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The Antique Axe.

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A guy goes into an antique shop to sell his antique Axe. The storekeeper asks "Are you sure it's old?" The guy goes on to say it is and how over the years it has been a great Axe and that he has only changed the head three times and the handle four times.

I like Baden Powell and do use BP quotations from time to time. I have read all sorts of books some that show him in a slightly lesser light than many of us were brought up believing. I am still a Brit, so I can call him a National Hero. I have postage stamps and tea caddies that attest to the fact that he was seen by many as a hero.

Sometime back I wrote a very long posting on early Boy Scouting in the UK.

It is a well known fact that BP never intended in the early years for Scouting to be a stand alone organization. He thought that existing organizations would just adopt some of his methods and have as part of their program. This in fact happened with the Church Lads Brigade and for a while with the Boys Brigade (An Organization which BP was a member of until he died)

Scouting in the early days in England was a real mess, everyone was more or less doing their own thing. Needless to say things weren't going that well.

I have read Aids to Scoutmastership. While the forward does contain the line:

So most of these pages will be taken up with the objects of the steps rather than with the details of the steps themselves. These can be filled in by the learner according to his own ingenuity, and in harmony with the local conditions under which he is working. [signed: Baden Powell of Gilwell]

We don't have to look very far to see that when he lists the qualities of a Scoutmaster he lists:

(4) He then needs to promote a corporate spirit among his individuals to gain the best results.

He goes on to stress: Loyalty to the movement

Let the Scoutmaster remember that in addition to his duty to his boys he has a duty also to the Movement as a whole. Theirs is to teach their boys to "play the game," each in his place like bricks in a wall, by doing the same them-selves. Each has his allotted sphere of work, and the better he devotes himself to that, the better his Scouts will respond to

his training. Then it is only by looking to the higher aims of the Movement, or to the effects of measures ten years hence that

one can see details of to-day in their proper proportion.Where a man cannot conscientiously take the line re-quired, his one manly course is to put it straight to his Commissioner or to Headquarters, and if we cannot meet his views, then to leave the work. He goes into it in the first place with his eyes open, and it is scarcely fair if afterwards, because he finds the details do not suit him, he complains that it is the fault of the Executive.

Sounds to me as if Baden is very clearly saying follow the program.

I have read different accounts of how much Seton's, Woodcraft Indians influenced Baden Powell and Scouting For Boy's and have read that Baden Powell and James E. West did not see eye to eye.

Over the years the program has changed, we have kept the methods of Scouting which include the ideals, we have however seen many changes.

Talking only for myself, I like following the program. I like it because it works. Sure there are times when all the i's don't get dotted or the T's crossed. I even though I now serve in an administration role most of the time don't see myself as just an administrator. For example, working with a large group of other people we have over the years made a lot of improvements to our Council Camp. We as a group shared the vision that these improvements would improve the camp for the Scouts and help deliver the vision of the BSA. We were very clear in that we wanted the youth members who attended the camp to be able to have fun and that camp would be an adventure for these youth. Sure spending over $750,000 does take a lot of administration and there were members of the group that don't have very much contact with our youth members, but each and every one of the group shared in the vision. Many of these people will never be recognized for the work that they put in, the meetings they attended, the frustration they felt when things fell behind or went over budget. Some of the group will never get to attend the camp with a group of Scouts to see them enjoy and make use of the things that they worked so hard on. In fact at times when people like this are recognized, we hear complaints from those who deliver the program that because they don't work directly with the youth they don't deserve to be recognized.

Scouting is reinventing itself everyday. Every-time we work with someone and they set a goal to do something they bring their skills, their personality into play. I over the years have worked with a lot of people writing their Wood Badge ticket, each person is setting down a list of goals that will improve Scouting for the kids in their area, so far I have never seen two identical tickets.

When the SM meets with a Scout and they work on goals for the Scout, I like to think that we don't use cookie cutter goals, we challenge each Scout to do his best, we don't change the requirements we make them work for the individual, we follow the program.

The Axe is still an Axe, we have over the last 94 years changed the handle, we have seen Cub Scouts have a big influence on what we do. We have changed the head, we now have female leaders, we have Venturing along with a myriad of other changes, some didn't work (Look at what happened when we done away with Commissioners!) and were changed back. Some are wonderful (Look at YP training's)Some are still new and will maybe in time be or need to be "Tweaked", I'm thinking of the new Wood Badge and even though I have yet to see it the new training that has replaced JLTC.





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B-P further states:


"Many a Scoutmaster would probably desire that I should give him all particulars in detail. But this would in reality be an impossibility, because what suits one particular Troop or one kind of boy, in one kind of place, will not suit another within a mile of it, much less those scattered over the world and existing under totally different conditions. Yet one can give a certain amount of general suggestion, and Scoutmasters in applying this can judge for themselves far best which details are most likely to bring about success in their own particular Troops."


A national program, without any room for deviation by the individual units, was never envisioned by our hero. In fact B-P goes on to say:


"Fortunately, in our Movement, by decentralization and giving a free hand to local authorities, we avoid much of the red tape which has been the cause of irritation and complaint in so many other organization."





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We could I suppose play Baden Powell quotes for a long time. As I have posted I think some of what he said made sense then and makes sense now.

Please fell free to disagree with me. (Not that you need my permission) But at the end of the day doesn't it come down to: Who owns the program?

I have a lot of faith in the people who work on putting the program together and making changes as need be.

I over the years have served Scouting in different programs, in different countries.I have got to know people who serve on the national level in both the UK on the Committee of the Council and here on different National Boards. These guys are good and good at what they do.Still before these guys make changes they use the resources of the entire organization, they work with hundreds of other people in Scouting, asking questions looking at ideas and field testing them.

I have also over the years worked with Scouter's who inform me that "We don't do it that way," They base their not following the program on what? We tried it once and it didn't work; I don't like it. Or the classic we have never done it that way. I respect these people for the time that they put in and in a lot of cases for the skills that they might have. However to decide not to follow the program, that they signed on to deliver is wrong. I don't think that they have the right.

Of course the penalty for not following the program is maybe a few raised eyebrows. The youth that belong to rebel units rarely if ever know any different. My mother was a terrible cook, I thought steak and liver were supposed to be like shoe leather (And taste the same!!) Of course the sad thing is that the youth that leave these units because they are rebel units, don't have a voice. They are gone rarely if ever to return.


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