Lord Baden-Powell on the Nature of Boys

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16. When you are trying to get boys to come under good influence you are a fisherman wishful to catch fish.

If you bait your hook with the kind of food that you like yourself it is probable that you will not catch many.  You therefore use as bait the food that the fish likes.

So with boys: if you preach to them what you consider elevating matter, you won’t catch them.  The only way is to hold out something that really attracts and interests them.

17. As we get into our crabbed old age, we are apt to forget that we were once youngsters.

18. Your fist step is to study the boy himself; to recognise his likes and dislikes, his good qualities and his bad, and to direct his training of these.

19. Boys want variety.  Don’t be surprised when they get tired of one thing.  Be Prepared with the next.

20.  A youngster cannot naturally keep still for ten minutes – much less for hours as is sometimes expected of him in school.  We have to remember that he is suffering from the “growing itch”, both mentally and physically.  The best cure is to change the subject, let him out for a run, or for a war dance.

21. There is five per cent of good even in the worst character. The sport is to find it and then to develop it on to an 80 or 90 per cent base.

22. A boy is generally supremely confident in his own powers.  Therefore he dislikes being treated as a child and being told to do things or how to do them.

A boy is generally as sharp as a needle.

A boy cannot stick at a job for more than a month or two because he wants change.

When a boy finds somebody who takes an interest in him he responds and follows where he is led.

23. Why is a boy’s psychology like a violin string?  Because it needs tuning to the right pitch and can then give forth real music.

24. To a considerable extent a boy gains the right spirit through right action, whereas the man’s action is inspired by the spirit.  So we encourage in the Cub, and continue in the Scout, the practice of doing good turns, and thus through action the spirit of helpfulness becomes developed in him; ultimately, as a Rover and a man, he is inspired by the spirit to undertake sacrifice and service.

25. If a man cannot make his point to keen boys in ten minutes he ought to be shot!


Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell – Mario Sica – Nuova Fiordaliso – 2002

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