Boy Scouts and What They Do/Inner Side
The Inner Side of the Scouts Exhibition at Birmingham.
By the Chief Scout.
"There doesn't seem to be a ——— thing that these boys can't do," was the expression used by a working man visiting the Boy Scouts Exhibition at Birmingham in July, 1913.
And his statement only put into so many words the feeling of men of all kinds who saw the remarkable show. It was, in fact, at once an eye-opener and an inspiration.
To the public it showed generally what the Scout training means; that it is not a form of military instruction, nor is it a Sunday school. It is a school for developing the qualities of manliness, industry, unselfishness, and those many other points which go to make good citizens. It therefore attracted a general sympathy and closer interest.
In regard to us who are working in the movement, it exceeded all our expectations in showing what boys are capable of doing if only they are given the ambition.
It was therefore an enormous encouragement to us all to continue and increase our effort.
To the boys themselves it revealed the fact that they are now not only members of a numerous brotherhood, but also of a band of clever handicrafts men, and that it is expected of them that they will develop their powers in this direction. It will be a fresh incentive to Scout activity on their part, and therefore of considerable educational value.
Thus, the Fire Brigade demonstrations for which a large number of teams were entered, showed very good work under the able direction of Captain Wells. R.N. In perfecting themselves at this, the boys' moral aim is that of saving life, of helping others in distress at the cost of hard work, and of running risks on their part. They have to submit themselves to a rigid discipline and a smart drill; but it is not the mechanical drill of soldiering, it is more that of the football field where each individual has his separate job, using head, hands, and energy in co-operation with his mates for the success of the whole. Therefore, both as a moral and physical educator. Fire Brigade work is a valuable instrument.
So, too, in almost identical terms is the practice of bridge-building of which there were many excellent displays. So, also, the demonstrations of practical Ambulance and First Aid work.
Of models of bridges there were also a very large exhibition, and these in their way were educative in giving the lad an interesting subject to plan with his brain and to construct with a neat hand and skilled fingers.The same may be said of the model aeroplane exhibits, of which also there was a very large and very excellent show. Wireless telegraphy and electricity, generally with its home-made instruments, evidently
Who won First Prize for Highland Dancing
Who won First Prize for Piping
The acting, chorus-singing, and dancing, of which so many performances were to be seen in the theatre, were all of educational value in their way, such as in the discipline of rehearsal, in the learning of parts, in the repression of self-consciousness and awkwardness, and the development of self-expression, and so on.
The farm exhibition, the garden, the kitchen, the blacksmith's shop, the house-repairing stall, among many others, showed the valuable results in technical training, that can be attained through giving boys the ambition to learn and work for themselves, instead of trying to drum knowledge into them.
The one short-coming to which I might draw attention was the want of a disciplinary hand on the onlookers at the boxing and wrestling. These contests were of really a very creditable order, and were naturally a very popular show with the thousands of young visitors to the exhibition. Every movement was followed with the greatest keenness by the onlookers whose cheers or groans showed how they were swayed by the doings of the performers. But it should have been otherwise. With a Master of Ceremonies properly appointed, the audience should have been kept in absolute quietness during the bouts. Apart from such attitude being fairer to the performers, it is the best possible lesson in selfrestraint for the lads to repress their personal feelings under a sense of discipline: it teaches them the elements of fair play, in giving neither combatant encouragement or depression, and it is an antidote to that which I look upon as one of the worst features of a crowd looking on at football, viz., the surrendering of one's own individual judgment to be swayed by the mass around one. For this is the way to hysterics and panic, and to being led without thinking for oneself—a road which our countrymen are too prone to follow just now.
I think the exhibit which struck outsiders the most forcibly was that of the Missioners', the Social Service work, where a humble home-interior was shown with the old woman being tended and helped by Boy Scouts. This appeared to many to be an ideal scene and they were apparently very surprised to hear that it merely represented what is in reality quite an active and wide-spread branch of Scout-work.
It gave an inkling of the truer religion that underlies the movement, the practice instead of the preaching which makes religion active and real in the boy's life. The doing of good turns to others is the base of all forms of religion, and its practice by the Scouts enables us to prove that we take no note of differences of class or creed.
The Rally, at which close on 25,000 boys were assembled for review by H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, was an inspiring display of good order, discipline, and loyalty.
Among the many striking features:—One was the solid rear rank behind the boys
Practising Gymnastics in Camp
In the ranks of the lads stood brother Scouts not only from Scotland and Ireland, but from Oversea Dominions, and from other lands. From far away Shanghai a smart, efficient patrol was present, while from Spain and France, Hungary and Sweden, and other Continental nations came contingents,
It needs no great stretch of imagination to see in this the promise of a closer bond between the future of our Empire across the Seas, and a stronger guarantee of future peace between the nations when their men begin to look upon each-other as members of one brotherhood instead of as hereditary enemies.