Teaching Module

African Scouting (20th c.)

Lesson Plan: ".. . And a Brother to Every Scout."

by Elizabeth Ten Dyke

Time Estimated: three 50-minute classes


  1. Discuss the influence of colonial experience on Baden Powell's decision to found the Boy Scouts
  2. Describe activities related to scouting in Africa
  3. Explain how a cultural tradition (scouting) can express social conflict and political struggle in a particular time and place.


  • Five sheets of chart paper
  • Markers
  • Copies of the "Introduction" to this module for all students, plus one extra
  • Tape/glue
  • Copies of each primary source, sufficient for all students
  • Copies of "Fact or Fib" worksheet, sufficient for all students
  • Blank paper
  • Colored pencils


Take the "Introduction" to this module and cut it into five sections—two paragraphs per section. Attach each section to a sheet of chart paper. Label the charts A through E. Post the chart paper around the room, or set each on a different desk or table.

Day One

Introduce the lesson by asking the students, "What do you think of when you think of the Boy Scouts?" Students may think of the uniforms of scouting, the rules and traditions, loyalty, activities such as camping, and awards including Eagle Scouts. They may mention Christian and anti-gay aspects of the scouting movement. Particularly if these subjects come up, ask students to speculate about how or why scouting has become an activity mired in disagreements about moral issues in our society today.

Explain to students that they will learn about the history of the Boy Scouts (when, where, and why it was founded). They will study primary sources that illustrate some of the tensions and conflicts that occurred when scouting expanded into colonial Africa. This lesson will help students see how cultural traditions can reflect complicated social situations in which different groups of people express disagreement and exercise competing interests.

Give each student a complete copy of the introduction. Break the students into five groups, one at or near each poster. Assign each group the two paragraphs of reading that correspond to their poster. After they have completed their reading, they should make a bulleted list on the chart paper in which they outline the main ideas of the assigned passage. Have each group present their summary in turn. Students who are listening as others speak should take notes on the material.

Discussion Questions

  • Chart A (paragraphs 1, 2): What tribal peoples served as inspiration for the scouting movement? What was scouting supposed to teach the young people who participated in it?
  • Chart B (paragraphs 3, 4): What concerned Baden Powell about his nation’s youth? What values did he hope the Scouts would learn through their participation? Explain the Fourth Scout Law "A Scout is a Brother to every other Scout."
  • Chart C (paragraphs 5, 6): Explain how scouting became an international movement. How was scouting supposed to help British colonial authorities maintain their power in places like Africa?
  • Chart D (paragraphs 7, 8): Which young people were targeted for the African scouting movement? Why them? Give two examples of how "Africans . . . used scouting to claim the rights of full citizenship."
  • Chart E (paragraphs 9, 10): How did scouting become involved in the 1950 Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya? Explain what happened to African scouting after British colonial rule came to an end. Did scouting come to an end as well? Why or why not?

Working from their class notes, students should summarize information about how the basic values and goals were part of the Boy Scout movement early on. They should describe the goals of British colonial authorities as scouting was brought into Africa, and they should give one example of the way in which the Scouts went against British power.

Day Two

Activity #1

Have students look at the introduction to this primary source. Point out that Tim Parsons writes, the "odd ritual" of the war dance "was just the sort of thing that Edwardian schoolboys loved for it allowed them to play at being Africans in a thoroughly modern context." Ask students to speculate about what the author means by this statement.

Have the whole class carefully read the description of the dance. Working in pairs, students should:

  • Restate the different steps and parts of the dance in their own words.
  • Draw or sketch an image of the scouts participating in this dance.
  • Discuss what elements of the dance incorporate stereotypes about African culture.
  • Discuss what elements of the dance incorporate scouting traditions.

As a whole class: share sketches and discuss "How would this dance help Baden Powell achieve some of his goals for scouting?"

Activity #2

Using a pen, pencil, or highlighter, underline passages in the letter that answer the following questions:

  • Who is the author of the letter? To whom is it addressed?
  • Where in Africa (what territory) was the author of this letter and his students?
  • Why were the students not allowed to call themselves Scouts?
  • What were they allowed to do?
  • What are three points the author makes to demonstrate that this is unfair?

Respond in writing to the following question: "What does this conflict (over who may be a Scout) reveal or show about society in the Transvaal at this time?" Support your response with evidence from the document.

Day Three

Have students read the legislation with the worksheet in front of them. For each question on the worksheet, they should write a correct response (fact) and an incorrect response (fib).

The entire class should address each question in turn. The student who answers may give the correct response, or the student may give an incorrect response. The other students should listen carefully. If the response is correct they should call out "Fact!" If the answer is false, they should call out "Fib!" Then, when asked, a student who identified a fib may give the correct information.

Based on your reading of this legislation, infer some of the problems that were occurring with Scouts in this time and place. In other words, what may have been going on that that government felt it was necessary to create this ordinance?

Distribute copies of primary source: "Organization of British Imperial Scouting" (table, 1951)/

As a whole class discuss:

  • What are the four groups of troops at the bottom of the chart?
  • How many levels of authority were above them?
  • What was the highest level?
  • What was the second highest level?
  • What does this chart show about the relationship between the British Empire and Africa?

Day Four

DBQ Essay

How to Cite This Source

"African Scouting (20th c.)," in Children and Youth in History, Item #95, https://cyh.rrchnm.org/items/show/95 (accessed August 10, 2021).