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Boy Scouts of America Official National Outfitter
By SIGMUND EISNER
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
This chapter is the result of the work of the Committee on Scout Oath, Scout Law, Tenderfoot, Second-class and First-class Requirements; the Committee on Badges, Awards, and Equipment; the Committee on Permanent Organization and Field Supervision, and John L. Alexander and Samuel A. Moffat.
Aim of the Scout Movement
By John L. Alexander, Boy Scouts of America
The aim of the Boy Scouts is to supplement the various existing educational agencies, and to promote the ability in boys to do things for themselves and others. It is not the aim to set up a new organization to parallel in its purposes others already established. The opportunity is afforded these organizations, however, to introduce into their programs unique features appealing to interests which are universal among boys. The method is summed up in the term Scoutcraft, and is a combination of observation, deduction, and handiness, or the ability to do things. Scoutcraft includes instruction in First Aid, Life Saving, Tracking, Signaling, Cycling, Nature Study, Seamanship, Campcraft, Woodcraft, Chivalry, Patriotism, and other subjects. This is accomplished in games and team play, and is pleasure, not work, for the boy. All that is needed is the out-of-doors, a group of boys, and a competent leader.
What Scouting Means
In all ages there have been scouts, the place of the scout being on the danger line of the army or at the outposts, protecting those of his company who confide in his care.
The army scout was the soldier who was chosen out of all the army to go out on the skirmish line.
The pioneer, who was out on the edge of the wilderness, guarding the men, women, and children in the stockade, was also a scout. Should he fall asleep, or lose control of his faculties, or fail on his watch, then the lives of the men, women, and children paid the forfeit, and the scout lost his honor.
But there have been other kinds of scouts besides war scouts and frontier scouts. They have been the men of all ages, who have gone out on new and strange adventures, and through their work have benefited the people of the earth. Thus, Columbus discovered America, the Pilgrim Fathers founded New England, the early English settlers colonized Jamestown, and the Dutch built up New York. In the same way the hardy Scotch-Irish pushed west and made a new home for the American people beyond the Alleghanies and the Rockies.
These peace scouts had to be as well prepared as any war scouts. They had to know scoutcraft. They had to know how to live in the woods, and be able to find their way anywhere, without other chart or compass than the sun and stars, besides being able to interpret the meaning of the slightest signs of the forest and the foot tracks of animals and men.
They had to know how to live so as to keep healthy and strong, to face any danger that came their way, and to help one another. These scouts of old were accustomed to take chances with death and they did not hesitate to give up their lives in helping their comrades or country. In fact, they left everything behind them, comfort and peace, in order to push forward into the wilderness beyond. And much of this they did because they felt it to be their duty.
These little-known scouts could be multiplied indefinitely by going back into the past ages and reading the histories and stories of the knights of King Arthur, of the Crusaders, and of the great explorers and navigators of the world.
Wherever there have been heroes, there have been scouts, and to be a scout means to be prepared to do the right thing at the right moment, no matter what the consequences may be.
The way for achievement in big things is the preparing of one's self for doing the big things — by going into training and doing the little things well. It was this characteristic of Livingstone, the great explorer, that made him what he was, and that has marked the career of all good scouts.
To be a good scout one should know something about the woods and the animals that inhabit them, and how to care for one's self when camping.
The habits of animals can be studied by stalking them and watching them in their native haunts.
The scout should never kill an animal or other living creature needlessly. There is more sport in stalking animals to photograph them, and in coming to know their habits than in hunting to kill.
But woodcraft means more than this. It means not only the following of tracks and other signs, but it means to be able to read them. To tell how fast the animal which made the tracks was going; to tell whether he was frightened, suspicious, or otherwise.
Woodcraft also enables the scout to find his way, no matter where he is. It teaches him the various kinds of wild fruit, roots, nuts, etc., which are good for food, or are the favorite food of animals.
By woodcraft a scout may learn a great number of things. He may be able to tell whether the tracks were made by an animal or by man, bicycle, automobile or other vehicle.
By having his power of observation trained he can tell by very slight signs, such as the sudden flying of birds, that someone is moving very near him though he may not be able to see the person.
Through woodcraft then, a boy may train his eye, and be able to observe things that otherwise would pass unnoticed. In this way he may be able to save animals from pain, as a horse from an ill-fitting harness. He may also be able to see little things which may give him the clew to great things and so be able to prevent harm and crime.
Besides woodcraft one must know something of camp life. One of the chief characteristics of the scout is to be able to live in the open, know how to put up tents, build huts, throw up a lean-to for shelter, or make a dugout in the ground, how to build a fire, how to procure and cook food, how to bind logs together so as to construct bridges and rafts, and how to find his way by night as well as by day in a strange country.
Living in the open in this way, and making friends of the trees, the streams, the mountains, and the stars, gives a scout a great deal of confidence and makes him love the natural life around him.
To be able to tell the difference between the trees by their bark and leaves is a source of pleasure; to be able to make a bed out of rough timber, or weave a mattress or mat out of grass to sleep on is a joy. And all of these things a good scout should know.
Then too, a good scout must be chivalrous. That is, he should be as manly as the knights or pioneers of old. He should be unselfish. He should show courage. He must do his duty. He should show benevolence and thrift. He should be loyal to his country. He should be obedient to his parents, and show respect to those who are his superiors. He should be very courteous to women. One of his obligations is to do a good turn every day to some one. He should be cheerful and seek self-improvement, and should make a career for himself.
All these things were characteristics of the old-time American scouts and of the King Arthur knights. Their honor was sacred. They were courteous and polite to women and children, especially to the aged, protected the weak, and helped others to live better. They taught themselves to be strong, so as to be able to protect their country against enemies. They kept themselves strong and healthy, so that they might be prepared to do all of these things at a moment's notice, and do them well.
So the boy scout of to-day must be chivalrous, manly, and gentlemanly.
When he gets up in the morning he may tie a knot in his necktie, and leave the necktie outside his vest until he has done a good turn. Another way to remind himself is to wear his scout badge reversed until he has done his good turn. The good turn may not be a very big thing — help an old lady across the street; remove a banana skin from the pavement so that people may not fall; remove from streets or roads broken glass, dangerous to automobile or bicycle tires; give water to a thirsty horse; or deeds similar to these.
The scout also ought to know how to save life. He ought to be able to make a stretcher; to throw a rope to a drowning person; to drag an unconscious person from a burning building, and to resuscitate a person overcome by gas fumes. He ought also to know the method of stopping runaway horses, and he should have the presence of mind and the skill to calm a panic and deal with street and other accidents.
This means also that a boy scout must always be in the pink of condition. A boy cannot do things like these unless he is healthy and strong. Therefore, he must be systematically taking exercise, playing games, running, and walking. It means that he must sleep enough hours to give him the necessary strength, and if possible to sleep very much in the open, or at least with the windows of his bedroom open both summer and winter.
It means also that he should take a cold bath often, rubbing dry with a rough towel. He should breathe through the nose and not through the mouth. He should at all times train himself to endure hardships.
In addition to these the scout should be a lover of his country. He should know his country. How many states there are in it, what are its natural resources, scope, and boundaries. He ought to know something of its history, its early settlers, and of the great deeds that won his land. How they settled along the banks of the James River. How Philadelphia, New York, and other great cities were founded. How the Pilgrim Fathers established New England and laid the foundation for our national life. How the scouts of the Middle West saved all that great section of the country for the Republic. He ought to know how Texas became part of the United States, and how our national heroes stretched out their hands, north and south, east and west, to make one great united country.
He ought to know the history of the important wars. He ought to know about our army and navy flags and the insignia of rank of our officers. He ought to know the kind of government he lives under, and what it means to live in a republic. He ought to know what is expected of him as a citizen of his state and nation, and what to do to help the people among whom he lives.
In short, to be a good scout is to be a well-developed, well-informed boy.
There are other things which a scout ought to know and which should be characteristic of him, if he is going to be the kind of scout for which the Boy Scouts of America stand. One of these is obedience. To be a good scout a boy must learn to obey the orders of his patrol leader, scout master, and scout commissioner. He must learn to obey, before he is able to command. He should so learn to discipline and control himself that he will have no thought but to obey the orders of his officers. He should keep such a strong grip on his own life that he will not allow himself to do anything which is ignoble, or which will harm his life or weaken his powers of endurance.
Another virtue of a scout is that of courtesy. A boy scout ought to have a command of polite language. He ought to show that he is a true gentleman by doing little things for others.
Loyalty is also a scout virtue. A scout ought to be loyal to all to whom he has obligations. He ought to stand up courageously for the truth, for his parents and friends.
Another scout virtue is self-respect. He ought to refuse to accept gratuities from any one, unless absolutely necessary. He ought to work for the money he gets.
For this same reason he should never look down upon any one who may be poorer than himself, or envy any one richer than himself. A scout's self-respect will cause him to value his own standing and make him sympathetic toward others who may be, on the one hand, worse off, or, on the other hand, better off as far as wealth is concerned. Scouts know neither a lower nor a higher class, for a scout is one who is a comrade to all and who is ready to share that which he has with others.
The most important scout virtue is that of honor. Indeed, this is the basis of all scout virtues and is closely allied to that of self-respect. When a scout promises to do a thing on his honor, he is bound to do it. The honor of a scout will not permit of anything but the highest and the best and the manliest. The honor of a scout is a sacred thing, and cannot be lightly set aside or trampled on.
Faithfulness to duty is another one of the scout virtues. When it is a scout's duty to do something, he dare not shirk. A scout is faithful to his own interest and the interests of others. He is true to his country and his God.
Another scout virtue is cheerfulness. As the scout law intimates, he must never go about with a sulky air. He must always be bright and smiling, and as the humorist says, "Must always see the doughnut and not the hole." A bright face and a cheery word spread like sunshine from one to another. It is the scout's duty to be a sunshine-maker in the world.
Another scout virtue is that of thoughtfulness, especially to animals; not merely the thoughtfulness that eases a horse from the pain of a badly fitting harness or gives food and drink to an animal that is in need, but also that which keeps a boy from throwing a stone at a cat or tying a tin can on a dog's tail. If a boy scout does not prove his thoughtfulness and friendship for animals, it is quite certain that he never will be really helpful to his comrades or to the men, women, and children who may need his care.
And then the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country. To accomplish this a scout should observe the scout law.
Every boy ought to commit to memory the following abbreviated form of the scout law.
The Twelve Points of the Scout Law
1. A scout is trustworthy.
2. A scout is loyal.
3. A scout is helpful.
4. A scout is friendly.
5. A scout is courteous.
6. A scout is kind.
7. A scout is obedient.
8. A scout is cheerful.
9. A scout is thrifty.
10. A scout is brave.
11. A scout is clean.
12. A scout is reverent.
The Boy Scout Organization
To do good scouting a boy must understand the organization of which he is a part. The Boy Scouts of America is promoted and governed by a group of men called the National Council. This National Council is made up of leading men of the country and it is their desire that every American boy shall have the opportunity of becoming a good scout.
The National Council holds one meeting annually at which it elects the officers and the members of the Executive Board. It copyrights badges and other scout designs, arranges for their manufacture and distribution, selects designs for uniforms and scout equipment, issues scout commissioners' and scout masters' certificates, and grants charters for local councils.
A local council through its officers — president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and scout commissioner, its executive committee, court of honor, and other committees — deals with all local matters that relate to scouting.
The scout commissioner is the ranking scout master of the local council and presides at all scout masters' meetings as well as at all scout field meets. It is also the duty of the scout commissioner to report to and advise with the Chief Scout through the Executive Secretary concerning the scouts in his district. The scout commissioner's certificate is issued from National Headquarters upon the recommendation of a local council after this council has been granted a charter.
The scout master is the adult leader of a troop, and must be at least twenty-one years of age. He should have a deep interest in boys, be genuine in his own life, have the ability to lead, and command the boys' respect and obedience. He need not be an expert at scoutcraft; a good scout master will discover experts for the various activities. His certificate is granted upon the recommendation of the local council.
An assistant scout master should be eighteen years of age or over. His certificate is granted by the National Council upon the recommendation of the scout master of his troop and the local council.
Excerpted from Boy Scouts of America Official National Outfitter by SIGMUND EISNER. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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