When I was a kid during the early 1940s my mum and dad quite expected an invasion of German troops on the beach at Lyme Regis with the mission of isolating the south west peninsular of England. In preparation for the event they packed one of those old-fashioned galvanized bath tubs with tinned provisions, bedding and clothing. The idea was to leave our home in Taunton, then walk to Bristol where we would join my sister who lived there. On reflection, I wonder how practical it would have been to carry the bath and provisions for 60 miles or more.
Nevertheless, the effect of this foresight in preparing for the dreadful possibility, made a lasting and useful impression upon me. It was a paradigm of the Scout’s Motto, ‘Be Prepared.’
Today, modern Sea Scouts have the same motto inspired by Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, who was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Scout movement, but he certainly was not prepared for the growth of this movement and was taken aback by its success after the publication of his handbook, ‘Scouting for Boys’.
Even in Baden-Powell’s time the growth of the movement was phenomenal. Not so long before he died there were 1,011,923 British Scouts and 544,544 British Guides. Now the movement has spread to 55 countries with altogether 2,812,000 Scouts and 1,304,107 Girl Guides. They all have the same motto, ‘Be Prepared’.
As a kid, being a Scout was anathema. There was no way I was going to swear allegiance to God and honour the Scout Law, but ‘being prepared’ was a very practical principle for the independent individual I found myself to be. Being prepared meant looking ahead with a view to anticipating eventualities so as to be equipped prior to likely events; in addition it meant being ready for the unexpected.
These qualities of foresight and resilience are exactly what a sailor requires if he is to be successful. Whatever he may aspire, whether it’s an afternoon’s pleasure sail on the local lake, a weekend coastal cruise, or the crossing of an ocean, he would do well to prepare for likely scenarios, but also he should expect the unexpected.