Hongkong Daily Press.
Hongkong, Thursday, November 17th, 1927.
BOY SCOUT MOVEMENT IN HONG KONG.
REVIEW OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PAST YEAR.
URGENT NEED FOR MORE MEN TO ACT AS SCOUTMASTERS AND SECRETARIES.
MONEY REQUIRED FOR UNIFORMS AND EQUIPMENT OF THE POORER BOYS.
A comprehensive report on the activities of the local Scout movement during the past Scout year, and addresses concerning the welfare, needs, aims and prospects of the local organisation, with reference also to the international aspect of the Scout movement, were given at the annual meeting of the Hong Kong Branch of the Boy Scouts' Association held last evening at St. John's Cathedral Hall.
The Hon. Dr. R.H.Kotewall, C.M.G. (President of the local Association), presided, and others present included Mrs. W.T.Southorn, Commissioner the Rev. G.T.Waldegrave, Mr. C.H.Blason (Hon. Treasurer), District Scoutmaster A.White, Sir Henry Gollan (the Chief Justice), Mr. Justice J.R.Wood, the Hon. Sir Joseph Kemp, K.C., the Hon. Sir Shou Son Chow, and representatives of the various Scout troops.
At the outset of the meeting, the President expressed the regret of H.E. the Officer Administering the Government at his inability to attend the meeting owing to another engagement.
REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES.
District Scoutmaster A.White presented the report which reviewed the work carried out during the past Scout year.
In many ways, said the report, the past Scout Year, from October 1926 to September 1927, has been full of special interest to the local Association and shows general advance. The formation of the Council early in 1927 has already proved most beneficial. Six new troops have been started and two more are in formation, in spite of the policy, continually recommended, of quality not quantity being at last adopted in most of the troops with consequent weeding out of non efficients and slackers. Scouts of all ranks in the Association now number 500 as compared with 420 at the end of September, 1926. There are also some 60 non executive officials, such as members of the Council, Examiners, Instructors and so on. Had there been a supply of suitable Scoutmasters even further advance could have been made, and that is, and we fear ever will be, our severest handicap.
Standard of Efficiency.
The standard of efficiency is also on the upgrade, as the Prince of Wales' Banner Competition Rallies have proved, and though the Sea Scouts were successful in winning the Banner, their superiority lay rather in Tests for Badges passed during the year than in any particular excellence in Scoutcraft. There has been the usual amount of camping, but greatly increased activity in hiking, bivouac camps and rambles in which the Scout, being entirely on his own, learns far more by personal experience than he does in a standing camp with a Scoutmaster in charge. Our Honorary Treasurer, Mr. C.H.Blason, has put a small plot of ground in his garden at Shek O at the disposal of Scout Hikers, and thus the less experienced have a chance in comparative safety of training themselves for ventures further afield.
The Junior or Wolf Cub Section is again pulling up, after a year or two of slump. One of our most valued Cubbers left for England during the year, but we are glad to say that her good work is being very ably and efficiently carried on by her successors. The year opened with only one Pack. Now there are three. So far we have no Chinese Packs, and we should like to see development in that direction.
Rover Scouts And Sea Scouting.
The Senior Section, the Rover Scouts, is slowly growing, and has already put in some good work, but we still have to proceed with caution as it is still in the experimental stage.
Sea Scouting is still represented by one troop, but owing to the kind assistance of many friends, especially officers of His Majesty's Navy, a good standard of efficiency is being maintained. Up to a certain point the training is the same as for Land Scouts, the main difference of course being that while the Land Scout does his outdoor work ashore the Sea Scout is active afloat.
In the matter of Public Service rendered by Scouts we have had various instances reported to us of help given at fires, to the Police, and to injured persons. The local Branch of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has offered to award an annual prize for the best Essay on some subject connected with the aims and work of that Society, the conditions of which competition are now under discussion. A friend has also made tentative suggestions about encouraging nature study on similar lines.
Training Camp Scheme.
The Training Camp Scheme has so far made no further progress, but with our depleted staff, a step of such importance could not be lightly undertaken. Quite apart from the actual arrangement of the details of the Training Courses, preparation of demonstrations and lectures and so forth, much has to be done in the erection of suitable accommodation, provision of transport, food and apparatus. As also special qualifications are required by Imperial Headquarters before anyone is permitted to organise such a camp, and those so qualified are already more than occupied with the general running of the local Branch of the Movement, it has been obviously the wiser course to wait till the scheme can be carried out properly than to spoil all by hasty and ill worked measures.
THE FINANCIAL POSITION.
Giving a report of the financial position, Mr. C.H.Blason stated that there was a loss shown of over $400. This was in connection with shop stores. A strict investigation was now being made and a report would be issued in due course.
Mr. Blason said that the amount spent on troop equipment for sports was inadequate and there should be more funds available for the troops. The expenditure on the Silver Wolf (the official organ of the Scouts here) had been reduced, and it had been decided to issue it quarterly in the form of a circular to scouts and others interested in the movement.
The Building Fund now stood at $6,081. They wished to keep this Fund intact, as they were contemplating building when some more money had been added.
The President announced at a later stage of the meeting that if the loss of $400 on shop stores was not recovered, a friend of his, who wished to remain anonymous, would guarantee this amount. (Applause.)
The balance sheet showed subscriptions amounting to $430, and total receipts were $2,427.
THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
The Hon. Dr. R.H.Kotewall, commenting upon the report, said he thought they would all agree that it was as encouraging as it was interesting. For this satisfactory result, he continued, we owe a debt of gratitude to the scoutmasters, to the executive officers, and, above all, to Mr. Waldegrave who, during practically the whole of the year, combined his already onerous duties as Commissioner with those of Honorary Secretary, and to whose tact and hard work this success is largely due. I must not omit to mention the deep personal interest which His Excellency Sir Cecil Clementi, as the Chief Scout of the Colony, has always shown in our work, and this has been an inspiration to us all. (Applause.) Nor am I unmindful of the support we have received from Mrs. Southorn, His Excellency the General Officer Commanding, His Honour the Chief Justice, Commodore Pearson, and other high officials and prominent merchants who, with so many other heavy calls upon their time, have given us the benefit of their advice and cooperation on our Council. (Applause.)
Boy Scouting is a system which, while teaching youth to love their country, breaks down all national, racial, religious and class barriers. It aims at inculcating loyalty, the habits of obedience, orderliness, self reliance and resourcefulness. It endeavours to open the minds of our youth to an appreciation of the lovely things with which the earth abounds; and, most important of all, it teaches them the joy of labour and service, and the blessings of peace. In the fine words of Sir Cecil Clementi, the Boy Scout movement teaches boys to play the great game of life, and is a Brotherhood for boys, and later for men of all creeds and races. Very aptly has the movement been called "The Boys' League of Nations," and no better name can, I think, be given it. That it has proven its usefulness to humanity is borne out by the fact that in about twenty years it has spread to practically every country in the world, and has now a membership of over three million boys. So successful have our local efforts been that a branch of our sister organisation - the Girl Guides was formed in Hong Kong a few years ago; and it affords me, as I know it will afford you all, very great pleasure to see present here their popular Commissioner, Mrs. Southorn. (Applause.)
In the United Kingdom and in several other countries the training of scoutmasters is being developed by means of official training camps. Here we have a site kindly granted to us by the Government for this purpose, and we have also trained men authorised to act as camp chiefs. But these men should be free from other scouting work so as to be able to give all their time and attention to their special duty, and for this reason we badly need men, not only as scoutmasters, but also as secretaries men who are willing to give up their spare time, and deny themselves personal comfort and pleasures for the sake of the movement. In this connection, I should like to pay glad tribute to those splendid men who, schoolmasters by profession, have taken up scouting in their spare time in order that the boys in their care may benefit by their self denial. (Applause.)
Though we have a site for a training camp, and a building kindly placed at our disposal by the Government for our headquarters, we need the necessary plant for the training camp, and permanent buildings for the storage of gear and other purposes. We have a building fund of some $6,000, but at least another $15,000 is required. I am told by those qualified to speak on the subject, that the standard of scouting in Hong Kong compares very favourably with that in other parts of the East. Is it not reasonable to expect that this local branch of ours should be made comparable with the best in equipment? It does not require a large sum of money to make it so.
Gratifying as has been the growth of the Hong Kong Branch during the last twelve months, we are unfortunately short of funds to meet our steadily increasing expenditure. We require money for the uniform and equipments of the poorer boys who need as much as their more fortunate brothers the guidance and training which this movement affords. We also want money to pay the traveling and other expenses at present borne by the scoutmasters themselves - a system which we consider to be unfair to these men who give their services free. Unfortunately we have no money to meet these necessary expenses. The sum of $4,000 kindly granted to us by the Government about three years ago has been exhausted, in spite of the exercise of the strictest economy. We are now applying to the Government for an annual grant, but it is not expected that in these hard times any money that my be granted will be sufficient to enable us to meet all our annual expenses which amount to about $1,800. This sum, I must say, is very small, having regard to the large number of boys we are training. Indeed, I doubt if any organisation of our size and character either in this Colony or else where is being conducted and maintained on such comparatively trifling sum. It is therefore with every confidence that I am now making an appeal to the public for its generous support. More members and larger subscriptions are wanted. Any donation you may give us will be in the nature of a sound investment which, like bread cast on the water, will come back to you. It is true that you will not reap monetary advantages from your giving, but you will know that you are helping to give the men of tomorrow a better chance, thereby playing your part in making this a better world to live in.
I beg now to move that the report and statement of accounts be adopted.
METHODS AND ORGANISATION.
Seconding the motion of Dr. Kotewall, the Commissioner said he had undertaken to give an explanation, as briefly as he could, of their methods and organisation, with special reference to the local branch and to the movement in its international aspect. He could, of course, only speak with absolute certainty of the organisation of their own British Association, but with possible variations due to local circumstances, it was much the same in whatever country had taken up the Scout scheme. At the head of the British Association, or to give it its proper title, "The Boy Scouts Association, Incorporated by Royal Charter," with its headquarters in London, is the Founder, the Chief Scout and the Headquarters Council. All Scouts Associations in the Colonies, Dominions and Dependencies of the British Crown were branches of the parent Association. In the United Kingdom each County had its County Association, with Commissioner, Secretary and so on, and these Countries were divided into District Associations, each also with District Commissioner and Officials, The District Associations were immediately in touch with the Troops, and Scoutmasters by right sit on those District Associations. In Hong Kong they more or less corresponded to a County Organisation, but as there was no need for more than one local Association, a point which had been carefully considered by the Council, their Colonial Scout Council also served as the local Association and the Scoutmasters met monthly in Committee to discuss such matters as affected the troops in detail, being kept in touch with the Council by the Executive Committee of the Council.
The Chief Scout of Hong Kong represented the Chief Scout of the World, Sir Robert Baden Powell, and the Commissioner was the direct representative of the Imperial Headquarters Council. The Secretary of the local Council was also secretary of the Executive Committee and the Scoutmasters' meeting, but he was assisted by a Badge Secretary who undertook, with the assistance of a sub committee to arrange for examinations, issue of badges and keeping the stocks up to date. There were also other sub committees, formed mainly of Scoutmasters, to deal with various parts of the work.
Referring to the boy themselves, the Commissioner said that the Scoutmaster, or Cubmaster, was in immediate touch with them, and was aided by assistants, instructors, troop councils and committees. The various ages of boys or young men engaged in scouting was catered by three sections, Wolf Cubs, Scouts and Rovers. Where a troop had the three sections, a Troop Council acted as the uniting bond and controlled the general welfare. Then there was also the Troop Committee, which should consist of the Scoutmaster, a representative of the parents and some other interested person, though there could be more than three members. This Committee advised as regarded troop finance, acted as a Body of Trustees of troop property, and should be able to assist in getting employment for the Scouts when they left school. Locally these troop Committees were existent in only a few cases, and then mainly in name only. It was wished to get every Troop with a working a Working Troop Committee, whether an open troop which any boy might be in, or a controlled troop, the membership of which was confined to members of some school or church or club. The importance of such a committee needed no further explanation, except to add that it did not in any way deal with the discipline or inner working of the troop itself. This lay in the hands of the Scoutmaster and the Troop Court of Honour, the members of which were Patrol Leaders of the various patrols or units of the Troop.
The Commissioner then explained the Patrol system, the division of the troop into gangs or patrols, each with its own leaders.
The report and accounts were put to the meeting and passed.
The meeting concluded with votes of thanks.