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Scout Books

Site Contents

by Ernest Thompson Seton   

The Scout Reports are a feature of the Council that is often neglected, or done badly when it might be made one of the strongest and most helpful of all. There is no number on our program capable of being more useful. Usually the leader needs only a few examples to appreciate this.

The report is supposed to tell what the Woodcrafter has seen or done since last Council. It may, however, go farther back than that and take up remote matters if not previously reported. Sometimes the report is for something that he was told to do in the way of serving the present council, such as bringing chairs, furnishing material, or arranging some matter. But the most rewarding are the things definitely given out at the previous council.

To illustrate, the following have been allotted, one to each Woodcraft scout for report at next meeting:

bulletTell us why Broadway is crooked.
bulletTell us the original meaning of the word Camp and how it came to the present usage.
bulletTell us 25 English words that are names of different kinds of hill, or of a stream, or of a valley.
bulletShow us 10 different signs of the sign or gesture language that the traffic policeman uses all day.
bulletGet a half walnut shell, fill it with putty, set pegs in the putty for legs, head, and tail, and make an extinct monster.
bulletMake a porcupine of a chestnut burr by similar treatment.
bulletMake a monkey with a pussy willow for body, and head, begs, and tail cut out of elder pith.
bulletBring 3 different smoke-prints of leaves.
bulletImitate some animal or bird sound, action, and expression.  Bring 3 peeled willow rods exactly alike in shape, size, Color, etc.
bulletWalk around the block and tell what you saw.
bulletMake a willow whistle.
bulletTell the highest number on any motor car you have seen today.
bulletTell what is the nearest pine tree to this spot (or other well-marked tree).
bulletBring the leaves of 3 different oaks and name them. 
bulletTell 5 blazes you have seen this week in town.
bulletName 25 wild birds you have seen since last council.
bulletWhat is the last butterfly you have seen? 
bulletHow can you tell malaria mosquito or fever-gnat from common gnat?

If I live in Massachusetts (or substitute your own state) find want a fence post that will last a long time, what woods should I use and what are the advantages of each?

At Culver Camp, Indiana, the Chief gave the following objects for scouts to report on at next council:

bulletThe Blue-Bird's Nest at the Bridge.
bulletThe Old Gravel Pit.
bulletThe Tracks Around the Mud Hole. 
bulletThe Trail to Camp.
bulletThe New Camp Site.

These general principles were laid down: When you get your instructions don't ask fool questions, but go and do, as quickly as possible. A perfect report gives date, place, weather, persons present, and time consumed. Also scale maps or diagrams, and after full details, gives a summing of the subject.

In this case the reports were limited to 1,000 words each, and those who made careful typewritten copy scored ahead of those who handed in rough field notes. Speed counted. In the above the best report was on "The Trail to Camp," because it was properly mapped, but it was defective in that, it omitted date, place, weather, and general summing up.

As general suggestions for other tribes: Report on some given bird's nest, trail, pond, group of trees, blazes on trees, birds in certain woods between 7 and 8 A. M., the flower that dominates the roadway just now, wild flowers in a certain field, corner grocery, tracks on some road, what insects were seen today, crows in a certain field, group of houses, a certain bridge. Is white pine found here and how is it faring? 

It is a good plan to have four or five report on the same subject, not comparing notes until after the report is turned in. Small prizes are given, merely to focus attention. The real stimulus is the grading given to the report, for all receive numbers, though some may be nearly equal; three possibly having fourth place, and half a dozen equally last.

In order to show that our feet are on the ground even if our heads are in the clouds, we commonly close our Scout Reports with one that it is well to have at least one grown-up respond to, namely: "What is the greatest event that has taken place in the outside world during the last month, or since last we assembled in Council?" Naturally we have no information except the newspapers, and it is always worth while to get the various reactions of the members.

  The Birch Bark Roll 






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.