The Hongkong Telegraph.
Saturday, February 20, 1915.
BOY SCOUTS OF THE PEAK.
MAJOR BOWEN ON SCOUT IDEALS.
Interesting Meeting of Peak "Wolf Cubs."
A fresh and interesting development of the Boy Scout movement in Hongkong has lately taken place. A troop of small boys of the Peak District, technically known as "Wolf Cubs," was started a short time ago, and in order to interest parents in the movement, as well as to organise it on proper lines, Miss Skinner of the Peak School, gave an "At Home" in the Peak Hotel, yesterday. About 50 ladies were present, including Lady May, Mrs. Kelly, Lady Rees Davis, Mrs. Austurther and many of the parents, as well as some gentlemen interested in the matter, Mr. Ralph, Inspector of Schools, and Captain Basil Taylour, R.N.
A small committee to run the troop has been appointed, with Lady May as President, Mrs. Churchill Vice President, Mrs. Ralph Hon. Treasurer, Miss Skinner Hon. Secretary; and Captain Basil Taylour has very kindly consented to act as Scoutmaster. With such an able Committee there can be little doubt that the success of the Troop is assured.
A very pleasant afternoon was enjoyed, in the course of which Major Bowen, already associated with the Boy Scouts movement through the St. Joseph's College Troop, said a few words on the scope and meaning of the movement. He said the reason of the notable results secured by the movement is due to two characteristics of this movement:- 1st, it places a high ideal before the Scout and his master; and, secondly, it makes the ideal practical by subjecting the boy to a very definite well-thought-out system of training. The ideal - (embodied in the Scout Law, of which more later on) - ennobles the mind and uplifts the training out of the groove of simple efficiency, mental or physical, to give it a distinct moral value; while the training itself is of the highest importance, because it inculcates in masterly fashion habits of self-control and self-reliance, observation and thoughtfulness, and tends to make a boy pre-eminently a handy-man and a capable one. John Ruskin, a deep and acute thinker, whose ideas of social reform were in advance of his time, declared that modern education erred in developing mental faculties only, making no effort to train the hand to keep pace with the brain. The reproach cannot be levelled at the training of the Boy Scout, where handicrafts of every kind are taught and encouraged. Carpentry, boat-building, gardening, anything that tends to make a boy useful and healthily occupied, comes under the scope of Boy Scout training; no menial labour, however humble, comes amiss, and the Boy Scout's uniform, simple and yet so neat, is wonderfully adapted to honest and manly work. There is one thing only the Scout must not do; that is to keep his hands in his pockets and let others do for him what he can very well do for himself. Is it any wonder, then, that the healthy British boy, so full of energy and manliness, should have embraced with enthusiasm a system that contained all the excitement and charm of a game? Though clear to his Scoutmaster, he could not see, or be expected to see, the higher moral principles that lay hid behind the game, but these he could not help unconsciously imbibing, making him grow, unknown to himself, "a better and a wiser" boy.
Nor was the movement confined to British boys. It has been taken up heartily by most civilised nations, clearly showing how it answers to a universal need. At a great rally held in Birmingham in 1913, representative troops from all parts of the world attended; and it may interest you to hear that the Patrol which travelled furthest to be present, and which displayed the most "prominent and beautiful" banner was the Dragon Patrol of Shanghai. In that progressive city there are indeed two troops, one of British and one of Chinese boys. They were inspected last year by Major-General Kelly, who was forced to come to the sad conclusion that of the two troops the Chinese was the better.
It is not a military movement, said Major Bowen, though it possesses a training on modified military lines; a military caste of organisation and discipline; and a distinct uniform. Its essential object is not to make our boys into soldiers, but into better men and better citizens. The whole aim of the movement is "to develop good citizenship among boys, forming their character, training them in habits of observation, obedience, and self-reliance, inculcating loyalty and thoughtfulness for others, and teaching them services useful to the public and handicrafts useful to themselves." The Boy Scout is taught to make his way about in all kinds of country and all sorts of places, and to play other games dear to boys' hearts, but in doing so he is taught something more, and something of great value to him in after life; namely, the signs of nature, woodcraft and fieldcraft and sky-craft, to observe, to remember, to make inductions. With the instinct of genius, Sir Robert Baden-Powell based all his training from the first on the observance of a Scout Law, at once simple, luminous and complete. Any little boy can understand it; but if any lad lives up to it perfectly he has already advanced a very long way towards the goal of a noble and useful life. A Scout is kind to all; a Scout is courteous; a Scout is pure in thought, word and deed. No knight of chivalry ever had a nobler ideal placed before him.
Because it was designed to meet the needs of the poorer classes do not think that the children of the upper classes should stand aloof. The Boy Scout training is suitable to all. We live in days of class strife, when the classes are taught to look askance on each other; an attitude of great danger to Society. Your sons when they grow up will be the natural leaders of the poorer classes. If the Boy Scout movement will tend to break down the barriers that now divide the classes so dangerously, it will by this alone have justified its existence. The sons of many of the gentry are now entering the ranks of the noble brotherhood of Boy Scouts, and one of the latest recruits is the Crown Prince of Italy.
As it behoves each parent to take an interest in her boy, she cannot do better than see that he imbibes, with his daily food and the air he breathes, the principles of the Scout law. The outdoor exercises and the many fascinating things to learn, signalling, camping and the like, will keep any boy interested; but if over and above this, and, so to speak, framing it all, she teaches him the full meaning of the Scout law, and encourages him to become a perfect Scout by his obedience, unselfishness, honour, he cannot fail to become a better boy, a happier one to himself and a greater joy to her.
The troop of "Wolf Cubs" is, of course, confined to boys of British parentage residing in the Peak District, who are too young to join the Cadet Corps. Those who remain long enough in the Colony may, no doubt, be drafted into the Cadet Corps later on; meanwhile they will have an opportunity of developing their faculties in the way so interesting to boys through the regular course of scout training, by having entered thus young into the great and universal brotherhood of Boy Scouts.