Monday, February 18, 2008

Lynne Featherstone and Baden Powell

Lynne Featherstone writes about a scheme to bring children from different backgrounds together:
Children from ethnic minorities are to be sent on adventure holidays with white youngsters in a scheme to break down racial and religious barriers.

Ministers want children from different backgrounds to mix at summer camps where they can enjoy extreme sports together. The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) centres also offer workshops in skills such as circus tricks and producing pop videos...

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat youth and equality spokeswoman, said: “Breaking down barriers is a good idea. [But] we need to look at the long-term effects of these schemes: they have to be more than a holiday.”
It all sounds very laudable, but also oddly familiar.

Baden Powell held his first Scout camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour in August 1907. As Wikipedia tells it:

Baden-Powell invited 21 boys from different social backgrounds to the camp, a revolutionary idea in class-conscious Edwardian England. Ten came from the well-to-do public schools of Eton and Harrow, mostly sons of friends of Baden-Powell. Seven came from the Bournemouth Boys' Brigade, and three from the Poole Boys' Brigade. Baden-Powell's nine year old nephew Donald Baden-Powell also attended.

The camp fee was dependent on means: £1 for the public school boys, and three shillings and sixpence for the others.

As ever, there is nothing new under the sun. But is amusing to see the left finding virtue in a movement they have scoffed at for generations.

Of course, these days if you wanted to maroon yourself on an island with two dozen boys in short trousers you would have to contend with all sorts of red tape first.

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