knew: "You'll get it in the neck one day when you least expect it. Old boy!"

And I did.

In the course of following up the science of tracking I had practised the art of deducing peoples character from their footprints and gait. Native trackers the world over read the character as well as the actions or intentions of the footprinter, e.g. toes turned out imply a liar, outside heel depression means adventurous, and so on.

In this research I came to the conclusion, for instance, that about forty-six per cent of women were very adventurous with one leg and hesitant on the other, i.e. liable to act on impulse.

So when I came to an exception it caught my attention.

One such I noted where a girl—a total stranger to me and whose face I had not seen-trod in a way that showed her to be possessed of honesty of purpose and common sense as well as of the spirit of adventure. I happened to notice that she had a spaniel with her. 

This was while I was still in the Army and I was going into Knightsbridge Barracks at the time. I thought no more of it.

Two years later, on board my ship for the West Indies, I recognized the same gait in a fellow-passenger. When introduced I charged her with living in London. Wrong. My sleuthing was at fault; she lived in Dorsetshire!

"But have you not a brown and white spaniel?"

"Yes." (Surprise registered.)

"Were you never in London? Near Knightsbridge Barracks?"

"Yes, two years ago."

So we married-and lived happily ever after.

Thus began my second life, and with it the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides.


The amount of notoriety thrust upon me by the want of perspective in the reviews of the Boer War gave me some anxious thought. It was all so unexpected, unearned, and unsought.

Could there be some higher purpose underlying it? Was it a call to me? Could it be utilised to some good end? If so in what way could I act up to it? Such were the questions which thrust themselves upon me.

They began to answer themselves for me by letters which poured in to me while I was still in South Africa in 1901-3, from boys and girls in different parts of the Empire. I had somehow personally caught their interest and was, without seeking for it, in touch with them.

Lord Allenby was astonished one day on finding that his small son, together with his governess, had climbed to the top of a tree in order to ambush him.

The lady explained that she came from Miss Mason's House of Education, where she had been trained on my book of Aids to Scouting for soldiers, which was used there as a text-book for teaching observation and deduction.

This was the first authoritative indication I had had that Scouting was educative.

Here seemed an opportunity of doing something, if only I knew what to do and did it while the iron was still hot.

So to the many enquiries and to the appeals from boys' societies for "messages" I answered with such advice and suggestions as I could give in my busy time out there, and these were generally founded on the doings of Scouts and backwoodsmen, as being heroes to the boys.

On smoking, for instance, I wrote:

"A Scout, or any man whose life depends on his steadiness of nerve, good wind, and his keenness of sight or sense of smell, will, as a rule, not trust himself to smoke because he knows that it is injurious to these. On that account the American Scout, Major Burnham, does not smoke, and the great African hunter, F. C. Selous, does not smoke.

Smoking does more harm to you when you are young than when you are old. Therefore a boy, if he is not a FOOL, will avoid smoking in case some day he may be wanted to work as a Scout or in other duties where he will want a. clear head and steady nerves."

I wrote dozens of letters of this kind, on this and other points on which the boys wanted suggestions, and this gave me the feeling that boys were anxious for a lead and were willing to take it.

So they gave me the lead which put an end to my life as a soldier and started me on my second life in 1910.


As an Adjutant and as a Commanding Officer I had had hundreds of young men through my hands as recruits. They were typical results of the average education in our schools.

It is only by its results and not by its methods, however good they may be, that education can be judged.

This is a point which is very often lost sight of.

Those results showed estimable young men, able to read and write, well-behaved and amenable to discipline, and easily made into smart-looking parade soldiers-but without individuality or strength of character, utterly without resourcefulness, initiative or the guts for adventure.

Modern conditions of life with its artificiality were making them members of the herd with everything done for them and with the fetish of "safety first" ever before their eyes.

I am speaking, of course, of over twenty years ago. We may hope that since then education has improved-and I believe it has-in preparing our boys and girls less for passing standards of examinations and more for making the best use of their lives as citizens of the State.

But education has fresh difficulties to contend with to-day, in the shape of increased herd-instinct, undesirable teachings of a sensational Sunday press, immoral cinemas, and easy access to cheap, unhealthy pleasure, and gambling.

With the modern extension of towns and villages and factories, of great tarred motor roads and telegraph, telephone and power lines over the face of the country, civilisation is driving Nature farther and farther out of reach of the majority, until realisation of its beauties and wonders and our own affinity with God's creations, is becoming lost in the materialistic life of the crowd, with its depressing conditions of work and hectic search for pleasure among man-made squalid surroundings of bricks and mortar.

The artificial is swamping out the natural in our life thanks to motor-cars, bikes and elevators, our limbs, like our minds, will atrophy from want of exercise and our sons will grow brains instead of brawn.


Well—in training our lads in the Army to be soldiers we had to remedy some of the shortcomings in their character and to fill in the omissions left in their education by developing in them the various attributes needed for making them reliable MEN. We had to inculcate a good many qualities not enunciated in school text-books, such as individual pluck, intelligence, initiative, and spirit of adventure. This we did, not through drill nor imposed instruction, but by going back to nature and backwoodsmanship, by taking the men back as nearly as possible to the primitive, to learn tracking, eye for a country, observation by night as well as by day, to learn to stalk and to hide, to improvise shelter, and to feed and fend for themselves.

This programme proved so attractive to these young men that there was no lack of volunteers for the training.

A notable sign of its popularity was that where we used to lose many a young fellow through desertion, owing to the boredom of barrack life and continued drill, we now found such cases very rare indeed.

The results of the training upon the men showed us very soon that something. more than actual ability and value as Army Scouts had incidentally been brought about. One found that they had gained a measure of pride in their work, confidence in themselves, and a sense of responsibility and trust and other qualities such as put them on to a higher standard of manliness, self-respect and loyalty.


During the Defence of Mafeking, Lord Edward Cecil, my Chief Staff Officer, had hit on the idea of utilizing the boys of the town to take the place of men employed as orderlies and messengers, etc., and so release them for duty in the trenches.

The boys were accordingly organised as a corps under command of one of their own number, Corporal Goodyear, and they carried out their duties in every way satisfactorily and with the greatest pluck, even under fire.

The conscientious way in which they did their work opened my eyes to the fact that boys, if given responsibility and if trusted to do their job, could be relied upon as if they were men.

This had an important lesson for me.

In 1904, as a result of these straws, I sketched out some ideas for training boys somewhat on the lines of the Scouts in the Army.

In 1905, I was invited by Sir William Smith to inspect his Corps of "Boys' Brigade" at Glasgow on the twenty-first anniversary of their existence.

When I saw this splendid gathering of some six thousand boys, and heard how widespread was the movement, it opened my eyes to yet another trait among boys, namely, that they would come eagerly in their thousands of their own accord to be trained where the training had its attraction for them.

Also that hundreds of adults were willing to sacrifice time and energy in the service of training these boys.

This development no theory could have foretold.

When Sir William told me that he had no less than fifty-four thousand lads in the Brigade, I congratulated him on the magnificent result of his work; but as second thoughts occurred to me I could not help adding that considering, the number of boys available in the country there ought, in the space of twenty years, to be ten times that number in the ranks, if the programme offered them were sufficiently varied and tempting.

He asked how I would add to its attraction, and I told him how Scouting had proved its popularity with young. men in the Cavalry, and that something of the kind might prove equally attractive to these younger boys, while its aim might easily be diverted from war to peace, since the inculcation of character, health and manliness was its basis,and these qualities were as much needed in a citizen as in a soldier.

He cordially agreed with my idea and suggested that I should write a book for boys on the lines of Aids to Scouting.

So in the few spare moments from my work as I.G. of Cavalry, I set to work to formulate my idea, for here seemed to be the work waiting to my hand for which that damnable notoriety I had incurred could now be usefully employed.

Chance or Fate or what you will took me just at that time to stay with Sir Arthur Pearson and there I discovered his unobtrusive kindness of heart and sympathy with afflicted children and young people, to which was added a devoted patriotism to his own country.

Here was the man I was looking for and I confided to him my ideas about this new training for boys. He at once gave me every encouragement personally and the help of his staff; and from him came one who has been my right hand from that day to this, in Sir Percy Everett.

Before bringing out the proposed book I made full experiment of the scheme by holding a camp for trial of its programme.

Mrs. Van Raalte invited me to use her island, Brownsea, in Poole Harbour, for this purpose, as I was anxious to get a camping ground away from outsiders, press reporters, and other "vermin," where I could try out the experiment without interruption.

There I tried it out with boys of every class and kind mixed up together.

It met my anticipations, and I published Scouting for Boys.


To build a scheme, whether for a speech, a book, or a movement, you have:

1. To set Up its AIM clearly before you.
2. In a movement for boys the next essential is to make it attractive for them.
3. Then to devise a definite code for their guidance.
4. Then to form a suitable organisation under competent leaders.

Aim. Our aim was to improve the standard of out future citizenhood, especially in CHARACTER and HEALTH. One had to think out the main weak points in our national character and make some effort to eradicate these by substituting equivalent virtues, where the ordinary school curriculum was not in a position to supply them. Outdoor activities, handicrafts, and service for others therefore came into the forefront of our programme.

Attraction. The whole scheme was then planned on the principle of being an educative GAME; a recreation in which the boy would be insensibly led to educate himself. What to call it? There's a lot in a name. Had we called it what it was, viz. a "Society for the Propagation of Moral Attributes," the boy would not exactly have rushed for it. But to call it SCOUTING and give him the chance of becoming an embryo Scout, was quite another pair of shoes. His inherent "gang" instinct would be met by making him a member of a "Troop" and a "Patrol." Give him a uniform to wear, with Badges to be won and worn on it for proficiency in Scouting—and you got him.

Under the term "Scout" one could hold up for his hero worship such men as backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers and frontiersmen.

Backwoods mans hip could be brought within the grasp of even the town boy through stalking, tracking, camping, pioneering, camp cooking, tree-felling, and other outdoor activities.

These practices all would have their attraction for him, and would at the same time develop in him health, resourcefulness, intelligence, handiness and energy.

Code. Then the Romance of the knights of the Middle Ages has its attraction for all boys and has its appeal to their moral sense. Their Code of Chivalry included Honour, Self-discipline, Courtesy, Courage, Selfless sense of Duty and Service, and the guidance of Religion. These and other good attributes would be readily accepted if embodied in a Law for Scouts.

The Scout Law. So the Scout Law was not framed as a list Of DON'T'S. Prohibition generally invites evasion since it challenges the- spirit inherent in every red-blooded boy (or man).: The boy is not governed by DON'T, but is led on by DO. The Scout Law, therefore, was devised as a guide to his actions rather than as repressive of his faults. It merely states what is good form and expected of a Scout.


The Promise. Through a letter which I received in 1902 from a small boy I was led to realise that a boy sets some store by his promise if he makes cine. (I wonder if that unknown correspondent is alive to-day?)

This is what he wrote: "I Will PROMISE to you with O my heart [sic] never to touch strong drink or smoke. And you be a brave soldier and so will I. Yours affectionately, H . . . V Halifax N.S. . . ."

So I inflicted on the Scout a solemn little Promise, easier to keep than an Oath, in which he engaged to DO HIS BEST to:

1. Do his Duty to God and to the King (N.B.-Not merely to be loyal, which implies a state of mind, but to DO something).
2. Do a good turn to somebody every day (i.e. Duty to his Neighbour).
3. Obey the Scout Law.

Sea Scouts. Having in my own boyhood been brought u b my brothers with a pod deal of sea-going work aboard various small yachts we owned from time to time, I realised the extraordinary value of this training. It brought out various qualities which no amount of land-training could produce to the same extent. Apart from the bodily health developed, it familiarised the lad with risks and hardships incident to seafaring in all weathers, and demanded of him the exercise of courage and caution, coupled with discipline, self-reliance and resource, all of which tended to make a man of him. In these days of modern coddling and the cult of "safety first" Sea Scouting can give something of the hardness so badly needed in the make-up of a modern man.

So we instituted. a Sea Scout Branch of the movement, which by chance proved its worth five years later when the country was involved in the Great War.

The movement was able to meet the call of the Government and take over guarding the coasts, thereby releasing the Coastguards for duty afloat.

Organisation. At first starting the Boy Scouts were organised in Troops of about thirty-two, and sub-divided into Patrols of eight.

After some years they were graded, approximately according to age, for psychological reasons, into three classes, as:

Wolf Cubs-8 to 11-in Packs composed of sections of six under boy leaders.
Scouts-12 to 17-in Troops composed of Patrols of six to eight under boy leaders.
Rovers-17½ -in Crews composed of Patrols under leaders.

The three grades form a Group under a Group Scout master.

The number in a Pack or Troop should preferably not exceed thirty-two. I suggest this number because in training boys myself I found that sixteen was about as many as I could deal with-in getting at and bringing out the individual character in each. I allow for other people being twice as capable as myself and hence the total of thirty-two.

1. Character  2. Health and Strength
Qualities to be Aimed For Through Practice Of Qualities to be Aimed For Through Practice Of
  • Civic fair play. 
  • Respect for the rights of others. 
  • Discipline. 
  • Leadership. 
  • Responsibility 
  • Moral Honor. 
  • Chivalry. 
  • Self-Reliance. 
  • Courage. 
  • Capacity for Enjoyment. 
  • Higher Tone of Thought. 
  • Religion. 
  • Reverence. 
  • Self-Respect. 
  • Loyalty. 
  • Patrol Work. 
  • Team Games. 
  • Court of Honor 

  • Patrol Leaders' Council
  • Scout Law and Promise. 
  • Scout Work and Activities. 
  • Appreciation of Nature. 
  • Nature Lore and Study. 
  • Astronomy. 
  • Kindness to Animals. 
  • Service to Others. 
  • Health 
  • Strength 
  • Responsibility for 

  • Personal Health. 
  • Hygiene. 
  • Temperance. 
  • Continence. 
  • Camping. 
  • Physical Development. 
  • Games. 
  • Swimming. 
  • Hiking. 
  • Climbing and Natural Activities. 
3. Handicraft and Skill 4. Service to Others
Qualities to be Aimed For Through Practice Of Qualities to be Aimed For Through Practice Of
  • Technical Skill. 
  • Inventiveness. 
  • Intellectual 
  • Observation. 
  • Deduction. 
  • Self-Expression 
  • Scoutcraft. 
  • Camp Expedients. 
  • Pioneering. 
  • Rewards by Badges, 

  • in many forms of Handicraft. 
  • Hobbies. 
  • Woodcraft. 
  • Tracking. 
  • Unselfishness. 
  • Civic Duty. 
  • Patriotism. 
  • Service for Country. 
  • Service for Humanity. 
  • Service for God. 
  • Scout Law and Promise. 
  • Good Turns. 
  • First Aid. 
  • Life Saving. 
  • Firemanship. 
  • Accident Corps. 
  • Hospital Assistance. 
  • Other Community Service. 

The Scoutmaster

The idea of Scouting thus seemed all right so far as the boy was concerned, but eager though he might bc to carry it out there was the all-important question of getting adult leadership to organise its administration in practice.

To a very considerable extent this question was settled by the boys themselves. They had the sense to recognise that grown-up officers were necessary, and they went around among the men of their respective neighbourhoods until they found those willing to become their leaders.

Personally I had seen the splendid devoted voluntary work of the officers of the Boys' Brigade, and so I realised that there was in our population a considerable number of patriotic men who would be willing to make sacrifice of time and pleasures to come and take charge of the boys.

But I never foresaw the amazing response which has been given by such men to the call of the Scout Movement.

To them is due the remarkable growth and results achieved to date.

I had stipulated that the position of Scoutmasters was to be neither that of a schoolmaster nor of a Commanding Officer, but rather that of an elder brother among his boys, not detached or above them, but himself joining in their activities and sharing their enthusiasm, and thus, being in the position to know them individually, able to inspire their efforts and to suggest new diversions when his finger on their pulse told him the attraction of any present craze was wearing off.

The term Scoutmaster was no new one. It was an old English title used by Cromwell, who had "Scoutmasters" in his Army, and his Intelligence branch was under the direction of a "Scoutmaster-General."


For the boy a uniform is a big, attraction, and when it is a dress such as backwoodsmen wear it takes him in imagination to be directly linked up with those frontiersmen who are heroes to him.

The uniform also makes for Brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country.

The Scout uniform, moreover, is simple and hygienic (a step now much in fashion) approximating that of our ancestors. Of this we are reminded when we sing round the camp-fire, to the tune of the "Men of Harlech."

What's the good of wearing braces, 
Vests and pants and boots with laces, 
Spats, or hats you buy in places
Down in Brompton Road?

What's the use of shirts of cotton, 
Studs that always get forgotten? 
These affairs are simply rotten, 
Better far is woad.


Another insignificant and yet important item of the Scout uniform is the Honi Soit part of it-the Garters. These are intended not only to do the useful job of keeping the stockings from slipping down but being actually skeins of the same wool they supply the mending material for repairing holes as these occur. The tabs at the end are coloured to distinguish the grade of the wearers Red for Rover Scouts and Green for Scouts.

The Scout's Badge

Years ago, soon after the Boy Scouts were first started, certain critics accused the movement of being a military one. Whenever anything new is started there are bound to be people who get up on their hind legs to find fault with it, often before they know what it is all about.

In this case they said that the Scout movement was designed to teach the boys to be soldiers, and they quoted in, proof that the crest of the movement was, as they described it: "A spear-head, the emblem of battle and bloodshed."

I was asked by cable what I had to say about it. I telegraphed back: "The crest is the fleur-de-lys, a lily, the emblem of peace and purity."

But it wasn't for that reason that Scouts took it. In the Middle Ages Charles, King of Naples, owing to his French descent had the fleur-de-lys as his crest.

It was in his reign that Flavio Gioja, the navigator, made the mariners' compass into a practical and reliable instrument. The compass card had the initial letters of North, South, East and West upon it. In Italian the North was "Tramontana."

So he put a capital T to mark the North point. But in compliment to the King he made a combination of the letter T with the King's fleur-de-lys crest. From that time the North point has been universally shown on the maps, charts, and compass cards by that sign.

The actual meaning to be read from the fleur-de-lys badge is that it points in the right direction (and upwards) turning neither to the right nor left, since these lead backward again. The stars on the two side arms stand for the two eyes of the Wolf Cub having been opened before he became a Scout, when he gained his First-Class Badge of two Stars. The three points of the fleur-de-lys remind the Scout of the three points of the Scout's Promise—Duty to God and King, Helpfulness to other people, and Obedience to the Scout Law.

The Motto

The Slogan of the Scout is "Be Prepared." This was adopted, with much of the uniform, from the South African Constabulary. The men of the Force chose that motto for themselves partly because it spoke to their readiness to take on any kind of duty at any time, and also because it brought in my initials.

The fleur-de-lys has come to be the sign of the Scouts in almost every country in the world.

In order to distinguish one nationality from the other the country's own emblem is "superimposed," that is, placed on the front of the fleur-de-lys.

You see this in the United States where the eagle and the national arms of America stand in front, backed by the fieur-de-lys of the world-wide Scout Brotherhood. And long may it so stand!

The Knot

Beneath the fleur-de-lys and Motto a little cord depends with a knot tied in it. This knot, like the knot you tic in your handkerchief on occasion, is to remind the boy daily that he has to do a good turn to someone.

The Scout Staff

Talking of pointing the way, there is another pointer in use in most Scout Troops in the shape of the Scout Staff.

This is an invaluable implement-in fact almost a necessity for finding your way in bad ground at night.

A number of staves lashed together can make a very serviceable bridge over a river, or can be built up as a look-out or signalling tower, or as a flagstaff. Staves

can also be used as a railing for holding back crowds or for making stretchers for carrying injured persons or the camp kit of the two Scouts.

Proficiency Badges

Boys are not alone in their love of badges to wear. I have heard of grown-up men who would risk, and have risked, their lives to get a medal.

So, although it may be counted immoral to appeal to this touch of vanity in the boy, we have instituted badges of proficiency which any Boy Scout can earn by taking the trouble to qualify and pass tests for them. These badges are awarded for proficiency in such things as carpentry, swimming, ambulance work, etc., etc. There are nearly sixty different subjects, among which every boy should be able to find one or more suited to him.

Thus be is encouraged to take up a hobby and a lad with hobbies will as a rule not waste his life.

Moreover, there is only one standard by which a boy is judged as qualified for a badge, and that is the amount of effort he puts into his work. This gives direct encouragement to the dull or backward boy-the boy in whom the inferiority complex has been born through many failures. If he is a trier, no matter how clumsy, his examiner can accord him his badge, and this generally inspires the boy to go on trying till he wins further badges and becomes normally capable.

The prime Badge is the Cornwell Badge for Courage, instituted in memory of ex-Scout Jack Cornwell, V.C., killed on board the Chester at the Battle of Jutland in the Great War.