After traveling through different countries and talking to people I quickly realized the misconception of the scouts as an organization. How many knots did they teach you at this time? – that’s the usual question, but it’s much more. The scouts have had a big impact on my early education, teaching me essential things like socializing with the same age, independence, and of course contact to nature.
How did it all begin?
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell is his name, and yes, as a kid we were learning his full name by heart. In the first scouting groups, we actually made games out to remember the full name. The story goes that after Baden-Powell came back from his deployment in South Africa under the British army, he decided some skills acquired could be useful for children to learn early in life. Therefore, he started a movement called the boy scouts in 1907. In 1910, together with his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, the movement turned into female accepting scouting group.
Interestingly, the scout movement later inspired a brainwashing method used by Nazi’s in World War II. In 1926, the name Hitler-Jugend, Bund Deutscher Arbeiterjugend (“Hitler Youth, League of German Worker Youth”) was used for the first time. The kids were offered camping and hiking at first to start their interest. Later this would change into a more military-based training. It was here where the youngsters would become young loyal soldiers that would later fight for Nazi Germany. Additionally, in 1935, the scout movement was banned from Germany.
How many knots do you really learn?
The main goal of scouts isn’t learning knots. It is more thought of as a group for kids, teenager or young adults to meet and learn from each other or just become friends in the meantime. There are certain steps you go through and divisions that are made.
It all begins with the first age group from 8 until 11 years. Boys and girls are divided. The main focus here is to bring the boy in touch with nature and also just learn to interact with other kids. We would go on weekend trips in the surrounding area where we would camp and/or hike.
The next step into teenage life is from 11 until 14. Boys and Girls are still divided. It was here were most long-lasting life impacts are present. During this time, kids may start distancing themselves from their parents. The advantage of scouting here is that you meet weekly under adult’s supervision to hang-out or plan your trips together. We started to go further away from home on our trips. The camps were activity loaded from kayaking, rafting, climbing down a dam wall or walking through caves in France.
15 to 18 years of age is an important part of everyone’s life. Slowly boys and girls start to be interested in each other, that is why the groups are no longer divided. The good thing is that adults are still supervising the activities which lower the worries of the parents. Somehow, destinations become less important in this age but friendships are formed more strongly. The good thing, the divisions that sometimes naturally occur in school are lifted in the scouts. Since people are somewhat forced to hang-out together kids from different areas are together. Differences are analyzed in the group and discussed.
Above 18 years olds can either continue to participate actively as a leader in the youngsters or just practicing what they have been doing since the beginning.
What’s the big deal?
So what’s so special about it, you might ask. For me, it was a life-changing experience. Growing up with a group of people that I knew had similar interests unrelated to sports or school: Nature. Every age group has its own values to be taught. All throughout the scouting, a spiritual undertone is given. Depending on the religious feeling of the leaders but for us it was mostly about different believes or events. I heard many stories about how one man can encourage others or how every link in a chain is important to keep to the engine running. It was here where I learned most of my critical thinking, and were my open-mind to travel was born.
With the age of 13, I walked through Denmark in a group of same-aged camping in peoples backyards. This gave me the courage not only to go and start traveling but also to take decisions in life. I believe that most of my friends that were with us in the scouts could say that one of their strengths is thinking out of the box.
All times prepared and a good way//Allzeit bereit und Gut Pfad.