This article describes the history of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Troop.
The principal of Scotch College, Dr Littlejohn, announced at morning assembly on Friday November 12th, 1926, that a Scout Troop would be formed at the school under the leadership of the School Chaplain, Rev Rowan Macneil. A few days later, the first Scouts enrolled. This ened several months of preparatory work for the new Scout Master, ‘Padre’ Macneil, and it also introduced to Scouting, in the ‘Padre’, a man who was destined to become one of Victoria’s greatest Scouts. Indeed, he became famous as a Scout throughout the world.
The District Commissioner of No. 10 District, Captain Peowrie, gave the Troop two names: the official ‘1st Hawthorn’, and the alternative ‘1st Scotch College’ – the later being the most often used in the early days.
The first outdoor activity of the Troop was a camp held towards the end of term. It was reported in the Group Log as follows; “Under a bright sky on the morning of Saturday, December 11th, 1926, we held our first open air meeting, trying in our amateurish was to do the sort of things we thought Scouts would do. Enthusiasm was boundless, and at the close of the morning’s work and play, we held our first investiture, under the trees by our beloved river, unseen, and unsung.”
From it’s beginnings, 1st Hawthorn showed signs of quickly growing into what would be Victoria’s largest Group, and probably the largest in Australia. At it’s peak the Group consisted of two Cub Packs each of about 30 Junior School boys, six Scout Troops each with about 50 boys, four senior Scout Troops of about 20 boys each, and a Rover Crew of around 25 (approx. 465 youth members plus Leaders). There was also talk of starting a Scout Troop in the Junior School.
By 1928, the Troop had already grown to such a size that Rev. Macneil worked on the formation of a second Troop (1st Hawthorn – 2nd Scotch College), of which Mr L.P. Fox became the first Scout Master.
For the first few years of the Group’s existence, meetings were held on Friday nights in the College Gymnasium, and in a wooden hut known as the ‘chalet’. World War II brough blackout restrictions, and the Group was forced to adopt afternoon meetings. This saw a sudden spurt of growth in the number of boys in both the Troops and the Packs. To overcome the problem arising out of these developments, a Cub and Scout hut was built by the parents of the Junior School.
The continued growth of the Group and the need for storage and maintenance of the very extensive range of camping equipment led to the building of the ‘Rown Mecneil Memorial Scotch Hall’, which was opened by Lady Baden-Powell on the 1st of December, 1957.
At about the time that the designations of 1st Scotch College and 2nd Scotch College were dropped from the 1st Hawthorn name, a new section of the Group was formed – the Rover Crew. Since it’s first meeting on the 8th of June, 1931, the 1st Hawthorn (Old Scotch) Rover Crew has met continuously, the first Rover Scotch Leader being Mr Ron Wilson, who was also Group Scout Master for many years.
The Cub Pack at the College was formed in 1932, under the guidance of Cub Master Miss Dale. Because Scotch College is a school group, the Pack had to serve the Junior School. The Cub Pack’s history has been rather chequered as at various times it was decided to confine Scouting to the Senior School only.
The original Pack closed in 1933, after only a few months operation, but a new Pack was opened early in 1935 and run by two of the older Scouts. Mr Ron Wilson took over the Pack as Cub Master in 1938.
An experiment begun in 1940 was the supplementary section between the Junior School Cub Pack and the Senior School Scout Troops. This was the third Scout Troop, attached to the Junior School and catering for boys in that school over the age of eleven years.
The third Troop had as it’s first Scout Master, Mr R.G. Rowlands, who later became the Group Scout Master. But by 1943 this Troop had been transferred to the Senior School, and a second Cub Pack was formed in the Junior School to take it’s place.
The two Cub Packs were merged in 1952, and operated as the combined 1st Hawthorn Cub Pack until 1963, when it again closed down. In 1944 a cub den had been opened, and when the Pack ceased to function the floor of the den was used at Wishart Lodge, the District Campsite at Lilydale. For some years during the 1952-63 period the Cub Pack was, as earlier, without a Warranted Cub Master and was run by Senior Scouts.
The fourth Troop was formed at Scotch in 1943 at the same time as the third Troop but was originally attached to the Senior School, its purpose being to absorb boys on the waiting lists for the frist and second Troops. However, in 1944 the fourth Troop was reformed within the Junior School. The Troop closed down in 1948, leaving the Junior School without a Troop.
In 1945, two old Scouts of the Group formed a Senior Scout Troop at the School, and this section has been active ever since.
The fourth Troop was reformed in the Senior School in 1960.
Because of its huge size, 1st Hawthorn has been organised and run slightly different from the average Group, in fact, in many ways 1st Hawthorn could be described as a District within a District. Two unusual features of the Group in past years have been, firstly, its use of Troop Leaders virtually as Assistant Scout Masters. Secondly, the formation of a Pioneer Patrol which operated at 1st Hawthorn as an alternative to the Senior Scout Troop.
A Sea Scout Troop was formed, as part of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Group in 1969. In 1985, this Troop was restructured, and operated outside the aegis of the Scout Association.
In 1985, due to total reorganisation of Service activities at the school, the number of Troops dropped from four to two, but in 1986 had increased to three Troops of twenty four Scouts each. The four Venturer Units disappeared – the Venturers being absorbed into the newly created Adventure Program. In fact, it was the Venturer Leaders who took over initial leadership of this new program, with many activities offered having been part of the Venturer program. However, an increasing number of boys elected to form a Queen’s Scout Venturer Unit as part of the Adventurer Program – their main aim being to work towards the coveted award.
The members of the 1st Hawthorn Scout Group wear a maroon scarf with yellow piping around the edge, and the school badge on the back.