"The advancement of Christ's kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness." From the Boys' Brigade homepage.
The Boys Brigade is the largest uniformed Christian organisation. Under the patronage of the Queen, this youth group has over half a million members worldwide who participate in a wide range of activities including games, crafts, sports, Christian teaching, music and holidays.
With the motto of "Sure and Steadfast" and the emblem of an anchor, the group has a mission statement which dedicates the group to challenging young people for life through a programme of informal education underpinned by the Christian faith.
The Boys Brigade does this through a variety of ways. Usually a group is attached to a church where the boys are taught Christianity in a partnership of the church leaders and the Brigade to encourage the children to develop their personal Christian faith. Awareness of the needs of others is also raised on a local, national and global level with opportunities to participate in projects where the boys can make a difference. They are also provided with opportunities for leadership decision making and skills training appropriate to their age empowering them.
The Boys Brigade has opportunities for boys from the age of 6 onwards with
The voluntary leaders are also given chances to enrol in training resources through a network of professional staff with the opportunity to develop partnerships with other organisations.
History of the Organisation
William Smith was a teacher in a Sabbath school. The older boys in the mission hall where the school was held were restless and bored and didn't appreciate being told to sit still and be quiet on a Sunday when they could be doing activities which they felt were more interesting. Smith had no trouble making his volunteers stand to attention on a Saturday afternoon when he did his work as a Lieutenant, and an idea formed in his head. The Sabbath School could turn into a band of volunteers or a brigade with military order, obedience, discipline and self-respect like his group of volunteers.
If he made a programme combining games and sport as well as hymns and prayers then the boys would find this much more appealing. Smith planned this programme with two friends and on 4th October 1883 he invited the boys from North Woodside Mission Sabbath School to join The Boys' Brigade.
In their first year, the Boys didn't have a uniform as such, wearing a rosette as a badge to distinguish them. The officers wore a bowler hat. In the next year a uniform was developed consisting of a cap, belt, and haversack. The pillbox hat was popular around this time so shortly after the first uniform was invented, a pill box hat became uniform. This was adorned by two rows of white braid.
In its first year, the Boys' Brigade had only one company in Glasgow, but news of Smith's new Christian teaching concept started to spread. The movement had two thousand boys around Scotland by the end of its third year with companies from Ayr to Inverness.
News spread as far as London and further with the first Boys Brigade company forming in Jersey in 1887, Belfast in 1888 and Dublin in 1890. Missionaries took the concept with their on their travels. The most notable growth worlwide, apart from the UK was in Nigeria. The USA and Canada followed suit in 1895 and 1907 after a visit by the Brigades founder.
The Brigade didn't always leave a good impression though as some of the boys were unruly. On occassions the glengarry cap which they started to wear as uniform would attract unwanted attention leaving the boys being pelted with stones and bricks whilst attending drill parades to the sound of "Scotchie! Scotchie!" being shouted at them in a derrogatory manner.
From early on, the leaders of the companies had kept in touch and formed a Council of the Boys' Brigade making administration of the movement easy. In 1887 William Smith was given the job of Brigade Secretary as a full time position. He introduced many influential people to the brigade including the Duke of York who became patron of the group and held the position for forty years.