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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas - page 18 / 129





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Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas

Ice-Boating Detroit lies on a narrow channel which connects the two great lakes Erie and Huron.

When I saw it, this channel, which is a mile across, was covered with floating ice, so closely packed that a man might almost get across by skipping lightly from floe to floe; but the great ferry steamers were running, ploughing their way through it with some difficulty.

The opposite shore belongs to Canada, and the town which there faces Detroit is called Windsor.

Two fine troops of Canadian Boy Scouts came over to join their American brother Scouts in welcoming me, and when they marched in with the British flag flying they were tremendously cheered by the Americans.

A great sport which they have here at Detroit is sailing in ice-boats. These are a sort of toboggan with a mast and sail, with which you sail on the surface of the frozen lake. The speed at which you go is just that of the wind, and may be up to sixty or eighty miles an hour.


In the city of Chicago there are 5000 Boy Scouts. That will show you that Chicago is not a small town; it is, in fact, a very big city, having two and a half millions of inhabitants.

Its streets are much like those of any other city so long as you keep your eyes down, but if you once begin to look upward you will notice that the houses run up to an enormous height, from ten to fifteen storeys being the usual height; and in walking the streets you cannot help feeling as if you were at the bottom of a deep pit or gully.

The city has a magnificent lake-front on Lake Michigan, just like a seaside esplanade on a very big scale. The lake itself looks exactly like the sea, since it is so big and wide that the other shores are entirely out of sight, and, with big steamships cruising about on a shoreless horizon, it might well be taken for the ocean.

The Scouts here are a very smart lot both in appearance and in their work. They gave exhibitions of first aid work, saving life from drowning, wireless telegraphy, signalling, and fire-lighting without matches. This last was done by a number of boys, and is exceedingly interesting; they make their fire, as you know, by twirling a pointed stick on a piece of flat wood. It makes a very good competition, when a lot of fellows are doing it, as a race to see who can first get a flame.

The American Boy Scouts

We had a fine rally of the Boy Scouts in New York. Some 4000 attended in a big drill-hall, and a smart lot they were.

They gave some very good displays which included bridge-building, first-aid, knot- tying with hawsers, wireless telegraphy, signalling, and drill.

There was rather more drill than we care about in England, and not such interesting displays of pioneer and life-saving work as we get here. But, no doubt, our American brothers will soon go on to these as they gain experience, because they are so much more interesting to the onlookers as well as being more amusing and instructive to the Scouts who carry them out.

The American boy is very like his British cousin to look at; that is, he is a bright, cheery, healthy- looking chap, but he is a little different in some ways. For one thing I think he is sharper than the British boy and knows more for his age, and he has better chances of learning woodcraft than boys have at home.

But at the same time, the Britisher, I think, sticks better to his work and carries out his duties a little more earnestly because he is expected to, and because it is his job.

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