Care of Countryside
UNEDITED RAW TEXT
CARE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
" Especially be careful to get leave from the owners of land in the neighborhood before you go on it. You have no right to go anywhere off the roads without leave, but most owners will give you this if you go and tell them who you are and
what you want to do." Scouting for Boys, p. i io.
THE injunction that heads this chapter applies chiefly to the Scoutmaster, who must carry it out both in letter and spirit. In planning out Wide Games which involve crossing private property he must see that the requisite permission is obtained well beforehand. As far as possible he should do this personally. If he employs another Scouter or a Patrol Leader to visit any landowner, the Scoutmaster should arm him with a courteously worded letter of authority. Apart from this preliminary permission, care should also be taken to see that owners are thanked after use has been made of their land. The camping motto--leave nothing behind save your thanks applies also to Wide Games, and, indeed, to any outdoor Scout activities which involve the use of others' property.
In these matters of care and courtesy the previous training of the Troop is essential, and it is the Scoutmaster's job to see that the whole Troop, not just the Patrol Leaders, are told how they should behave and what care they should take of the land they use.
In Yarn No. 9 the Chief Scout goes on to tell us: 26
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" When going over their land remember above all things :
I. To shut all gates after you.
2. To disturb animals and game as little as possible.
3. To do no damage to fences, crops, or trees."
All these three points should be elaborated. Scouts should realize that the object of gates is to keep stock out of certain fields as well as to keep stock in other fields. Country Troops will realize this, town Troops will not, unless they are told. The same applies to hedges and fences of all kinds, and to make gaps in them or break them down in any way is a most unscoutlike act, involving a certain amount of immediate damage, and a considerable amount of potential loss.
If the Scouts have any knowledge of Woodcraft they will the more readily appreciate a request not to disturb animals and game. The Scoutmaster should, however, by his choice of ground try and secure that there is but little chance of that taking place. The same care in regard to choice of ground applies to the question of crops, and all fields of standing crops must be placed out--of--bounds, entailing the forfeit of life to any Scout entering them on any pretext. I have still vivid memories of a farmer's words and actions when he found me--a child of under Cub age--playing hide--and--seek in his field of corn which was just ripe for cutting. Being the youngest of the party I was detailed out from amidst the corn to placate him. I didn't !
Scouts should be expected to exercise equal care on common land or on public rights of way and footpaths. This careful use of both private and public property should be the habit of all Scouts. We know how the countryside can be defiled. On a walk to--day I have seen the filthy remains of a fire right in the middle of a
broad roadway of ancient fame, now a grassy track. The party responsible was evidently a family party who arrived nearby by car on the evening of Guy Fawkes' night. The fire had been lit and stoked with A.A. Routes and Maps, the discarded cases of squibs lay here and there, and matches were here, there, and everywhere. The perpetrators of this outrage are probably superbly unconscious of the evil they have left behind them. Scouts are--not trained to counteract this folly as much as they might be, and Scouters should seize every opportunity to bring the point home. Incidentally, has anyone studied the floor of a room after a Scouters' Meeting -- It has a tale to tell which is not as a rule entitled " Good Example."
A special word is necessary in regard to the laying of trails. Great care must be exercised to see that the "sign" used in town or country is such as will not leave traces behind. The blazing of trees, for instance, sounds very adventurous and romantic, but can only be used in virgin country. It is wise to blaze a trail through unexplored jungle and forest, but the man or boy who attempts to do it in civilized parts is asking for trouble, and, I hope, will get it. Red Indians themselves did not go blazing trails every time they went for a walk. They made use of the sun and moon, stars and wind to guide them. An axe does not enter into the paraphernalia used to make a Scout trail, but a tin of phosphorescent paint might well be used to blaze a night trail.
Again when " sign " is scattered it should be of such a nature as can be collected by the Patrols following along the trail, or such that the birds can carry off, i.e. seeds, berries, etc. Chapter IX of Training in Tracking has something to say on the varieties of " sign " that can be utilized.
The Nature trail made by bending, or half--breaking,
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twigs and so on necessitates the exercise of considerable restraint. A good deal of quite unnecessary damage can be done both in laying a trail and in forcing one's way through undergrowth in other kinds of Wide Games. Trees and bushes should be treated with respect. Some Scouts going through a small copse can do as much damage as a herd of young elephants, but if they have any pride in being Scouts they should be able to go through the copse and leave hardly a trace. This needs talk, demonstration, and practice----all three ; the Scouters. should provide the first two, the Scouts can do the third ; but all three should enter into the Troop's training. A good deal of practice can be obtained in town if anyone is trustful enough to lend his garden for the purpose. A Patrol in line should be able to pass from one end of the garden to another without leaving a mark of their passage, no matter what shrubberies and flower--beds may be there as obstacles to their progress.
One very important point in regard to the use of the countryside for Wide Games is the necessity for quietness. This is a necessary element of stalking, as has already been mentioned, but is of more importance when animals and game are concerned. A landowner once showed a Troop of Scouts how to move quietly through a game covert without disturbing a bird. He then picked up a piece of tin and beat it. The Scouts of the Troop have never forgotten the lesson. They know that noise disturbs game. Talking obviously comes under the heading of noise, but it is not an uncommon occurrence to see a Scout treading delicately through a wood and carrying on a conversation with a companion at the same time. The sound of a human voice can cause as much disturbance and fright in a wood or on a common as the roar of a tiger might cause in one's back--garden.
Games in towns and games involving the use of roads and paths require of Scouts consideration for other people. The simple game of " Shop Window " (p. 135, Scouting for Boys) has been known to force passers--by, including women, off the pavement amongst the traffic, and that despite the fact that the Chief Scout has a lot to say on Courtesy to Women in Scouting for Boys (p. 225)-- When moving through streets Scouts should be particularly careful to see that they cause no hindrance to traffic or passers--by. In order to secure this it is best for them to work in pairs. Patrol formation can also be used, but a couple of Scouts working together is better for them and for others. At night still greater care is necessary, especially in ill--lit streets.
When working along or across country roads, first consideration must be paid to any others who may be using such roads, and the ordinary courtesies of traffic should be observed. Parties of Scouts working along the roads at night should carry a light (Rule 350)-- Scouters, and Patrol Leaders have to guard against collecting Troops or Patrols close to corners or sharp bends or at crossroads. If any number of Scouts are halted it should be at a place where they can stand or sit clear of the roadway itself. When moving a Patrol down a road Patrol formation should be adopted, or preferably, Indian file. Scouts moving in Indian file should normally face oncoming traffic and walk on the right hand side of the road, but I am aware that there are divergences of opinion on this point. The old practice of dividing the road, half moving on the right verge and half on the left, is not suitable for modern traffic.
One other point--a Scout is Courteous. An article in The Times on Good Manners in the Field ended with the sentence : " But even so there will be countless oppor--
CARE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE 31
tunities for each one of us to pay a large subscription in kind--so simple, so easy, so easily forgotten--to say good morning to others on the roads and in the fields."
The advice applies equally to our Wide Games, to all that we do in the open. Let us all--Scouters and Scouts ----set about our Scouting in the open with something of everyday politeness, of common courtesy. It is part of our Scouting, but we are apt to forget it in the excitement of a game. Similarly do not let us imagine that Care of the Countryside is a negative virtue; let us try and apply it in a positive way. If the opportunity for a Good Turn comes our way when out on a game, do not let us neglect it just in order to get on with the game ; let us see if we cannot do both. If the Good Turn to be done entails falling out of the game and so, seemingly, letting our side down, the orders of a Patrol Leader or Scouter should be taken. There should always be sufficient inter--communication on any Wide Game to allow of that being done.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.