The Hongkong Telegraph.
Saturday, September 26, 1914.
THE BOY SCOUTS.
H.E. Major-General Kelly has done a graceful thing in extending his patronage to the Hongkong Boy Scouts. The movement in this Colony is still comparatively new, and notwithstanding the fact that the local Chief Scout and Scoutmaster have worked wonders with material probably less good than they would find in England, it was highly desirable that it should have the G.O.C.'s authoritative backing. If the Scout idea is a good one at Home it is even a better here in Hongkong, where the minds and bodies of boys develop more quickly than in a temperate climate, and where, consequently, discipline of a healthy, rational sort is highly necessary for growing lads.
Those who have read Sir R.Baden Powell's book on Scouting will see that the Chief Scout's prevailing idea is not to make boys into men before their time but to keep them boys, in the highest sense of the word - wholesome, straight, clean, modest, strong, and in every respect useful. This, undoubtedly, he has succeeded in doing with a good many thousands of lads, for his is a personality that can impress itself even on those who have never seen him; an influence which can, as it were, be passed on at second-hand and yet lose nothing in the passing. To the boy whose tendencies were naturally either vicious or namby-pamby the Scout idea has come as an absolute godsend; and General Baden Powell should be one of the proudest men in England today, when he reflects on what he has done for the boyhood and future manhood, not only of the Empire but of the world.
A fact in connection with the Chief Scout's plan that is sometimes lost sight of is that it is one which not only appeals to every class of boy but which appeals to certain boys whom no other organisation would ever have succeeded in reaching. Some boys are moved by sport, others by study, or by religion or by hobbies; but none of these things recommend themselves universally, for numbers of boys are born without the religious instinct, or are coldly indifferent to sport or hobbies, and still more so to lessons. Then what disciplinary factor could one hope to see come into their lives apart from force from outside? This, roughly speaking, is the problem with which the founder of the Scouts was faced, and he solved it by realising that every boy, however deficient in other respects, has at least some craving after Adventure. Now that same craving has brought many an unfortunate youth into trouble, as one sees from the police reports in the Home papers from time to time - because it was not regulated and given a right direction. From the search for adventure to mischief is but half a step, and that from mischief to crime is all too short. One may say, therefore, that it was nothing short of an inspiration - this idea of converting such a dangerous instinct into a means of good. Every boy, good or bad, wants to "play at soldiers," wants to "sleep out," to climb hills, penetrate woods and so forth. Here then is his chance to do all these and a hundred other things, and at the same time to learn life's hardest lesson - obedience - in a more pleasant manner than was the lot of boys twenty years ago. With all this in view one may well wish every success to the Scouts throughout the world, including those of Hongkong.