The Value of Camp Life

on June 23, 2011 in camping, Leadership

Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, had a lot to say about the program. A good source of his thoughts can be found in his book, “Scouting For Boys”. Now that we are in the summer camp season, there is one of B-P’s thoughts that I thought would be a good choice to share with you:

The Value of Camp Life

I CANNOT impress on Scoutmasters too highly the value of the camp in the training of Scouts; in fact, I think that its whole essence hangs on this.

Many Scoutmasters who value the moral side of our training are almost inclined to undervalue the importance of the camp, but the camp is everything to the boys. We have to appeal to their enthusiasm and tastes in the first place, if we are ever going to do any good in educating them.

An eminent educational authority assured me only to-day that our school education is all on wrong lines; that book learning was introduced by the monks in order to kill the more manly training in skill at arms and hunting which, in the Middle Ages, occupied the time of the boys, and which undoubtedly produced so large a percentage of men of character among them. It was done with a narrow-minded aim, and although it has done some good in certain lines, it has done infinite harm to our race in others.

He said: “You should first of all develop the natural character of the boy by encouraging him in the natural athletic exercises which tend to make him manly, brave, obedient, and unselfish; later give him the desire for reading for himself which will eventually lead him on to study for himself. The fallacy of trying to force him to read what the pedagogue wants him to know is the secret of so much ignorance and absence of studious work amongst our lads to-day.”

This same authority would like to see Scouting or some similar scheme introduced into our continuation schools, and attendance at these made obligatory for all boys of fourteen to sixteen.

I hope that his wish may yet be gratified. I believe it will be if Scoutmasters continue in the way in which they have begun and prove to the education authorities in their neighbourhood the educative value which underlies our Movement.

April 1911.

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