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Be prepared

part 1

The webmaster as a cub.
"A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances."

Unmounted glass slide of five boy scouts in uniform in front of a tent at an encampment. They wear the original uniforms that were modelled after the U.S. army uniforms with the multi-pocket coat and the breeches with leggings. (c. 1910)

The Boy Scout movement was founded in Great Britain in 1908 by a cavalry officer Robert (later Lord) Baden-Powell. In that year he had written a book called ‘Scouting for Boys’, that described many games and contests that he had used to train his troops in scouting, and became very popular among the boys of Great Britain.


1. Lieut.-Gen. Baden-Powell, C.B. Gen. Baden-Powell is one of the favourites of the great British public, and especially of the younger portion of them, the British boys. They remember how bravely he defended the little South African town of Mafeking during the anxious days of the Boer war: and though those days are over, and Briton and Boer have shaken hands and are now the best of friends - he is still their hero, for has he not started the Boy Scouts' movement? Is he not their founder, their patron, their friend? Two years ago one had scarcely heard of the Scouts: to-day they number 150,000 in the United Kingdom alone, and the growth of the movement is equally remarkable in the Colonies - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa-as well as in Germany, France and Holland. Gen. Baden-Powell has set his heart. upon improving the boyhood of the nation, upon training them to become good patriots and good citizens, men leading healthy, wholesome God-fearing lives, a credit and a strength to their native land. And so we all wish success to the Boy Scouts, and are rather inclined to envy those fortunate few who have a chance to spend a fortnight in camp with Baden-Powell. This portrait of the General was taken in camp, and shows him in his campaigning outfit. The stick which he holds has an interesting story: it was taken from a Boer farm during the days of the war.

Baden-Powell's idea was that boys should organize themselves into small subgroups, of some seven boys, the so called patrols, under a boy leader. To become a scout a boy would promise to obey the scout law which included chivalrous behaviour and encouraged to do a good deed every day. The symbols of the scouts include the handshake with the left hand, the fleur-de-lis badge, and the motto 'Be Prepared'.

Though B.P. had intended his ideas to be used by youth organisations in Great Britain only, the Boy Scouts quickly spread to other countries. By the late 20th century there were Boy Scout organisations in 110 nations. Since 1920 international meetings, called 'jamborees' have been held every four years. At the first Jamboree in London B.P. was given the title 'chief-scout of the world'. In 1937 the Jamboree was held for the first time in the Netherlands, in Vogelenzang; the second was in Dronten, 1995.

In 1910 Baden-Powell founded the Girl Guides in Great Britain in response to the requests of girls who were interested in the Boy Scout movement. Though the scouting movement was initially intended for boys from 11 to 15, he founded a parallel organization for younger boys, the Wolf Cubs in 1910.

Photo: Robert Baden-Powell, portrayed at a 3.25 inches square photographic magic lantern slide.

Boer War, Colonel Baden-Powel, Founder of the Scouts. Slide 8.2 x 8.2 cm.

2. Hoisting the Flag. The Scouts are to be true patriots, and so the national flag is hoisted over the camp, and, as it flutters upon the breeze, is saluted with all due honour and respect. But does the General want to foster the military spirit-to train an army of juvenile soldiers? By no means. There are peace Scouts as well as war Scouts, he says, and he believes in this free, open-air life, under discipline and with every incentive to self-reliance and self-control as the very best means to foster the spirit of good citizenship. Raleigh, and Drake, and Capt. John Smith, in the days of Elizabeth; Capt. Cook and Lord Clive; Ross and Franklin amid the Arctic snows; Speke, and Baker, and Livingstone, cutting their way through the forests of tropical Africa: these are the examples the General holds up for imitation - pioneers of empire, but good citizens, good men, peace Scouts.

3. Morning Toilet. The morning toilet starts the daily life of the Camp: it's a simple operation, if an important one. A bit of soap, a towel, a bucket of water from the spring, and there you are. If you haven't brought a tooth-brush, make one with a dry stick, frayed out at the end. That's wrinkle No.1; it's marvellous what a lot of things you'll learn in a Scouts' Camp! You'll learn the value of personal cleanliness - the value of tidiness. Listen to the General: "The Camp ground should always be kept clean and tidy, not only to keep flies away, but also because if you go away to another place, and leave an untidy ground behind you, it gives so much important information to enemy's Scouts. For this reason Scouts are always tidy, whether in camp or not, as a matter of habit. If you are not tidy at home you won't be tidy in camp; and if you're not tidy in camp, you will be only a tenderfoot and no Scout." Isn't that good advice?

4. Cutting Wood. We want wood for our Camp-fire, poles for our huts or tents, or other purposes. So off we go to the woods to cut it - of course, having obtained permission first. Every Scout should know how to use an axe or bill-hook for chopping down small trees and branches. You think it's very easy, and so it is, when you know how - like a good many other things. But, "it is a matter of practice to become a woodcutter, and you have to be very careful at first, lest in chopping you miss the tree, and chop your own leg." There's another wrinkle for you. And whilst you are in the woods, the General will tell you all sorts of yarns about the Scouts, red, and white, and black, whom he has met on the frontiers of the Empire, of men lost in the woods, and how to find your way by noticing landmarks, and to tell in what direction the wind is blowing by throwing up little bits of dry grass, or holding up your wet thumb and noticing which side feels coldest. Or you may learn something of how wild animals are tracked by their spoor, or of the trees and plants which grow around you - for all these things belong to "Woodcraft," and that is one of the Scout's accomplishments.
5. Provisions for the Camp. Well, we have got our wood, and return to Camp. Hooray! here's the provision wagon: now for dinner. We learn some of the mysteries of Camp-cooking. "The three B's of life in Camp are the ability to cook bannocks, beans, and bacon." Bannocks are cakes or buns cooked in the hot ashes of the Camp-fire-but if we want real bread, we must have some sort of oven - an old earthenware pot or tin box, the fire piled over it, or a clay oven more or less properly built. Or we may twist a strip of dough round a stout club, carefully peeled and heated, and stuck into the ground close to the fire to toast. Only we mustn't let our bread burn in either case, and of course Scouts never do let it burn. As for our bacon, we may fry it or boil it, and we shall certainly boil our beans and our potatoes, if we have any, and make some tea in our tin "billy"; and what more do you want in the way of a square meal? But these are only the rudiments of Scout cookery: cooking meat in a coating of clay, making "hunter's stew," or roasting "Kabobs " - these are the higher developments of the art: we shall learn all about them in Camp with Baden-Powell.

6. Quarter Staff. After dinner, the Scouts' poles come into play, and there's a bout at the good old English game of Quarter-Staff, capital exercise for the muscles --- and good training for eye and hand. The after part of the day will be filled up with some scouting game: "deer-stalking" for instance. One boy is sent off as the "deer" with half-a-dozen tennis balls in his bag. Twenty minutes later four "hunters" start off after him, following his tracks, and each armed with a tennis ball. The deer, going a mile or two, will hide and endeavour to ambush his hunters, and so get them within range; each hunter struck with his ball is counted gored to death; if, on the other hand, the deer is hit by three of their balls, then he is killed.

That's just a sample of the many jolly games which have been provided by the General to amuse, and at the same time instruct his Scouts - it's a lesson in tracking-a part of the bigger subject of "observation," and the value of training this faculty of observation is very apparent to all of us.


Personal memories:

When I was a young boy, we’re talking about the fifties, I, like so many of my friends, was a member of the Dutch ‘padvinderij’ (scouting). We met each other every Saturday afternoon in our club house, actually a converted garage, and submitted ourselves to the sometimes rather remarkable ceremonies.


For instance at the beginning of the meeting we had to run from every nook and cranny of the club house to the middle of the room, where we had to strike up the yell 'Akela, wij doen ons best, wij dob, dob, dob, dob, dob!' (Akela we do our utmost, we dou, dou, dou, dou, dou!), while we squatted in a wide circle around the leader. I don’t remember what we did the rest of the afternoon.

In those days we still wore a uniform, the young ones, the 'welpen' (cubs) had a small green cap on their head, the older ones, de 'verkenners' (scouts), a hat with a broad brim like the ones we otherwise only saw in movies about the Canadian mounted police. The leaders of the cubs had odd names like 'Cheel', 'Baloo' and 'Baghera', the names of leading characters in Kiplings’ Jungle Book, We wore a triangular scarf around our neck; every group using its own colours, and the cubs as well as the scouts always wore shorts, summer and winter alike, though the 'shorts' of the leaders often reached far over the knees. It was a rather ridiculous sight, yet it came into fashion when I was older. However I always flatly refused to buy such a pair of that 'Scoutmaster’s shorts'.

As a Boy Scout you were expected to do (at least) one good turn every day. As an example was given to help an old lady cross the street. There will have been a lot of old women at that time who were just loitering for a moment on the side of the road and were 'helped' reluctantly.

7. A Camp Loom. There's no end to the useful information we pick up during the daily life of the camp. Look at this Camp-loom, for instance. You want a spring-mattress? All right - collect dry bracken, fern, grass, heather, straw, and so on, and then to work. Drive a row of stakes, 2 ft. 6 in. wide firmly into the ground: opposite to them, at a distance of 6 or 7ft., plant another row, or two stakes and a crossbar, as in the picture. Connect your two rows of stakes with stout cords, carrying the continuation of the cords back over No.1 row for some 5ft. extra, and there fasten them to a loose crossbar or " beam." This beam is then moved up and down at slow intervals by one Scout, while the remainder lay bundles of bracken or straw, &c., in layers alternately under and over the stretched strings, which are thus bound in by the rising and falling of the beam. With this loom you can also make grass or straw mats, with which to form tents or shelters, walls or even carpets.

8. Round the Camp Fire. Then in the evening twilight, we gather round the clasp fire and listen to yarns from Baden-Powell. He talks of the boy Scouts of Mafeking; of tracking and spooring; of reading "sign" and the value of deduction; of wild animals and their ways; of life on the African Veldt, or in the backwoods; of the stars above us, and the grass beneath our feet; of endurance, and chivalry, and life-saving-of our duty to God and man. "Religion," says he, " is a very simple thing : 1st. To believe in God. 2nd. 'To do good to other people." We feel that he is practicing what he preaches, and thoroughly deserves the letters of thanks that he receives from his Scouts when Camping-days are over. Hear what one of them, a working boy, says: "The most important thing that a great many boys need to learn is to look at the bright side of things and to take everything by the smooth handle. I myself found that a great lesson, and I shall never find words enough to thank you for teaching me it. I have already found it a great help even in everyday life."



9. Signalling. The Scout's life is mainly campaigning, or life in the open, and signalling is a very useful branch of knowledge in this connection. So our Boy Scouts learn how to signal for long distances by means of fires - smoke fires by day, flame fires by night - also by means of the signal codes of the Morse and semaphore systems. In the former of these - the "dot and flash" system - the letters are represented by waving a flag either slowly or rapidly; in the latter, by waving your arms at different angles to each other. Signals are also given by means of the whistle which every Scout carries on his lanyard, by bugle call, and - by the distinctive flags carried by the patrols - the flags which mark – them as belonging to the "Ravens," or the "Owls," or the "Lions," or the "Kangaroos," as the case may be. Even the Scout's pole is pressed into the signal service, and has its meaning when held in various positions. There are also some recognized signs-arrows, circles, etc.- to be marked on the wall or on the ground, which mean "Gone home," "This path not to be followed," and so on.

10. A Patrol on the March.
  Let us join a patrol of Scouts on the march. We are a party of six, besides the patrol leader – a cheery little party - and we smile and whistle as we go along, for that is a part of Scout Law. It is written in the eighth article: "A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train, or someone treads on your favourite corn - not that a Scout ought to have such things as corns - or under any annoying circumstances, you should force your self to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right." So off we start, our patrol flag waving merrily before us; we cross a bridge, and get out into the open country, carefully noting land marks as we go along, distant hills; church towers, and nearer objects, such as peculiar buildings, trees, gates, rocks, etc. By-and-bye, we shall have to find our way hack, and then this knowledge will be useful.

Personal memories:

The scouts had their own rituals too. We were supposed to shake hands with other scouts using our left hand, and that while my teacher did her utmost to learn me writing with my right hand years before. We regularly had to fall in lined up, armed with a long stick which was, as we learned, suitable for everything. One could build a hut with it and…. eh…….. build a bridge with it, well, very useful anyway.


We had a Patrol Leader (PL) and an Assistant Patrol Leader (APL) and the patrols were named after birds, like Falcons and Blackbirds. My PL was named Erik Zilverentand (Eric Silvertooth). That could have been a contrived name in this 'between-fantasy-and-reality-world', but it was real.


Neither do I remember how we spent our afternoons during my time as a scout. I suppose we…… eh…. built huts. Or bridges.


Series of Dutch post stamps, published on the occasion of the World Jamboree 1937 in the Netherlands.

11. Scaling a Wall. As we cross a common, we come across a larger body of Scouts; they are working in a different direction to ourselves, and make a dash for a wall on our right. Over they go, helter-skelter, and are soon lost to sight in the woods beyond. It's the good old game of "Hare and Hounds " - only the Scouts call it "Following the Trail." The hare is somewhere in advance, but he has certainly gone this way; there are signs of his trail in the shape of some scraps of paper just this side of the wall. We march on, and presently arrive at our rendezvous, where we meet a few more fellows who will join our patrol for a game of "Scout meets Scout." Just this side of the hill which lies away to the left another patrol has assembled, and is working towards us. The patrol which first sees the other will win, so now we must advance warily.

12. Through the woods. We cross a stretch of country broken up with rocks and heather, and creep cautiously from one shelter to another. A Scotch fellow has joined us, he wears a kilt instead of "shorts" like the rest of us. Now we are through the bracken and among the trees of the wood beyond. Tread lightly - the snapping of a dry twig may betray us to the other side if they have got into this wood. Hide! hide! Behind the tree trunks. Evidently they are not here, for we are through the little wood and have reached the open fields beyond. On we go at the "Scout's pace," i.e:, walking and running alternately from one point of cover to another.

13. Look before you Leap. We come to a little stream which we have to cross. "Look before you leap!" - it's a good thing we did, or some of us would have got a ducking. This brook will not check our advance, our poles soon help us across - but it reminds us of a talk about bridges in our last Camp Fire Yarn. Suppose we had wanted to make a bridge? " In India, in the Himalaya mountains, the natives make bridges out of three ropes stretched across the river and connected together every few yards by V-shaped sticks, so that one rope forms the footpath and the other two make the handrail on either side. They are jumpy bridges to walk across, but they take you over and they are easily made." We've got some bits of string among us, but they wouldn't go very far even for a bridge like that. And we have not got an axe to fell a tree - that's another way. However, we don't want a bridge this time - we're over; and the other patrol is in hiding just on the other side! They see us before we have time to shelter, so we have to admit ourselves beaten at "Scout meets Scout." Never mind, better luck next time.

14. Taking Shelter. Of course, when you are campaigning you have to take things as they come. The sun does not always shine upon the Scout any more than He does upon other people, so when you get caught in a shower you don't grumble, but seek shelter under a hedge or a haystack, or perhaps under a railway bridge, like this - and there you grin and bear it - or whistle and smile, like a true Scout, until the clouds roll by and the sun comes out again. Or perhaps you think of the Scout's motto, "Be prepared," and wish you had brought your macintosh-especially if the rain is obstinate, and won't stop, as is sometimes the case. But who minds a few drops of rain, anyhow? Certainly not the Scout.

15. Tea Time. The first essential for getting some tea is to have a fire to boil the kettle, or the "billy." Can you light a fire - not in the kitchen grate - but in the open, and without setting fire to the grass or bush around it? Many bad bush-fires have been caused by young tenderfoots fooling about with blazes which they imagined to be camp fires. Remember then in the first place to cut away or burn all bracken, heather, grass, etc., round the fire; and do this carefully, a little at a time, and have branches of trees or old sacks ready with which you can beat it out again at once when it has gone far, enough. And as to lighting the fire itself, this is how to do it, according to Gen. Baden-Powell: "Remember to begin your fire with a small amount of very small chips or twigs of really dry dead wood lightly heaped together, and a little straw or paper to ignite it; about this should be put little sticks leaning together in the shape of a pyramid, and above this bigger sticks similarly standing on end. When the fire is well alight bigger sticks can be added, and, finally, logs of wood." There's a little rhyme in the book called "Two Little ' Savages," which puts the thing very nicely:

"First a curl of birch bark as dry as it can be,
Then some twigs of soft wood dead from off a tree,
Last of all some pine knots to make a kettle foam,
And there's a fire to make you think you're sitting right at home."

Now we can get our tea, and jolly refreshing it is, when one's fagged and tired.

About the slides on this page:

The Boy Scouts: Three sets of the Junior Lecturer series numbered 782/784 entitled 'Boy Scouts' (The three parts are entitled: In Camp with Baden Powell - Campaigning - Scout Law and Chivalry). Original readings.
The Junior Lecturers Series was produced by W. Butcher & Sons, London (1870-1906) and the slides were sold as three sets of eight, each in a cardboard box, for about 3/6 per set. Sizes 3.25" square.

Cartoons: Some slides of a set of magic lantern slides, all with a humorous Scouting theme. The pictures tell the story of little Tommy when he joined the Scouts and went off to camp, all in full colour. 3.25" square.
16. Scouts' War Dance. The Scout, as we have seen, is encouraged to whistle; he is also called upon to sing and dance. His war dance is a great sight. The Scouts are arranged in a circle and slowly move round, singing the "Ingonyama" song and stamping in unison on the long notes. In turn they advance into the centre of the circle and go through a war dance, showing how they have tracked and fought one of their enemies, or stalked and killed a wild buffalo, the chorus going on all the time, now soft, now louder, as the dancers get more excited. Here are the words:

Leader: "Een gonyâma - gonyâma."
Chorus : "Invooboo,
Yah bô! Yah bô! Invooboo."

The meaning is :
Leader; "He is a lion!"
Chorus: "Yes ! he better than that : he is a hippopotamus!"

No doubt this is supposed to be a great compliment; anyway, the war dance of the Scouts, seen in the fitful light of the camp fire, is just the thing to end up a day's campaigning.

Beautiful slide with the portrait of Lord Baden-Powell. The slide measures 3.25"x 3.25" (8.2 cm x 8.2 cm) and is signed 'Photo by Elliott & Fry'.
Part 2.........
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