Scouting for Boys is one of the best-selling books of all time – perhaps 150 million copies have been sold in various editions and 87 languages since 1908. The 1913 edition contains advice on suicide, cattle slaughter, runaway horses, and many other problems. The Boy Scout organisation was founded in toughness – one of its aims, as well as improving character, was to raise a generation of boys who’d be able to administer an empire.
The movement was founded in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell and had its roots in the siege of Mafeking during the second Boer War – the Mafeking Cadet Corps, a group of boys aged nine and over, were used as messengers and lookouts during the siege, and were the original inspirations for the Boy Scouts. (Baden-Powell’s relaxed message to his superior officers at the start of the siege has become quite well-known. It read: 'All well, four hours’ bombardment. One dog killed.')
Girls also got involved more or less from the beginning – even by 1909, when there were 11,000 boy Boy Scouts, there were also 6,000 girls registered as Boy Scouts.
If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.
Scouting For Boys has this advice to offer on the following subjects:
Suicide: 'When a man has gone so far as to attempt suicide, a scout should know what to do with him. In a case where the would-be suicide has taken poison, give milk and make him vomit, which is done by tickling the inside of the throat with a finger or a feather…In the case of hanging, cut down the body at once, taking care to support it with one arm while cutting the cord… A tenderfoot [novice] is sometimes inclined to be timid about handling an insensible man or a dead man, or even of seeing blood. Well, he won’t be much use till he gets over such nonsense.'
Slaughtering cattle: 'If you are a beginner in slaughtering with the knife, it is sometimes useful to first drop the animal insensible by a heavy blow with a big hammer or the back of a felling-axe on top of the head.'
Stopping a runaway horse: 'don’t run in front of it with your arms waving. Rather run alongside it, catch hold of it, seize the reins and bring it up against a wall or a house to compel it to stop.'
Saving someone who has fallen in front of a train: 'if the train is very close, lie flat between the rails, [and] make the man do the same till the train passes over while everybody else will be running about screaming and excited and doing nothing.'
The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.
11 of the 12 men to have walked on the Moon were in the Boy Scouts.
Regarding the Boy Scouts, I'm very suspicious of any organisation that has a handbook.
While working as a spy, Baden-Powell pretended to be a lepidopterist and disguised military sketches as drawings of butterflies.