What's in a name? "Democratic People's Republic" sounds nicer than "Dictatorship of Thugs", and "Department of Defense" is easier to sell than "Department of War". But what really counts is content, not the label on the package.

At a recent Boy Scout meeting a former Scoutmaster, JS, talked about the upcoming Centennial of Scouting jamboree to be held in England. The logo for the event features a dove. "Peace Scouts," JS explained, was one of the original terms for the international movement that Lord Baden-Powell and others founded in the early twentieth century. The focus of scouting was in peaceful areas: outdoorsmanship, self-reliance, initiative, health, cooperation, and leadership.

So maybe "Peace Scouts" would have been a good name to choose for the activity --- though I note that possibly the phrase suffers somewhat from excessive sibilance ...

But returning to substance, JS's comments led me to some of the original writings of Baden-Powell. In Scouting for Boys (1908) B-P wrote:

A scout in the army, as you know, is generally a soldier who is chosen for his cleverness and pluck to go out in front to find out where the enemy is, and report to the commander all about him.

But, besides war scouts, there are also peace scouts --- men who in peace time carry out work which requires the same kind of pluck and resourcefulness.

These are the frontiersmen of the world.

The pioneers and trappers of North and South America, the hunters of Central Africa, the explorers and missionaries in all parts of the world, the bushmen and drovers of Australia --- all these are peace scouts, real men in every sense of the word, and good at scoutcraft. They understand how to live out in the jungle. They can find their way anywhere, and are able to read meanings from the smallest signs and foot tracks. They know how to look after their health when far away from doctors. They are strong and plucky, ready to face danger, and always keen to help each other. They are accustomed to take their lives in their hands, and to risk them without hesitation if they can help their country by doing so.

Rather nice sentiments, particularly in their international and multicultural aspects. And there's the radically ahead-of-his-time:

A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout; no matter what colour, class or creed the other may belong.

Perhaps the umbrella of inclusiveness for scouting will grow still wider in years to come ...

(see also WorthRemembering2 (31 Dec 2000), ParamilitaryOrganization (12 Dec 2002), ...)

TopicSociety - 2003-06-17

(correlates: GoodTurn, ParamilitaryOrganization, TopiaRy, ...)