February 3rd, 2021

welcome

Reflections on the journey

I'm reading Baden-Powell's Aids to Scoutmastership: the Theory of Scouting for Scoutmasters (1919). It's a fascinating read. BSA treats B-P as a totem, but in many ways has strayed from his methodology. I suppose they think of him as an eminent Victorian, the good and the bad of him (which he was); but he was also a very intelligent man who had done his research. For example, Aids to Scoutmastership is full of quotes from various experts in Education and Psychology. It might interest you to know that B-P identified his educational approach with that of Maria Montessori, and knew her practice well.

Among his many pronouncements is a small section entitled, "What Scouting is not." A couple of his observations there might cause some red faces at many a training course or Board meeting today.

It [Scouting] is not a school having a definite curriculum and standards of examination.

It is not a show where surface results are gained through payment in merit badges, medals, etc.
Above all, B-P emphasized adventure, new experiences, encountering the natural world, learning to make things with your hands, and the guiding relationship of the Scoutmaster with each Scout. I've been a Scoutmaster and Venturing Advisor for several units over the years, and those are the things I've cared about. Too much of Scouting today is about corporate culture, heavy and expensive gear, and an obsession with patches and credentials. Summer camp has become school-in-the-woods. Oh, you can still do old-fashioned Scouting, but the other Scouters will think you an oddball; thank God the Scouts you take along won't.

Alas, I have reached the age when I'm getting a bit old to carry that kind of responsibility month after month. I still know how to find the Magic, but the ground is getting harder and colder all the time, and my body doesn't recuperate as fast as once it did. I could still play a strong second banana, I suppose. And I still do the odd event.

At its heart, however, Scouting furnished me all kinds of experiences where I felt like Rat and Mole coming upon the Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It made me what I am, and my Scoutmaster had a lot to do with that. That -- and seeing young people have similar experiences on the Scouting Trail under my leadership -- are what have kept me in Scouting.

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
Let them go! Let them go!
Sand and stone and pool and dell,
Fare you well! Fare you well!