THE BOYS BRIGADE is an interdenominational Christian youth organisation

October 26, 2010 4:02 am

Boys’ Brigade Founders Sir William Alexander Smith Founded 1883 Area served International Website

The Boys’ Brigade (BB) is an interdenominational Christian youth organisation, conceived by William Alexander Smith to combine drill and fun activities with Christian values. Following its inception in Glasgow in 1883, the BB quickly spread across the United Kingdom and became a worldwide organisation by the early 1890s. As of 2003, there were 500,000 Boys’ Brigade members in 60 countries.

Object, motto and emblem

The stated object of the Boys’ Brigade is “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.” Except for the addition of the word “obedience” in 1893, the object has remained unchanged from the beginning.

When designing the Brigade’s motto and crest, William Smith referred directly to Hebrews 6:19 in the King James Version of the Bible, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…”.

From this verse came the BB motto, “Sure and Stedfast”, retaining the old spelling of the latter word. Today, some parts of the movement have adopted the modern spelling of “steadfast”, whilst others continue to use the original spelling.

The crest was originally a plain anchor, bearing the BB motto with a capital ‘B’ on either side. Upon the merger between the Boys’ Brigade and the Boys’ Life Brigade in 1926, the red Greek cross was placed behind the anchor to form the current emblem. The cross originally formed part of emblem of the Boys’ Life Brigade.


A headboard on 60163 Tornado celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Boys’ Brigade on 4 October 2008

The first Boys’ Brigade company was set up by William Alexander Smith (later Sir William Alexander Smith) on 4 October, 1883, at Free Church Mission Hall, North Woodside Road, Glasgow, Scotland, to develop “Christian manliness” by the use of a semi-military discipline and order, gymnastics, summer camps, and religious services and classes.

In the years following the establishment of the 1st Glasgow company, others were rapidly formed throughout Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom leading to a movement comprising thousands of boys. The Boys Brigade movement in Wales was founded by George Phillip Reynolds in 1887 at Havelock Sreet Presbyterian Church, Newport, Monmouthshire.

By the early 20th century there were about 2,200 companies connected with different churches throughout the United Kingdom, the British Empire, and the United States, with 10,000 officers and 160,000 boys. Each company is normally affiliated to a battalion encompassing several nearby companies, which in turn are organized at a district and then national level, although in Scotland each company is attached to a local district, which is attached to a battalion. Companies are named in the form “2nd Springfield”, indicating the second company to have been established in or around Springfield. Where companies have closed, numbers are not normally reallocated, so it is quite normal to find a “2nd” but no “1st” company.

Initially, a simple rosette was worn as an identifying uniform, shortly being replaced by the simple use of a belt, haversack, and pillbox cap (a popular military cap of the day) worn over the boys’ everyday clothing. The pillbox cap was used into the 1960s, long after it had fallen out of use in the British Army, when it was replaced with a field cap.

The movement also pioneered camping for leisure in Britain, previously rarely used outside the military. Early admirers of the Brigade included Robert Baden-Powell who as Vice President of the Boys’ Brigade used it alongside initiatives in schools, particularly Eton, to promote the idea of scouting and outdoor pursuits based on those of the military for boys. At the time, he did not originally intend that any individual organization would later arise from this aim in the form of the various Boy Scouts movements. Early examples of Scouting were seen in Boys’ Brigade Scouting awards and even specialised Boys’ Brigade Scout sections who wore a blue uniform with shorts and the distinctive Smokey Bear hat traditionally identified with Scouts, and still worn today by drill sergeants in the United States Army. However, nowadays there is a certain friendly rivalry between the two groups.

The Boys’ Life Brigade was one of many similar movements formed by the Boys’ Brigade’s influence, sometimes along denominational or religious lines, including the Church Lads’ Brigade, the Jewish Lads’ Brigade, or the Catholic Boys’ Brigade. The merger also prompted the abandonment of dummy drill rifles that had been used in The Boys’ Brigade, due to the Life Brigade’s objection to use of weapons or their representations. For some time afterwards, the section covering members aged 8–12 years was known as Life Boys, before being restyled as the Junior section (see below).

A popular hymn in the BB containing its motto and obvious reference to its emblem is “Will Your Anchor Hold” by Priscilla Owens, usually sung at displays and church services. Note, however, that this is not the official Boys’ Brigade song. The official song for the Boy’s Brigade is ‘underneath the banner’.



This chapter will discuss the origin of the boys’ brigade, the foremost uniform Youth Organization, in the United Kingdom, first talking about what BB means. It will briefly trace the history of the founder, when he was born up to his death.

Also it will look at the process the BB took to become, from a company to a National and later International Organization. Thereafter, focus will be shifted to the BB in Nigeria.


The Boys’ Brigade has existed for over hundred and twenty years now. Despite its long existence many people are yet to get a full understanding of what BB is. It is in view of this we shall at what Boys’ brigade is.

The Boys Brigade is the first Christian Youth Uniform Organization in the whole world. It is purely an Organization for Boys. It is not an Organization for men as some people are seeing it today. What happens nowadays is that the BB which is Boy-centered has had its focus shifted from Boy and emphasis placed on the officers. It must also be noted right from here that the BB is a Christian Organization or Movement. By being a Christian Movement, it has its foundation on the Holy Bible as we shall see later. It is a Church Organization founded and based in the Church. It is Christ and church-centered.

It is equally imperative to mention, here also that the BB is a uniform Organization. Members are recognized by wearing their uniform. As a matter of fact, right from its inception the BB has been a uniform Organization.

Conclusively, The Boys’ Brigade is an International Organization. As an International Organization, it exists not only in the United Kingdom where it started, but in many parts of the world. Despite its existence in all these nations, the name, The Boys’ Brigade is still maintained, except in cases where the language of the country is used to call the Organization. It is also an Interdenominational Organization that is it exists beyond one denomination. In our nation Nigeria today, the following are some of the major denominations which operate The Boys’ Brigade, namely:

– The Anglican Communion

– The Methodist Church

– The Presbyterian Church

– The Roman Catholic

– Evangelical Church of West Africa(ECWA)

– Christ Apostolic Church (CAC)

– Cherubim & Seraphim Movement Church (C&S)

– Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN)

– HEKAN, NKST, EKST and EYN Churches

– Army, Naval and Air Force protestant Churches

– The Qua Iboe church

– The United Missionary Church of Africa(UMAC)

– The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN)

– The African Church and some others


It is important to study history. AB. Wilder, a great historian, has this to say on the importance and effect of the study of the past on the present and the future: “We study the past because it is a guide to the present and a promise for the future, the struggle for a better world is strengthened by the hopes, ambitions and deeds of those who were before us. As we look backward our attention is directed forward’’

As already mentioned, The Boys’ Brigade started in the United Kingdom. It was founded by William Alexander Smith on Thursday, October 4, 1883 at the Free College Mission Church, Glasgow Scotland. This was during the French Industrial Revolution in the Great Britain. This Revolution, we say, aided the foundation of the Boys’ Brigade.

William Alexander Smith was a Sunday School Teacher, who during the process of teaching the Sunday school class discovered that the class was a rabble. The boys who made up the class were of different characters, some were in the habit of fighting, stealing, violence and thus disrupting the class. As a Sunday school teacher, he got distressed that the Sunday school was not holding the older Boys. So much time that should have been devoted to teaching was being wasted in efforts to secure order and attention in class. This made him to consider the type of discipline they had in the volunteers (He was also a Volunteer with the 1st Lanark Riffle Volunteers) in order to introduce it into the Church Sunday school. He said to himself: “I wonder if I could get together a squad of boys and give them the discipline and the training, and the games we have in the Volunteers. I wonder if I could give them something to do and give them a real interest in life which would help them to become real men.”

With his idea at the back of his mind, he sought for a solution to the problem and arrived at a conclusion: Drill and discipline’. Why not turn these Sunday school boys into a volunteer band or brigade, with the same military order, obedience, discipline and self-respect as the Volunteers. A programme combining games as well as discipline, gymnastics and sport as well as hymns and prayers would appeal to the boys. He therefore planned the programme for this new idea with two of his friends in the Church and in the YMCA as himself – James R. Hill and John B. Hill. And so they started off the Organisation today known as the Boys’ Brigade in October 1883 but not until they had sought and received the approval of the Minister-in-charge of the Church, The Rev. George Reith, father of the lord Reith BBC fame.

The Boys’ Brigade which was formed was to be called the 1st Glasgow Company and was the beginning of uniform voluntary youth work among Boys. Within a year or two, a simple uniform consisting of the forage cap (pill-box), belt and haversack had been introduced and other Companies were being formed. Also, activities such as band, First Aid, Signaling etc were added to the programme. The company took off on camping on the 16th to 23rd of July 1886 TO THE Kyle of Bute.


Father and Founder of the Boys’ Brigade Movement (1854 – 1914)

Like someone said, “there would probably have been no Boys’ Brigade or even Boy Scouts for that matter, had it not been for the foresight of the ‘pioneer of Boyhood and Father of the Brigade Movement, William Alexander Smith”.

William Alexander Smith was born on October 27, 1854 at the penny land House, Thurso, North Scotland. His father was Major David Smith, a soldier and a miner. He was of the 78th Highlanders Riffle Volunteers. His mother was Mrs. Harriet Smith. The family of six, the father, the mother, William Smith and the three junior ones, were keen Christians who observed their daily prayers and Bible Study and were regular and punctual in Church attendance. This was the pattern of life used by William Smith until thirteen years after he was born, 1867, when he lost his father who was on a business trip to China.

With the death of his father and the inability of the mother to cater for the four children (3 boys and 1 girl), young William was then sent to Glasgow to live with his maternal uncle, Evangelist Alex Fraser who was a merchant, dealing in clothing. At age 15, he was a junior clerk at his uncle’s warehouse and at the same time attending evening classes. In 1878, he established his own business with Donald, his younger brother and by 1881 went into partnership with a friend, James G. Findlay. It was himself and this James Findlay who had established the young Men’s Society at the Free College Church, Glasgow Scotland.

Educationally, he attended and was educated at the Miller’s Institution, the traditional Scottish parish school which later came to be known as Thurso Academy. Smith got married in 1879 to former Miss Amelia Pearson Sutherland. The marriage was blessed with two children – George Stanley Smith (1881) and Douglas Pearson Smith (1884)

On the religious side, he joined the Free College Mission Church on 12th April, 1874. It was in this church that the BB was to be founded. He was a member of the Young Men’s Christian Association as well as a Sunday school teacher and later became the Superintendent. What made Smith to join the Church was as a result of his visit to hear Evangelists Moody and Sankey in the same year. This became to Smith, the beginning of a new life into service of the Lord. Evangelist Moody had come to Scotland on the invitation of the minister of the Free Church of Scotland who invited him to Edinburgh and from Edinburgh himself and his colleague Sankey had moved to Dundee, Glasgow and the north of Scotland.

Mention needs to be made of the involvement of William A. Smith in military work. As already noted, his father reached the rank of Major while his grandfather became the Adjutant in 1831 and later a Lieutenant Riffle Volunteers in 1874, became a lance Corporal and in the year 1876 became Sergeant and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1877 and a full Lieutenant in 1881 and was a Lieutenant Colonel until his death.

As he labored for boys, both of his own 1st Glasgow Company and those throughout the world, he chose to and remained in the background. How ever, in 1909, his work was recognized and he was knighted by King Edward VII. His death occurred on Sunday, May 10, 1914 while still actively engaged in BB work. Record has it that he slumped while attending a Brigade Council meeting in London on Friday, May 8, 1914 and was rushed to the hospital where he died two days later. By his death at the age of 60 years, he had served the BB for 30 years having started the Organisation when he was about 30 years of age.

Sir William Alexander Smith said this of himself long before his death: “If I am to be remembered by posterity I should like it to be as the man who taught the world to spell ‘Boy’ with a capital “B”.

How ever, King George IV had this to say about the Boys’ Brigade, and especially its Founder, Sir William Alexander Smith in September 1943, twenty-nine (29) years after the death of the founder:

“……..Sir William Alexander Smith builded better than he knew, for he started not only a great Movement, but one from which all our present widespread youth training was destined to spring……..”


When William Alexander Smith started an Organisation for the Boys of his Mission Church then, little did he realized that the Organisation will start having other Churches and denominations embracing it just as Ling George IV was to say in latter years. Not quite long after the formation of the first Company (the 1st Glasgow), other Churches started forming Companies in and around Scotland and moving through all parts of the United Kingdom, thus becoming a national Organisation. A little while, other countries equally took the idea of the Boys’ Brigade.

Some of the countries/nations which embraced the BB in its inception and almost to date are under- listed and the year BB was established in them:

1887 – BB started in the USA but later became the united Boys’ Brigade of America

1889 – BB started in Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

1891 – BB started in Australia

1892 – BB started in British West Indies

1908 – BB started in Nigeria

1909 – BB started in Kenya

1910 – BB started in Nyasaland

1914 – BB started in China

1928 – BB started in Bechuana land and India

1930 – BB started in Singapore

1933 – BB started in Uganda

1935 – BB started in Cook Islands and British Guyana

1936 – BB started in Sierra Leone; Tanganyika and British Honduras

1937 – BB started in the Mautitus

1940 – BB started in Samoa

1944 – BB started in Falkland Islands and Bahamas

1946 – BB started in Niue, Pacific

1948 – BB started in Sothern Rhodesia

1952 – BB started in Ghana

1955 – BB started in Gilbert Islands

1957 – BB started in Northern Rhodesia and Haiti

1958 – BB started in Costa Rica, Southern Cameroons

1959 – BB started in Tokelau Islands, New Zealand

1960 – BB started in Hong Kong; Bermuda and Solomon Islands

1961 – BB started in Sarawak; United State Virgin Islands and Ellice Islands

1963 – BB started in Liberia; Papua New Guinea; French West Indies and Suriname

1964 – BB started in Burundi and Ivory Coast


Barely twenty-five years after The Boys’ Brigade was founded in the United Kingdom, was it introduced into Nigeria. This was the year when the Boy Scouts, an Organisation which is an offshoot of the Boys’ Brigade was founded. This was in the year 1908. It was introduced by Mr. (later Revd. Canon) H. Wakeman of the CMS (now CSS) Bookshop, Lagos, According to tradition, he used football to win Boys to Christ through what was then known as the Boys’ Club.

The first Company was registered with the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ebute-Ero, Lagos on 5th September, 1908. It was registered as “The Lagos Company” and later called ‘’The 1st Lagos Company’’ as other Companies began to emerge. The Vicar of the Church then and who became the first Chaplain was late the Rev. (later Ven.) T. A. J. Ogunbiyi and the first BB Captain in Nigeria was Prince Oye Akitoye.

Soon after this and in that same year, the 2nd Lagos Company connected with Methodist Church, Olowogbowo (now Wesley Cathedral) was registered. St Jude’s Anglican Church, Ebute-Metta became the 3rd Lagos company.

The Revd. W.F. Mellor, a Methodist minister was greatly used in the Ijebu areas. He started the 1st Ijebu Company in the Methodist Church, Sagamu now Rev. Mellor Memorial Methodist Cathedral. This was in the year 1926. He himself was the Captain and as he started Companies from one area to another he made it a point of duty to administer them. He was fondly called Captain General. BB continued to spread through all the areas of the country. As it was going through the Western part it moving to the Eastern part while the Northern part of the country was equally not left out.

Other areas where the BB was introduced early are the following:


1st Akure St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Igbara-Oke, Ondo State 1933

1st Ibadan Methodist Church, Agbeni 1934

1st Benin St. Matthews Ang. Church, (now Cathedral) Benin 1944

1st Owo St. Andrew’s Ang. Church, Owo (now cathedral) 1944

1st Warri St. Andrew Ang. Church, Sapele 1947

1st Sapele St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Sapele 1947

1st Badagry Methodist Church (now Freeman Meth. Cathedral) 1948

1st Akoko St. Stephen’s Ang. Church, Ikare (now cathedral) 1950

1st IIesha Methodist Church, Otapete, Iiesa (now cathedral) 1951

2nd Ekiti EmmanuelAng. Church, Ado Ekiti (now Cathedral) 1952

1st Ondo St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Iie-Oluji 1954

1st Epe St. Micheal’s Anglican Church, Popo-Oba, Epe 1956

1st Ife Christ Anglican Church, Ipetumodu 1956

1st Oyo Methodist Church, Apara, Oyo 1959

1st Asaba All Saint’s Ang. Church, Asaba (now cathedral) 1960

1st Afemai St. James’ Anglican Church, Igarra-Sale 1962

1st Isoko St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Oleh 1962

1st Esan St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Ujoelen-Ekpoma

1st Zaria St. George’s Anglican Church, Zaria 1935

1st Abeoukuta Methodist Church Nigeria, Ogbe 1957

1st Okitipupa Methodist Church, Okitipupa (now Cathedral) 1948

1st Bauchi Evangelical Church of West Africa, Bayara 1942

1st Adamawa Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, Wukari, Borno 1944

As the BB was spreading in different parts of the country, there was no central administration. It was just like each Company doing things on its own. As a later timr, Companies close to one another were doing things together. Companies were equally later grouped into Regions according to the political arrangement in the country. Thus we had Western Regional Council, Eastern Regional Council and Northern Regional Council. However, by April 1962 a meeting was convened at SIM Guest House, Ilorin. Delegates came from many, if not every area of the country. It was agreed at this meeting that all should come under one umbrella and so the National Council of the Boys’ Brigade, Nigeria was formed. It is to be noted that this was the National Commitee of the Boys’ Brigade, Nigeria initially. Mr. Samuel Ola. Maraiyesa, a Methodist who later became a minister was appointed as th National Secretary of the Boys’ Brigade, Nigeria with effect from July 1, 1962. At a meeting, the 6th National Council Meeting held in Jos present day Plateau State in June 1965, the first National President of the Boys’ Brigade, Nigeria was elected in the person of The Rt. Revd. I. O. S. Okunsanya, the then Bishop of Ibadan Diocese, Anglican Communion.

The first National President, The Rt. Revd. I. O. S. Okunsanya served until his retirement in 1972. After his retirement at the 1972 National Council Meeting, the Hon. Justice G. B. A. Coker who had been the Lagos State Council President since 1969 was elected as the second National President. The Revd. S. O. Maraiyesa retired as the National Secretary with effect from December 31, 1980 and his Assistant, The Revd. Asuquo John Udoh, also a Methodist Church minister was asked to start acting from January 1, 1981. He was later confirmed as the National Secretary and worked till 1987 when the Revd. Nachang Nimyel Nanyak was appointed the National Secretary. The Revd. Nayak resigned his appointment in April 1996 and nobody was appointed as the National Secretary until 1998 when The Revd. Ezekiel Olusegun Babatunde was appointed, whose appointment took effect from July 1, 1998. The Revd. E. O. Babatunde resigned his appointment in the year 2002 and the National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tiwatope Adeleye Elias-Fatile became the Acting National Secretary. He acted for one year before Mr.Matthew Tamuno Osika was appointed as the Acting National Secretary with effect from year 2003 and lasted only one year before Mr. Samuel Akhange took over from him in September/October 2004. He too did not spend more than one year before he was changed and Mr. Arastus B. Mbamoh became the acting National Secretary in the year 2005.

Meanwhile, Justice G. B. A. Coker served as the National President until his death in February 1991 and Chief Emmanuel Etim James was elected at the National Council meeting held at Hope Waddel Training Institute, Calabar, Cross-River State in 1992, His death in the year 1994 led to the election of a new National President, Dr. Recab Eleazar Bongi in the same year. He served until a new election which brought in Proe. E. J. Chutta in September 2004 at the meeting held in the Institute of Church and Society, Ibadan, Oyo State. The last election meeting was held in the year 2007 at the National Council Meeting held in Makurdi, Benue State. Prof. E. J. Chutta was re-elected as the National President.


The Motto of the Boys’ Brigade

This Motto of the BB is taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 6, verse 19 which says:

‘’Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both and steadfast…” It is taken from the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, hence the spelling “stedfast” has been retained over a century. It was not until of recent that the letter ‘A’ was added to the word ‘stedfast’ and thus rendered as ‘Steadfast”.

The Object of the Boys’ Brigade

The Object of the Boys’ Brigade is simply: “The advancement of Christ’s kingdom among Boys, and the promotion of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian Manliness”. The results of The Boys’ Brigade Object are:

The Goal: All Company work is directed to this goal –¬¬¬ “The advancement of Christ’s kingdom among Boys”. The material or the stepping stones to that goal are habits – Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.

It is to be noted that the Object was developed by the Founder himself right from the inception, that is, 1883. Nothing has been changed in this Object from this year except the word ‘Obedience’ which was added ten years later, in the year 1893.

The Boys’ Brigade Method

Right from the time that the BB was formed by William Alexander Smith and his two associates, a method to help develop the BB work was also conceived and put in place.

Although from this time, 1883 to date, The Boys’ Brigade has changed. At least over the years there have been many new innovations brought into the BB, the Constitution has been reviewed times without number and many other things about the BB have changed. The society has changed. Many technological improvements have come, the internet etc. Even the Boy has changed but certain things have remained constant. These are the essential elements upon which the BB was founded, the Method.

1. The Company: The basic unit of the BB where the Boy should feel that he belongs’. It is here that the right relationships and influences should be built up between the Officer and the Boy

2. The Church: The Company must belong to and be part of the life of a local Church or any other Christian Organisation.

3. Uniform: Right from the inception of the Boys’ Brigade it has been known to be a uniform Organisation. The BB still wears uniform and uniform is worn by BB for different reasons, such as to attract Boys, to help them to realize and accept their membership of the BB and what it stands for.

4. Christian Education: Every member must be part of a direct teaching of the Christian way of life. It is the Church which is responsible for this Christian education that is given to the Company.

5. Discipline: it is training in obedience. Discipline in its widest sense has personal discipline and self-control as its ultimate aim.

6. Awards: Progressive systems based on the programme of activities to encourage and maintain the interest of Boys and appropriate standards of achievements.

7. Activities: A four-sided programme to cater for different age groups and encourage all-round interests and proficiency. These are under the headings of Christian Citizenship/Education, Physical, Educational and Service. This is in line with the growth of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Luke chapter, verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (KJV).

8. Leadership/Promotion: Suitable Boys are appointed Leading Boys in the Junior Section and NCOs in the Company Section. This is to encourage and develop a sense of responsibility and Leadership. It is to be noted that it is only Boys that we promote in the BB and not Officers. We have seen Captains saying they are promoting Officers instead of the Church appointing them.

The Boys’ Brigade Motto and Crest

The motto:

The Motto of The Boys’ Brigade is, ‘’SURE AND STEADFAST”. It is taken from Hebrews 6:19, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast……” (Authorized King James Version). For over a hundred years of the existence of the BB, the traditional “stedfast” as it appears in the Authorized Version of the Bible has been retained until recently that the letter ‘a’ was inserted between the letters ‘e’ and ‘d’ in the word to make it “steadfast”.

The Crest:

The Crest on the other hand is the symbol, the badge or the logo of the Organisation. The emblem was originally an anchor. Like the Motto, it stems from the verse, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul…” (Hebrews 6:19). With the union of the Boys’ Life Brigade in 1926, a red cross was added to the anchor.

The BB Crest is composed of 5 parts, namely:

(a)The Anchor

(b)The Rope

(c)The Red Cross

(d)The letters ‘BB’ and

(e)The Motto: “Sure and Steadfast”

Each of these 5 composite parts has its meaning.

The Anchor on its own part represents our faith in Christ Jesus. As it is that when an ocean-going ship in the midst of a turbulent wave or wind is put to calmness by this very small but mighty and powerful instrument, so also we see our faith making us to soar above our problems in life.

The Rope represents our attachment to Him (Jesus Christ) while the Cross is the symbol of the Church. It reminds us of the vicarious death of Jesus on the cross and the victory and redemption the death has bought for us.

The two letters, BB, stand for the abbreviation of the name of the Organisation, which is, The Boys’ Brigade. Last but not the least is the Motto of the BB, Sure and Steadfast.

Both the Motto and the Crest when interplayed, encourage the members (Boys) to remain sure, firm, steadfast, unshaken and unperturbed while experiencing the challenges of life. When turbulence and storms come and in their tempestuous times, they are to remain firm, immovably steadfast and be certain of the security and protection that comes only from the Master and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Officers, Boys and Christians generally must ensure that their anchors hold in the storms of life. This is well captioned in our BB Anchor Hymn, composed by Priscilla Jane Owens (1829 – 1899).

1. Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,

When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?

When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,

Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul

Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;

Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,

Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!

2. Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,

When the breakers roar and the reef is near?

While the surges rave, and the wild wind blows,

Shall the angry waves then your bark o’erflow?

3. Will your eyes behold through the morning light

The city of gold and the harbor bright?

Will your anchor safe by the heavenly shore,

When life’s storms are past for evermore?

The object of The Boys Brigade

The object of The Boys’ Brigade has been obviously clear from the very beginning and this is enshrined in the Constitution of The Boys’ Brigade. It is simply:

“The advancement of Christ kingdom among Boys, and the promotion of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian Manliness”.

Let me quickly state here that as at inception of The Boys’ Brigade, that is, 1883, the Object had been drafted with the exception of the world ‘Obedience’ which was added ten years later, 1893.

The Goal of the BB has been and is still to advance Christ’s Kingdom among Boys. All activities in the Boys’ Brigade are geared towards this, the focus of all our programmes.

A four-sided Principle of activities is followed throughout the Brigade world. The principle covers the following aspects:

(a)Christian Citizenship


(c)Educational and


This is in line and based upon the Boy Jesus increasing in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52).

The Anthem of The Boys’ Brigade

The anthem of The Boys’ Brigade is as composed by William H. Parker (184-1929). It is in three stanzas, thus:

1. Underneath the Banner

Of the Cross arrayed,

Lord, we ask Thy blessing

On The Boys’ Brigade!

Thou art our Commander

And Thy soldiers, we

And in Christian warfare,

We would honour Thee”.

Chorus: Underneath the Banner

Of the Cross arrayed,

Lord, we ask Thy blessing

On the Boys’ Brigade

2. In each lowly service,

As on drill parade,

“Duty” be the watchword

Of The Boys’ Brigade:

Make us ever loyal.

Small or great the foe;

Lead us, Saviour! Lead us,

Everywhere we go.

3. We will fight for laurels

That will never fade:

For the Holy City

March The Boys’ Brigade;

What we find unholy

In our daily life,

we will try to conquer-

Help us in the strife



It is important that we know the meaning of the following words, Chaplain and Company, having known a little about the BB itself.

The knowledge of who a Chaplain is will greatly help us. This is because the term ‘Chaplain’ is used in many Christian Organisations these days. For instance, in our Theological Colleges we have college Chaplains and in other areas we equally have Chapel Chaplains along with College Chaplains. A look into the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word ‘Chaplain’ as “a priest or other Christian minister who is responsible for the religious needs of people in a prison, hospital, etc. or in the armed forces”.

Also, if care is not taken to explain the BB term of ‘Company’, one may be led to misunderstand it to be the type we have as “a business organisation that makes money by producing or selling goods or services” or “a group of people working together for business or commercial purposes” or any other meaning for that matter.

Who then is a BB Chaplain?

The Boys’ Brigade has so arranged its programme as well as its administration that the BB continues to be relevant both to the Church and the Society. In the International Manual of the Boys’ Brigade it is stated as part of the BB Constitution that: “A Chaplain or Chaplains shall be appointed to each Company…” It further states that “The Chaplain of a Company is normally the Clergyman or Minister of the Church or Christian Organisation of which the Company is a part”.

In other words, a Chaplain of the BB is usually the Pastor or Priest in charge of a particular local Church or Parish. These ministers are given different titles/names in different denominations. In the Anglican Communion, for instance, the Chaplain may be the Vicar or his Curate. Where the Vicar is busy that is when he delegates it to his Curate. In the Methodist Church he is referred to as Minister-in-charge while Churches like Christ Apostolic Church may call him the Assembly pastor, etc. The Chaplain is automatically an Officer of The Boys’ Brigade. As a result of this fact, he is entitled to wear the BB Officer’s Uniform, attend all Staff meetings and be fully involved in the decision making process of the Company.

The Rev. Trevor Wilson, a one-time UK Brigade Vice President and Chaplain of the 1st Templepatrick BB Company once said of Chaplains’’ As Ministers of Churches which have the Boys’ Brigade it is our privilege and opportunity to share in challenging Boys and young men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ” This must be why a minister who has a BB Company in his Church is counted lucky to have one. The notes for the Chaplains Appointment Card of the Boys’ Brigade, Nigeria read thus:

Your Company is yours to use it in the best interest of your Church and the Boys who belong to it. Through its well-tried approach, the Brigade, through the Company, brings the Boys for you to influence and help, and your friendship with them can be one of the greatest influences in their lives.

You will realize that close harmony in working with your Captain and other Officers is essential to the well-being of the Company. The Officers are nominated by you and you have a right to expect complete loyalty from them as they have right to look for friendship, guidance and counsel from you.

The Boys’ Brigade exists to help Boys to know our Lord Jesus Christ, and through that acknowledge become members of His Church. To that end all our activities are directed and for that purpose we exist”

What is the Company?

A company in the Boys’ Brigade is not a business outfit. It is a term used to describe the smallest unit of the Boys’ Brigade in which Boys belong and where Officers and Boys relate and work together. The BB Constitution proffers that “Every Company must be part of a Church or other Christian Organisation which is approved by the Brigade Executive”. Such other Christian Organisation may be a Seminary or Theological College, a Chapel or a School or College which is entirely responsible for the Christian education of the Company.

Companies are designed according to the Battalion/Group Council to which they belong or according to the geographical location of such Companies. For instance, a Company based in Akure may likely be the 20th Akure Company, in Kaduna may be the 127th Kaduna Company; in Aba, may be the 2nd Aba Municipal Company or located in a given area such as in Lagos, the 3rd Lagos Company.

The Company consists of the Boys, Offficers, the Captain and the Chaplain, the Patrons, Patronesses and other Honraries not left behind. This is headed by the Captain who is the administrative head, and appointed by the Church authority. The Chaplain is the spiritual head and is the link between the Church and the BB Company. The Company is further divided into sections such as: Anchor, Junior, Company and Senior Sections; Squads in the Company Section and Groups in the Junior Section. The age in which Boys serve in these Sections are listed below:

– The Anchor Section – 6 – 8years

– The Junior Section – 8 – 11/12years

– The Company Section – 12 – 15/16years and

– The Senior Section – 16 – 18/19years

The Company and Its Work

The BB Company carries out its work through many activities. Most of these activities are a means to the Promotion of the habits mentioned in the Object. Such activities are Drill, First Aid, Canoeing and Football.

Awards are equally used in the Company, partly to give Boys what to do and to retain their interests. These graduate from the Achievements of the Junior Section to the Head of State Badges for seniors. All these awards are regulated by a given age condition. State and Battalion Councils usually give the conditions for awards as they have received them from the National Council.

Also, each company has its own rules and regulations. However, they must be in conformity with those of the BB within the area where it operates. The customs and traditions of a Company are passed on from Boy to Boy, and the Spirit and life of the Company is usually determined by how successful or otherwise the work of the Company will be.

The Company and the Church

As already discussed before now, you would have found out that the Church is very important for the BB Company to exist. It is equally important that we make known the importance of the Church to the Company as over the years, for two decades now, there has been a general feeling that the Company is independent of the Church. As a matter of fact, it was taken for granted as if it were separate from the Church. The authority of the Church and the Chaplain in most cases has been taken over and exercised by the Captain and his Officers.

I have already quoted from our Manual that every BB Company must be part of a Church. It is equally important to make it known that it is the Church and her Committee or Council that approves the formation of a BB Company in that local Church or Parish. It is equally the Church which recommends the appointment of its Officers. The same Manual further states that: ‘’At the formation of the Company it should be clearly understood that all the property of the Company is vested in this responsible body (the Church) which shall have full control over all the internal affairs of the Company, including its finances” Where the official sanction of the Church is not sought or received, a Company cannot be formed.

The BB cannot operate in isolation from the Church. Its loyalties, its tradition and the achievement of the Object depend on a sound Church-centred relationship at the Company level. It is also of importance that, “In the work of the Company it shall be the duty of the Captain to seek to establish the closet co-operation with the Chaplain and the Church or other Organisation of which the Company is a part.”

One other very important point which needs to be remembered is this issue of officers. Care must be taken by the Chaplain to ensure that “all Officers are men or women of Christian character and be members or adherents of a church of a Church or other Christian Organisation and shall be desirous of prompting the Object of the Brigade” It is the church which appoints her members as officers. It is equally the Church who defines its own term, ‘adherent’

Other things which the Church is expected to do for the Company are:

1. To provide the basic materials that the Company will need to get itself established.

2. Ensure that the appointed Officers attend the Basic Leadership Training needed for the Job.

3. To help the Company conduct its first Enrolment Service in the Church during the normal time for the morning worship. Also to ensure that subsequent Enrolment Services are held annually.

4. See to it that the Company gives regular weekly moral, religious and Christian discipline training to the BOYS.

For the Chaplain and His Roles

Some of the under listed are the roles of a chaplain in the Company.

1. Offer advice on the worship and Christian education material used in each of the sections of the Company.

2. Support your Officers in the task of Communicating the Christian faith and offer pastoral support to them as individuals and as leaders on behalf of the church.

3. Visit the Company during its parade meetings

4. Identify yourself with the Boys and officers. Make yourself approachable to them so that they can relate with you

5. Once in a while try as much as possible to visit your Boys and see to their spiritual, academic and physical as well as moral developments.

6. Wear the approved BB uniform and once in a while attend Battalion and State meetings. Where possible sew BB cloth badges on your scarves or vestments.

7. Read and acquaint yourself with BB literatures.

8. Ensure that you play an unrelenting role in seeing to it that the Boys attend Sunday school and Church services regularly.

9. Hold meetings occasionally with the staff of the BB Company in his Church

10. Make the Company members know that what they belong to is more or less the wider Church. Make them see the BB as an interdenominational and international Organisation.


As a pastor or parish Priest who is a Chaplain over a BB Company you need to be aware of those who are of necessity partners to you as you work and who take part with you in this ministry.

I call them your partners because you alone cannot do the work. You will need others to work with you and these people are:

1. The Captain, Officers and Boys

2. Members of your Church council or Committee

3. Patrons and Patronesses

I shall briefly talk about each of these partners over the next few pages of this book.

The Captain, Officers and Boys

It is already a known fact that the Captain and Officers are appointed by the Church through you. The Captain is the administrative head of the Company on whose Shoulder the Organisation and administration of the Company rest. In spite of this he is to work under the authority of the Church and the Chaplain as it is not possible for him to be above the body which has appointed him.

Aside the Captain whom you are to work with, there are also Officers such as Lieutenants and warrants officers. These are to help and assist the Captain in running the Company. The major reason for their appointment is to help lead the Boys in their care to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Care must be taken in appointing them. One of the very important requirements in the BB for Officers is found in the BB manual, which says, “All Officers must be men or women of Christian character’; This statement implies that they should be people who can really lead Boys to Jesus and not those who would make Boys go astray.

In addition to this, they should also be people “who shall be desirous of promoting the Object of the Brigade”. Do not appoint those who cannot set a high example to the members of the Company and at the same time keep the distinctly Christian aims of the Organisation in mind. A lot of Officers make many people to doubt if the BB is actually a Christian and Church Organisation by what they do. Some indulge in fornication, smoking, drinking, etc while some are wayward, thus not being good witnesses to the name of Christ.

Let me quickly say here that even though it is the Church which appoints the Captain and his team of Officers, nevertheless, the power to enroll Officers lies in the Battalion/Group Council after such potential Officers must have undergone and completed satisfactorily the required and mandatory Officers’ Basic training. You, as the Chaplain, would therefore see to it that you give them every necessary support and encouragement to attend Training Courses. He who is not trained cannot be blamed.

The following are some of the qualities expected of a good BB Officer. An Officer is expected to have:

(a) Faith -This is personal faith in the Christian life (Heb. 11:1)

(b) Enthusiasm -He should be enthused for the Church, the Company and the BB at home and

Abroad (Col. 3:23)

(c)Dependability -He should be dependably honest and trustworthy.

(d)Efficiency -He can only obtain this by Training, Study and Experience (II Tim. 2:15)

(e)Self-Confidence -Not a “big-headed” over confidence but such that comes through Training,

Preparation and Experience.

Establishment of recreational camping

Drawing from his military experience, Sir William Smith introduced the concept of camping into the Brigade to allow boys and officers to remain in contact when other activities ceased for the summer break. The notion was initially ill-received due to concerns for the boys’ safety. A mother has been quoted saying, “Camp! My children have always had a roof over their heads, and as long as I live, always will!”. Nevertheless, Sir William Smith proceeded with the idea and 1st Glasgow Company held its inaugural one-week camp beginning on Friday, 16 July 1886, at Tighnabruaich, Portavadie in the Kyles of Bute. The First Glasgow continued to attend summer camp at the same location until the summer of 1974 when Portavadie was selected as the location of a proposed yard for the construction of oil production platforms. However the new camp is located only 100 yards away at Stilliag farm. This camp site is now used by many Boys’ Brigades every summer

The initial reservations towards camping did not last. A tradition developed, where the boys who were marching home on the last day of camp would be greeted by cheers from residents and were each presented with a bouquet of flowers. Camps soon became one of the most anticipated events in the year and early publications of the Boys’ Brigade Gazette contained many accounts of camping experiences.

Sir William Smith’s plans and notes for his first camps have been preserved, and have been used by many other campers

There are five different age groups, known as “sections”, within the organisation for the UK:

• Anchors – 4 to 8 years (companies need special permission to accept boys younger than 5 years old)

• Juniors – 8 to 11 years

• Company – 11 to 15 years

• Seniors – 15 to 18 years

• Amicus – 15 to 22 years

(Companies may choose to run a Girls’ Association alongside or in combination with these sections)

Within Australia there are three sections known as:

• Anchors – 5 to 7 years

• Juniors – 8 to 11 years

• Seniors – 12 to 18 years

Seniors is divided into 2 groups based on age. 12-14 Alpha and 15 – 18 Omega

Age groups are typically based on school years, so boys in the same year group would be promoted to the next section together, regardless of the dates of individual boys’ birthdays. In some companies, sections may merge or there may be minor variations to the normal age boundaries, to accommodate excessively large or small groups of boys or a lack of leaders. Boys might also move to their next section before the end of the year to allow a smoother transition.

Amicus was launched in 1994, and is intended to either run as an alternative to the Seniors programme or even without any other Boys’ or Girls’ Brigade sections operating. The Amicus concept emphasises involvement of all its members in decision-making concerning the running of the section, such as the content and whether a uniform is to be worn. The section will be overseen and supervised by leaders aged over 18, who receive training from the Boys’ Brigade and may deliver parts of the programme.


Officers (adult leaders)

Leaders in training are Warrant Officers, attaining the rank of Lieutenant only when having completed additional formal training in youth leadership. To avoid unnecessary leader hierarchy, all qualified officers are Lieutenants. The post of Captain of a company is a brevet rank with those in the position reverting to Lieutenant when they cease to be in the position; similarly other positions such as the company Adjutant (second to the captain) are considered appointments rather than substantive ranks.

Boys bearing the rank of Staff-Sergeant are non-commissioned officers but act within the company as Officers.

Boys as Non-Commissioned Officers

An older boy can gain promotion to become a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). There are five ranks available, each being awarded when a boy is of a certain age and reaches a high enough standard of leadership. The five ranks are:

• Private (minimum age 11 or promotion to Company section)

• Lance Corporal (minimum age 14)

• Corporal (minimum age 15)

• Sergeant (minimum age 16)

• Staff Sergeant (minimum age 17)

In addition, there is the ceremonial rank of Drum Major who leads the band.

NCOs often play an important role in the Boys’ Brigade, helping the officers and other adult helpers with organising activities and awards classes, particular in the Anchors and Juniors sections. NCOs wear chevrons on their upper right arm, a red sash is worn by Colour Sergeants and a Drum Major wears a badge on his right upper armband.

Staff sergeants act within the company as officers and do not stand in the ranks; however Staff Sergeants are boys of the Brigade. As they have received no formal training as officers and are not required to undergo the standard police checks as they are still serving ‘boys’, they can still partake in company activities and computations and still earn awards and badges. The uniform of Staff Sergeants is also different from that of the normal boy or NCO, they wear a white shirt with an armband on the right forearm which has four inverted chevrons on it (as historically worn by senior grades of sergeant in the British Army); other than that the rest of the uniform is the same.


Each section within the Boys’ Brigade has awards that can be gained by fulfilling achievements.

Anchor Section

The Anchors can gain awards for Project, Sports, and Scrapbook, among others.

Junior Section

The Juniors award scheme was revised in 2004 and members of the section can now gain the Junior Target Award, followed by Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, by completing a variety of activities in the areas of Body, Mind, Spirit, Community, and Creativity

Company Section

Get the Credit

Under the ‘Get the Credit’ Scheme, Company Section members can gain one Target badge first (reduced from the required two in an award reorganisation a few years ago, though Target Two can still be completed as an optional extra), then five other badges (Interests, Adventure, Leadership, Physical and Community) with red and blue flashes around them. After about three years, the boys should have gained all five badges with both red and blue flashes. This enables the boys to attend a Leadership Training Course and potentially attain the President’s Badge. This is a necessary prerequisite for the Brigade’s highest award – the Queen’s Badge.


A new award scheme for 11 to 15 years olds, called Discover, was launched in August 2007. The award scheme is built around three ‘zones’: Community; Recreation; and Skills. Badges may be gained at four Levels in each zone, 1 through 4.

Having spent 2 hours working on topics relevant to each of the three zones (a total of 6 hours), the member is awarded the Compass Badge.

The badge for a zone is gained when the required number of hours have been spent working on topics relevant to that zone (Community – 7 hours; Recreation – 10 hours; Skills – 7 hours). A maximum of one badge per zone can be gained in a 12 month period (min 24 hours work). Any additional hours may not be carried over into the next 12-month period. In subsequent 12 month periods, members will work to gain Levels 2, 3, and 4 of each badge.

During a member’s second year in Company Section they may gain the Discovery Badge, provided they have: gained a badge in all three zones within the last 12 months; completed an additional 6 hours work in any of the zones; taken part in a residential experience; played an active role in a Company, Battalion, or Church event; and had good attendance for the session.

The Discover programme includes the President’s Badge, the requirements for which remain the same as laid out in the ‘Get the Credit’ scheme.

Challenge Plus

A new award scheme for Seniors (16 to 18 year olds), called Challenge Plus, is due to be launched in time for the start for the 2008/09 Session, and will include the Queen’s Badge.

Founder’s Badge

In non-Commonwealth countries, the Founder’s Badge is used in place of the Queen’s Badge. However, the Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia and the Boys’ Brigade in Singapore have chosen to use the Founder’s Badge, although these countries are members of the Commonwealth.

Other countries

• Australia

The first BB company was formed at the St. Marks Church of England, Fitzroy, Melbourne in 1890. The Boy’s Brigade Australia has since formed an Australian council and has spread throughout the country ever since. The main award boys aim for is the Queen’s Badge, that recognises a Boy who has demonstrated the high principles that The Boys’ Brigade promotes. It can be gained by consistent effort within the curriculum of the award program.

• Bermuda

Boys’ Brigade was established at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in 1960 and continues to be active, stating its aim in 2008 is “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”.

• Canada

The Boys’ Brigade was prominent in Canada up until the mid-1980s] The Boys’ Brigade owned a camp north of Toronto at Gravenhurst, Ontario. The last of the “Toronto companies” were the 11th and 9th. In addition, there were several companies in Montreal Quebec (6th, 8th Montreal and others), Winnipeg Manitoba, and Calgary Alberta.

• Malaysia

The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia was first organised in 1946. It has continued a steady growth ever since and now has 6,713 members in 101 Companies

• New Zealand

The Boys Brigade began in New Zealand 1889 and continued until World War I in 1914, when insufficient leaders were available. Reactivated in 1926, by the 1960s there were 12,000 members in New Zealand in 220 companies. In 2003 a partial rebranding of Boys Brigade took place. The new sub-organisation is called ICONZ, is less formal than the parent organisation and currently consists of 36 units throughout New Zealand. There were also 3,618 members on various Pacific islands.

• Singapore

The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore was organised in 1930 by former BB members of the South China Battalion who escaped from Swatow, China during the occupation of the region by the Chinese Communist Party. It currently has more than 7,000 members in 117 Companies

• St Kitts

The Boys’ Brigade was established at the Wesley Methodist Church (located in Basseterre) and was only founded for the boys who went to the Methodist churches around the island. However, over the years we have incooperated boys from all denominations. Today, the Boys’ Brigade moves forward as a very active part of St Kitts pushing its motto: “Sure and Steadfast”

• United States

Boys’ Brigade companies were established by the early 20th century in several major U.S. cities in the northeast such as Baltimore and Boston, the midwest, and California. As of 2003, there were 2,000 members in American companies.

External links

• The Boys’ Brigade in Australia

• The Boys’ Brigade in Hong Kong

• The Boys’ Brigade in Ireland

• The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia

• The Boys’ Brigade in Malaysia – Official Webzine

• The Boys’ Brigade in New Zealand

• The Boys’ Brigade in Nigeria

• The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore

• The Boys’ Brigade in UK

• FDF; Boys’ Brigade’s partner organisation in Denmark

• PTK; Boys’ Brigade’s partner organisation in Finland

• Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade of the Fox Valley (USA)

• Boys’ Brigade camp photographs c.1900

Boys’ Brigade Founders Sir William Alexander Smith Founded 1883 Area served International Website

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