The last two Sundays, the staff of the Voice of Scouting have been sharing some of the founder’s thoughts on a Scout’s Duty to God. Today we conclude with this:
…Scouting comes very practically to the aid of the teacher [of religion], and has already given extraordinarily good results. The way in which Scouting can help is through the following:
(a) Personal example of the Scoutmaster.
(b) Nature study.
(c) Good Turns.
(d) Retention of the older boy.
(a) Personal Example – There is no doubt whatever that in the boys’ eyes it is what a man does that counts and not so much what he says.
A Scoutmaster has, therefore, the greatest responsibility on his shoulders for doing the right thing from the right motives, and for letting it be seen that he does so, but without making a parade of it. Here the attitude of elder brother rather than of teacher tells with the greater force.
(b) Nature Study – There are sermons in the observation of Nature, say, in bird life, the formation of every feather identical with that of the same species 10,000 miles away, the migration, the nesting, the coloring of the egg, the growth of the young, the mothering, the feeding, the flying power—all done without the aid of man, but under the law of the Creator; these are the best of sermons for boys.
The flowers in their orders, and plants of every kind, their buds and bark, the animals and their habits and species; then the stars in the heavens, with their appointed places and ordered moves in space, give to every one the first conception of Infinity and of the vast scheme of his Creator where man is of so small account. All these have a fascination for boys, which appeals in an absorbing degree to their inquisitiveness and powers of observation, and leads them directly to recognize the hand of God in this world of wonders, if only some one introduces them to it.
The wonder to me of all wonders is how some teachers have neglected this easy and unfailing means of education and have struggled to impose Biblical instruction as the first step towards getting a restless, full-spirited boy to think of higher things
(c) Good Turns – With a little encouragement on the part of the Scoutmaster the practice of daily Good Turns soon becomes a sort of fashion with boys, and it is the very best step towards making a Christian in fact, and not merely in theory. The boy has a natural instinct for good if he only sees a practical way to exercise it, and this Good Turn business meets it and develops it, and in developing it brings out the spirit of Christian charity towards his neighbor.
This expression of his will to good, is more effective, more natural to the boy, and more in accordance with the Scout method than his passive acceptance of instructive precepts
(d) Retention of the Older Boy – So soon as the ordinary boy begins to get a scholastic knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, he is sent out into the world, as fit and equipped for making his career as a good working citizen. After leaving school, excellent technical schools are generally open to the boy, as well as continuation classes, if he likes to go to them, or if his parents insist on his attending after his day’s work is over. The best boys go, and get a good final polish.
But what about the average and the bad? They are allowed to slide away—just at the one period of their life when they most of all need continuation and completion of what they have been learning, just at the time of their physical, mental and moral change into what they are going to be for the rest of their lives.
This is where the Scout Movement can do so much for the lad, and it is for this important work that we are doing all we can to organize the Senior Scouts in order to retain the boy, to keep in touch with him, and to inspire him with the best ideals at this, his crossroads for good or evil.
Author: Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell | Chief Scout of the World and founder of the Scouting Movement. This blog post was taken from his writings and can be found in Aids to Scoutmastership pp. 38–41