Stoney Point Scouts Celebrate their Centennial Anniversary

Montreal West town hall played host to at least 100 scouts last Thursday as they rallied together to mark the centennial celebration of the scouting movement.

Scouts, Venturers, Beavers, Cubs and Rovers from the Stoney Point region all joined together to play games, sing songs and listen to wisdom passed down to them by the evening’s guest of honour, Baron Robert Baden-Powell.

Well not quite. Robert Baden Powell, also known simply as B-P, was an English soldier, writer and artist, who founded the scouting movement 100 years ago and wrote many of the original texts for scouts which are still in use today. Westmount Scout Leader Andrew MacDougall was brought in to play the part of B-P for the evening’s events.

“All the sort of basic principals are still all based on what he started,” said Mark Brenchley, who supervises the Stoney Point area of Scouts Canada, Quebec. “Things have adapted just because things have changed a lot but we still hold dear a lot of what he taught and a lot of what he professed.”

To mark the centennial, B-P shared his vision, which hasn’t changed in 100 years of scouting. “Live your life well, be happy and one of the great ways to be happy is to do things for others,” said Brenchley, paraphrasing B-P’s message.

“There’s a long history of scouting throughout Canada and particularly in this region,” said Brenchley. He said that the Second Westmount troop is the oldest in the area, and Montreal West is not far behind having been a home to scouting for close to 90 years.

The Stoney Point area is comprised of scout groups from St. Laurent boulevard to Lachine and from the river up to Highway 40.

“Stoney Point is probably one of the top three areas in Quebec,” said Jean-Pierre Busschaert, a council commissioner for Scouts Canada, Quebec. “There’s a very, very strong community spirit which is the basis for everything and you don’t see that everywhere else.”

Scouts Canada has seen a drop in their attendance numbers in recent years. According to Busschaert, this drop has led to a change in how Quebec scouts are organized. “We went from districts to areas about five years ago and we went from 26 districts to 12 working areas,” said Busschaert.

Despite the fact that the world is a different place than it was 100 years ago, Busschaert still believes that Scouting values are just as applicable today to developing able and thoughtful youths. “It brings back traditional values in this world where there’s instant gratification,” said Busschaert. “There’s something to be said for being a good citizen, to have solid values, and a solid foundation to build on.”

“You know, society has changed a lot since 1907 and the way we explain it in the scouting business is that scouting is called a movement,” said Brenchley. “It’s not called an organization and it’s called a movement because we’re continually moving.”

According to Brenchley, the admittance of girls, the structure and activities of their weekly meetings and their updated uniforms are all examples of how the movement is evolving.

This year is a big one for Scouts Canada, Quebec, not only because of the centennial celebrations, but because Camp Tamaracouta, will be hosting this year’s Scouts Canada Jamboree in July.

The Jamboree camping experience draws scouts and leaders from all across Canada and even internationally. Camp Tamaracouta, locate near Saint-Jerome, is the oldest continuously running scout camp in the world.

by Charles Montgomery
for the The Chronicle, February 27, 2007