What Scouts Are

March 18, 2003

Baden-Powell wrote:

I suppose every boy wants to help his country in some way or the other.

There is a way by which he can so do easily, and that is by becoming a Boy Scout.

A scout in the army, as you know, is generally a soldier who is chosen for his cleverness and pluck to go out in front to find out where the enemy is, and report to the commander all about him.

But, besides being war scouts, there are also peace scouts—men who in peace time carry out work which requires the same kind of pluck and resourcefulness.

These are the frontiersmen of the world.

The pioneers and trappers of North and South America, the hunters of Central Africa, the explorers and missionaries in all parts of the world, the bushmen and drovers of Australia—all these are peace scouts, real men in every sense of the word, and good at scoutcraft.  They understand how to live out in the jungle.  They can find their way anywhere, and are able to read meanings from the smallest signs and foot tracks.  They know how to look after their health when far away from doctors.  They are strong and plucky, ready to face danger, and always keen to help each other.  They are accustomed to take their lives in their hands, and risk them without hesitation if they can help their country by so doing.

They give up everything, their personal comforts and desires, in order to get their work done.  They do it because it is their duty.

The life of the frontiersmen is a grand life, but it cannot suddenly be taken up by any man who thinks he would like it, unless he has prepared himself for it.  Those who succeed best are those who learned Scouting while they were boys.

Scouting is useful in any kind of life you like to take up.  A famous scientist has said that it is valuable for a man who goes in for science.  And a noted physician pointed out how necessary it is for a doctor or a surgeon to notice small signs as a Scout does, and know their meaning.

So I am going to show you how you can learn scoutcraft for yourself, and how you can put it into practice at home.  It is very easy to learn and very interesting when you get into it.

You can best learn by joining the Boy Scouts.

Baden-Powell, Robert.  Scouting for Boys, 35th edition, 5th printing, 1999.

Good night, gentlemen.