A Rover’s Log – Mark’s Trip to the Britishland

A Treat

The one unique badge that Rovers in Canada can earn is the Rambler Badge. The requirements can be simply summed up as visiting Scouting members in a foreign country and reporting back on your experiences.

Below is a submission by Mark Burge, a fellow Rover and friend of mine. More of Mark’s pictures from his adventure can be found by clicking his picture of the giant Fleur de Lis below.

My hope is to have more contributors moving forward. (Hint hint) Consider this the first of many.

“By Rovering, I don’t mean aimless wandering, I mean finding your way by pleasant paths with a definite object in view.”
– Baden-Powell

Yeah, I know, I picked the corniest and probably one of the most quoted of his lines behind “Be Prepared”, however, it serves my purpose, and had it not been for setting goals and planning beforehand on what I wanted to do and see in Britain those words definitely helped. Otherwise, I would have been just wandering around for six weeks.

When I decided was heading towards Britain for an escape from school and work and a change a of scenery, I knew that part of my trip would be to a few of the main scouting history points while I was there. I traveled to B-P house in London; I was under the impression that it was a busy place with scouts from all walks of life there. This was far from the case. It was a hostel clerk who sold me some badges, and a few pieces of B-P’s history. His dress military uniform, his scouting uniform and original Stetson hat, and his collected works were all on display. It wasn’t that exciting, seems to me that there should be something more, guess not. The place is easy to get to, it’s basically right beside the Natural History Museum in London, steps away from Gloucester Road on the London underground. I didn’t stay there mainly because it was cheaper in other places, even with the scouting discount.

Later that same week, I traveled out to Gilwell Park, north of London. Unless I was missing something entirely, it was a fairly difficult place to get to. Take a train to Chingford from London proper and then either hire a taxi or walk for about 45 minutes from the train station to get to Gilwell Park. William F. de Bois Maclaren purchased the estate for scouts in the East end of London to camp. It was then turned into a training campsite much like those familiar to Camp McLean in Langley, BC. It’s because Maclaren donated the land to the Scouts Association that Scouts from around the world wear the Maclaren tartan on their Gilwell Neckers, it’s also why any scout is entitled to wear the Maclaren tartan for kilts. The park was nice, good camping, good facilities for small camps, but since there was only a woodbadge weekend going on, not much was happening. So I wandered around and stopped at the little store and bought a few badges and called a taxi for my ride back to Chingford.

After I left London, I traveled to the south of England for some of the more typical touristy things, and a sign in the window in Portsmouth for scouting, neat to know that groups on that side of the ocean do the same things we do at home. Eventually I showed up in Poole, England to go to Brownsea Island, the Scouting “Holy Land” if you will. I didn’t know at the time the island completely closes to tourists from the beginning of March to the end of October. I got lucky and attended the island on the last day it was open in 2006. The other thing is that the Scout Camp on Brownsea doesn’t take up the entire island, only a relatively small portion, about the size of the two upper camp fields of Camp Byng and the lower field. So I hopped on one of foot passenger ferries to the island with my uniform on and met up with a local Cub group. I was invited to attend an Investiture ceremony at the camp. It was a wonderful experience but I never got any photos of it. It was held in one of the fields of the camp, looking over the ocean. I was greeted warmly by the cubs their leaders which were my age. They were doing other events after the investiture, so I took that opportunity to visit the store, which at that time was in a building off the actual Brownsea island campsite. I also visited the camp before the renovations and building of legacy buildings at the camp. It was a fantastic experience especially since I have been a member of Scouting since I was Beaver and I grew up hearing about Brownsea Island. The other thing I have to remark about Brownsea Island is the over abundance of Peacocks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many of them in the wild. They were at the dock when I got there, Peacocks on my way to the camp, and even peacocks on the fences! When I was leaving I met one of the organizers for the Brownsea Island experience for the World Jamborree in 2007, we spoke for about half an hour of what was happening with scouting in the UK and the activities at WJ.

Despite my misgivings about BP house and Gilwell Park, this is one of my best scouting experiences. Before leaving I obtained a “Letter of Introduction” from Scouts Canada, which confirmed my membership with the Movement, and I was asked for it when I went to Gilwell Park. Maybe it’s not most useful thing in the world, but it’s free and takes five minutes at the local scout office. I enjoyed my time speaking with leaders from the cub pack at Brownsea, especially to hear much the same about Scouting as I hear here. I definitely recommend putting these places in that “places to visit” file.

Mark Burge
1st South Vancouver Crew

Submitted to oncearover.ca for consideration for the Canadian Rambler Award

One response to “A Rover’s Log – Mark’s Trip to the Britishland

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