While the mainstream news has largely ignored the Jamboree and Scouting’s centenary, the same hasn’t been true of the various “have your say” pages.
What is apparent is that outside Scouting there are some very scary and misinformed people, both supporting and deriding Scouting. The less scary are the anti-Scouting nutters, banging on as if it’s some militaristic pseudo-fascist, Christian-only club. The scarier group are those who are all for Scouting, because they imagine it’s a Christian only militaristic, pseudo-fascist bastion of old fashioned bigoted values. Any evidence to the contrary has the second group frothing at the mouth about us giving in to “political correctness gone mad”. This sort that believe we shouldn’t allow darkies in with their funny beliefs, and if we did they should be made to eat pork sausages like the rest of them.
Can you tell by the way I summed them up, that I vehemently disagree with both groups? My view on political correctness is that it’s just a new name for being nice to one another, and that fits with Scouting.
Robert Baden-Powell was a maverick during his time in the army. The siege of Mafeking made him a war hero, and when he returned home he found that young people and teachers were copying his techniques from his Scouting manuals. (Indeed it’s been argued that SSAGO has its roots in a Scout club formed at an Ambleside teacher training college during this period). B-P came to realise there could be something in his rather unorthodox army techniques that could offer something to the young men of the time and set about organising an experimental camp. That was 1907.
And that’s where the political correctness begins to creep in. It has long been fashionable to believe that Scouting was a white, middle-class Christian movement. However not only is this not true today, it never was. The boys B-P selected for the experimental camp were deliberately chosen from a multitude of backgrounds. From day one Scouting has sought to be there for young people of all races, religions and backgrounds, it was there at Brownsea, it’s there in Scouting for boys.
B-P declared about Scouting
It is a movement, because it moves forward. As soon as it stops moving, it becomes an Organisation, and is no longer Scouting
Scouting has always been about being a good, respectful citizen of the world. Just has scientific and medical knowledge has increased hugely in the last 100 years, so have ideas of citizenship and respect, and while we should never lower our standards, to stay in a state of ignorance would not be in line with B-Ps vision of being a movement.
While Scouts helped in both world wars, Scouting was never another cadet corps, training young people for war. If B-P was happy with young people dabbling with militarism he would have left them to his army manuals, rather than writing Scouting for boys.
The globalist aspect of Scouting came fairly early too. In B-P’s time the movement had spread across the world, and it was acknowledged even then that the capacity of Scouting to unite young people from the far corners of the globe should be used to increase the understanding of different peoples and cultures, so as to make world peace more achievable.
Yes some aspects of Scouting are of their time too. It did not occur to B-P that girls would be interested, and when they tried to infiltrate a Scout Rally in 1909, someone had to quietly have a word with B-P about what was then acceptable in society to stop him simply letting them in right there and then. But even then he didn’t just shut the girls out, he asked his sister to start another part of the movement for girls.
All of B-P’s ideas of inclusivity make the press coverage of PC creeping in to Scouting more and more galling. Scouting has always been as PC as it gets! If it’s reactionary, backward and un-PC it just isn’t Scouting.
What was Baden Powell’s claim to fame? Clue: he died before the Scouts were founded.
Baden Powell was a clergyman and the father of Robert Baden-Powell, the maverik millitary leader and war hero who started the Scout and Guide movement. Robert Baden-Powell was born Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell, but his mother and his full siblings changed their surname after Baden’s death to honour their dead father.
Incidentally in his youth he was not known as Robert, but as Stephe from his middle name Stephenson.
Today I started off on a footsteps activity at Colchester castle. The Jamboree bussed out two coachloads of Scouts to us and we ran two half day activities. In the morning it was Footsteps, taking them up to the castle museum and letting them explore. I think we could have done with encouraging them to try the interactive part of the exhibits more, as we were out and eating lunch fairly early.
In the afternoon I stayed with my coachload of Americans, Spaniards, Japanese and Devonites, and went on to the Starburst activity. The Japanese troop sanded down one of the park buildings, while the Americans and Spanish set to work with wire brushes on some rusty iron gates. The Brits were handed some gardening tools and set about attacking an overgrown corner of the park with great enthusiasm.
Patrick (aka Granville for those that know him) observed “If ever you need a fence painting, you need to get some Azerbaijani Scouts”. Said scouts had apparently got through their allotted task in the morning with great speed. But today I can’t fault any of the Scouts who all did as they were asked without slacking or complaining.
On return to the site, many of SAGGA were back at Hylands catering for a Starburst reception. I collapsed and fell asleep, being slightly dehydrated, and dozed until half six, nearly missing my dinner, but arriving in time for a large portion.
And now, having showered, it’s time to relax. It’s nice to catch up with friends.
Not a great start. Missed my first train, got confused over connections at Shipley. Meaning my sunrise was at Leeds city station, where the County Commissioner and ACC 2007 were manning a publicity stall. Northern Rail had been kind enough to put up posters all over the station about the event, but failed to say which concourse it was on.
Anyway I caught the number 1 bendy bus, and I caught up with North Leeds’ activities in Far Headingley soon enough which were still happening when I arrived.
It does feels a good day to be in uniform. Lots of people asking questions and even- shock- smiling, when other days I would be scowled at dressed like this and carrying this much luggage.
Currently I’m in Leeds prior to my train to Chelmsford.
So happy birthday to scouting. The world’s most successful peace movement.