The Strange Tale of the Kibbo Kift Kindred

The Boy Scout movement produced a little-known offshoot of ‘intellectual Barbarians’, whose charismatic leader had dreams of overcoming the existential crises of the 20th century.

Hargrave’s enthusiasm for the outdoor aspect of scouting – the camping, primitivist play and campfire ceremony that went under the heading of ‘woodcraft’ – far outweighed his interest in the other concerns of Robert Baden-Powell’s new organisation: those of paramilitary drill and preparedness, empire-building and Christianity. Hargrave identified more with the ideas of the artist, novelist and naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton, whose system of so-called primitive training for boys, modelled on a mythical ideal of a heroic Native American and infused with fantasy and romance, predated the Boy Scouts but was adopted, if not plagiarised, by the organisation. 

John Hargrave, 1929

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