Scouting is Simple

As I have been digging into my copy of Aids to Scoutmastership the last couple days, I have become more and more a fan of both Scoutmastership and of Baden-Powell.
There is a chapter in the book called “Scouting is Simple”… here it is:

To an outsider Scouting must at first sight appear to be a very complex matter, and many a man is probably put off from becoming a Scoutmaster because of the enormous number and variety of things that he thinks he would have to know in order to teach his boys. But it need not be so, if the man will only realise the following points:

  1. The aim of Scouting is quite a simple one.
  2. The Scoutmaster gives to the boy the ambition and desire to learn for himself by suggesting to him activities which attract him, and which he pursues till he, by experience, does them aright. (Such activities are suggested in Scouting for Boys).
  3. The Scoutmaster works through his Patrol Leaders.

And yes ladies and gentlemen, it is just that simple.  I think the message of the last couple days and weeks has been leading to this thought.. keep it simple.
To many well-meaning committee members, district folks, and those that feel the need at the council level to get into Troop business, they have clearly not read Aids to Scoutmastership.
The role of the district and council are not to get into troop affairs.  The Aim of Scouting is to develop Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.  That is all Troop and Patrol business.  The Council and District are there to support the units when needed.. not to replace the Troops annual planning (boy led) it is also there for administrative functions as a ‘go between’ to the National organization.
So far as giving the boys the ambition and desire to learn.  Once again.. Troop stuff.  Providing opportunities at the council and district level does not promote desire and ambition.  This has to occur in the context of the Patrol.  Troop guides, Patrol Leaders, and Senior Patrol leaders that have been trained to provide purpose, direction, and motivation, for the unit to be the best it can be.  Again… Troop stuff.
And finally.. and my favorite!!!!  Working the Patrol method.  In all its pain and agony, its fun and success, its trial and error.  The Patrol is where Scouting happens.  It is that simple.
So, as BP says.. Scouting is Simple.  Don’t complicate it.  If your unit is not keeping it simple, it may be time to evaluate what’s going on in it.
Keep the conversation going.. let us know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. Simple but it hinges on the quality of the patrol leaders. Sometimes they are less effective or dedicated than we would like and the program gets diluted.


    1. Ahhhhh… but Lou.. that’s when the program gets good. Leaders are not born.. they are made and quality Patrol leaders need to be groomed. Leadership development happens when you get marginal Patrol leaders to start thinking, acting, and doing leadership. I see this time and time again with our new Scout Patrols. They come in after cross over and know nothing, but after 6 months with their Troop Guide and training, they still are timid, but at least will take responsibility. Once they progress through the program, that 1st year Scout that knows nothing will soon become a Troop Guide and then SPL. Diluting the program? I would suggest that is what makes the program… the program. Like I said.. it’s often times ugly, but that is the beauty of it. It is unfair to expect to much from a 1st year Patrol leader, it is fair to expect more from him in years 3 and 4. And if we do that, then the program will right itself.
      Lets not take way the fact that there are Scoutmasters out there that are will to teach, coach, train, and mentor these young along. Using Guided Discovery they make the program happen. Simple.


  2. Simple is Good.
    I think one area in which the council plays a key role is providing comprehensive, quality training for the scoutmaster staff of troops. The troop committee has a responsibility to ensure their scoutmaster staff are trained, understand the program, and deliver Scouting. Occasionally, a troop will offer some program that has devolved from being passed down from scoutmaster to scoutmaster over the generations in a closed environment. The program gets ‘diluted’, or stagnant, not due to quality of scouts, but due to scoutmaster guidance. Using unit commissioners is a great way to cross-check your unit’s style, traditions, operations against what should be happening.


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