HISTORY OF SCOUTING AT COLLEGE – PART 3
The Recent Times: 1968-Present:
This era was mainly taken over by one of the giants in the Scout Movement of Sri Lanka – Mr. Daniel Edirisinghe, who rendered a yeoman service to the Troop as Group Scout Leader from 1970 to 1982 and from 1986 till 2005. He was initially an Asst. District Commissioner of Colombo and then went on to be a Headquarters Commissioner. He was later promoted as an Asst. Chief Commissioner and finally was made the National Training Commissioner of the Sri Lanka Scout Association. He is also a Leader Trainer. The Troop is indeed privileged to have been under the guidance of such profound individuals who have taken major initiatives in bringing Scouting in Sri Lanka to what it is today. Mr. M.N.R. Fernando, who went on to be District Commissioner of Colombo and Leader Trainer of S.L.S.A., was beside him as Scout Leader to assist in taking the Troop from strength to strength. Both of their ventures have immensely helped to bring Scouting in the College to what it is, today. Mr. A.L. Victor also assisted the Troop from time to time as the Group Scoutmaster.
Being acclaimed as one of the most active and prominent Scout Troops in the island, it could be clearly seen that Scouting at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia has developed into what is a productive entity over the years in the school from which productive citizens have been the fruitful product.
Hence, naturally the membership of Scouting at College increased immensely and the Scouts of College started organising activities which benefitted the social community at large. Our Scouts also took part in all possible international activities which included World Jamborees and Conferences.
After a lapse of 10 years, the Rover Crew was revived in 1980 as the initially formed crew ceased to exist. The Troop won the C.P.J. Shield in 1987 and the Mayor’s Flag competition in 1989 for the first time. Meanwhile, the present Scout Room was donated and opened in 1987 by Bernard Boteju Esq.
By now the Junior Troop consisted of five patrols – namely Eagles, Leopards, Kingfishers, Bears and the Sharks (Inaugurated in 1989) – the latest addition. The Senior Troop had three patrols namely, Gamunu, Wijeya and Parakrama. The 1990s, was another brilliant era for Scouting, as many projects were undertaken which were of large scale.
The Troop at this stage started doing projects along with the Girl Guides, who are their counterparts. The first project of this nature was “Beats of Scouting” in 1995 which brought together fellow guide companies from the Colombo district. From there on various projects of similar nature were conducted – to name a few, Tidal Wave (1996), Coastal Winds (1997), Sandstorm (1998), Déjàvu (1999) Cyclone (2000) and Tribal Campfire (2002). The peak of organizing such projects was when the Troop organized “Tribe Out” in 2002 which was held at Lee Dassanayake Training Centre in Mirigama which was a camp with the Guides. This went on to show the bonds and the trust that the two movements had built over the past years.
Meanwhile, the “Scout Dunk” – a novel invention of the Troop became a highlight of most carnivals in Colombo and continues to mesmerise the crowds even now.
The Scouts of S. Thomas’ Mount Lavinia have continuously been able to mould Scouting in Sri Lanka for the past years by organizing unique projects which were of high value. Such a major project of this nature carried out by the Troop was in 2004, when it organized “Tribal Craft”, a huge Scout exhibition which was not only a thumping financial triumph but also an exhibition which put Thomian Scouts on the map as one of the most active and capable Troops in the island. At this exhibition, the official website of the Troop was launched, making it one of the initial Troop websites to be launched in Sri Lanka. By now, the Troop was famously known as “The Tribe of the Evening Star” which has its roots in the location where the present Scout Room is located (Adjoining the beach)!
From 2005 onwards till present, the Troop has been under the guidance of Mrs. W. Wijewickrema as the Group Scout Leader, who has greatly impacted the recent upbringing of the Scout movement at College. She has been in the Scout Movement in the country since 1990, and is presently a Headquarters Commissioner and a Leader Trainer. She also had the distinction of being the first lady Commissioner to organise a Camporee in 2009 and has been able to rally all interest groups around Scouting while contributing immensely to sustain the high levels of standards that the Troop has always maintained.
Many Scouts from the Troop were able to represent Sri Lanka in a lot of international events in the past few years. The most recent venture of this calibre was the 22nd World Scout Jamboree held in 2011 in Sweden where 4 Scouts represented Sri Lanka.
The Troop produces a considerable amount of President’s Scouts each year, thus proving that they are not only good in practicality but also in theory. At present the Troop is supported by the very much active Group Committee which is presently headed by Mr. Senaka de Fonseka where past Scouts, parents and well-wishers form this main body to support the Troop financially. Meanwhile the instructors render a lot of help to the present Scouts in their daily activities as well.
With regard to taking part in the competitions organized by the district, the Troop has done exceptionally well over the past years. In the district Scout competitions held last year (2013), the Troop was able to be champions in these competitions. This made the Troop to retain the Mayor’s Flag for the 8th consecutive year and the C.P. Jayawardena Shield for the 5th consecutive year. When considering both the competitions as a whole the Troop has been able to win both the competitions for 5 years in a row from 2009-2013. Meanwhile in the recently started competition for the Cub Scouts, the C.M.P. Wanigathunga competition, the Troop has been able to win all 7 competitions held since 2007.
Furthermore the Troop has been successful in conquering the sports arena in the means of winning the Sports Galas and the Swimming Meets organized by the district over the past few years. The Troop won both the Sports Gala and the Swimming Meet in 2012.
When referring to the financial triumphs that the Troop has had, the Troop has been able to be the highest collectors in the Service and Relationship Week (a.k.a. Job Week) in the Colombo district for the last many years. Thus by all these facts it is clear that the Thomian Scout community is by no means an anachronism but an active entity.
To further extend this level and to celebrate 100 years of Scouting in our country, as the most recent venture, the Scouts organized a Scout campfire in the belief that this would be yet another extravagant experience with a difference, for all participants and spectators. This project was a Grand Campfire titled “Centennial Flames 2012” which was of a high magnitude so as to revive the phenomenon of organizing large-scale projects. The project was organized with the main objective of creating a better understanding between Scouts and society & increasing the bonds with fellow Scouts and guides while celebrating the Centenary of Sri Lankan Scouting. The main theme behind the project was “Celebrating 100 years of selfless service…”. This campfire was thus concluded successfully on the 17th of February 2012 and brought together Scouts, Guides and officials from all over the district.
Towards the latter part of 2012, the Troop Leader S.C. Gajanayaka attended the 24th Asia Pacific Regional Scout Conference held in Dhaka, Bangladesh where he was adjudged the Runner Up at the competition held for the Most Outstanding Scouts of the region, making it the first time a venture of this sort achieved.
In 2013, a scholarship was formed to appreciate a worthy Scout in the name of Mr. W.I. Muttiah which would be awarded each year. The Rover Crew was also reformed in January 2013.
It is worthy to mention the name of Mr. Upali Salgado, probably the oldest living Thomian Scout who is presently in his early eighties. He is a Wood Badge holder and went on to be a Headquarters Commissioner. He is also responsible for the authorship of the book published by the C.L.A. for the 1957 Golden Jubilee Jamboree.
From an activity that was part and parcel of Cadetting, Scouting was eventually formalised and has grown over the past century to be one of the most active and enthusiastic activities of the school. “Scouting is life, the rest is just details” is a premise that all Thomian Scouts live by which truly depicts what Thomian Scouts truly stand for – uniqueness, skill and perfection.
History of Scouting at STC – Compiled by: Sidath Gajanayaka
© 2013 September