The Hongkong Telegraph.
Tuesday, May 3, 1910.
Newseries No. 8182
BOY SCOUTS FOR HONGKONG.
A FEEDER FOR THE VOLUNTEERS.
(Special to the "Hongkong Telegraph")
When one reads the Home papers and gets to realize the Important factor that General Baden-Powell is proving to be in Empire defence, one living out here can not but begin to wonder that the system of training of boys by the heroic soldier who fought so well in the Boer War has not been adopted in Hongkong. We in this Colony have to deplore the fact that the Volunteers as regards strength of rank and file are not up to the standard that one would expect. Year after year the inspecting General, while extolling the discipline and good work of the corps, has to say always a final word of regret that the ranks are so thin and their number so few. In respect of its Volunteer Corps, Hongkong compares very unfavourably with its neighbours. In Calcutta and Bombay, In Colombo, the Volunteering spirit is strong; in Singapore and the Straits Settlements generally it is no less true that
is manifested in the Volunteer corps than is the case in our Colony. Even in Shanghai, with its cosmopolitan crowd that make up the European population, the Volunteers are in the ascendant. The same remark can safely be applied to far Tientsin, where the voluntary soldiers did excellent service during the Boxer rising.
The main point is that incentive has to be given to the youths of Hongkong to make them desirous of preparing themselves, in a military sense, for the worst that can ensue in the matter of defending the territory in which they live and have their being. It is not at all improbable that General Baden-Powell will, in his forthcoming tour for the furtherance of his patriotic projects, pay a passing visit to Hongkong; and possibly his coming will result in the raising of a corps of Boy Scouts in this Colony. His activities at Home have met with the most marked success and the Boy Scouts are now a
POWER IN THE LAND.
The writer has never had the privilege of meeting General Baden-Powell, but has had the pleasure of being the guest of his kinsman, Sir Francis Powell, at his beautiful home in Argyleshire, and the latter, although he has devoted his gifts to art and not to soldiering, shares with him in his keen military sensibilities and the need of national defence. General Baden-Powell, as is generally known, has now resigned from the Army in order that he may devote his entire energies to the cause of the Boy Scouts. That he will not suffer in consequence is certain, and it is also a foregone conclusion that his efforts in the Colonies will prove as successful as they have been in England.
We note that a movement is on foot for starting a corps of Boy Scouts in the Malay States. The Perak Pioneer remarks:-
Why should not Boy Scouts be started in Malaya? They are now quite familiar objects in England on any Saturday afternoon and it is quite evident that they have come to stay. But few people have anything but a very vague idea of the aims and objects of this movement originally initiated by General Sir R. Baden- Powell. So many think the General's idea is either to amuse the boy or make every boy a soldier; what he aims at is to make every boy a good citizen. 'Be prepared' is the motto of the Boy Scout. He is thought to take as his pattern the backwoodsman and explorer or to use a better simile for this country the planter and miner, all of whom have to depend on their own resources and be prepared for all kinds of accidents. A Boy Scout is taught to be self-reliant and not dependent on others. He is taught that it is better to play the game then look on at it. At home the organisation of those Scouts who are not connected with any existing organisation for boys is as follows:-
The smallest unit is the patrol, commanded by one of the boys themselves. Several patrols make up a Troop, commanded by a Scoutmaster, who must be over 18 years of age. All the Troops in a certain area are responsible to a local committee, formed of the Scoutmasters and gentlemen interested in work amongst boys and in scouting generally. The committee, in turn, is responsible to headquarters. Red tape is avoided as far as possible, and the utmost freedom and independence is allowed the various Troops. Each Troop can have its own particular headquarters and work in its own way, provided always that it is on the lines laid down in the official handbook. People sometimes ask whether it is a religious movement. It has just as much religion as the Scoutmasters like to put into it. The General recognises that character cannot be built up without religion, but the amount of it and the particular form it should take is left to the individual Troop. Thus you can have Troops attached to a particular church and included in the regular parochial organisation; you can have undenominational Troops, Jewish Troops, and so on. If a boy is keen and energetic, he has opportunities given him for learning a number of things, which cannot fail to be of use to him in after life. Apart from learning to keep his eyes open and 'be prepared' -in itself no small achievement- he can earn badges for ambulance work, signalling, cycling, map reading, and drawing, seamanship, bugling, and for knowledge of the stars, or of engineering, or a foreign language.
Not only would a scheme based on the above lines be a valuable assistance to our Volunteers, but it would keep our boys out of mischief and give them a taste of discipline, with that essential dash of romance in it that would prove to be a most salutary element in the training of the youth of the Colony.