One Hundred Years

This morning was the centenary of Scouting celebrated by Scouts gathered at 8 AM local time around the world. The time and date chosen for the birth of Scouting wasn’t when some paper was signed, it was the first morning at the first camping trip. Baden-Powell wanted to do something less military for boys than the boy’s brigades and cadet corps springing up around England — he thought drill wasn’t particularly useful even in the army — so he ran an experiment at Brownsea Island. Two patrols of boys and a few adults off in the woods for a week. Give it a go. Well, it worked.

We started by blowing a kudu horn, as B-P did to start the day at Brownsea. Scouting is an odd mix of the fun parts of the military (comrades, running around in the woods, shooting) and British colonial accretions (the kudu horn, broad-brimmed hats, shorts and knee socks). Scouting in the US adds another layer of confused traditions like emergency service as a sort of a junior volunteer fire department and selling war bonds mixed with Earnest Thompson Seaton’s skills-not-ranks system based on his Native American studies. It is a glorious melting pot of tradition with a special relationship with England and I can see why it doesn’t immediately appeal to non-Anglo Americans. In the rest of the world, Scouting is a very big tent, with many local traditions and religions. But that is a different article.

We had six Scouts and a few adults here in Palo Alto and five of our Scouts are at the World Jamboree along with one of our leaders. Nearly a third of the troop was out for the centenary, either here or in the UK. It was a great moment of community with Scouts and Guides around the world. We welcomed the Palo Alto morning with an African horn and recited our promise of duty to God, country, others, and ourselves. And the Scouts got to try blowing the kudu horn after the ceremony. The one who plays the trumpet was way better than our designated adult.

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