From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Scouting’s roots are found in ‘peace scouts’

by Father Terence Tully, for the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 18, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

The founder of the world Scout Movement, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, called his youth “peace Scouts” because he was a military man and knew the need there was for an army to have its own scouts to find and report information about the enemy. These military scouts often worked individually, alone. They needed to know where they were located in open country, and how to survive in a wilderness, how to travel to a destination and how to get back again.

A characteristic of B.P. as a teacher, was his stories and games that would attract young soldiers, and make learning attractive. He was ready to use this method to work with boys in Scouting. “Camp Fire Yarn No. 22” is a chapter in Baden-Powell’s book Scouting for Boys. It speaks of the medieval knights who were devoted to God and religion.

“And so it is with peace scouts,” he writes. “Wherever they go they love the woodlands, the mountain, and the prairies” as wonders created by God.

These peace scouts, unlike their military counterparts, do not gather and deliver information to defeat enemies, but rather to help other people at all times which the Scouts promise to do in the Scout Oath.

The most striking instance I ever heard of Peace Scouts at work in midst of savage warfare came from a story about the 1937 World Scout Jamboree in Vogel-enzang, the Netherlands. I told the story in this column in the Nov. 16 Inland Register. Thousands of Scouts from countries around the world heard the theme song countless times and remembered its lesson of enduring international friendship.

The Test

Allied prisoners of war in World War II were doing slave labor for their Japanese captors in Burma when some of them heard a prison guard hum or whistle the Jamboree theme song over and over again. Some of the prisoners had been Scouts at the Jamboree and now recognized the melody they learned so well at the Jamboree several years before. The melody crossed the language barrier and crossed the barrier of prison rules which forbade any slight contact with the prison guards. This Japanese guard, himself a former Jamboree Scout, repeated the melody countless times and may have saved the lives of many prisoners by giving them more rest, more water, and other helps as they worked in jungle heat and exhaustion.

The story survived because one of the prisoners was a journalist who published it after the war. I wonder how many major good turns of Scouting have been done under similar circumstances, but no one was at hand to write it down and publish it.

The Catholic Church is international. Scouting is international. I hope these institutions, which in many places work together, can pray and exemplify friendship even in countries that have been contending for centuries and sometimes become violent.

Bishop’s recognition of Scouts receiving emblems

Bishop William Skylstad will confer religious emblems on Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Camp Fire Boys and Girls, on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 3 p.m., in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1115 W. Riverside Ave. in Spokane. Refreshments will be served afterward in the Cathedral hall.

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