By CARA BETHEL
THE Bahamas Scout Association is turning 100 this year. To celebrate this milestone, the organisation will hold a number of events designed to bring awareness about the work it does to mold young people into responsible citizens.
Scout president John Phillpot told The Big T that the Scouts were launched in the Bahamas in March 1913.
“At the time, the local organisation was considered the Bahamas Chapter of the United Kingdom Scouts. It was not until 1974 that the Bahamas chapter became an independent branch which gave us the same rights as other countries,” he explained.
Today, more than 13,000 young people are involved in Scouting in the Bahamas.
“We have branches in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Berry Islands, and we are now putting out feelers to expand to Eleuthera and Long Island, and we have 65 adult volunteers,” Mr Phillpot said. “We will be having a number of events to celebrate our anniversary, the first one will be a national church service and parade at Ebenezer.”
Mr Phillpot said that the organisation’s primary mission has always been to support young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, enabling them to may play constructive roles in society.
The Scout movement comprises three major age groups for boys – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Rover Scouts. In 1910, a new organisation, the Girl Guides, was created for girls with the Brownie Guides, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Ranger Guides divisions.
In 1906 and 1907, Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army, wrote a book for boys about Scouting. Baden-Powell wrote “Scouting for Boys” (London, 1908), based on his earlier books about military scouting, with the influence and support of Frederick Russell Burnham (Chief of Scouts in British Africa), Ernest Thompson Seton of the Woodcraft Indians, William Alexander Smith of the Boys’ Brigade, and his publisher Pearson.
In the summer of 1907, Lt Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in England to test ideas for his book. This camp and the publication of “Scouting for Boys” are generally regarded as the start of the Scout movement.
Some five years after Lt Baden-Powell held his experimental camp on Brownsea Island off the coast of England, Scouting reached the Bahamas late in 1912. Evelyn Lobb, who was at that time a member of the staff at Government House, was instrumental in forming the first Bahamas Scout Troop. This troop was attached to the Nassau Grammar School and was quickly followed by other troops. The second was an open group, while the third was sponsored by St Matthews Church. After that, two groups were established in the Family Islands, one in Inagua and one Exuma.
The movement employs the Scout method, a programme of informal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities, including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking and sports.