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What were Shackleton’s reasons for taking Scouts on the expedition? Shackleton already had a track record of providing life-changing experiences to young people. Back in 1914 he had previously recruited a young geologist from Glasgow University – James Mann Wordie – from hundreds of applicants to participate in his Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition. Wordie went on to become one of the most influential figures in polar exploration of the twentieth century. He was instrumental in planning various later polar expeditions. Wordie later became chairman of Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, Master of St John’s College, Cambridge, and president of the Royal Geographical Society, London.
So firstly, Shackleton already knew the benefits of youth involvement and what they could bring to a project. Secondly, links had been building up for several years prior to the ’Quest’ expedition between Shackleton and Baden-Powell. In fact, Shackleton had attended a large Scout rally. Thirdly, was the influence of Emily Shackleton who went on to play a major role in the development of the Scouts and the Girl Guides. It seems it was her idea in the first place. Fourthly, and most importantly Shackleton instinctively knew (and was proved right) that the press would latch on to the idea of including a Boy Scout in the crew as cabin boy. It generated extra publicity in the Daily Mail for months on end. The timing was good for Shackleton because after World War One there was a huge upsurge in the popularity of Scouting and the first World Scout Jamboree in Olympia had just been recently held in 1920.

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