E. E. Reynolds, Boy Scouts, 1944
B.-P. often said, "We are a Movement, not an Organisation." By it he meant two things; that there is plenty of latitude in Scouting for meeting local conditions and personal aptitude, and secondly that organisation is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.
Obviously some kind of Organisation must exist to prevent chaos, but the Boy Scouts have, on the whole, avoided becoming entangled in too much red tape. In fact it is true to say that the Scoutmaster has a wide field for exercising his own likes and dislikes and for developing his ideas and for experimenting. There is no doubt that this freedom of action has been a source of strength as it has prevented any stereotyped form of Scouting from being formed. It has, of course, its weaknesses since there is a wide variety in the quality of Scout work. The gains do, however, far outweigh the losses.
The organisation is based on the principle of decentralisation. The Headquarters works through the Counties, and they work through the Districts who in turn work through the Local Associations composed of a number of Groups.
The most important adult is the 'Scoutmaster; historically he came before the Commissioner whose job is not similar to that of an Inspecting Officer, but is more that of an adviser.
The Group, when complete, consists of a Wolf Cub Pack (ages 8- 11), a Scout Troop (11 - 18), and a Rover. Crew (over 18). Some Groups are attached to Churches, Schools, and other Institutions. These are known as Sponsored Groups and the authority concerned has the right to nominate the Scouters. A Group attached to a Church is therefore assured of a definite religious association, and the boys are encouraged to become active members of the Church. At first sight it would seem that there would be no place for a Scout Troop in a School, but experience shows that it can supply a kind of training in outdoor living and in resourcefulness which is beyond the scope of most schools.
A Group Committee is a valuable aid to the life of the Group; on this are representatives of the parents and this safeguards Group property and finance as well as supplying continuity if a Scouter has to give up through moving from the District, or for some other good reason.
Finance is always a problem in voluntary organisations. The principle in Scouting is that each unit looks after itself from Headquarters down to the Group. Lavish gifts have often proved dangerous, and the general rule of the Group earning its funds is sound. Various methods are adopted -such as concerts or dramatic entertainments, or work days when each Scout gets a job of work such as clipping a hedge, or weeding the garden, and hands over the proceeds to the Group. Sometimes it is difficult to find the money for uniforms, so these may be provided by the Group and then paid for by weekly subscriptions. Begging for funds is forbidden though most Groups have a few annual subscribers who are supporters without being active members.
There is indeed a big field in Scouting for the layman. The Local Association needs support not only by funds, but by the voluntary help of a chairman, treasurer and secretary. Then anyone who has some special skill can be used as an instructor for a hobby, or as an examiner for the appropriate badge. The more laymen who can be roped in for these jobs, the more can the Scouters devote themselves to their main business--the training of the boy.