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Rovers - Canada

History of Scouting in Canada

By 1908, Scouting had taken root in Canada, and in August 1910 Baden-Powell was invited to make a tour of the Dominion. By means of a competition held in England, he chose two patrols who, as they journeyed across the country, demonstrated practically the aims and methods of the movement. Baden-Powell did not accompany the patrols, but travelled independently.

The year 1911 was a coronation year in England and on July 4th, the day George the Fifth was crowned King, a contingent of Canadian Boy Scouts was presented to him to mark the occasion. Fifty years later a group of 1911 coronation Scouts met at the new Scout Headquarters in Ottawa to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

From its inception in Canada until 1914, Scouting had been directed by numerous provincial councils. There was a co-ordinating body based in Ottawa and Sir Percy Sherwood was Dominion Commissioner. In 1911, B.-P. persuaded the new Governor General, Earl Gray, to accept the position of Chief Scout in Canada; the post filled by each succeeding Governor General to this day. In June of 1914, the Canadian General Council with headquarters in Ottawa was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. The Act of Incorporation was a big step forward for Scouting in Canada because until that time, it had relied on the British Boy Scout Association for much of its direction and resources. After 1914, the Canadian General Council was able to take full responsibility for its own organization and administration, while still coming under the jurisdiction of Imperial Headquarters in London, England. It was not until 1945 that the Canadian General Council achieved separate recognition.

In 1927, as part of the Dominion Jubilee commemoration exercises, the National Committee for the celebration of Canada's Golden Jubilee gave the following commission to the Boy Scouts Association: They are "to brighten up surroundings of monuments, memorials, and local historical sites, with special attention given to monuments of the Fathers of Confederation and other famous men and women of Canadian history." They were to decorate such monuments with wreaths of maple leaves supplied by the Jubilee Committee to each district organization or individual Scout troop concerned.

The Boy Scouts of Canada were very happy to be given this assignment and many members were involved in impressive ceremonies at the various grave sites after the work of renovation was completed. It was very gratifying to many of the descendants of these great men, to see their ancestors remembered in this manner.

During Canada's Centennial, the Scouts repeated this service performed by their older brothers.

The Confederation Building was erected in Ottawa in that same year. As a token of appreciation for what the Boy Scouts had done, two statues of Boy Scouts were placed over a window near the main entrance to the building. These statues were modeled on the figure of the famous Boy Scout by Tait MacKenzie.

History of Rovering

Older Scouts wanted to engage in activities that were more suited to their interests and abilities. They wanted to retain active membership but in a section where they could carry on a form of advanced Scouting.

Boy principles were translated into adult terms to help guide these young adults. The objectives of Rovering were taken from the Boy Scouts section and described as being interpreted for older boys.

A series of experiments were conducted, and in 1916 the original pamphlets about the new Rover program appeared. In 1917, Rover Scouting was officially launched as the third section of the Boy Scout movement.

The general aims of Rover Scouting were developed and presented to the movement when Baden-Powell wrote Rovering to Success. While Scouting for Boys presented a program for boys, Rovering to Success never pretended to present a program for young men.

Baden-Powell himself explained this when he said it was only to outline his philosophy of life and that he was just passing on a few thoughts and ideas that he had gathered over the years. As he put it:

"It always seemed to me so odd that when a man dies, he takes out with him all the knowledge that he got in his lifetime while sewing his wild oats or winning his successes."

The Rover program with some modification was an extension of the Boy Scout program. Attempts were made to introduce various changes in Rovering over the years. However, Rovers sometimes found it difficult to work within the group structure with a Cub pack and Scout troop. Rovers tended to move away from close ties and into a small independent group operation.

This move away from the group, was often misunderstood and misinterpreted by many members of the group and the Scouting family. Also, as Scouting in Canada moved through the '50's and '60's it on a wave of social and technological change. This had a profound effect on recreation, education, attitudes and moral values.

The National Council recognized that these changes in society would affect programs being offered to boys and young adults in Scouting. In 1968, after several years study, the new Venturer section for boys 14 to 17 was introduced and at the same time, a new Scout program was introduced for boys 11 to 14. The Wolf Cub program has already undergone a change in 1966, moving from the two star to the five star scheme.

When the new Scout and Venturer programs were introduced, Rovering lost its direct tie with the Scout section and much of the support material for Rovering became outdated.

In April, 1968, the National Council approved the formation of a National Rover Subcommittee to study the Rover section in Canada. Its terms of reference were:"

"The Rover Scout Subcommittee is charged with the study and review of Rover Scouting and to make recommendations on that study."

In 1969, the first recommendation by the subcommittee was submitted which declared that there was a place for the Rover section in Canadian Scouting and that there was an instilling need to be served in the age group 17 to 23. This recommendation was accepted and approved.

In 1970 the Rover subcommittee presented two submissions:

One on co-ed membership (crew option), and one that covered policy changes.

The National Council accepted, in principle the submissions and changes for a trial period of three years, subject to approval by the Rovers at NAROCO '71 (National Rover Conference).

The Rovers accepted the interim paper known as Rovers '71 at the National Conference, and requested a more permanent handbook.

After a national survey of all crews, advisors and service personnel, the results showed 86% in favour of co-ed Rovering (crew option). In 1973, the Rover subcommittee appealed to the National Council to arrange for policy changes to make co-ed Rovering (crew option) permanent. This was accepted in November 1973.

Today, Rovers are involved in challenging and exciting programs. Rovers are the planners of their own destiny and through crew programs continue to carry out Rovering as it was conceived by the Founder.