Charlotte Mason, TSA, and Boy Scouts

Rarely do I go anywhere and not run into problems while traveling.  Lost passport?  Check.  Cancelled flights? Check.  Sleeping in airports?  Check. Being escorted out of security by a TSA agent? It really happened.  Let me explain.

I was speaking in Peoria, IL at the Continuing Conversation: From Ideas to Practice conference. It was so wonderful to see this group with their mix of CM veterans, middlers, and newbies talk about and consider the philosophy of Charlotte Mason and build relationships.  As a gift, Marcia made this garden book out of a brick.  I love it, of course. (I believe Jeanne may be complicit in all this.)

So, when going through security, they saw the garden book in the scanner and had to search my bag.  I was told the brick is a blunt instrument and could not be on my person past security. "Can I valet  check it  so it goes under the plane and not on my person?" I asked.  I was told that "NO", it cannot go past security.  Really?  My brick edition of Home Education is banned because it is a blunt instrument?  I have carried on books that weigh as much.  Well, almost.

The supervisor was not in the mood to problem solve with me.  He went and got the serious security guy with his firearm. I was escorted out of security because I thought perhaps my airline could help me out, even though I did not want to pay to check anything. But I wasn't about to leave my gift behind.  While contemplating my options at the airline's desk, the security guy says, "Hey, that looks like the cover of my old Boy Scout book."  And then he smiles at me.  So I say (who knows where I am going to go with this one?), "Why, funny you should mention that!  The lady who wrote this book was instrumental in getting the Boy Scouts started!" I went on to  explain the story* and he seemed quite interested.

Thankfully, the airline was happy to check the brick in its own special box and they also waived the fee, so it all worked out in the end. Plus, the security guy was smiling when I left.

I sure am glad to be home.

May all your goings be graces,

Kelli C. and I

*Charlotte Mason was one of the first to recognize the value of scouting and added Baden-Powell's book to the syllabus of the PNEU schools in 1905.  Baden-Powell shared the story of Mason's influence in In Memoriam found at Ambleside Online as follows:


How did the boys scouts start?

Oh Well! I believe it was largely due to--whom shall we say?--A Field Marshal's Governess.

It was this way; the Brigadier General, as he was at that time, was riding to his home after a field day when from the branches of a tree over-head his little son called to him "Father, you are shot; I am in ambush and you have passed under me without seeing me. Remember you should always look upwards as well as around you."

So the general looked upward and saw not only his small son above him but also, near the top of the tree, the new governess lately imported from Miss Charlotte Mason's training College at Ambleside.

Her explanation of the situation was that a vital point in up to date education was the inculcation of observation and deduction and that the practical steps to this were given in the little handbook for soldiers of "Aids to Scouting." The present incident was merely one among the various field stunts from that book which might be put into practice by her pupils and herself.

For example, they might as another exercise creep about unseen but seeing all the time, and noting down everything that the general did; they might lead him off on some wild chase while they purloined some tangible proof of their having invaded his sanctum. Taken as a warning of what he might expect I daresay the governess's explanation opened the general's eye pretty widely, if only in regard to his own future security against ambuscades and false alarms.

But it certainly opened mine to the fact that there could be an educative value underlying the principles of scout training; and since it had been thought worthy of utilisation by such and authority as Miss Mason I realised that there might be something in it.

This encouraged me in the direction of adapting the training for the use of boys and girls.

From this acorn grew the tree which is now spreading its branches across the world.

The Boy Scout of yesterday--(reduced alas by some ten thousand who gave their young lives in the war)--is already becoming the citizen of to-day--(and none too soon)--largely thanks to the Field Marshal's governess.


  1. Glad that you made it home safely- with your 'book'! It was great to meet you in person and to glean much from your experience.

  2. Charlotte Mason: making connections wherever she goes

  3. What a nice ending to a traumatising story. So glad you loved the book!

  4. Proof positive that truth is stranger than fiction! Nobody could make up a story like what just happened to you!

  5. WOW! Heehee!!! :) So glad you got your gift back safe and sound!

  6. Oh my. What an experience. Now the gift provides an even greater story to share. Happy homecoming!

  7. I love all of it, the brick book (which is gorgeous!), the TSA story, and the CM connections. Delightful!

  8. Were your boys BOY Scouts? Mine were not but I have taught several Eagles. Another funny travel story to add to your journals!

  9. 'Scouting for Boys' was published in 1908, so could not have been included in the PNEU Schedule in 1905. (Unless it was his book written for the military 'Aids to Scouting'

    Baden-Powell was not married until 1912, about 5 years after scouting was started. Scouting could not have been inspired by a CM trained governess for his children.

    1. Thank you for bringing those points up! Yes, the book on the schedules was Aids to Scouting. The above words about Mason's influence were Baden-Powell's own. The Brigadier General that he mentions is not himself - the story was told to him.