Scouting – a philosophy of life

Author: Ana Alibegova

Green shirts, double coloured neckerchiefs, tied with a slipknot, campfires – scouts are not just a group of people who love the nature, but they are part of a world movement named Scouting that promotes education, active citizens and contributes to a better world.

From an experimental camping to a worldwide movement

The story about Scouting begins with the name of Sir Robert Baden-Powell. The famous Englishman in 1907 formed the ground for a new movement, organising the first experimental camping for a group of boys. The society crisis and the need to find the way out had forced Baden Powel to start thinking about the whole situation. He realised that only the youth with their social activism will slow down the political and economical crisis. Unfortunately, it was not the first time that good ideas were not supported by the state institutions and the new plan of youth movement would have to wait for better times. In 1909 Baden Powell officially leaves the army and concentrates his energy on his aim: to build a new world with help from the scouts. The Scouting kept spreading around Great Britain, putting accent on the parallel development of the body and the spirit and by having neutral, but not indifferent attitude towards the political situation in the world.

At its very beginning, the Scouting faced with problems: the world was preparing for the First World War, and the scout boys were deported and banished. In the post-war period, older people became members of the scout movement, the scout boys got serious treatment and the number of members increased.

An ideology connecting the human and the nature

This is how the history of this social movement can be described in few sentences. Talking about the very ideology of the scout movement is much more difficult. The base of the scout ideology is to develop responsible active citizens, nature and people lovers. The scout ideology in short would be: to create a human being in the very sense of the word. Learning by own experiences, forming an own opinion, gaining an ability to make the right decisions and passionately looking for solutions. The scout movement was in the focus of the 26th Scout Conference in Montreal, where more than 100 members of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement defined the basis of the movement and formed the Statue of the organisation.

No matter how deep we go into Scouting, it is important to make clear, that Scouting has no ambition to reveal into a universal system, but has an aim to connect the philosophy, psychology and the praxis in the connections between the human and the nature. On the contrary, since the inception of Scouting in the early 1900s, the movement has sometimes been entangled in social controversies such as the civil rights struggle in the American South and in nationalist resistance movements in India. More recently, Boy Scouts of America has been criticized for not allowing the participation of atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals.

Contributing to the creation of a better world

The World Organisation of the Scout Movement defines the mission of Scouting. “The mission of Scouting is to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society. This is achieved by: involving them throughout their formative years in a non-formal educational process, using a specific method that makes each individual the principal agent of his or her development as a self-reliant, supportive, responsible and committed person and assisting them to establish a value system based upon spiritual, social and personal principles as expressed in the Promise and Law”. A vision would be the following statement: “As a global Movement, making a real contribution to creating a better world. “

“Be prepared” – the Scouts’ motto

“Be prepared” – that is the scout motto as stated in the official American boy scout handbook. A person once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, why boy scouts should always be well prepared. He answered: “for any old thing”. The scout motto means that you are always ready in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others as well. Baden Powell’s idea was that every Scout should prepare himself to become a useful citizen and to give happiness to other people. On the other hand, the scout slogan would be: Do a good thing turn daily. A good turn is more than simple good manners. It is an extra act of kindness. The Boy Scout handbook further explains: “Answering the question of a driver about reaching an address is not really a Good Turn. That is common courtesy. But if you take time to draw a map for him or to lead him to his destination, that extra effort makes it a Good Turn.”

The spirit of Scouting

The rules of Scouting are found in the Scout Law, Scout Motto, Scout Slogan and Scout Oath. Since the publication of Scouting for Boys in 1908, all Scouts and Guides around the world have taken a Scout (or Guide) promise or oath to live up to the ideals of the movement, and pledged to a Scout Law. It slightly varies from country to country. The American Scouts give the following oath:
“On my honour I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” Usually Scouts give an oath when they officially become members of a scout organisation and it is the first step into the philosophy of Scouting. After the oath, the real Scouting life starts, that is becoming s responsible citizen, good person, real friend and a nature lover.

The Scout Law:
•    A Scout is trustworthy
•    A Scout is loyal
•    A Scout is helpful
•    A Scout is friendly
•    A Scout is courteous
•    A Scout is kind
•    A Scout is obedient
•    A Scout is cheerful
•    A Scout is thrifty
•    A Scout is brave
•    A Scout is clean
•    A Scout is reverent

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