As a Boy Scout and now a Rover myself, it was with regret and sadness i read about the death of 4 Alaskan Boy Scout Leaders. They were killed when a power line fell on them at the ongoing US National Jamboree in W. Virginia.
Scouting for me has been a way of life. I am a third generation scout, with my grandfather, and later all uncles, and my dad leading the way. My sister Mehernaaz, today is actively involved in Girl Guiding, and soon shall become a Himalaya Wood Badge Holder, a very prestigious honour and rank in Scouting. We belong to the Sethna’s 18th West Bombay Scout Group. The 18th West is India’s and probably the world’s oldest continuously running scout group. Started in 1914, it has seen generations of boys pass through it, joining as cubs and then going on to scouts, rover, and scout leaders.
For most people in India, and here in the US, scouting is some activity, they were asked to do for a few years in their early teens and then forgotten.
In an open scout group, where you join voluntarily, you are a member for life. It’s said “once a scout, always a scout”.
Sea Scout Master Soli R. Daroona gives a very apt description of what scouting is…
“.. Through Scouting we fill the boy’s spare time, we train him in leadership and citizenship; we teach him to be self-reliant, honest and loyal. In short by Scouting we make a man out of a boy, a man full of character, a man who will lead the nation tomorrow in one field or another…”
In today’s world of TV and video games and other distractions, scouting is losing its hold. Many famed troops in Bombay and all over India have shut down, because they cant get more and more boys to join and become members. A lot of the techniques and training methodology is the same as it was laid down by the founder Lord Robert Baden Powell [BP] in 1907 in his seminal book “Scouting for Boys”.
Personally, I owe a lot of what I am today to scouting, and to the wonderful scout masters who spent a lot of time and effort for the movement. Years of amazing memories, opportunity to travel and see the country and the world, attending jamborees, and making life long friends like Homiar Hathiram and others, is something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
In today’s world, Scouting holds a lot of significance. It teaches young boys (and girls) to be tolerant, understanding, self-reliant, disciplined and fair. Skills like cooking, mapping, first-aid, backwoodsmanship, signalling and many others, are taught to young boys and they come in handy in later life in ways that are unthinkable when taught.
Scouting as an activity does not need a lot of money. A lot of the work is voluntary. It could be the perfect grass-roots movement for troubled countries around the world, and something that the UN and UNESCO should look into.
In recent times, the Boy Scout Movement has been embroiled in a lot of unnecessary controversy here in the US. It is publicity the movement does not need.
Thus as the Jamboree opens today, the world scout movement, has lost 4 wonderful members. As BP would say they have “Gone Home”.
Some Scouting Links