100 Years of the 28th Glasgow (Giffnock) Scout Troop.

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of my Scout troop.

At some point in my past, my parents signed me up for Beavers. I have been told that it was out of a desire to give me something to do, and as decisions go that impacted my life, it certainly ranks up there as one of the larger of them all – it not only gave me some of my very best friends, some incredible life experiences that many will never get to experience, it also later gave me leadership skills, intra personal skills like none other, and to top it all off it is by my Scouting connection that found my future wife. Pretty impressive going.

Scouting had its 100 year birthday in 2007; the first ever Scout camping taking place on Brownsea Island off the coast of England in 1907. It took five years from the beginning of the Scouting movement to my own troop, the 28th Glasgow (Giffnock) to be created, first mooted during a “meeting of Gentlemen” in the Giffnock town in 1912. It was not long after this that the troop was formed – it is one of the largest in the UK today with two beaver packs, two cubs packs, a large Scout pack, and active Explorer Scout sections, as well as alumni spread all over the UK.

The thing is that even as a Scout I knew that it was an important piece of the local history, the Scout troop. It wasn’t until the 90th anniversary in 2002 when I understood that the troop was a much bigger thing than I’d fully realised; 90 years the troop had being going, and I had been a member of the troop for a relatively long period at that, having the lineage going all the way back into Beavers at a young age. It was also at this camp that I realised the scope of the people who had been a part of the troop – those leaders and older kids that I had been looking up to for so long were preceded by parents and older generations of boys who had travelled the same path as I had done. It is true that I did have my harder, less assured times - my father reminding me recently that several times during my first years as a scout I didn't want to return, if I remember one being because I scored an own goal and was heavily ripped for doing so, and another time because another scout was, I guess, bullying me - I mentioned it to the scouters at the time and they sorted it out. I stuck it out and I am grateful to my parents for pushing me onwards.

Above the door to the hall there are names written – boys and men of the troop lost in the war. For years I saw these names as they surveyed all that took place before them; rope jump, cities, cooking nights, broken bones and scouters shouting at ruthless rule breakers, but never had I considered what they meant – these names, those who had given their lives in the two wars of the 20th century, were no different to me. I, a young scout, was suddenly reminded that the people who gave their lives were the same in almost every way as me – a youthful young boy, with the difference being that they were thrust into the worst periods of recent history. It remains an important part of my education, that realisation.

When it came for me to leave the Scout troop after being Patrol Leader of the Merlin patrol, unsuccessful in my pursuit of the Cowan Trophy, (after two years in Curlew, a switch to Falcon and then the Kestrel patrol) I felt a sudden reminder that I had given more to the troop than I had received in return – without knowing it, I had became the older boys, the young men of the troop, the ones that the younger kids see as tall and lanky and rough. I was joining in the in-jokes between leaders and motivating the young souls to continue to come back to Scouts, exactly as I myself had needed in the first few uncertain years as a young boy in the troop that was seemingly filled with huge men.

I was asked back to be a leader shortly after I left. As part of my transition from PL to Scouter I was asked to help our for a short while at a different troop, the 116 in Clarkston. The smaller troop was a sea change, but the Scouting was the same. This was September 2001 – I remember watching the towers fall in New York and going to Scouts that very evening, the 116 meeting on a Tuesday rather than the hallowed Thursday nights.

I was a Scouter at the 28th from the January of 2002 until June 2007 – A total of six “seasons” of Scouts; enough to see the kids that were “first years” in 2003 become the Patrol Leaders in the year I left. In that time I was quartermaster, caterer, climbing wall guy, curler, Uncle to several patrols, help assist in two broken bones, got stabbed in the foot twice by an errantly thrown dart, went to the Ashoka twice and the Osprey three times for dinner, gave my ID once to a fellow Scouter to get in the Garage, ate burgers from a certain take out place at least nine times, climbed numerous Munro’s (including my first ascent of Ben Nevis), and above all had some of the funniest times of my life. Being a Scouter wasn’t always good fun (like that time I was involved in a civil suit) but it more than made up for it with the number of times that I got to hang out with my mates.

I was a leader of the 28th for 6% of its time in existence, and this week sees the 100 year anniversary of that meeting of gentlemen interested in Scouting. And if you think that my mum and dad are credited with getting me into (and helping to keep me in) Scouts in the first place, I must also raise a glass to those men in 1912 – for they did not know what they were starting, how many boys’ lives would change, and what the world would be like when the troop they were starting would celebrate being 100 years old.

As an aside, I started this blog whilst still a scouter. This blog reaches it’s 5th anniversary this year too, on the 12th February, the same day as my Gran’s 80th Birthday. With my 500th post just around the corner, it’s an alignment of anniversaries.

An interesting post related to Scouting:
The Campfire Songs – some of my favourite camp fire songs. You can click the tag below this post to have a read at some of them.