The Boy Scout movement was established in 1908 in the British Isles by Sir Baden Powell. Today the movement extends to every civilized country including India. From a trial experimental camp in 1907, the movement has spread with remarkable speed to almost every part of the world. In 1908, the handbook SCOUTING FOR BOYS was published. Over 1, 00,000 scouts served in His Majesty’s force during the First World War. 1,000 of them gave their lives. These scouts who were under age for active service performed public duties at home, one notable service being coast watchers. When the war broke out again in 1939 thousands of scouts once more joined the armed forces. During this war too, those scouts who were under age for active service carried out work of national importance for the government departments and civil authorities admitted that scouts had rendered particularly good service. Many of them were recommended for gallantry.
The aim of the movement is the development of good citizenship among the rising generation. Active self-expression is encouraged among the scouts and emphasis is laid upon their natural desire to learn rather than their passive reception of instructions. There are absolutely no distinctions of class, creed or color among scouts. The movement is non-military, non-class, no-sectarians, non-political and non-denominational. Honor is the ideal. The scout law, which forms the basis of ten events and which every scout has to obey. It was taken from THE CODE OF THE KNIGHTS and as such has its roots in the code of honor and gentlemanliness.
The movement is sub-divided into three groups, via, reserve, i.e. scouts of 17 years and above, boy scouts from 11 to 17 years and WOLF CUBS juniors form 8 to 11. The training is carried out generally four main features….namely character and intelligence, skill and handicraft, physical health and self- care and the practice of service to others and to the state. In other words scouts are trained with a view to developing their individuality and making them loyal members of the state. The training precedes mainly through open air activities ad scouts are encouraged to follow the examples of frontier men, tribesmen and explores in daring and initiative. There is an elaborate system of badges for proficiency which serves to stimulate the boys to develop their natural gifts and become all round handy man.
It is obvious form the above that the aims, objects and programs of scouting deserve the highest praise. The movement is praiseworthy on account of its wide scope and humanitarian motives. Scouting develops both the physical and moral attributes of boys through practical training. As such it should be regarded as a necessary part of educations in schools and colleges. Education had never been confined solely to the teaching of books. It should aim at developing the whole personality of the student. The place of scouting in educational institution is therefore very high. It is for this reason that almost every good school now-a-days has its scout master and its group of scouts. But it is necessary to widen and accelerate this movement especially in India where its progress has not been satisfactory.
In our schools only a superficial attention is paid to scouting. Scout-masters concentrate more upon the bright uniform, the parade, the salute, in short the outward show than upon the essential and basic principles upon which scooting was founded. In other words Indian schools possess only the form but not the spirit of scouting. And yet, in India more than anywhere else we need that sense of universal brotherhood which scout fosters and develop. The communal and sectarian institutions existing in our country are opposed to the very sprit of scouting and therefore, scouting show and parades are little more than a farce here.
The fundamental principles and the scout promise and law are in every country identical with those of the parent movement and the details of training differing slightly here and there to suit climatic and temperamental differences. In many countries coming into civilizations such for instances as Ghana and Nigeria, scouting is being utilized with satisfactory results by educational authorities and in Asian countries scouting has made equal strides with marked good effect on the youth.
It is for the educationalists in Indian to recognize the supreme importance and value of scouting. Just as public schools in England have taken up scouting as a means of developing, among th boys, the spirit of service to the community so we in India could give similar moral instruction to our boys by taking up scouting seriously. Already Indian boy’s scouts perform very useful social services such as controlling crowds at fairs, arranging drinking water during summer months, arranging lost children to parents and so on. But most important is the inculcation among them of a non- communal and nationalistic outlook. Scouting has, in fact a unique power of bringing together in a common citizenhood, the different elements that go to make our Indian nation. Scouring can contribute towards national integrations.
Let us hope that scouting will help greatly in bringing about the spirit essential for the maintenance of peace, the spirit without which suggestion for disarmament and arbitrations can only be futile. The movement has spread even to school girls. Girl guides are now as common in English schools as boy scouts. This is a welcome extension of the movement although in India the Girl Guide movement has as yet made very little progress. Every effort should be made to promote this movement among girls as well as boys.
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