The Hongkong Telegraph.
Thursday, January 15, 1914.
BOY SCOUTS IN HONGKONG.
In today's issue appears the second of two special articles which deal with the birth and development of the Boy Scout movement in Hongkong. These articles make refreshing and inspiring reading. The story of the inception and rapid growth of this movement in the Colony has in it something of romance. It is unnecessary today to defend the Scout movement - whether on land or water - from the charge of militarism. Nothing is further from its purpose which is to make boys strong, healthy, observant, and self-reliant. There must be something in the atmosphere of the Colony favourable to the movement or it would not have grown so rapidly. The possibilities in it, as it spreads, are enormous, and we have no doubt that it will spread beyond St. Joseph's College.
Of the older troop - the bodyguard as it is called - a word may be said, what has been remarked of the Scouts proper applies equally to this body, as it applies to. Boy Scouts anywhere. But it seems to us that to form a troop of older boys in Hongkong - of boys, that is, who are too old to be admitted as Scouts proper - was a step admirably wise. Aside from the questions of health, of training in observation and the like, the bodyguard serves the deeper purpose of giving young men, who have reached the age when character is rapidly being formed, an agreeable occupation for their spare hours. This would be regarded as an excellent move anywhere, but it is especially excellent as applied in Hongkong; for in this Colony are few amusements for anyone and hardly one which satisfies the craving of youth for something wherewith busily to occupy the mind in hours that are not given to business.
Taken all in all, this movement is a most admirable one, so far as it has gone. The thought of so many helpers as have generously lent their services, coming forward and giving of their time and Knowledge to press forward the work is one of the most agreeable signs that has be a witnessed for some time. The whole movement is one of which the Government, we should suppose, will take some kind of notice. Indeed, since the youth of Hongkong has shown itself so ready to accept a movement of such undoubted value, the Government may perhaps one day, when it has widened, be persuaded to help it forward by a grant which need not be large to be useful and which would, no doubt, be most acceptable. But that is only one of the possibilities of a scheme which is full of possibilities.
HONGKONG BOY SCOUTS.
Concerning the "Bodyguard" and Sea Scouts.
In a special article in these columns on Tuesday the story of the formation of a troop of Boy Scouts, at St. Joseph's College, was related. From the start it was wonderfully successful; so successful that the ex-pupils of the College clamoured to be enrolled. Their admission, however, was out of the question. The age limit barred them, speaking generally, and, if their application was to be met, something else had to be done for them. The result was that they were formed into a bodyguard, the age limits being set at eighteen and twenty-five. This body was formed on November 26 with 24 members. Today it numbers 46 and there are further applications for admission.
They have inaugurated a debating club and a choral Society; both are flourishing institutions.
Here, then, were two bodies of Scouts, the younger body being, by this time, affiliated to the parent Association in London, with the sanction of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Chief Scout, who sent a very complimentary letter. Meantime Sergt. Brooks, of the Royal Marines, had lent his services and had started a course of map-reading both to the Scouts and the bodyguard, but on different days, Dr. Coleman also held regular classes on first aid, and thus the whole course of a Scout's instruction was completed. These young people have been fortunate in securing willing voluntary helpers. Between the two bodies, as was natural, sprang up a healthy rivalry and a trial of skill was held. It was worth recording that the younger lads proved cleverer and actually won.
One turns now to the sister body, the Sea Scouts. The First Commissioner of the Sea Scouts is Lord Charles Beresford who is no stranger to China. He is writing his autobiography in Nash's Magazine, by the way, and mentions Hongkong and Kowloon in the most recent number. The troop of Sea Scouts attached to the College is in charge of Captain Streatfeild R, N.M.I.O. and he is assisted by two instructors who will train the toys in the work of sailing a vessel. One italicizes the word, which must be stressed, because neither land nor sea Scouts are taught anything militant; quite on the contrary. Meantime the body is limited to 36 That is as many as can be handled efficiently at present; and efficiency is the first word in the vocabulary of these three bodies A.
From this modest beginning we anticipate great developments. It will not be surprising if the organisation enlarges on broader lines. With his wide experience of the movement in England Capt. Streatfeild may yet do something more for Hongkong; for there is no denying the fact that the Scout organisation is an institution that has come to stay.
There is, obviously, a fine spirit animating the College at present and a fine work going on. Here are three bodies which should do much to turn out these lads strong, alert, self-reliant, and, in addition, is an Old Boys' Association, at the meetings of which lectures and addresses, on subjects actually helpful to youth are given. Mentally and physically these young people are being given a chance, and it is good to know that they are seizing it with both hands.