“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” – Psalm 119:105
The year, 1941; the day, Sunday, July 06; the time, afternoon; the place, Government Hill, Barbados. Charles Reginald Courtney Springer was holding a scout meeting in the downstairs level of the house. His meeting was disturbed by the crying of a child. He sent a message to the upper level requesting that the noise from the child be curtailed since it was disturbing his scout meeting. Advent Basil, his firstborn, into the world.
The Springer legacy in scouting all began in March 1912 when Charles Wilkinson Springer, my grandfather, was the first Scoutmaster of the first Scout Troup in Barbados at the Combermere School. All this was refreshingly renewed last week when I was part of the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of Scouting in Barbados.
My scouting journey began as a “Tenderfoot” at age 10, which is the first rank earned as a Boy Scout; it encompassed the privilege of attending the eighth world Boy Scouts’ Jamboree in Canada in 1955 when I was 14; through to the honour of becoming a Queen’s scout at age 17.
Now several decades later, I can reflect that Scouting was indeed an excellent foundation for the journey through life and I regret that, apart from a short stint as a Cub Master at Harrison College, I broke my service in the scout movement when I left Barbados for a period of 14 years pursuing higher education and embarking in the world of work. On returning to Barbados in 1974, the heavy workload and exigencies of travel did not permit me to become immersed in the scout movement but I tried to assist wherever I could.
Now that I have matured and benefited from the word as a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, I have an inner peace as the song relates “Peace is flowing like a river, Flowing out through you and me, Spreading out into the desert, Setting all the captives free”.
Last Sunday was the Barbados Boy Scouts Association’s Centennial Founder’s Day Service at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium. Last Monday at assembly in the Combermere School, there was an exciting programme of reminiscence which culminated in the unveiling of a plaque with a suitable inscription, including the members of the Scout Troup in 1912, as well as members of the current Scout Troup 100 years later in 2012. The plaque was unveiled by Lieut. Col. Owen Springer, Assistant Chief Commissioner, who was assisted by 91 year old Mr. Lisle Harrison, the oldest ambulatory Combermerian Scout alive today.
I have known Lisle for as long as I can remember. He is six years younger than my father and was very much involved in the scout meetings which my father held, many of them at our house, when I was growing up. He and my father were certainly close in scouting and so were our families.
Lisle had the opportunity and vision to enlarge and frame an historical photograph of the first camp of the Combermere School Scout Troup which was held at Codrington College in 1912. He presented this to the Principal of Combermere School at last Monday’s celebration with a suitable inscription from the Harrison and Springer families. This was a repeat of a similar presentation that he made to the Rev. Dr. Nigel Taylor, Chief Commissioner for Scouts in Barbados, at the Founder’s Day Service the day before.
The speakers giving the feature addresses at the Founder’s Day Service and the Combermere School Ceremony, Father Clement Paul and Mr. Lionel Weekes, respectively, both lauded the efforts of the scout leadership in Barbados to sustain such an uplifting organisation over the years. They appealed for more and more young men to join the scouting movement and also for more and more leaders to come forward so that the rate of growth of the movement would not be stymied by limited leadership resources, and so that the moral and industrious underpinning of the scout movement will contribute to the growth and sustainable development of our country.
All three sons of Charles Wilkinson Springer were Scouts and made a contribution to scouting over the years. Charles Wilkinson Springer’s contribution was short-lived due to his untimely death in 1914 at the age of 27. The eldest son, Robert Christopher, actually started the Scout Troup at Queen’s Royal College in Trinidad when he was teaching there. Sir Hugh Worrell was Chief Scout in his capacity of Governor General of Barbados, and my father rose to the height of Assistant Island Scout Commissioner (Training). I continued the legacy. My two sons, Kevin and Bevan, were not only Sea Scouts but also sportsmen until they, too, left the Island to pursue their education and respective careers, and have only returned on infrequent visits. The Springer legacy in scouting has therefore petered out.
While at Combermere School last Monday, the current Scoutmaster of the Troup, Mr Simon Alleyne, introduced himself to me and I bravely promised to assist wherever I could. One opportunity is to shift the paradigm of the scouting movement to the “business of scouting” with a focus on mobilising the scouting fraternity to be aware of the entrepreneurial trend that has engulfed. This could not only contribute to the development of the scout movement but also to the advancement of the careers of scouts and to the sustainable development of Barbados.