Rovering to Success
|Publisher||Herbert Jenkins Limited|
Origins of the book
As Scouting for Boys had started the Boy Scout section in 1908, and The Wolf Cub's Handbook had launched the Cubs in 1916, so in 1921, Baden-Powell set about writing a book to accompany the new Rover Scout section of the Scout Movement. The manuscript was typed by B-P's wife Olave in November of that year, and Rovering to Success was published in June 1922 by Herbert Jenkins.
Originally subtitled "A Book of Life-Sport for Young Men", this was changed to "A Guide for Young Manhood" in later editions. Rovering to Success is a rather different from Baden-Powell's earlier work, laying out a philosophy for living in the adult world, rather than an instructional handbook. It is written in the style of advice from a father or wise uncle, indeed some commentators have suggested that it was partly intended for future reading by B-P's son, Peter, who was nine years-old when it was published. In common with his other two handbooks, it has a theme, this time taken from a 19th-century popular song; “Never sit down with a tear or a frown, but paddle your own canoe”, which had originally been written in 1850 by the American poet Sarah T. Bolton but is not attributed.
The first chapter is entitled How to be happy though rich – or poor is an overview of Baden-Powell’s ideas for leading a happy and fulfilled life, enlivened with anecdotes from his military career and quotes from personalities as diverse as Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Tennyson. The next five chapters are described as ”Rocks you are likely to bump on” (while paddling your own canoe). They are: "I. Horses" which deals with gambling, II. Wine on the perils of alcohol abuse, III. Women, which includes some very basic sex education which was considered ground-breaking at the time, but includes Victorian ideas of racial purity and abstinence. IV. Cuckoos and Humbugs which warns against political extremism but encourages political public service, and finally V. Irreligion, in which B-P contends that understanding of God can be found through nature study and helping others, and includes a quote from The Quran. The last chapter of the book, Rovering – the Aim of the Rover Brotherhood, explains the purpose and structure of Rover Scouting and gives a wide range of suggestions for activities and service projects that Rovers could undertake. The book finishes with the last two verses (switched in order) of “The Call of the Wild" from “Songs of a Sourdough” by Robert W. Service, and the message; ”Happiness is yours if only you paddle your canoe aright. With all my heart I wish you success, and the Scouts’ wish – GOOD CAMPING!”.
The book had two editions, the second ran to 26 impressions in the United Kingdom, the last appearing in 1964. The book continued in use as the handbook of the Rover Scout section of the Scout Association until 1966, when The Chief Scouts' Advance Party Report recommended that "a new Training Section be formed to replace the existing Senior Scout and Rover Scout Sections".
- Baden-Powell, Tim Jeal, London: Hutchinson, 1989. ISBN 0-09-170670-X p.461
- The Scout Association: Milestones in the progress of Scouting (Factsheet FS295306 (p.2 of 13)
- Internet Archive: Rovering to Success (1922)
- The Pinetree Web: "Paddle Your Own Canoe"
- Jeal p.523
- Rovering to Success (p.11)
- Sex, Politics, and Society: the Regulation of Sexuality since 1800, Jeffrey Weeks, Longman 1989 (p.53)
- Rovering to Success (p.102)
- Rovering to Success (p.132)
- Senior Scouting History: Rover Scouts
- The Advance Party Report '66: Recommendation 21(a), p.15