Scouting is an old tradition- one that predates civilization. In fact, one can argue that scouting gave birth to society. Without the expansive nature of a few bold men and women, we would still be living in caves. Primitive men scouted for food and water. But as agricultural techniques were mastered, scouting took on a new a form.
The early scouts were colonizers- men looking for booty and tributes. These scouts were ferocious and unscrupulous. Christopher Columbus is a popular scout that fits this category.
Early scouts were brave but flawed men.
As time went on, blunt colonization became unpopular. Governments became less morally wretched and scouting had to take on a new form. Men began to scout countries using a more scientific approach. They surveyed the land, examined its raw materials, then exploited these findings. Scouting became about extracting resources from unexploited territories rather than directly subjecting people to their sovereign. The people of a particular region were left to govern themselves, but the material resources of that land were controlled. A good example of this new form of scout is Cecil Rhodes, a British explorer who founded the diamond company DeBeers. Through clever propaganda and resource monopoly, Debeers convinced the public that diamonds were scarce, forcing prices up while at the same time skyrocketing demands.
John Cecil Rhodes
As the industrial revolution roared, scouting became increasingly sophisticated. Private patrons and governments alike would hire scouts to study not just land texture but the social psychology of different populations. Sophisticated intelligence networks collected knowledge on land around every corner of the world with the goal of population control and resource monopoly. Their plans would continue to march forward at an aggressive pace until a giant hiccup occurred… the two World Wars.
World War I and World War II marked an important shift in scout practice. Because of the dire need for ground intelligence, the federal government established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an agency dedicated to coordinate espionage activities. The OSS later became the CIA. The U.S Navy, responsible for much of pre-assault reconnaissance at the time also established the Scouts and Raiders, which later evolved into the revered U.S Navy Seals. These two strategic moves shifted scouting from primarily a civilian activity to almost exclusively a government one. Scouting became about sophisticated clandestine operations performed by highly trained operators.
The Military Scout
This brings us to today, the age of cities. Scouting is once again starting to change form. What was once a strictly military game of reconnaissance has turned into a sophisticated game of urban exploration. A network of scouts who scavenge the city for information that suits their liking is starting to take form.
It is important to notice that the people with explorative instincts have never changed, it is their method that have evolved. Colonizing is now illegal by international law, and corporate exploitation faces the wrath of public opinion. With espionage being strictly a government monopoly, explorers have nowhere to unleash their scouting instincts except for the jungle of modern cities.
I am asking my fellow scouts to organize. Cities have grown enormously complex, and therefore our scouting talent needs to be coordinated and enhanced. Cities have many hidden treasures that are waiting to be discovered. Like the forefathers of scouting, we can still get rich by exploring them.
Gustave Le bon
Lewis & Clark
I hope these scouts have inspired to keep exploring and expand the limits of society. The scouts of this generation will not just be physically expanding society, but more importantly, they will create social expansions. Breaking down social barriers that are as real as their physical counterparts. You’re part of a long tradition, honor it! If you are interested in learning more about the modern scout world, I highly recommend you read the article on the type of scouts there are on CityXcape. It will give you up an update on what today’s scouts are doing and how to become one.