By Sir Henry DIGBY-BESTE
RECENTLY I spent a most pleasant and instructive weekend at the Soli House Youth Hostel at Stratford-on-Avon. About 40 of us, Scouters, Guiders and Cub Mistresses gathered together to undergo a Duty to God course. At first this would seem to belie the term a pleasant weekend, but in fact, it turned out to be two days of fun.
The outlook of the general public to Scouting is one of benevolent interest. They know it is a good movement liked by boys and, to a certain extent, instructive, and they all agree that Scouting is educative but it may come as a surprise to many Catholics that Scouting is far more than that, in fact it is a basic form of Catholic action.
Baden-Powell regarded what has become known as " verbalism" as a defect in 19th century education and sought to remedy it. "B.-P." agreed with Sophocles "one must learn by doing a thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try". Hence, the Scouting method is to use play as a means of instruction. This idea is at least twenty centuries old but Scouting revived it and proved it to be a useful tooL
I N 1939, Cardinal 1-lins ley called a two day meeting in St. Peter's Hall, Westminster, of Catholic men and women to discuss leakage.
I was privileged to be present and there is no doubt that in the opinion of many who were there, it was realised that many of our youngsters might be word perfect in their religious doctrine and yet, after they left school, looked upon religious doctrine as a school subject, arid did not apply it to their everyday life.
After the war, many of those responsible for our closed Catholic Scout groups realised this fact and felt it was necessary to work out some system and remedy matters, particularly as a Scout makes the promise that on his honour he will do his best to do his duty to God and the Queen, etc., and that the founder, BadenPowell, stressed that character formation was the principal aim of the movement. Therefore, the Scout movement itself laid the way open.
A committee was formed of about four priests and a couple of laymen, and the Ki-Ro scheme was the result.
The Ki-Ro' scheme did not in any way supplant the duty of the parents or of the parish priest, or schools to instruct boys and girls, but it assessed what the average boy or girl should know at certain ages and evolved certain tests which a Scout should pass. At the same time it worked out many games which would help and illustrate the knowledge of their religion.
To work this scheme properly, however, it was found advisable that Scouters and Guiders should attend a "Duty to God" course. where possible, to show them how the games should be played. And it was at one of these courses run by the National Chaplain that I had such a pleasant weekend.
I.lmaY be of interest to illustrate this method by describing one or two games.
The Catechism definition of each Sacrament is typed out on a slip which is then cut up into say eight pieces each showing an isolated phrase or sentence.
The 56 pieces are then scrambled and each Patrol is given a Sacrament to collect. The fun starts as each No. 1 runs up and tries to find a sentence applicable to his team's objective. It is important to rule that no team has finished until the Patrol Leader has arranged the eight scraps in the correct order and read out the complete definition to his Patrol. Another more boisterous game is a sort of religious musical chairs. It is meant to make the boy quite unconsciously think of the mysteries of the Rosary and the scenes they depict.
This is a game where 31 can take part. They form an inner and outer circle of 15 pairing them off in couples. The outer circle each stand for one decade of the 15 mysteries. The 31st is in the centre.
The Scouter then calls out sonic word or caption which is appli cable to two or more mysteries thevictim is a Catholic, spiritual first aid should be given. "fa do this the boys can be told about the English archer at Rouen when Joan of Arc was at the stake.
Altogether, some 100 games have been worked out, and so with imagination, there should be little difficulty for a layman to impress on the boy's mind those very things which are explained to him in the Catechism.
The Mass of course is more a matter for a priest Scouter,
The Ki-Ro scheme has now been tried out for some ten years and has proved its value, and it is hoped that by this means the Scout can be instinctively trained to recognise that his religion is part of himself twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week—it is not gloom on a Sunday. By these means character is formed.
HHoliness Pope Pius XII speaking in praise of Scouting used the following words: "Scouting reveals to youth and puts into action all that is naturally good. noble and healthy—simplicity of life, love of nature, the love of country. the sentiment of honour, self-discipline, obedience and dedication to the service of others in a spirit of fraternity and chivalry . . Scouting gives to the worship and service of God that preeminent place it ought to have in human life."
in 1950 the Holy Father again
said: "This important work is more than ever necessary today when insidious schemes are set in motion to diminish and even destroy if possible faith in God ..."
The Scout movement can increase and improve in quality, but to do this it needs the help and understanding of the Catholic laity, for there is much work which many individuals, men or women, can do without getting into shorts or going into training as a Scouter.
When he calls this out. the inner circle boy has to run and exchange places with the other, racing against the boy in the centre, for instance, the word "angels" was called out and the inner circle boy marking the Annunciation, Nativity, the First Sorrowful, change places. When "soldiers" was called out, some six have to rush across and race for position.
A NOTHER thing ft which is done by way of activity is spiritual first aid. When out on a long hike, a dying man is come across having had an accident. In ordinary Scouting it would be first aid but we go further, and, if