Training of Scouters




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--So That They May Become Craftsmen

"My advice to all Chiefs, young or old, is that whenever in doubt they should take counsel from their followers, since the lives of the latter may be endangered by a false step.

"Let us return to the art of leadership. It consists in holding every sense of one's body alert and thinking all the time of the needs of the herd. And the most important need of a herd is not food, nor drink. It is something entirely remote. What is that thing? Self-possession, without which there is no self- preservation.

"In one word the story of true leadership, whether amongst men or animal, is one of the gradual loss of self. Selflessness is the rock on which a leader's life is built. Egoism, vanity, fear should be as alien to the nature of a leader as life is to death."

DHAN GOPAL MUKERJI, The Chief of the Herd.

The need for the training of Scouters - the generic term that denotes all adult, warranted workers in the Movement - in knowledge and ability has been recognized right from the start

of the Association. Until 1919 that need was met by sporadic and isolated efforts; since that date every effort has been made to present to each and every Scouter some means of serving an apprenticeship in Scouting so that he can become a Scoutmaster-craftsman, bearing in mind that when a man, or woman, is leading boys, "the latter may be endangered by a false step."

There are, then, many Training Guilds in Scouting which enable a Scouter to serve his apprenticeship and gain knowledge and ability by learning of the experience of other Scouters and by being shown how to use his tools aright. One Scouter can belong to many of these Guilds without let or hindrance; every Scouter can belong to at least one; no Scouter can say - wherever he may be situated, however he may be circumstanced - that there is no Guild available for him to join.

What are the ways, then, in which "self-possession" or craftsmanship in Scouting can be acquired?

The Guild of Youth. Actual work with the boys themselves - whether they be Cubs, or Scouts, or Rovers, or Scouters (if these two last will only continue to regard themselves properly as boys) is the one way in which their leaders - be they Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Rover Scout Leaders, or Commissioners - can "take counsel from their followers" and learn to know them. Our Scouters are encouraged to visit other Packs, Troops and Crews and see for themselves how others set about a similar job to their own. This and association with their own followers gives them a knowledge of boyhood generally and of their own boys in particular and enables them more correctly to apply the principles and methods of Scouting to these latter.

The Guild of the Commissioner. The machinery of Scouting places in charge of a certain number of Scouters a Commissioner whose duty it is to be responsible for the training of Scouters and to supervise the training of all Scouts.

The successful District is the one in which the Commissioner looks upon himself as the Patrol Leader of his Scouters and fits himself out to be their leader, their guide, philosopher and friend. A Handbook of Training and various special Courses for Commissioners have been provided in order that Commissioners may, in their turn, have opportunities of fitting themselves out to be leaders. Experience has proved conclusively that not only the Commissioners themselves, but their Districts also and their Scouters generally have benefited by attendance on Commissioners' Courses.

However, the standard of knowledge of Commissioners has increased very considerably of late years so that there is very much less risk of their followers - the Scouters in their County or in their District - being endangered by a false step or by a false idea of the correct principles and methods of Scouting.

The Guild of the Association. The Scout Local Association brings together both the active and lay members in order that the Scout Groups in the locality may be encouraged and helped. Meetings, Scouters' gatherings, combined camps, competitions and rallies, all can be utilized in order to give more knowledge and experience. A Local Association and Group Committee can leave the Scouter more time for his Craftsmanship by relieving him of business and financial worries and by seeing that he has time to carry out his work of character training, and that other outside agencies are brought into co-operation. Many Associations are now helping by collecting a library of Scout Books and other literature for the use of their Scouters.

The Guild of Books. Literature as a means of training Scouters, and others, has been found of increasing value. This particular Training Guild has been increased and strengthened so that now there is in existence a series of books, pamphlets, etc., covering all the various branches, phases and more important activities of Scouting. The Scouter and other periodicals are members of this Guild.

The Guild of District Courses. District Courses continue to increase in numbers and usefulness. Many Counties lately have concentrated on District Rover Courses to great advantage. In some parts of the country, however, too little attention is paid to this means of training. In some cases it is diffidence on the part of District Commissioners who fail to recognize what they themselves can do till they try, and who frequently fail to realize that in one of their own Scouters in the District they have a man who can help them with their responsibility for the Training of Scouters.

The County Training Team of Akela Leaders and Deputy Camp Chiefs is always available to give advice and encouragement, and occasional active help, if required.

The Guild of Sea Scout Training. A special Guild has been established by the association of the Sea Scout and Training Departments at Imperial Headquarters in order to provide special facilities for the Training of Scouters connected with Sea Scout Groups. The R.R.S. Discovery will serve as a focusing point for all Sea Scout Training.

The Guild of Wood Badge Training. With the presentation of Gilwell Park to the Boy Scouts Association in 1919 a beginning was made with the consolidation and development of Schemes for the Training of Scouters. A start - possibly at the wrong end, but who can say? - with the introduction of Wood Badge Training. This has been firmly established and is recognized as the Training that Scouters should take up after they have served their apprenticeship in two or three of the other Guilds that have since been brought into being. This implies that the full benefits of this type of training can only be obtained after a certain amount of practical experience as a Scouter has already been obtained.

The Hall of the Guild of Wood Badge Training is at Gilwell Park, which incidentally acts as the laboratory for all Scouting's training schemes and for many of its practical activities.

Wood Badge Training is continually under revision in order that it may be in keeping with the needs of the Movement. The written Part I is revised every year, the practical Part II every three years. The different sections of Scouting - Pack, Troup and Crew - are all separately catered for, but at the same time stressed as parts of the one whole. Part II Courses - wherever they are held - are conducted along similar lines and with similar programs and activities: this makes for unity and strength.

The International Guild of Training. Gilwell Park has not only developed a unified system of training Scouters in Great Britain and Ireland. Its scope and its influence rapidly spread throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations until Wood Badge Training as now is conducted in every Dominion, India, and in every Colony or Possession or Protectorate where there are a sufficient number of Scouters to make its Courses possible. It has spread, too, throughout other parts of the world. 38 countries have sent Scouters to Gilwell Park. In 18 of these countries Wood Badge Training is conducted in co-operation with Gilwell Park. The International Training Team consists of over 400 members, of whom 150 work in the British Empire Oversea and 70 in other countries.

H.R.H. Prince Gustaf Adolf, President of the Swedish Scout Council and Chairman of the International Committee is a member of the Gilwell Park Training Group. The Camp Chief of Gilwell as head of this International Guild of Training has already visited Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Holland, Hungary, India, Norway, Palestine, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America, and is due for other visits as well.

Gilwell's Guild of Youth. Gilwell Park was presented for the dual purposes of Camping and Training. Although the provision of camping facilities for Scouts and Rovers is now one of its subsidiary functions it is not an unimportant one, since it ensures that at the centre of Training Scouts themselves are present in large numbers and so are not forgotten. They help unconsciously - in the laboratory work that is undertaken, and this association of Camping and Training, of Scouts and Scouters, is of real and lasting importance. The building of Training is founded on the solid rock of the Scouts themselves and not on the shifting sands of theory and adult opinions.

More Gilcraft Gleanings






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.