Baden Powell was a true patriot. He was an accomplished soldier and founder of the Boy Scout movement. The Boy scout idea sprang from observing the boys of the Mafeking Cadet Force, children too young to fight who supported military operations as part of their own, separate organisation.
On his return to England Baden Powell was delighted to learn that his ideas gained some traction and he organised the first ever scout camp in 1907. The event was a success and the rest is history.
Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement had a dream. He wanted to help turn boys into men. He did so by teaching discipline, respect and ‘scout craft’ – a set of ideas based loosely around the Native American practices of ‘wood craft’. Then as now, countless boys and girls across the world learn the skills that will help fit them to take their place in the adult world. The Boy Scout movement, aliong with its sister movement, the Girl Guides is the domain for children with big dreams. It is not the domain of adults with low aspirations and hate-filled hearts. In short, it’s not for Biffers!
Last weekend a sorry bunch of wannabe soldiers tried their hand at camping out in Wales. They want us to believe that these hardened survivalists were there honing their skills in preparation for some imaginary resistance operation. They want us to think that they are the last best hope for the survival of Britain. Well, if that’s true, God help us all.
The truth is that this rather sad, sorry, bedraggled collection of middle-aged Walter Mitties is nothing more than a stain on the fine Welsh countryside. They’d be tragic if they weren’t so funny. Dressed in combat fatigues adorned with undeserved regalia they cut a comical sight, playing about with knives and pretending to know how to pitch the tent they bought in the Halfords sale the previous Thursday afternoon.
My youngest son is 10 years old. He’s been a cub for a few years now and is looking forward to graduating to the scouts soon. He’s been on camping trips and summer barbecues. He’s learned discipline and respect. He’s had fun running around the Cotswolds with his little friends and he’s earned more badges than I’d care to remember. I get to sew them on his increasingly theadbare sweater with depressing regularity.
I showed him the pictures of the Biffers’ survivalist weekend, out of context, of course. He’s too young to have his head filled with that sort of irrational hatred. I just downloaded the shots and asked him what he thought. He was confused at first. He didn’t recognise a single scout leader uniform. Then he decided they must be venture scouts. But no – that couldn’t be right either – they were making too many mistakes. Refreshingly for his poor old Mum he also wondered where all the girls had got to. Cubs and Scouts have moved on in the last one hundred years and the sexism of the past century has definitely been consigned to the history books – unless you’re a Biffer, of course.
The smallest member of our household then went on to explain at great length why the fire was wrong, why the tents were facing in the wrong direction, how rubbish the camp site itself was, why he wouldn’t expect these no-hopers to survive a week and how physically unfit they all seemed to his naïve little 10 year old eye.
He almost wet himself laughing when I informed him that these brave men were going to keep us safe when England is invaded. He took one look at the survival rations, explained how the nutrition balance was all wrong (I’ll take his word for it) and assured me that his Akela would never be so silly as to go camping with so much carbohydrate and so little protein. I’ve no idea if what he said makes nutritional sense because that’s not my strong suit but he seemed very sure of his ground.
I’d trust the word of my honest, respectful and kind-hearted little boy long before I’d rely on the lies of Biffers who really are old enough to know better. Maybe if Golding and Lomax had been Scouts they’d have learned something about integrity. Maybe they’d know how to make a half-decent job of camping out as well.
So that’s settled then. Scouting for boys is great for… well… erm… boys. Grown men playing soldiers – that’s a completely different matter!
Perhaps someone should give their heads a woggle!