On August 1st 1907, 20 young men gathered together to participate in an experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island, England. These 20 were from various social and economic backgrounds and were specifically chosen in an attempt to bridge the gaps in society. The far-reaching effect of this experiment was the development of what would later become the Scout Movement. In fact, this progressiveness of thought and action has been a main current throughout the 112 years of the existence of Scouting.
It is the success of this early Scout camp that led to the publication of the book ‘Scouting for Boys’, in 1908, and the eventual birth of the Scout Movement in England that same year. Today, we come together at this Founder’s Day Service as part of the Camp Programme for our annual commemoration of National Founder’s Day. We do so with the 54 million other Scouts and Guides across the 171 countries where Scouting exists. We have come to honor and recall not only the name Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, or B.P. as he was fondly called for giving to us this Movement, but also to recognize the individuals who would have contributed to ensuring that this Scout Movement continues to exist.
Those of us here today, who have been in the Scout Movement for some time now will instinctively recognize and understand why we place special emphasis on honoring our Founder. Those watching from the outside might tend to believe that that we honor B.P. simply because we are Scouts. The truth is that we honor the memory of our Founder as a living, breathing stream that moves through us. Being a Scout means practicing the principles, beliefs and values by which we live daily. It is not things that we do when we have time, or when the mood fancies. Scouting is something that fills not only our daily existence but every fibre of our being. Founder’s Day is that recognition that our names come from our ancestors but from our honor comes from our virtues.
It is because of B.P. that we the leaders are able to give young people the tools they need to solve everyday challenges while building a strong civil society. For instance many of us have presented, worn, or seen young people with badges on their uniform. As Lord Baden-Powell (B.P.) stated, “badges are intended as an encouragement to a young person to take up a hobby or occupation which may offer him a career for life.”
As we walk through the history of Founder’s Day celebrations of the Scout Movement, we observe a trend of change and innovation in our delivery of programme activities. These changes are intended to continuously engage young people, and all supporters of the Movement. Since we were last gathered together in celebration of Founder’s Day, quite a lot has changed for us. We have been forced to take steps away from each other and adapt some of our traditions. We have even had to dispense with or defer some Scouting customs. We have been forced to become innovative in order to honour our motto; ‘Be Prepared.’
When our founder Lord Baden-Powell visited Trinidad in 1930, a Scout rally was held on the grounds of Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. It was the first time that loud speakers and a public address system were used in Trinidad and this helped BP to spread his message to the young people. This weekend, a similar revolution, involving the use of technology to interact with young people, is happening. We are currently in the middle of our first ever Virtual Scout Camp. I thank and congratulate the many young people, their parents and their supporters, as well as the Scout Leaders, who have aided us in this adaptation which allows us to work towards keeping this Scouting Movement alive. Without your continuous support we would have no hope for a future.
Today, I urge all leaders to let the memory of our dear Founder, Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, refresh you so that you have a renewed vigor to achieve the task to which you have dedicated yourselves. I am sure that as we work towards this recharging of our Scout Spirit, our efforts with the young people will reach the heights prescribed for us by our founder.
As National Scout Commissioner, I stand on the shoulders of all those who would have lifted and supported me and I promise that I would do my best to ensure that we all are lifted and buoyed as we work towards the greater happiness of all and the honor and glory of our country.