Friday, September 2, 2011

48th Colombo Camporee 2011

 48th Colombo Scout Camporee

Miles away from home, in unfamiliar surroundings, having to mingle with perfect strangers from other religions and other races, having to cook your own food, camping under tents in rain or shine, literally having to work together to survive is the ultimate survival training.  

This is just what the scouts had to do at the 48th Colombo Scout Camporee held at Vihara Maha Devi park from September 1 to 5. However trials were not all there was. There was heaps of fun and the opportunity to make life long friends.

But these boys were well prepared. If one visited the park on the September 2, when the building of camp sites was in progress, one could see the boys industriously cutting bamboo to build gates and walls. Because anyone can camp in good weather, only the brave can camp in bad weather. 

The Scouts Association is the world’s largest youth organization, with a membership of 31 million scouts spanning 160 countries. According to the Sri Lanka Scouts Association data there are 45,000 scouts in Sri Lanka in addition to the members of the Girl Guides Association, which functions separately. There are about 5000 scouts in the Colombo district alone.

The World Jamboree is held every four years and this year the world Jamboree was held in Sweden, where a contingency from Sri Lanka participated. The contingency of Sri Lankans had a very good reception from the king of Sweden and all dignitaries. Although the Jamboree was held in Sweden, a Camporee was held in Colombo. At least 45 boys who went for the world jamboree took part in and supported the Colombo Camporee.

The Scout movement is a co-educational movement, without gender bias, based on two basic principles, namely: the Scout Promise and the Scout Law. Scout Promise is based on three promises which are duty, obey and help. Plus there are 10 laws. All the Scout organizations in 160 countries are organizations which have accepted the Scouts Promise and the Scouts Law. Sri Lanka Scouts Association also belongs to this world organization.

Fifty scout groups took part in the 48th Colombo Scout Camporee, totalling nearly 2500. There were nearly 6000 cub scouts and scouts. Eighty-five percent were boys and the remaining 10 to 15 percent were girls. The policy of Sri Lanka Scouts Association is that they do not go to schools where girl guide companies already exist. They only go to girls’ schools that do not have Girl Guide companies in order to respect the Girl Guide Association. 

The Daily News spoke to some scouts at the Camporee:

Amrit (Assistant Scout Leader of St Thomas’ Prep):

“I am an assistant scout leader of the 39th Colombo scout group. So I have experienced a lot throughout the ages, camping here. This is a new experience for me because this is the first time I have camped while being in charge of a group. For the past seven years I was a part of the group participating in the Camporee. Now that I am in charge of a younger generation, I am responsible towards them. My duty here is to make sure that the scouts who are under me will have a good time and enjoy themselves at the Camporee.

The Camporee is a time when the whole of Colombo gets together. At Camporees they normally get together and camp out for five days and four nights. When you come here, first you have to make the camp site. ‘There is a place for everything and everything in its place’. There is a gate to enter the campsite, a kitchen where you cook and a place to keep the bags and clothing. 

After the campsite is done you can enjoy. For me, it is a lot tougher than being a scout because I am in charge of 40 scouts. Scouting is actually a life skill. Everything I learnt, I learned from scouting. After finishing my studies I am still helping with scouting because I want to give back what scouting has given to me. If you are a scout you know knots. When you come here you learn to take care of yourself, when you cook your own meals, for instance or when you wash your own clothes, clean your own campsite and clean your tent. When you camp and go home you take your life skills with you. Even at home you tend to take care of yourself.

You are surrounded by a lot of strangers when you are camping. When you engage in activities together you build relationships. This is very good for developing communication skills. It even develops soft skills, which can come in handy while facing a job interview. In every camp site there are patrols and each patrol has a patrol leader. Every scout at one time in his life is in charge of eight people. This helps them to develop leadership skills. Everything you need for life you get through scouting.’

Krishan De Mel (Troop Leader, St Thomas’ Mount Lavinia):

We have our college fair as well. We are trying to manage both events so we came here early and right now we are getting ready for inspection. The first two days are always tiring because of the building activities. After we get through the first inspection then we know we are okay. Most of the people who knew me from when I was young, know there is a difference in me, after I started scouting. You learn leadership and team work through activities such as camping.

Imalsha Devindi (Ananda Balika, Kotte):

We represent the Colombo district girls. We have got the opportunity to interact with other young people and work with each other as friends. To learn about friendship and independence.

Sudharshan Rodrigo (Sea Scout Leader):

We give the scouts a training in ocean oriented work. I myself used to work in the Navy.

H L M P Namunukula (Air Scout Leader):

There are scouts who are predominantly ground based. Then there are scouts who are sea based and then scouts who are air based. The AIR SCOUTS basically concentrate on Air activities. This is not limited to a drawing board. The scouts gain knowledge concerning the processes involved in flight and flying conditions, the mechanism of a plane and the theory of flight. It is enjoyable. They receive support from the flying staff of the air force.


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