Scout Week Celebration

Tomorrow – February 22nd –  is the birth date of the man who is credited with starting the whole Scouting movement over 100 years ago …. Lord Robert Baden Powell. If he were still alive, Baden Powell would be 159 years old this year.

It’s hard to imagine that something good could ever come out of the horrors of war. But the spark that started our Scouting movement goes back to a war in Africa well over 100 years ago. In 1899 during the Boer War in South Africa, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell found himself defending the small town of Mafeking. Baden-Powell was a commanding officer in the British army; the Boers – the “bad guys” – outnumbered B.P.’s troops about eight to one (so for every one man that Colonel Baden Powell had on his side, the Boers – the enemy – had eight). Baden-Powell brought together volunteer boys in the town and formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps. The young boys were extremely helpful in defending their town. They worked in hospitals, carried messages, and acted as lookouts to warn the townspeople when the enemy was getting close. These responsibilities not only helped to keep the young boys busy during the long battle, but it also meant the men could focus on their military duties. For over 7 months … that’s like, almost as long as it takes you to get through one whole grade in school … so for that whole time, Baden Powell and his small force kept the town safe from the enemy until more British soldiers arrived to help.

Baden-Powell became a national hero. He wrote a book called ‘Aids to Scouting’ to train soldiers how to become army scouts. It was meant for older boys and young men, but teachers and youth leaders started using it too. So, Baden-Powell rewrote the book for younger boys – he called the new version ‘Scouting for Boys’ — and that was probably the first version of the Boy Scout Handbook.

In August of 1907, Baden-Powell wanted to see if his ideas for an outdoor program for boys would really work, so he gathered together 21 boys from all different backgrounds and took them for a one week camping trip on Brownsea Island, which is off the coast of England.

And that is where the Scouting movement began. And more than 100 years later, it’s still moving. In many ways, it has changed over the years, and it continues to change, but it’s still here and still moving.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, are the 3 main principles of Scouting:

Duty to God, Duty to Others, Duty to Self.

All that we do is grounded in those 3 principles.

Out of war came a movement that focuses on who you are on the inside and teaching life skills to our youth.

Out of war came a movement that helps to build character in young men and women all over the world.

It would be hard to Give Thanks for the war, but we can certainly Give Thanks for some of the good things that came out of it.

In less than 2 years, what started as one Scout Troop of just 21 boys on a week long camping trip —- grew to be over 11,000 Scouts in troops all over England.

Now 11,000 – that’s a big number, and it’s hard to imagine how many boys that really is …. How many have been to a Kitchener Ranger game? So, the Aud holds around 7,000 people; when all of those 11,000 Scouts got together for the very first time, all in the same place ….there were so many that they wouldn’t have all fit in the Kitchener Aud to watch a Rangers game together!

Today, we Give Thanks for the life of Lord Baden-Powell .

We give thanks for his vision and his dedication to young people. And we especially give Thanks for the Scouting movement.

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.

In 61 years of Scouting, 24th Kitchener has developed quite a long list of things,…a list so long in fact, that there is no way we could share them all with you today. But it’s important that we share a few of the things that we Give Thanks for:

– we’ve attended 10 Jamborees – events that bring thousands of people together from all over the country – all over the world, in fact –  for a week of fun, friendship and new experiences; plans are already in the works to attend our 11th  jamboree in Nova Scotia next summer. For many, a jamboree is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. How could you not give thanks for something like that?

– we give thanks for the thousands of hot dogs cooked over fires, even the ones that fell in, because we still had enough… and for the hundreds of slushies we’ve had at fall camp…and for ‘Jimbits’ …and for apple crisp & ice cream for breakfast …

– we Give Thanks for the opportunity to cook and serve over 5,000 pancakes, to sell over 10,000 Christmas trees, to help a Scout troop in Africa buy new uniforms, to collect over 6 tonnes of food for the local Food Bank

– we Give thanks for all the things we’ve done “for the first time” in Scouting ….like eat breakfast outside in the middle of winter, feed chickadees out of our hands, tour a local factory, attend a city council meeting, sleep in a snow hut that we built with our own hands, learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, sleep on the floor of the Skydome with thousands of other Beavers and leaders, fly in an airplane or ride a city bus, set up a tent, eat our own cooking, use an outhouse (it might take awhile to give thanks for that one, but someday, you will…), going white water rafting, giving someone else a turn to carry the flag, …or working up the courage to get up in front of 100 people you don’t know and take part in a Scouting service

We Give Thanks for a movement that continues to focus on our youth … to help them realize and achieve their potential … to provide them with opportunities to experience things in Scouting that they might not otherwise have the chance to do ….

That’s the why part ….

What about the who part? We have a lot to be thankful for there too….

Today we Give Thanks for the youth members in our group who happen to be in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s … or 60’s & up … the ones who  give up that ‘one hour a week people talk about’ to make sure program happens; the ones who give their personal vacation time, their family time… their weekends to go camping, or to take leadership training courses, or First Aid Courses, like the 11 who spent Hallowe’en weekend here last fall (and please stand as I call your name) – David, Aimee, Jeremy, Jen, Jim, Dan, Bud, Holger, Matthew, Andrew & me)…

….we Give Thanks for the ones who willingly share their patience, their sense of humour, their acceptance, their time and their knowledge with everybody’s child … to make sure that once-in-a-lifetime jamboree experiences happen, and that Beaver Scouts & their parents come to Fall Camp for the first time…to make sure that there is a safe place for the young person who struggles to feel accepted anywhere else …

…they do it to help our young people experience what it means to take care of the world …to be outside in the rain and the snow and the sun, exploring and learning to appreciate the many wonders of nature .. to laugh with new friends as they sing crazy songs around a campfire, and take part in skits that really don’t make sense, but oh my, they are fun …and to celebrate the accomplishment of a newly earned badge …

…they give to open up a world of endless possibilities of Doing Your Best and respecting each other. And they don’t do it alone; they have families backing them, giving the support that is needed to make all this happen and keep it fun.

These are, of course, our Scouters – the adults behind the scenes and the ones on the front line … the ones whose actual age is often absolutely no indication of how old they act … the 30 & 40 & 50 year olds who willingly leave the comforts of a cozy bed & a flush toilet at home to head out into the woods, tent in hand, to spend a weekend with a group of youngsters – most of whom are not theirs – sleeping on the ground … sitting on the frosty seat of an outhouse when nature calls ….and they spend the weekend learning and having fun, right alongside everyone else… and they are the 60 year olds who make sure we have the tools we need, when we need them, and they willingly spend the weekend sleeping on a plywood bunk in a dusty, drafty barn filled with a whole bunch of youngsters … none of whom belong to them ….having fun right alongside everyone else.

When you add up the years of service given to the Scouting movement by the current leadership team of our 24th Kitchener group … so that’s our Beaver Scout, Cub Scout, and Scout Leaders as well as our Group Committee … the total comes to 310 years ….310 … that is more years than any of us here have been alive! And it’s a lot of years, a lot of experiences, and a lot of “giving” to Give Thanks for!

And we Give Thanks to the people of this church St. James’-Rosemount … you who continue to play an extremely important role in our Scouting story. Without  you, we wouldn’t be here. 24th Kitchener wouldn’t exist. 61 years ago you brought the Scouting movement to this neighbourhood. Throughout those 61 years you have given us a safe place to meet; you’ve shared in our jamboree and camp and program experiences; you’ve been our Cubs and our Scouts and our Leaders. In 61 years, our Scouting group is the only, continuously running mid-week program that is offered by this church. That’s a lot to Give Thanks for!

As you came in today, many of you will have noticed the banner that is hanging in the long hall just outside this sanctuary. In the middle is an enlarged Certificate of Appreciation, issued to this church, for their ongoing support of the Scouting movement. On either side of that certificate are the notes of our Scouting members and their families of things they are thankful for. If you haven’t already done so, we invite you to add your words of thanks to the banner.

As Scouts and Scouters, we make a promise to do our Duty to God.

Part of that duty is to Give Thanks… in everything, Give Thanks.

We do that not just in what we say, but in what we do.

When we take care of that tree, or clean up a river, or practice

no-trace camping, we are Giving Thanks for all of creation.

We are Giving Thanks to a God who trusts us to look after this world we live in.

When we volunteer our time, or donate food, or money or things that someone else needs, we are Giving Thanks that we have enough for ourselves, and enough to share.

When we are content to sit quietly by the water and listen to the sound of the waves, or get lost in the brilliant kaleidoscope of colours as the sun sets, or run through puddles, laughing and splashing… when we Give Thanks for those moments, we acknowledge that there is something bigger, something greater, something more powerful and more awesome than ourselves.

In everything, Give Thanks …

Some days go better than others; that’s just the way life is … but even though every day might not be good, there is something good in every day. We might have to stop and think about it, but we can always find a reason to give thanks. And it’s our Duty to do just that.

Every year, we send you home with something that will remind you of the service. Today, we’re sending you home with something that will help you keep track of at least one thing that you Give Thanks for every day for the next year.

Handouts – explain what to do with them

One or two words on each line is all it takes to remind you that on that day, there was something good. And you Give Thanks.

I’ll ask our helpers to start passing the baskets now; take one and pass it on to your neighbor

And as that is happening, I leave you with parting words from the founder of the Scouting movement, Lord Robert Baden Powell … some simple advice on how to Give Thanks in all you do:

“Dear Scouts – If you have ever seen the play “Peter Pan” you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of good-bye.

Remember, it is the last time you will ever hear from me, so think it over. I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy a life too.

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. “Be Prepared” in this way, to live happy and to die happy- stick to your Scout Promise always- even after you have ceased to be a boy – and God help you to do it.

Your friend, Robert Baden Powell

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