Scouts History

Scouting began in 1907 when the founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powel, held the first Scout Camp on Brownsea Island, England.Developing their character. From its humble beginnings of just 20 boys, Scouts has grown into the world’s foremost voluntary youth movement with 40 million members currently.

Over 250 million people have had the honour of being a Scout since 1907.

During the South African War, Lord Robert Baden-Powell (BP) was stationed at Mafikeng through its 217-day siege and it was during this siege that BP tested many of his Scouting skills, most notably among the boys of the corps of messengers, whose courage and resourcefulness made an indelible impression on BP. On his return home he found that a book he had written for soldiers was being used to train members of the Boys’ Clubs and the Boys’ Brigade and so he decided to rewrite the book for boys and it is to this book and its author that many young people owe much, for it was this that started the world’s largest voluntary youth movement. Lord Robert Baden-Powel died in 1941, aged 83, and was laid to rest with full military honours in view of Mt. Kenya.

Be Prepared

The 1st Hellenic Scout group holds a unique record – we are the longest surviving body of Hellenic youth in South Africa.

Our beginnings can be traced back to September 1952 at the time our founder, Athanasios (Arthur) Linakis, took the first steps to establish a scout group in Johannesburg. To achieve this, the first step was to obtain the blessing of the Hellenic Orthodox church. This was readily forthcoming from the Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, His Grace Nicodemos Zacharoulis not only did the church give its blessing; but it also magnanimously provided spacious grounds at the Iera Metropolis (Holy Archbishopric) 7 Wellington Road, Parktown.

Here the group, consisting of a Scout troop and Wolf Cub pack, could hold meetings and build a Scout hall. Leonidas Rakitzis became the joint founder of the group. Arthur would act as Scoutmaster and Leonidas as Cub master.

Some months later a former scouter (adult scout leader) from the Congo, Colonel Charalambos Economopoulos undertook to head the group committee. Our present Scout hall in Senderwood, Bedfordview is named in his honour on 15 October 1952. The first meeting of prospective Scouters and Scouts was held in Linakis’ flat, those present were Arthur Linakis, Leonidas Rakitzis, Dimitris Phirippides, George Trimmis, Basil Lanitis, S. Petousis, and 2 others from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The next step was to find boys and Hellenic descent who wanted to become Scouts. By January 1953 the troop had grown to 25 Scouts. The first official public appearance of the 1st Hellenic Scouts troop took place on Sunday 22 February 1953 in a march to the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Wolmarans Street, Johannesburg. Known as E Mera Tis Skepseos (Remembrance Day) it commemorates the birth of Baden-Powell, the founder of the boy Scout movement. The first patrol leaders appointed were George Trimmis, Nikos Kounandarakis, Vasso Lanitis, Simeon Yanioglou an assistant Scoutmaster with 1st Lincliff Park Scout troop who held the Wood badge (highest thorough training course in Scouting) was approached to join our group as a Scoutmaster and was officially accepted into the troop in March 1954. The Cub pack was formed in 1953, initially with ten cubs.

In 1954 The King of The Hellenes sent us a Hellenic flag with the Scout emblem. This was presented by our Ambassador of Greece on the 11th April of that year at the inauguration of our Scout hall. The first picnic, under the auspices of the Ithaquesian Society was held in June 1954 at the efst. Rosolimos farm, 17 miles (27 kms) away on the road to Vereeniging. The first issue of the group publication, “Eso Etoimos” (Be Prepared) appeared before the celebration of first “Eorte” (Festival Day) and five hundred copies were printed. The first camp was held in January 1956 at Little Falls. On awaking in the morning, the Scouts were amazed to see that everything outside the tents was snow white. It was none other than frost.

In 1955 a district Cub soccer competition was held at the Wanders Club, ten packs took part. Yes! 1st Hellenic came first. Peter Scoufes chairman of SAHETI who in 1956 would become instrumental in giving the Scouts a new home, which culminated with the building of a Scout hall. It was inaugurated in March 1957 and had cost £422.Our first Scout to attend a World Jamboree was Leonidas (Loudi) Glynos. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Boy Scout movement and 100th anniversary of the birth of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, it was held in Sutton Coldfield, England in 1957. Next was Costas Couremetis, who in 1963 attended the 11th World Jamboree at Marathon in Greece. Another or Costa’s achievements was having led the 1st Hellenic troop to victory at the District Pioneering camp in 1961. In a district with one of the highest standards of Scouting, this was a top achievement. Costa Carastavrakis also attended the 1963 World Jamboree; but with the South African contingent, he also attended the 13th World Jamboree on the foothills of Mount Fuji in Japan in 1971. Our first Queen Scout was Costas Fotakis and Paul Manolis. In 1957 the 1st Hellenic girl guide company was formed. They met in a galvanized metal rondawel about 50m to the North of today’s Scout hall. In 1958 came the 1st Hellenic Brownies, who also had a similar rondawel; but theirs was 50m to the South East of the hall.

In February 1959 Arthur Linakis inaugurated a Rover crew for young men over the age of 18. The investiture, complete with sword, of the first Rover Scouts, took place in the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Wolmarans street. Paul Manolis Nick Paizes and Stratos Tyranes were the first Rover Scouts to be invested. The Scout troop and Cub pack have over the years participated in many competition camps, Pioneering competitions, First Aid, Cooking, Night Hikes, Swimming Galas, Kontikis. National and Religious ceremonies were nearly always commemorated.

On 29 March 1969 3rd Hellenic troop and cub pack was formed, the troop being Sea Scouts. Their Group Scouter was Basil Papadopoulos and Troop Scouter was Nikos Misailidis and the Cub Master was Eleftherios Striftombolas.