My introduction to Scouting was in January of 1966 when I turned 8 and was old enough to join Cubs (there was no Beavers at that time). I went all through Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and Rovers in Vancouver, and was also a Scout Leader and Rover Advisor (as they were called at that time) and later served on District Council (something that no longer exists). In that time I had some amazing experiences, like attending the U.S. National Scout Jamboree in 1973, PJ right here in ’74, CJ ’77 in PEI, the Canadian National Rover Moot in Langley in 1986, numerous Rover Moots in Australia and New Zealand in the 1990’s, and way more local and regional events than I can count without taking my socks off.
There are lots of people here who have been in Scouting much longer than me, but when you are around that long you make a lot of connections. For example, in just a couple of hours this afternoon I went to talk to the folks at the BP Guild tent in the meeting place and discovered my old landlord and babysitter as well as a guy who was in a different Vancouver Rover Crew than me but knew a lot of the same people; then I talked to a visiting Scouter who has been in Scouting for 65 years and discovered that I had known his daughter, also through Rovers, back in the early 1980’s; and finally I went to Subcamp Saga HQ and recognized one of the symbols on the boat as being from my old Rover Crew and found that many of the subcamp staff are from that Rover Crew or a related Scout Group, and we know some people in common.
The point I am trying to make is the value of these Scouting Connections. I have several friends overseas, and will always have a place to stay in several countries should I choose to travel there. In fact, you don’t even need to know anybody, you just need to say that you are a Scout and somebody will give you a place to sleep if you need it. There is no better place to make connections with fellow Scouts than an event like PJ.
Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know people from other parts of your province, other provinces, and even other countries if you can. Badge trading can be a great ice-breaker, but try to take the time to get to know a little about the person you are trading with or just talking to. These days, with all of the social media available, it is so much easier to keep in touch with people living in other areas (if you want to) than when I was young. You never know – you might make a life-long friend.