By E. E. REYNOLDS
There are some five million Boy Scouts in the world to-day, and about three million Girl Guides. They are to be found in all countries where organisations for training boys and girls are allowed liberty of action and are not suppressed in favour of a State Youth scheme.
How did all this happen? It was not achieved by propaganda from this country where the Movement was founded by Baden-Powell in 1908. His genius has led him to select just those activities and methods which appeal to boys and girls everywhere; men and women of other countries saw how the Movement captured the youth of this country—they went home and started Boy Scouts and Girl Guides; some soon found themselves, to their surprise, at the head of rapidly
growing organisations. The first country, outside Great Britain and the Dominions, to start Boy Scouts, was Chile, and South America has developed the Movement strongly.
It seemed as though Scouting would reach all lands, but there have been setbacks. Germany, for instance, never established a genuine Boy Scout Move. rnent which could be recognised as having the same principles as other countries. In Russia, the Movement was steadily progressing up to 1917; for several years it carried on, but in 1922 was suppressed in favour of the Government-sponsored Pioneers. In Greece a healthy Boy Scout Association was suppressed in 1939 under the Metaxas Government. Here a remarkable revival has come about with the aid of British Scoutmasters and others stationed in the country. Plans for geeing the Movement were made by exiled Greek leaders during the war. Scoutmasters are being trained as rapidly as possible, but the boys are clamouring to become Boy Scouts or Wolf Cubs and they are being formed wherever adults can meet their needs.
STRIKING STORY An even more striking story conies from Italy. The Jubilee Year of 1925 was full of hope for Scouting. Some 10,000 Boy Scouts from all continents gathered in Rome—they included a large contingent from this country. They were received in audience by the Holy Father, Pius XI, who encouraged them to continue with their training as Scouts but, above all, not to forget that they were Catholic Boy Scouts. Alas, the following year saw the dissolution' of the Italian Boy Scouts in layoue of the Mille. Occasionally one of the former Scoutmasters would visit an internatiopal Jamboree and so maintain a slight contact, but 20 years is a long time and no one dated hope that the idea of Scouting had survived two decades of Fascist training. Yet the Miracle happened.
Some of the Scoutmasters in 1926 bad sufficient hope in the vitality of the Movement to store up their Troop flags and badges. As the years passed, that hope must have seemed a delusion. Yet, immediately liberation became a fact in Sicily, the old ideas began to put forth new life. It was, for instance, a remarkable scene on St. George's Day, 1944, in Palermo Cathedral when Cardinal La vitrano handed back the Scout flags which had been stored there for 18 years.
The larding or the liberating forces on the mainland released the same urge to re-start Scouting, and to-day the Movement is once more to be found in all parts of Italy. On St. George's Day of this year the Boy Scouts of Rome broadcast over the Vatican wireless the following message:
" Italian Catholic Scouts, newly reborn into free life, united in 890 Troops on St. George's Day, send their best wishes to brother Scouts the world over. From Rome, city of martyrs and heroes, we Scouts receive the ceaseless message of peace which the Holy Father repeats to the convulsed world. Uniting with Scouts of all nations, in the great tasks of serving the aims of peace, truth, and prosperity, may God help us!"
We may hope that it may soon be possible for Boy Scouts of this country to journey again to Rome and meet their Italian comrades.
DURING THE OCCUPATION
Germany's occupation of country after country meant the attempt to suppress Scouting. Property was confiscated and handed over to the Hitler Jugend. But that did not stop Scouting. Uniforms could not be worn and meetings were banned, yet the boys got round the difficulties; indeed the real touch of danger seems to have acted as a stimulus once the first sense of defeat had been overcome. Scouts met in secret and even camped in out of the way places. In Alsace, for instance, one Troop kept together and got out into the woods for practical Scouting and games; they even took their flag with them. It was divided into three pieces, each piece being given to a Scout who could stuff it into his pocket at the first sign of danger.
Some Scouts helped to get food out to resisters; others spread about B.B.C. news. Their practical experience of woodcraft proved useful not only to the boys but to men who had been Boy Scouts. All the time they clung to the hope that some day, somehow, Scouting would revive. And this revival has been on a great scale; it is too early yet to get exact figures; the indications arc, however, that numbers have been increased enormously in countries such as France, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Denmark.
Now all arc eagerly looking forward
to the Jamboree next year in France, This was due to have been held in 1941, for these international camps are arranged at intervals of four years. The last was in Holland in 1937--the last at which B.-P. himself was present. It will seem strange without him, but we can rejoice that the Movement be so well founded has come out of the six years of stress and strain even 17001'0 firmly rooted than ever in the soil of free countries.