JUST FORTY-EIGHT years ago this month Maj.-Gen. Robert Stevenson Smyth Baden-Powell, a famous British Army scout and the Davy Crockett of his day, took twenty boys from London’s teeming East End on a ten-day camping trip to Brownsea Island, in Dorsetshire. There in the great green outdoors he showed them how to pitch tents, to charm fire from two sticks, to stalk silently along the trail and observe the robin gathering groceries for its young. In short, he introduced them and, later, millions of other boys from Oslo to Oshkosh—to an entirely new, exciting way of life.
Ever since, chuckles and cheers have echoed around the earth for Baden-Powell’s young disciples, the Boy Scouts.
In this advanced age of space cadets and flying saucers we may poke gentle fun at their pointed hats and uniforms, festooned with Pathfinder, Explorer and Basket-Worker badges. And when the Peacock Patrol strikes out for Lake Musquodoboit it’s worth a laugh to see a knobby-kneed Scoutmaster striding purposefully into the bush, toting more pots, pans, Boy Scout hatchets, band-aids and bed rolls than Stanley took to visit Livingstone.
None of God’s children has come in for more kidding at the hands of cartoonists, film producers and music-hall comedians than the Boy Scout.
Yet, for all the jesting, none has won wider respect. Around the world a hundred postage stamps have honored this tong of small fry. Sir Winston Churchill has said, “Its ranks will never be empty while red blood courses in the veins of youth,” and another British prime minister, Lord Rosebery, once wished aloud that his nation’s manhood was made up entirely of old Scouts --“the greatest moral force the world has known.”
How well the world views Boy Scouts was illustrated during the Quebec Conference of 1943. One of the most outspoken men there if only because Churchill, F.D.R. and King did all their speaking in guarded privacy was Britain’s minister of information, Brendan Bracken. Asked by reporters one day about Rudolf Hess, the neurotic Nazi who had skipped to England, he quipped, “Hess is just an overgrown Boy Scout.”
The resultant uproar could scarcely have been louder had motherhood been slighted. From all parts of the free world came protests to Whitehall and in the House of Commons several MPs gave Bracken what-for. “Connecticut Housewife” gave the gist of it all in a letter to the New York Times: “The difference between Hess and a Boy Scout is just the difference between evil and good.”
The key to why the world leaped to defend the Scouts was provided by Bracken himself. Explaining the incident to reporters on his return to England he used a term that has become synonymous with Boy Scouts everywhere. “It is a good deed " he said, “to forget a bad joke.”
It is with the good deed—the gesture of kindness in a world not overly stocked with it that the Boy Scout movement has blazed new trails. Since Baden-Powell’s time more than forty million boys in a hundred lands including 850,000 in Canada — have sworn not only to uphold the statutes of God, man and the Scout movement, but also to help other people at all times. In the world today there are six million boys so pledged. “A Scout,” says one of their laws, “is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout.”
A Lift for Liechtenstein
For examples of this happy, if radical, outlook, gaze no further than the Boy Scouts Association of Canada, a backwoods fraternity of 160,000 youths and 15,000 adult leaders, or “Scouters.” From Toronto, which has 16,000 Scouts, to Tuktoyaktuk, on the Arctic Ocean, which has six, they have won friends with a variety of good deeds—from planting frees, fighting floods and searching for lost hunters to saving lives, reforming street gangs and tracking down bank robbers.
From all but the most cynical they have also dispelled the notion that world brotherhood passed from this old earth with Abel.
Last fall, for instance, Scouts in Tillsonburg, Out., realized that many of their foreign brothers would have trouble getting hard Canadian cash to pay the thirty-dollar camp fee at the 8th Wor Scout Jamboree, a colorful conclave of ten thousand Scouts from fifty lands to be held this month at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Accordingly, the “adopted” five boys from tiny Liechtenstein. By doing odd jobs they earned enough to pay the bills and give each boy twenty dollars pocket money.
Noting this, national Scout headquarters in Ottawa launched a “Break the Dollar Barrier” campaign. Across the country seven thousand group of Boy Scouts, Wolf Cubs and Rovers Cubs and Scouting’s eight to twelve-year-olds; Scouts from sixteen to twenty-three may be Rovers -pitched with rummage sales, concerts and scrap drives to raise fifty thousand dollars. As a result, a thousand of the five thousand delegates to the jamboree from outside North America will find fifty dollars waiting for each of them when they arrive.
Such charity begins at home. Last year Canada’s 57,400 Scouts, 98,500 Cubs and 3,000 Rovers and their leaders put in more than 2,600,000 recorded hours of public service. At a nominal rate of seventy-five cents an hour, the time they gave to others—free - was worth almost two million dollars.
They made thirty-five thousand Christmas toys for underprivileged kids, planted three million trees and collected everything from blood donors for hospitals to pollen for hay-fever tests. In Montreal Scouts fashioned special tables and chairs for cerebral-palsy cases and began saving up to buy an X-ray machine for the Children’s Memorial Hospital to replace one they’d given it fifteen years ago.
In Hamilton a crew of Rovers took blind people out for regular walks and in Toronto one patrol of Scouts ran a blind news vendor’s stall for a week while he was in hospital. In Noranda, Que., veterans’ graves were cared for by Boy Scouts, and Halifax Scouts from the School for the Deaf took orphanage boys on hikes.
It is a rare day when the mail arriving at 306 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, mother temple of the Boy Scouts Association of Canada, does not contain at least one thank-you note. It may be about Peter Sadlier-Brown, the eight-year-old Ottawa Cub who steered a motorboat through a mile of churning rapids to get help for a dying man; or about the Scout in a city in the Maritimes who took a homely girl to a high-school dance because her mother suggested here was his chance to do a good deed.
The mail also brings pleas for help. Not long ago one came from a woman in Montebello, Que. She wanted blood. Her husband, it seems, had undergone a major operation, requiring thirty blood transfusions. To replace it friends had surrendered twenty-three pints, but now, seven short, they were growing pale. “Can you help me?”
No problem there. The Rovers of Ottawa had their own private blood bank. Heeding the Scout motto—“Be Prepared” they’d long been giving blood against just such emergencies. In no more time than it took Fred J. Finlay, Canada’s Chief Executive Commissioner, to phone a Rover, the woman’s troubles were over. “Bless you for your good deed,” she wrote later. “Next Scout Apple Day I will buy a whole bushel.”
While Scout officials, naturally, are gratified to hear of good turns, praise isn’t the purpose. Says Commissioner Finlay: “The whole idea of the good turn—and of Scouting itself—is just to create good useful citizens.” Nothing original here: Every organization in the nation, from the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association to the African Violet Society of America, is four-square for good citizenship.
Where Scouting differs is in method. It is a sort of school of citizenship through woodcraft. Being able to tie a rolling hitch or tell time by the stars may not seem vital to later life, but the connection isn’t too farfetched. To illustrate: last fall a group of Scouts from Welland, Ont., tramped deep into the bush on a survival test. For two days they speared fish, ate roots and berries, drank birch-bark coffee and slept in spruce tents. They survived nicely.
The most important thing wasn’t that the boys picked up a few Indian dodges, Scout officials say, but that they displayed self-reliance, a quality of manhood.
“To a boy, Scouting is a matter of fun and games in the outdoors,” says Commissioner Finlay. “To us—the leaders—it’s a crusade. Besides giving them a healthy way to blow off steam we’re interested in turning out boys who will be good men.”
Just as much a part of the Scout game as hiking or camping is the Scout law, ten rules commanding boys to be trustworthy, loyal, useful, friendly to man and beast, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, clean in thought, word and deed -old-fashioned virtues the world still holds in pretty high esteem. “Scouting,” Baden-Powell once said, “aims to teach boys how to live, not merely how to make a living.”
In the Scout book, service to others— the much-applauded, often-spoofed Good Deed —is a means to this end. Scouts find some wonderful— and wacky—ways to make themselves useful. When Windsor, Ont., was battered by a tornado in 1946, Scouts there helped out so much that the Daily Star remarked, “While many of their elders were running around in circles and pawing the air the Scouts took a hand at rescue, salvage and succor in as competent a fashion as the Red Cross.”
Come hell or high water, Scouts always deal themselves in on disaster work. During both the Winnipeg flood and the Hurricane Hazel flooding around Toronto they collected and handed out tons of food and clothing, plugged dykes, rescued marooned people, searched for bodies and cleaned up debris. "Those kids,” one Toronto police official said, "did everything but stop the damned rain!”
For several summers Scouts manned a first-aid post at a Calgary zoo to patch up people—as many as sixty a year—who got too close to the bears. Stopping blood or domestic spats is all in a day’s work for Scouts. One day five years ago in Toronto, sixteen-year-old Ramsay MacDonald came upon a man quarreling with his wife. She was scratching at her mate and screaming because he, the cad, was pounding her head on the sidewalk. When Ramsay arrived, it developed later in court, the fight had been going, off and on, for an hour.
"This is a fine example you’re setting for a Boy Scout,” said Scout MacDonald severely. "And besides—you look foolish !”
Flabbergasted, the two stopped fighting. The woman is just one of many people who owe a debt to the Scouts. There are White Fathers in the mission fields of Africa who learned how to cook and splice rope from Cyril Dendy, the Scout commissioner in Montreal, where their seminary is located; and there are Cayuga braves on the Ohsweken Indian Reservation near Brantford who were taught by five Toronto Scouts how to do, of all things, Indian war dances.
Scout training enables Scouts to help others, and it is sometimes a matter of life or death for the boys themselves. Early in World War Two, nineteen-year-old John Ives, formerly a Cub and Scout in Sherbrooke, Que., bailed out of his flaming RCAF bomber over Germany. With a small Boy Scout pocketknife as his only equipment, he trekked fifteen hundred miles across Europe, lived almost entirely off the land and arrived safely, four months later, at Gibraltar. Returned to Canada, he told his father, "If it hadn’t been for the training I got at Scout camp I’d never have made it.” Ives perished in the English Channel a month before the war ended.
Often, too, Scout training pays off for leaders—and in the most unexpected ways. Several years back Gerry MacKenzie, an RCMP sergeant in New Brunswick, spent time showing his Cub pack something about water rescues. And a few weeks later two of his Cubs were credited with saving MacKenzie’s own daughter from drowning.
Seldom a week goes by that some Scout or Cub in Canada is not mentioned in the newspapers for the ultimate in good turns, saving a life. In the last thirty-five years 2,500 of them have received Boy Scout gallantry awards for getting people out of tough scrapes or for courage under suffering. Richard Derkson, a thirteen-year-old Scout in Braeside, B.C., won the Gilt Cross two years ago by running into his blazing home, rescuing five brothers and sisters and then, trapped inside, hanging by his finger tips from an attic window until help came. When reporters marveled at his nerve, he replied modestly, "Scouts are supposed to be brave and cool.”
It also helps to he strong. One day in 1950 a Scout on the Gold Coast, John Kwesi Opong, and four non-swimming companions were dunked in the swirling River Volta when their boat tipped. What did John do? Why he swam ashore—with one boy on each shoulder, another on his back and the fourth clinging to his legs. John is now a policeman.
Some of the most heroic acts have been performed by young Cubs. Last winter Jimmy Lovegrove, an eight-year-old Cub from Ville St. Laurent, near Montreal, and his six-year-old brother fell sixty feet down the rocky face of an old quarry. The younger child lay unconscious, his skull cracked. Jimmy, who couldn’t walk—his back was broken—squirmed out of his coat, made a pillow for his brother’s head and then painfully edged his way up the cliff and crawled half a mile to get help.
The highest honor in the Scout book, the Cornwell Badge, calls for exceptional courage. Three years ago it went, posthumously, to James Mathieson, a twelve-year-old Edmonton Scout. Severely burned by an overturned oil flare, he held tenaciously to life for five days in hospital. Just before he died, remembering that a Scout is supposed to smile and whistle under all difficulties, he told his father, "I guess I’m not too good a Scout. I can still smile, but I can’t whistle.”
Six years ago former Governor-General Viscount Alexander made a special trip to a hospital in Mill Bay, B.C., to give a similar medal to Herbie Sam, a thirteen-year-old Chinese boy from Vancouver who carried on as a Cub and Scout for five years, though he was in bed with tuberculosis of the spine and was sealed in a plaster cast up to his armpits all the time.
Herbie’s is no isolated case. There are more than five hundred handicapped boys in the Canadian Scout movement, seventeen groups meeting in such places as the schools for the deaf and blind in Halifax, the Home for Incurable Children in Toronto, the Essex County Sanitorium in Windsor, Ont., and the Ontario Hospital School at Smiths Falls, a home for retarded children. Among U. S. groups, Troop 869 in Hondo, Calif., stands out. Every member lives in an iron lung.
Canada’s handicapped Scouts are among the gamest kids in the country. Not long ago a boy with only five-per-cent vision took a Scout forestry course at St. Williams, Ont. When a leader told him he could take an oral exam instead of the usual written test he replied, "Thanks, Scouter, but I came here to do this under my own steam.” Writing with his eyes an inch from the examination paper he made a mark of 95.
If Scouting, by giving them something to work at, is good therapy for sick or handicapped kids, it is also often used to keep idle boys out of the courtroom. Recently the Kamloops, B.C., Sentinel commented, "There would be no call for (a probation officer) if people everywhere in this land of ours gave . . . year-round support and encouragement to the Boy Scout movement.” This view is shared by Albert Virgin, director of training schools for Ontario. "We’re sold on the movement,” he says. "It’s a practical way of teaching youngsters something about honor and ethics without climbing into a pulpit.” One of the best groups in Ontario is the 7th Cobourg— sixty Cubs and Scouts from the Ontario Training School for Boys. Superintendent William Little, who organized it, lets the boys leave the reformatory —with adult leaders—for overnight hikes and summer camping trips. They’re put on their honor to return and no boy has skipped yet. Little says there are fewer "repeaters” at the reformatory among boys who’ve been in the Scouts than among those who haven’t.
While many authorities laud the Scout movement as an antidote to juvenile delinquency, Scout leaders play down this aspect. They go so far in the other direction as to point out that one of the most wanted criminals at large in Canada today is a former Scout. Scouting, they say, is a positive program for starting kids off on the right foot, not a corrective society.
Occasionally, however, crusaders do invade poolroom hangouts and try to convince such sidewalk societies as the Dirty Dozen that they can have better fun with a Scout staff than a pool cue. After World War Two the Big Brother movement found twenty-nine gangs, seventeen of them patently antisocial, roaming the tough Cabbagetown section of Toronto. When a volunteer Scouter, Walt Barnes, undertook to turn one into a Scout troop, officials at Toronto headquarters crossed their fingers. "We were scared green,” says H. E. D. Mitchell, the Deputy Commissioner. For Barnes it was discouraging work at first, especially when he learned that one patrol’s entrance requirement was $1.50 worth of stolen goods. Barnes confiscated the loot and told his Scouts that if they ever swiped again he’d call the police. Thefts ended, the troop grew strong and one member of the pilfering patrol is now a Scoutmaster.
In forming new troops, leaders often must correct the impression that Scouting is just a cut above hopscotch and that Scoutmasters are animated creampuffs. Several years ago John MacGregor, a Hamilton man, went into the Peace River district to organize a scout troop. Most of the boys who came to the first meeting were anxious to join but half a dozen thugs from the local pool hall were along just to scoff at MacGregor’s short pants. When they ridiculed Scout games, MacGregor asked them what they liked to do. The answer of one big seventeen-year-old was to the point. "Fight,” he said. "Okay,” said the Scoutmaster, "come back tomorrow.”
Next night MacGregor himself put on boxing gloves with each member of the gang. One by one he dazzled them with footwork and fast light jabs. Convinced that MacGregor was no panty-waist, all joined the troop. He never did tell them that during the war he’d been welterweight champion of the navy.
The theory that Scouting prepares a boy well for the duties of citizenship was given striking endorsement last fall during a provincial by-election in Halifax. When Alban Murphy was named Liberal candidate his mover said that one of Murphy’s qualifications as a leader of men was that he’d been a Boy Scout. Whereupon Progressive Conservative Richard A. Donahoe let it be known that not only had he been a Scout in the same troop as Murphy— he’d been a patrol leader! Donahoe won.
When he was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, ex-Scout Walter Harris was so impressed with the requirements for the Boy Scout Citizenship badge—among other things boys must know how local, provincial and national governments work, the principles of the British North America Act, the functions of the courts, and they must put in thirty hours of useful public service—that he wrote personal letters, as many as four hundred a year, to every boy who earned it. Now that Harris is Minister of Finance the practice is carried on by his successor, ex-Scout Jack Pickersgill.
In many respects Scouts are handy guys to have around. Recently in London, Eng., a woman who was presenting trophies in a cooking contest confessed to the girls, "When I got married I couldn’t cook. But my husband was a Rover Scout and he taught me how.” In the kitchen or in camp, Scouts are taught to be neat. One morning in 1950 chambermaids at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York were amazed to find that five hundred guests had made their beds before checking out. They were five hundred Scouts en route to a jamboree in Pennsylvania.
Many of the busiest men in Canada find time for the Boy Scouts. Of the fifteen thousand adult leaders, or "Scouters,” in the country, the executive, or "professional” Boy Scouts number a mere seventy-five, men with the full-time job of running Scout offices in the principal cities of the nation. There is one for PEI, twenty-five for Ontario and fifteen at national headquarters, headed by Fred Finlay, a fifty-two-year-old Scot who thought sufficiently of Scouting to give up his job as secretary of the Bank of Nova Scotia two years ago to take on the less lucrative role of Chief Executive Commissioner of the Boy Scouts Association. The vast majority of Scouters are unpaid volunteers, from unlettered fishermen in Lunenburg, N.S., to university presidents like Toronto’s Sidney Smith. The jobs they do range from acting as assistant Cubmasters to presiding over the policy-making Canadian General Council, currently the task of Rhys M. Sale, president of Ford of Canada.
"We’re the sort of men who wish we’d been Scouts,” says Leslie Way, head of a Vancouver public relations company and president of the B. C. Boy Scouts Association, "and now we’re making up for lost time.”
The Wolf Who Never Sleeps
Another reason is advanced by Jackson Dodds, of Montreal, Deputy Chief Scout of Canada. "No man,” he says, "is so important or so unimportant that he can’t do something for boys.”
Dodds, a retired general manager of the Bank of Montreal who travels fifteen thousand miles a year at his own expense on Scout business, first became interested in the Boy Scouts more than thirty years ago in Winnipeg. It was in 1925 that he and F. Stanley Long, a trust, company executive, were asked to become president and commissioner of the Manitoba Scouts. It was up to them to decide which man would take which job. The catch was that the commissioner would often have to wear a Scout uniform. They solved the problem neatly by hiking up their trousers. The commissioner’s job went to Long, who had a better pair of gams.
No less unlikely is the way that the Scout movement itself came into being. Though it is usually regarded today as an instrument of world brotherhood and peace, it owes its origin to the bitter Boer War and the exploits therein of Baden-Powell.
B.P. as the Scouting fraternity knows him, was a legendary British Army scout who prowled the jungles of India and Africa putting down native uprisings and acquiring nicknames. The fierce Matabele tribesmen dubbed him "Impeesa”— "wolf who never sleeps”-—and the Ashanti warriors of the Gold Coast called him "Kantankye”—"he of the big hat”— for the cowboy sombrero he always wore.
A colonel at the outbreak of the South African war, Baden-Powell became the toast of the Empire, and its youngest general, with a feat that not even Hollywood would believe. For 217 days, with a garrison of seven hundred men, he held the strategic town of Mafeking against a Boer army of nine thousand. During the siege he taught native boys to infiltrate the enemy lines, to observe and bring back information, how to act as messengers, first-aid helpers and cooks. These were the first Boy Scouts. Relief, you will be pleased to know, finally reached him.
Later, while he was organizing the South African constabulary and dressing them in khaki shorts and shirts, neckerchiefs and wide-brimmed hats, he published a book titled Aids to Scouting. A treatise on stalking tricks, woodcraft and how to rough it in the open, it was intended for the use of army scouts.
But. to B-P’s amazement, thousands of copies were bought by mere boys, apparently captivated by both his fame and the glamour of army scouting. So in 1907 he took twenty of them to the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island and then rewrote his book as Scouting for Boys, stressing now the joys of outdoor life, of hiking, camping, comradeship, self-reliance and service to others. Self-reliance personified, Baden-Powell illustrated his own book, drawing two sketches at a time with his left and right hands.
Within a year one hundred thousand British youths, armed with B-P’s volume, had found leaders and formed themselves into troops of Boy Scouts. Baden-Powell wrote the book, but the Scout movement began with boys themselves. The woods of England and the Scottish moors came alive with small fry who affected the uniform of B-P’s South African cops and tried to imagine that they were army scouts, American Indians or frontiersmen. They hiked together and camped out under the stars, cooked their own grub and resolved to do good deeds.
By the end of 1909 the movement he never really meant to start was so big—it had spread to continental Europe, America and as far away as Japan—that Baden-Powell resigned from the army to give his full time to Scouting. That year, too, Edward VII knighted B-P—he was later made Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell—and the King became patron of the Boy Scouts. A few years later, with the help of his sister Agnes, Baden-Powell also launched the Girl Guide movement, which now has a world membership of almost six million.
How Scouts Get Their Man
Canadian leaders are at a loss to explain how the movement began here. "Half a dozen cities claim the first troop,” says Commissioner Finlay. "All we know is that the same year British boys began playing at scouting —1908—some Canadian boys got hold of B-P’s book and did the same. They’ve been at it ever since.” In 1909 B-P sent a team of British Scouts over to Canada to strut their stuff. Oddly, many boys in this wide-open land got their first taste of trail blazing and campfire cooking from boys from the crowded streets of London.
By 1911 the Boy Scouts of Canada were established as a force to be reckoned with. They hadn’t replaced the RCMP, it’s true, but they were helping out. In Red Deer, Alta., that year a bank robber shot the chief of police, then fled into the bush. A posse of adults failed to find him but two days later he was tracked down and captured by a troop of Boy Scouts.
Down through the years the Scout movement has grown steadily, but not without opposition. When the Russian Communists threw out the Czar they also disbanded the Boy Scouts, recently denounced in Soviet Sports, a government newspaper, as "bourgeois spies and espionage agents, strike-breakers and advocates of religion and world citizenship. ’’(Notwithstanding this uncharitable attitude, a Scout in London, Eng., recently trimmed a shaggy hedge around the Soviet Embassy there and refused the half crown a Russian secretary offered him. "Just my good turn for the day,” said the young spy.)
Even the British, after World War I, outlawed Scouting for a time in Germany, lest it become a military movement. But during World War II, when Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin suppressed Scouting—forty Scoutmasters were executed in Latvia alone—the movement proved its mettle. It went underground. In Czechoslovakia Scouts cared for the families of men in concentration camps and even smuggled food into some stalags. Danish Scouts blew up trains. In Holland a young Rover named Jan van Hoof found where the Germans had planted explosives to blow up the strategic Nijmegen Bridge and slow the Allied advance. He stole the fuse and saved the bridge; he was later killed acting as a scout for British forces. French Scouts hid hundreds of Allied flyers and helped them return to England. In Norway Scouts poisoned the fish that German soldiers ate and three former Scouts blew up a boat carrying supplies of heavy water—an ingredient of the A-bomb—to Germany. In spite of suppression, or because of it, the number of Scouts in Hitler-occupied lands doubled during the war.
Boy Scouts played a big role in Canada’s war effort. They collected thousands of tons of scrap metal, medicine bottles, fat, old bones, rubber and rags. They served as ARP messengers and aircraft spotters, sold bonds, rolled bandages and rounded up blood donors. For five years Scouts in Halifax financed the Tweedsmuir Room, one of the few service hostels in Canada where admirals and boy seamen—ex-Scouts all— rubbed shoulders.
During the war more than 150,000 former Scouts enlisted in Canada’s forces and three of them—Col. C. C. I. Merritt, Maj. C. F. Hoey and Maj. John W. Foote--won the Victoria Cross. When the shooting stopped Maj.-Gen. Dan Spry, who at thirty-one had become the youngest general in the Commonwealth, swapped his brass hat for a Boy Scout stetson and became Chief Executive Commissioner for Canada, the title held today by Fred Finlay.
Spry, a tall, lean man of forty-six, has gone about as far as you can go in Scouting. He began thirty-seven years ago as a Wolf Cub and is now director of the Boy Scouts International Bureau in London, Eng. As such, he is an ex-officio member of the International Conference, Scouting’s world government.
The International Conference, which meets every two years, is a democratic model. Each member nation, whether the United States or Egypt, has six delegates and six votes. Membership is limited to those countries where boys can join the Scouts regardless of race, creed or politics, where the movement is free of government control and where the Scout promise includes the words "to do my duty to God.”
One of the conference’s chief jobs is organizing such international events as World Jamborees. Every four years boys from the far corners of the globe come together and manage to camp, eat, work and worship together without rattling any sabres, a feat of some proportions these days. They have their differences, to be sure. At the Niagara Jamboree, Aug. 18-28, there will be boys with white, black, brown and yellow faces, from monarchies, republics and dominions, old nations like Italy and new ones like Israel. Many, like Canada’s 3,500 delegates, will wear the wide-brimmed felt hat made famous by Baden-Powell. But others will show up in turbans, fezzes, Highland bonnets and beanies. What brings them here, at their own expense, and enables them to co-exist peaceably while their adult relatives are building bombs, is a common Interest in Scouting.
Thousands of Scouts are visiting here now from as far off as Australia and India. The Indians left home two months ago so that they could stop off along the way and visit Scouts in Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland,France, England and the United States. Going home, they’ll detour to take in China and Japan. Scandinavian Scouts even chartered a boat to bring them here and the entire thousand-boy British contingent came here by plane. But they’re all pikers compared to two Venezuelan Scouts who took in the U. S. National Jamboree at Washington in 1937. They covered ten thousand miles—the trip took two years— walking all the way.
While they’re here the Scouts will bed down in ten tent cities of a thousand boys each. To ensure that they mix, each camp will contain boys of at least five nationalities.
Feeding such a mixed mob of active teenagers is a vast and complicated problem. In addition to the seventeen tons of meat, 105 tons of dairy products, four tons of fish, 110 tons of fruit and vegetables and other supplies needed to keep ten thousand boys from hunger pains, special foods have to be provided to meet dietary requirements of various religions. Jamboree officials always try to give boys the kind of rations they’d get at home—but they don’t always succeed. At the 1929 jamboree in England, a group of Czech Scouts were discovered frying corn flakes and scouring out their pans with shredded wheat.
Apart from a $50,000 grant from the federal government, the cost of the jamboree—close to $500,000—will be borne by the Scouts themselves. Whatever the cost, Scout leaders reckon it will be well worth it. "The idea behind these jamborees,” says Gen. Spry, "is to show boys that they belong to a widespread brotherhood. Not just the Scout brotherhood—the brotherhood of man.”
At the last jamboree, held at Bad Ischl, Austria, in 1951, there were several striking demonstrations of this feeling. Swedish Scouts arrived with gifts of clothing and Scout equipment for their Austrian hosts, French Scouts invited West German boys to go camping with them and the Boy Scouts of Norway presented a hand - carved replica of Speiderguttboka, their Scout manual, to the Boy Scouts of Canada.
Behind this lay a story. During the war, Canadian Scouts raised $70,000 to aid Scouts in shattered lands. Part of the money went to print 76,000 Scout manuals in the languages of France, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Greece, Poland and Norway, where Hitler had outlawed the movement. Norway posed a problem, for Canadian Scout leaders couldn’t find a copy of its Scout handbook anywhere.
Finally they appealed to Col. John Skinner Wilson, a former director of the Scouts’ International Bureau, who was then chief of British intelligence for Scandinavia. Which explains why on the next raid on the Norwegian coast, British commandos were ordered to liberate one copy of Speiderguttboka. The soldier who brought it back, naturally, was a former Boy Scout. ★