Scouts-L Mail Archive for November of 1998: Scouting is a Game, Not a Science
Scouting is a Game, Not a Science
Ray Sayah Jr.
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 10:14:27 -0800
Brother and Sister L-ers,
In the past month or so that I have been a subscriber, I have seen
cynicism, rule-inventing, and downright rude behavior. Much of this has
to do with people taking the program too seriously. Below is something
that BADEN-POWELL wrote in 1931. I have passed it out to many Scouters
and older Scouts in my Council and feel that it still holds VERY true.
Please take the time to read something written by someone who really
knew about Scouting and pass it around, it just may help.
-Ray Sayah Jr.
ASM Troop 309
SCOUTING IS A GAME, NOT A SCIENCE
Yes, Scouting is a game. But sometimes I wonder whether, with all
our pamphlets, rules, disquisitions in the Scouter, conferences, and
training classes for Commissioners and other Scouters. etc. , we may not
appear to be making of it too serious a game. It is true that these
things are all necessary and helpful to men for getting the hang of the
thing, and for securing results. But they are apt to grow into big,
proportions (like one's own children or one's own mannerisms) without
our noticing it, when all the time it is very patent to those who come
upon it from outside.
Thus this phalanx of instructional aids appears terribly
formidable to many Scouter, while to outsiders having a look before they
peal into our vortex it must in many cases be directly deterring. When
you come to look on it as something formidable, then you miss the whole
spirit and the joy of it; your boys catch the depression from you, and
Scouting , having lost its spirit, is no longer a game for them.
It becomes like the game of polo which was suggested to be by a
General under whom I served. A melancholy occasion had garrison when the
Troops in the garrison were ordered to go into mourning. This happened
on the very day that an important polo match was to be played. So I was
sent as a deputation to the General to ask whether the match would have
to be cancelled. The General, with a twinkle in his eye, replied: "I
think if you played very slowly and used a black ball it might meet the
Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly
studied, not is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it
a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their
individuality and initiative. No- it is a jolly game in the out of
doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and
younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and
Many young men are put off Scoutmastering by the fear that they
have got to be Admirable Crichtons and capable of teaching their boys
all the details for the different Badge testsI whereas their job is the
enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of
rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the
training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways
of applying our methods and of gaining results.
So may I urge upon Scouters that the more important quest for 1931
is to ginger up the joyous spirit of Scouting through camping and
hiking, not as a occasional treat in intervals of parlour or parade
Scouting, but as the habitual form of training for their boys- and
incidentally for themselves.