Imaginary what now? Terra nullius and the Scouting movement

After seeing the camping strips in Calvin & Hobbes, the Lad wanted me to look into local Cub Scouts. Y’all know I’m not too keen on the theist and heterosexist (and etc) aspects of Scouts, but I went to have a look at the webpage anyhow. And saw this. (Emphasis is mine.)

Cub Scout adult Leaders are known by names such as Baloo and Bagheera which are derived from the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Since children of Cub Scout age have a lively imagination believing in things from Superman to Red Indians, the program of the Cub Scouts Section has its background in Kiplings’ Jungle Book. Unlike many things that children believe in, the “Jungle Book” provides excitement and action combined with a strict moral code of the Jungle Law. There is development from one skill to another (training expressed in all stories of Mowgli), there is physical fitness, love of nature, self-reliance, obedience, loyalty and courtesy. Therefore all parts of Scouting philosophy can find illustration in the” Jungle Book”.

…yeah. Recommendations for alternate programmes that might involve outdoorsy campsy sorts of things are welcomed.


Update: Since this post appeared, they have changed “Red Indians” to “Indians”, and then removed the reference altogether. Screenshot:

screenshot of scout blurb calling Red Indians imaginary

Categories: fun & hobbies, indigenous


13 replies

  1. Um, what? Wow, that’s six million kinds of fail there, right in a little fail box. Guh.

  2. Oh, WOW. That’s… WOW.
    When I checked the site, it just said “Superman to Indians”. Now I’m wondering if they meant the North American kind, or the Asian kind (which would have appeared in Kipling’s writing).
    And I’m still just flabbergasted.

  3. Yeah, apparently Baden Powell and Kipling were friends and when Powell set up the scouting movement he structured meetings around characters and scenes from the Jungle Book.
    I was in Scouts as a kid – hey, there’s not much else to do in a small country town in western NSW. Lots of activities like tying knots, going on camps, learning to cook, etc – for some kids I’d imagine it can be quite fun and absorbing. (I wasn’t – I just liked to lie around and read books. Plus almost nobody in Balranald really wanted to be a Cub Scout leader so we gradually became less involved as the years wore on.)

  4. Without going to the above website, I’d asked The Tormentor a while ago if he was interested in Scouts at all. He gave me the “you think I’m going to eat peas?’ look; and replied “they’re really daggy.” Guess that would be a no then.
    Centuries ago , I was a sea scout. Don’t remember any nonsense about Mowgli; or loyalty or courtesy either. We just sailed, scrubbed decks, and got yelled at a lot by an ex-British Navy officer.
    Might be worth seeing if your local bushwalking groups have kids programs? Now there’s an opening for the Greens… the EcoKids.

  5. They’ve changed it to “Indians” today, after the emails that have been written? Um, ‘cos Indians are imaginary? *headdesk*
    (Here’s a screenshot of the original.)

  6. Gwuh?

  7. In the UK we have The Woodcraft folk as an alternative to Scouts/Guides – my Mum started a local group in our area when I was kid in order that my brother & I had an alternative! /brag (proud of our mam ;D )
    I always thought it was an international organisation, but I guess not. there does seem to be mention of links to The International Falcon Movement but they don’t seem to have an Australian presence, or partners, so that may be a bit of a dead end too I’m afraid.
    On the plus side, I had no idea Korfball was so popular in Australia!

  8. The West Australian Family Bushwalking Club looks pretty good – they organise camps, bushwalks, bikerides and lots of other outdoorsy activities. Unlike Cubs though, the Lad will have to be accompanied by at least one parent. Some activities might be more accessible for you than others.

  9. I went on Outward Bound camps as a kid after attending one Brownies meeting and thinking it the stupidest thing I had ever experienced. Unfortunately it seems to be only for over 13s.

  10. Also, I do have to wonder why their minds jumped straight to “Indians” and not, you know… talking animals? Like the ones in The Jungle Book?

  11. Ha! My son was in a scout group for a couple of years. They did really fun things including flying a glider, skiing, ice blocking (which is making your own giant iceblock and sliding down a hill on it), sea biscuiting, camping, white water rafting, the list goes on, it was great every week. The scout leaders in the group were a wonderful and loving bunch of dads and mums and in my opinion, great leaders and role models, except for one old bloke who had obviously been involved in scouts for 400 years. He would ask me my name and if I was new to the group every week for the whole two year period we were there. Not surprising he worked for John Howard. The only ****** in the woodpile as Kipling would have said.

  12. Although I confess to a smidgeon of disappointment to find that the International Falcon Movement doesn’t actually have anything to do with falconry, it still sounds pretty cool.

  13. The Lad’s dad would accompany him to bushwalking stuff – I don’t much if any of that would be accessible to me. Thanks for the suggestions.

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