4/4/2012 - Scoutmaster Minute

posted Apr 22, 2012, 7:44 AM by Lonnie Rimmer

The Origin of the Left Hand Shake
The left hand shake goes way back to the origins of Scouting, and was inspired like many original Scouting concepts, by Baden-Powell’s Army career.

When Captain Baden-Powell entered the capital city of the Ashanti people in 1896 he was met by one of the chiefs who came to him holding out his left hand.  Baden-Powell held out his right hand in return but the Chief said "No, in my country the bravest of the brave shake with the left hand".

This was because African Warriors typically carried a spear in the right hand and a shield in the left.  To shake left-handed meant you had to put down your shield and put your life in the hands of the other person.

As the new scouts get acquainted into our troop, they will soon find out that, while we aren’t putting anyone’s lives in danger, they will experience a process where they soon learn that they can’t do this alone. Transitioning into boy scouts is just that – a process – and to jump-start this, we are headed to Verdun Adventure Bound camp later this month. The scouts will be going through a series of team building exercises and challenge courses.  They will be required to “lean” on other scouts, in that they must participate as a TEAM to complete the challenge.  In this system, as they “put down their shield” they will be putting their scouting lives into the hands of their fellow scouts. What a better uway to acclimate into a new troop!

Before you know it (and maybe even before you are ready), your recent Webelos graduate will be showing more bravery, maturity, and responsibility than you could ever imagine.

All this from a left hand shake.

Boy Scout Troop 2860 Scoutmaster
Greg Smith