Boy scouts are a hundred years old!

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

2007 marks the 100th year of the founding of the Boy Scouts, a worldwide organisation dedicated to the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual development of young people.

Presently, some 40,000 young people are involved in Scouting Ireland, making it one of the largest youth organisations on the island.

The first scout troop was founded shortly after Major General Robert Baden-Powell, the movement’s founder, set up an experimental summer camp at Brownsea Island in Dorset in 1907.

Scouting in Ireland was initially divided into the Scout Association of Ireland and the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland, founded in 1927 by two Dublin priests. Three years ago, the cultural and social divide was closed, and Scouting Ireland was established.

Activities to mark the centenary will take place throughout the year, and will include the World Scout Jamboree 2007 in July and August at Hylands Park in England, in which Irish scouts will participate.

The founding principles of Scouting Ireland remain: that young people learn best by doing, by observing and deducing; that they should respect themselves and others; cherish the world about them; and achieve fulfilment by striving to do their best and not necessarily by being the best.

These principles are set down in Baden-Powell's Scout Law and Scout Promise. Despite minor variations to take account of local customs, both remain remarkably close to what he outlined in his 1908 handbook, Scouting for Boys. The key phrase in the Promise is that a scout "will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me".

The Scout Law articulates that: A scout's honour is to be trusted; a scout is loyal; a scout's duty is to be useful and to help others; a scout is a friend to all. . . no matter to what social class the other belongs; a scout is courteous; a scout is a friend to animals; a scout obeys orders; a scout smiles and whistles; a scout is thrifty; and a scout is clean in thought, word and deed.

In Rome, Fr Cyril Vasil, federal assistant of the International Union of the Guides and Scouts of Europe (UIGSE) said events would attempt to unite the young people of Europe based on their common Christian roots, focusing on “a Europe of people? rather  than of states, nations, political groups or ideological ties.

UIGSE is an independent faith-based Scouting organization with 20 member associations in 16 European countries as well as in Argentina and Canada, serving roughly 55,000 members. The coeducational organization, headquartered in France, was founded in 1956 by a group of German and French Roman Catholic Scoutmasters as a faith-based Scouting movement.

At a press conference in Rome to mark the beginning of the celebrations, Fr Vasil said, “Our contribution, in addition to having a civil and ecclesial dimension, has an ecumenical one, because our federation brings together evangelical and orthodox scouts: from these encounters one can better understand the similarities between Catholics and orthodox, which can help encourage dialogue.?

Events worldwide will  include the “Euromoot?, a three day hike through the Capazi Mountains, in which thousands of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox scouts of diverse nationalities will participate.

The hike will take place 4-11 August and will end in the Sanctuary of Czestochowa. The objective is to help scouts appreciate the values, places and the history of Christian Europe.