Many paths I have travelled, many stories I have gathered through the years. Many tales I have to tell around campfires.
I first was exposed to Scouting, like many of you, when I was young.My uncle ran a Beaver colony in the city centre of Dublin.
I loved collecting the early Beaver footprint badges. I hoped to join Cubs but missed out on an opportunity as there was a waiting list in a nearby Cub pack in Rathgar.
Eventually I was accepted as a very, very young Scout in the 32nd Dublin Rathgar in a Patrol which were mostly a lot older than me. This timid 11 year old got home sick a good few times on camps in Powerscourt and needed collecting.
Eventually I re-joined my Uncle's Scout Group being a Patrol Leader and progressed into Senior Scouts when the teenage years kicked in and I got bored of Scouting.
My Uncle's Passing
After my Uncle’s passing in 2000 there was a need for Leaders in his small group in Drimnagh. Now 18 years of age I decided to get fully trained as a Leader with Troop 44 Dublin Baden-Powell Scouts of Ireland. There I rose to the position of Scoutmaster of the Group.
I’ll admit a lot of responsibility for a young 18/19 year old. However I was helped by other amazing volunteer leaders , mostly parents at the stage and my sister who was Commissioner for Ireland for the Baden-Powell Scouts.
I loved this group. While my sister took the responsibility of the financial paperwork I was the busy, adventurous Scout Leader in my 20s enjoying Scouting, camping and the outdoors with a group of Boys who I had seen grow up since they were 8 year old Wolf Cubs in this Traditional Scout Association.
Adventures & Awards
My early days as a Leader seen me in
• Long distant relationships with my first love in England
• My whole rucksack getting exposed to a burst water pipe in a hostel in Germany (nothing is more confusing than a German Scouter shouting at you in German to wake up because the hostel floor was submerged in water!)
• Jamborees in Switzerland in an absolute heat wave of a summer
• Being an International Staff Member at 2 BSA summer camps
• Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and getting lost in this wilderness
• Setting up an Internet Radio Station for Scouting
• Gaining a Medal of Merit for my service to Scouting while on Brownsea Island, the birthplace of the Scout Movement
• Gaining my Gaisce (Presidents Award / DoE International) Gold Award
The Closure of BP Scouts Ireland
In 2010 due to changes in company legislation in Ireland for charities the Baden-Powell Scouts of Ireland closed. It was heart-breaking for me after placing my heart and soul into a Group that grew from a small patrol of 6 and a handful of younger Scouts to a group which had a waiting list in all sections.
Fast forward about 12 years. I have settled down, married, become a father to a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. I had a stint with Scouting Ireland and 25th Mount Merrion Scouts as a Leader in several different sections. I was awarded a Commendation of Merit by Scouting Ireland for my work with Scouting Radio.
Memories live on in my heart
Yes the Scout programme has changed, the uniforms have changed (a lot!) though the message and method stays the same, or at least as a Traditionalist Scout at heart I still abide by the 10 Scout Laws in life.
Those who live by these principles are what I call success-minded people. A success-minded person is one who is aware that success, in all areas of life, takes work and effort and they are willing to put forth that work and effort to achieve it. Success-minded people know that real success in life goes far beyond wealth, power and position. Real success is found in who we become as a person, not what we possess.
As the founder of Scouting tries to teach us from a young Scout to “Be Prepared” , as a Senior Scout to “Paddle our own Canoe” and as a Rover (yes I still consider myself a Rover even if the programme says I’m too old!) Rovering is all about Service and as late Scout friend taught me:
“Service, Justin is a small price we pay for our short time on earth”
It is important to teach these principles to our youth so that they can grow and apply them when they are adults. As my son and daughter grows older I hope that they take on the same interest of adventure in Scouting as I did, if he doesn’t I know the principles of Scouting and respect to others will be delivered to them through my parenting.
And in between changing nappies, toilet training and keeping my family happy, one of these days I will tick off an item on my bucket list and write a book on my Scouting memoirs. For now though, I’ll keep the flame lit at campfires and enjoy the Scouting trail wherever it takes me.