Scouting and Freemasonry

Perhaps the major parallel known to all members who have been active in each is that they are both founded on similar moral principles being a

  • belief in a Supreme Being,
  • Service to others and
  • personal development.

Fundamentals:

Taken from the Book of Constitutions, (B.O.C.) (Equivalent to Scouting’s policy Organisation and Rules [P.O.R.]) Freemasonry is a society of men concerned with moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its principles (moral lessons and self-knowledge) by a series of ritual dramas – a progression of allegorical two-part plays which are learnt by heart and performed within each Lodge – which follow ancient forms, and use stonemasons’ customs and tools as allegorical guides.

Freemasonry instils in its members a moral and ethical approach to life: its values are based on integrity, kindness, honesty and fairness. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but, importantly, Freemasonry also teaches concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need.

Taken from Policy, Organisation and Rules, P.O.R. The aim of the Association is to promote the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential, as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities.

The Method of achieving the Aim of the Association is by providing an enjoyable and attractive scheme of progressive training, based on the Scout Promise and Law, and guided by adult leadership.

Scouting exists to actively engage and support young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society.

Brother

The term “brother” is universal; you are welcomed as a Brother Mason or the Worldwide Brotherhood of Scouting. However, the term Brother is not used so much in the UK as in 2007 the Scout Movement totally integrated girls and women into the movement, sorry to say that is one parallel I cannot compare.

Supreme Being

A Mason must believe in a Supreme Being, Obey the laws of God and Man, Extend Charity and Brotherly Love.  This is incorporated in the First-Degree Obligation.

A Scout makes a Promise which includes a Duty to God, Accept Loyalty to the Queen, Help other people at all times.

 

On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
To help other people
And to keep the Scout Law

 

And this is renewed every year, usually at St. George’s day but certainly on Investiture by both adult and young people.

History

The History of Freemasonry is unclear before 1717 but in that year four London Lodges met to form the beginnings of a Grand Lodge.

The Scout Movement also started from grass roots with Lord Baden Powell running an experimental camp on Brownsea Island in 1907. From this was produced an article ‘Scouting for Boys’ which was accepted by young men and boys who formed themselves into small troops.

In both cases both Freemasonry and Scouting early members chose to join together and form something bigger.

Handshake

More visible parallels between Scouting and Freemasonry is with the handshake.  In Masonry, these are linked to various degrees, in Scouting we shake with the left hand which is thought to have originated from an Ashanti Tribe who greeted anyone with their left hand as it would involve them having to lay down their shields therefore trusting the newcomer.  Nice story but it was later discovered that the Ashanti never used a left-hand shake?

Salute

Another visible parallel is the sign or salute. Once again in Masonry linked to the various Degrees, in Scouting we just use the three fingers symbolically representing Duty to God, help other people and keep the Scout Law.

Progression

We both have a culture of progression but Scouting is based on age and experience and unlike Masonry, anyone may enter the award scheme at the appropriate time rather than start at the beginning and work up.

Personal Freedom

Parallels also relate to personal freedom, both avoid becoming involved in party politics which are considered divisive.

Voluntary

Both organisations are voluntary, an initiate is asked at the outset if he is a freeman before he takes the obligation.  Both are supported by a relatively small number of professional staff.

Duke of Kent

Coincidentally both organisations the same person at the head, currently the Duke of Kent being both the Grand Master and president of the Scout Association.

Moral Basis for life

And perhaps the greatest parallel is that both organisations provide a moral basis, values and friendship all of which are personal to each individual.

Kindred Lodges Association (KLA)

At this present time, there is no official link between Scouting and Freemasonry but ties are being formed.

The Kindred Lodges Association was formed in 1951 to facilitate and foster relations among Freemasons who are or were involved in Youth Work. The oldest of the founding four Lodges was North Kent Lodge 2499 formed in 1894.  We move on a number of years to the next oldest member which is the Lancashire Scouting Lodge of Allegiance 6384 formed in 1946. (Merger gave a long name.)  Today there are 36 Lodges spread across the whole of the U.K., two of which are connected to the Boys Brigade.  There are also Associate Member Lodges in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Canada.  There are thought to be many more Lodges in America but Grand Lodge Politics do not allow us to make direct contact at this time.

The UK Lodges meet at an Autumn and Spring Festival each year with different Lodges hosting the event. (King’s Lynn)

It is fair to say that over the years there has been a mutual mistrust between both Organisations at Headquarters and Grand Lodge level especially surrounding individual motives and secrets.  I believe that the Ice was broken in 2005 when the Square and Compasses were put on BP’s Caravan after we had financed its renovation.  We went on to provide a flag pole for Brownsea Island and several other inroads throughout the country.

This is demonstrated by the granting of half a million pounds to help develop scouting made in 2014 and £261,000 from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.

Scouting has grown year on year since 2003and this has been a result of great changes in how we operate while retaining core values and purpose.  Freemasonry can learn a lot from this experience and since 2008 senior members of both organisations have met to discuss mutual ties and mutual assistance.  I do not believe that there will ever be any formal links between both organisations however there is a will towards cooperation and sharing of good practice and ideas. (Nigel Bramley Howarth at Kings Lynn and Gilwell Reunion)

But we should not confine our mutual working by just talking in terms of money. (Old days Gala – now cheque book scouting)

We have shared experiences and resources; we can help each other.

Trades – electricians, plumbers, car mechanics, builders, accountants, marketing, management and many other professions.

If there is anyone involved in Scouting or interested in what we do, you do not need to be a member of a Scouting Lodge, the KLA has an Associate member scheme, £8 payable every leap year, where you can receive up to date information re KLA activities and future meetings.