In sun-dappled scenes shot throughout the German countryside, girls and boys in navy Scout uniforms hike via the woods, pitch tents and lay on the grass beneath open skies. They put on striped kerchiefs and frayed patches of their nationwide flag. In quiet moments, ladies clasp arms and recline towards each other; one Scout erupts in laughter as she holds one other’s foot to be mercilessly tickled.
Taken by the German photographer Stephan Lucka, the photographs, “Das Gefühl, das nur wir kennen,” or “The sensation, that solely we all know,” are saturated in coming-of-age nostalgia for anybody who relished in a way of freedom within the outside.
For Lucka, who was first a Scout within the Nineteen Nineties in Unhealthy Salzuflen, a city in Western Germany, and later a troop chief there, the mission served as each a homecoming and a solution to higher perceive these youth. Having photographed Scout teams across the nation starting in 2015, he revealed the sequence as a e book late in 2022.
“Generally with life you’ll be able to solely perceive it backwards,” Lucka stated in a video interview. “In a easy means, I needed to return to that point that was a part of my youth… and attempt to perceive what this time meant to me.”
“I spotted that (Scouting) formed me in an vital means,” he added.
Nature and nurture
Although Lucka stated some elements of Scouting have tailored to new know-how since he was younger — at this time, troops shoot social media content material and use Slack to arrange themselves, for instance — he discovered the explanation why younger folks be part of are largely the identical: to foster “this sense of connection” to others and to nature, as he described it.
“With the Scouts I’m extra by myself, I’ve to be extra unbiased… however I additionally really feel a part of one thing massive,” stated 13-year-old Jette, whose Scout nickname is Tonks, in a translated interview from the e book. “The truth that you might be unbiased but additionally a part of a neighborhood on the similar time is one way or the other paradoxical to me… It’s a feeling of freedom and belonging in equal measure.”
Considered one of Lucka’s favourite photographs is among the earliest he took, of two teenage ladies laying entwined on a purple mat on the grass whereas out tenting within the woods, eyes closed and hair fanning out beside them.
“It was only one publicity, after which I went away as a result of I didn’t wish to disturb them,” Lucka recalled. “However to me, there’s this intimacy that all the time resonated.”
Wandering the trail
In Germany, the Scouting motion took off in 1909, a yr after the publication of British Military officer Robert Baden-Powell’s e book “Scouting for Boys,” which is the framework for the group (now current in 216 international locations). However at the moment, the nation’s youth have been already experiencing a revolution that introduced them into nature. The motion, referred to as Wandervogel, or “wandering hen,” started in Berlin, and noticed kids and teenagers insurgent towards industrialization by mountain climbing and adventuring in teams, rejecting metropolis life and materialism. Below Nazi Germany, Wandervogel and Scouting teams have been banned; Scouting returned to West Germany following the battle, however to not East Germany till 1990 when the nation was reunified.
In German, scouts are referred to as “pfadfinder,” which means “pathfinder,” which Lucka identified as he recalled an anxiety-inducing time when, as a troop chief, he practically couldn’t discover the way in which again to camp for his group.
“I received misplaced — I had a map and a compass, however I couldn’t really establish the place I used to be,” he stated with fun. “It was sort of unusual scenario.”
How did he get again on monitor? Due to Scouts steering that had been ingrained in him when he was younger: Search greater floor for a greater perspective. So he climbed a tree, recognized a degree that was recognizable, and led his troop there utilizing his compass.
“I discovered the Scout resolution: While you get misplaced, attempt to get a greater view,” he paused. “And it is a bit metaphoric for all times.”
At this time, Scouting in Germany emphasizes mountain climbing, tenting and sensible abilities, in addition to the artistic arts, Lucka stated. He additionally credit the neighborhood with serving to him to develop social abilities and achieve confidence in himself. On the finish of his e book, he rewinds time with a group of private snaps from his Scouting days: a portrait of a younger Lucka with sun shades and lengthy, curly hair on an evening he remembers falling in love; one other of his troop on a bus journey from France, triumphantly holding a baguette. In the end, he thinks “Das Gefühl, das nur wir kennen” is “a narrative about freedom,” but additionally one among acceptance, displaying a neighborhood the place many have discovered a “secure area” to be themselves.
In its cultivation of this setting, and kinship, “The Scouts (could possibly be) a mannequin for easy methods to deal with one another in an honest means,” he added.
“Das Gefühl, das nur wir kennen” is offered now.