A couple of broken metal figures have found a brand new life as Girl Scouts.
These conversions fit well with my slow reading ‘research’ for my Scout Wide Games tabletop project, poring through the earliest Scouting for Boys books and Girl Scout equivalent, How Girls Can Help the Empire: The Handbook for Girl Guides.
The Victorian or Edwardian sailor suited boy might have come from the ‘bits and bobs’ box at Tradition of London (their old Shepherd Market shop). He had broken off at the ankles.
The archer was a small broken gilt figure minus its head.
The sailor boy was fixed by drilling holes in both feet and ankles with a fine pin vice or hand drill. Small pins of wire joined body and feet together, secured with superglue.
Something about that cheeky face said that this could be a Girl Scout recruit, rather than an Edwardian Boy Scout. I quickly made a tissue paper skirt fixed with clear PVA glue.
I was quite curious to see how these figure conversions would be enhanced (or not) by paint. I wanted an old-fashioned toy soldier look to the faces, along with a final spray of gloss varnish.
And the scout mistress or archer? He started life as a man, then when I came across him, he had no head. A quick rummage in the spares box found a spare pound store figure about the right size. Off with his head!
I cannot find a manufacturer for either figure. It looks on the original gilt figure as if one hand is carrying an arrow. This fine detail may need to be added.
Archery was certainly recommended as a sport for Guides by Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes, who adapted her brother’s 1908 hand book Scouting for Boys into the 1912 handbook, How Girls Can Help To Build Up The Empire: The Handbook For Girl Guides. The ‘Girl Guiding’ handbook replaced this first book in 1918.
The Baden-Powells also recommended rifle shooting. Both boy and girl scouts could attain a Marksman badge for rifle shooting. There was also a section on self defence (jujitsu) as you never knew what you might encounter as a young woman at home or in the colonies on the frontiers of the Empire! Tigers, mad dogs, brigands, insurgents?
Research is slow but enjoyable, being a comparitive reading of this first 1912 Girl Scout or Guide handbook, alongside its predecessor Scouting For Boys. The sections are mixed up and in a different order. It is interesting to note what is kept in and suitable for guides, what is substituted as specifically for girls.
For instance, Baden Powell mentions in Scouting for Boys in a section on marksmanship: “The Boers are all good shots, and so are the Swiss. In both countries, the boys begin learning marksmanship at an early age by using crossbows…”, something suggested to Boy Scouts but not to Girl Scouts or Guides.
Being an accomplished marksman, after the lessons of the Boer War, was also seen by Baden Powell as a patriotic duty for men (‘citizen soldiers’) and good for home defence.
There is no obvious suggestion in either book that women should be armed ‘citizen soldiers’ in Britain, only in the frontiers of Empire for self defence of property and family.
Certain of the original Wide Games scenarios are included for girls; the book often mentions to save space ‘as in Scouting’, so the 1912 Guides book and the 1908 original Scouting book are designed to read together.
I am slowly trying to work out how to reproduce Boy Scout and Girl Scout Wide Games with miniature figures on the gaming table or in the garden.
Boy Scouts? Girl Scouts? Girl Guides? What’s in a name?
In Britain since 1910, we have not had mainstream Girl Scouts, after Guiding was set up to manage the enthusiastic adoption of Scouting for Boys by many Edwardian girls, sometimes originally in mixed troops.
However in some parts of the UK, across America and the world, Girl Scouts have survived in both name and spirit.
The Girl Scouts of America kept their distinctive Scout name since their formation in 1912, led by Juliette Gordon Low. In this Very good history guide to the early Girl Scouts of Britain before they became Girl Guides, it mentions Cuckoo Patrol Girl Scout troops, the fears about mixed groups, suffragette activities and WW1 and the fact when Guides was set up in Britain not all Girl Scouts apparently transferred …
Following the publication of Scouting for Boys in January 1908 girls were actively engaging in Scouting, they had been just as inspired by the ideas in the book as their male counterparts. Troops and patrols of Girl Scouts were encouraged by Robert Baden-Powell;
“I think girls can get just as much healthy fun and as much value out of scouting as boys can. Some who have taken it up have proved themselves good souls in a very short time. As to pluck, women and girls can be just as brave as men and have over and over again proved it in times of danger. But for some reason it is not expected of them and consequentially it is seldom made part of their education, although it ought to be; for courage is not always born in people, but can generally be made by instruction.”
Robert Baden-Powell, The Scout, May 1908
One group of Girl Scouts, sadly only known to us as “Kangaroo Patrol” were so inspired by this quote that they copied it out at the beginning of their patrol magazine in May 1909. Their magazine was full of adventure stories with Scouts preventing robberies and kidnappings, it also showed girls and boys Scouting together.
Wonderfully the BBS and BGS troops still exist in small numbers in Britain and elsewhere proudly wearing the old fashioned uniform, open to boys and girls and linked to the worldwide scouting movement.
Baden Powell was surprised but not antagonistic towards the enthusiatic uptake of Scouting for Boys by the kind of vigorous “intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books” as H.G. Wells observed in his preface to LittleWars a few years later in 1913.
“As records show, at this time Baden-Powell was clearly supportive of Girl Scouts. In May 1908 he wrote to one Girl who enquired that she would be welcome to set up a Patrol of Girl Scouts, and in his regular column in ‘The Scout’ in January 1909 he stated of the girls that “some of them are really capable Scouts” …”
“ …In the 1909 edition of Scouting for Boys the uniform suggestions included recommending blue skirts for Girl Scouts. Large Scout Rallies were held, including one at Scotstoun near Glasgow, where Girl Scouts were both specifically invited, and warmly welcomed.” Source: Leslie’s guiding history website.
Useful painting or colour scheme tip : blue skirts rather than the Boy Scout blue shorts mentioned in the 1909 Scouting for Boys. Dark Blue went on to become the colour of early Guide uniforms.
“So clearly, throughout 1908 and much of 1909, Girl Scouts were welcomed, both unofficially and officially” including the Crystal Place rally in 1909 where early Girl Scouts were photographed amongst the boys. It is reported that more than 1000 Girl Scouts were present.
“By late 1909 amongst the official Scout membership of 55,000 there were already over 6000 Girl Scouts officially registered, and more registering daily.” Leslie’s Guiding History.
By 1910, Guiding had been established to protect the reputation of these Edwardian girls and of the fledgeling Scout Movement. Scouting for Boys was adapted by Baden Powell and his sister Agnes into a Guiding Manual, “How Girls Can Help Build The Empire”, designed to equip girls with camping skills, homecraft and child care skills for adult life in Britain or upcountry in the Empire.
It would be almost 70 years before mixed older (Venture) Scout groups were established again in Britain.
Leslie’s Guiding Ideas Website also has some contemporary Guiding / Girl Scouts Wide Games Scenarios, worth coming back to:
Guiding and scouting being world movements, it is of course possible that fictional Imagi-Nations like the Bronte family’s Gondal and Gaaldine, or the many great Tintin-esque Imagi-Nations and Grand Duchys created by gamers could have their own Boy Scout and Girl Scout movements.
Girl Scouts of Gaaldine or Gondal?
Boy Scouts of Angria or Generica, anyone?
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN (1970s Cub Scout, Bronze Arrow, Retired) 17 May 2019