scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Green Bar Bill
Grant O'Neil (grant@ONEIL.COM.AU
Mon Jul 31 2000 - 10:43:12 CDT
I was going through some of my old scouting stuff the other day and found a
copy of the "Australian Scout" magazine reporting the World Scout
Conference held in Melbourne, Australia in 1988 after the World Jamboree.
Among the interviews with delegates I found the folowing about Bill
Hillcourt, that I thought would be of interest to our BSA members in this list.
"Australian Scout" magazine, March 1988 page 62
31st World Scout Conference
LOOKING FORWARD AT 87
Bill Hillcourt agreed without demur when Australian SCOUT Magazine told him
it was looking forward to this interview with 'a legend in Scouting'. And
well he might agree!
Bill Hillcourt was born in Denmark in 1900.
He explains that in Jack Benny's terms he is celebrating the 48th
anniversary of his 39th birthday. (He says that if he lives to 101 he will
have lived in three centuries!)
Anyway, at 87, he is about as old as you get them in any youth
organisation. He is best known as 'Green Bar Bill', columnist for America's
'Boy's Life' magazine since October 1932 - some 55 years as a contributor.
His scouting career began when he was 10 years old, and received a copy of
Baden-Powell's 'Scouting for Boys' for his birthday.
Baden-Powell said that if you wanted to become a scout all you had to do
was to form a Patrol and choose a Patrol Leader. So he formed a patrol in
1911. He recalls that he was at the right age and the right stage of
advancement in Scouting to go to the First World jamboree when Baden Powell
called world scouts together in 1920. Bill Hillcourt explains that he then
picked up a disease called "Jamboritis": "I don't know whether it's a
bacteria or a virus. But you can get a little relief every two years by
going to a jamboree." He has been to 14 of the 16 world jamborees.
He lived in Denmark to the age of 26, then went to the United States, where
he was discovered by the then Chief Scout there and set to work on a Patrol
On the strength of that publication, he got his "Boys' Life" job, and more
scout work on a Scoutmasters handbook, a boy scouts' handbook and a field
book for scouts.
Bill says he got very close to Baden-Powell and his wife at several
jamborees. Baden-Powell retired to Kenya where he subsequently died in
1941, but Lady Baden-Powell returned to England after the war and she and
Bill met again. "One of my biggest achievements," Bill said, "was to
persuade Lady Baden-Powell that we must get Scouting started round the
world on the basis of B-P's "Scouting for Boys". She gave me permission she
wouldn't have given a Britisher because I insisted that it had to be
revised cutting out all reference to the British Empire, Lord Nelson and
all the other references that were not international. So we revised
"Scouting for Boys" as a World Brotherhood Edition."
Bill said he enjoyed the World Scout Conference in Melbourne. And the
jamboree? "The opening of the jamboree was the best we have ever had," he
said. "That Rolf Harris. He could sing. He could joke. He could use any
instrument. We sang Waltzing Matilda, and Rolfs kangaroo song. He sang in
all languages. And he had 15,000 scouts singing along, too."
Bill said he also enjoyed the Gang Show performance at the end. Bill said
that after the international edition of 'Scouting for Boys' was published,
Scout Leaders said to him: "Thank goodness you got us back to basics".
Bill said: "I said, Forget it. We have been there. Let's not go back to
anything. Let us re-establish our fundamentals. Let us have as our slogan:
Forward with Fundamentals. That is more important than trying to get back
Bill said: "I think that is what this world conference is all about. That's
why I have been so excited about it."
What an extraordinary character - still looking forward at 87.
by Neil Newnham
"Rikki" Grant O'Neil _r| Ll\
District Cub Scout Leader | |_|__\
Swan Valley District => \ |_|_ /
Western Australia ~~ `_'