September 2018 marks a milestone in Scouting... the 100th Anniversary of the Rover section!
September 1918 saw publication in the UK of “Rules for Rover Scouts”, officially giving the structure for the new section. At first, Rovers were formed into “Rover Patrols” for ages 15 and above and attached to existing Scout Troops.
It is believed the first Rover in Australia was from what is now Sydney North Region. After serving in the First World War, Eric Booth from the 1st Chatswood Scout Troop was invested as a Rover in the UK in November 1918 and given the charge to introduce Rover Scouting in Australia. After returning home to 1st Chatswood, he invested Arthur Hindwood, who is thought to be the first Rover invested in this country.
In 1920 the age of entry for Rovers was lifted to seventeen and a half.
Over the next few years, “Crew” became the term used for a group of Rovers. NSW records list 1st Granville as the first Crew to be registered in this state, in July 1920. Sydney North’s own 1st Epping Rovers can trace their Crew back to April 1922, the oldest known continuously operating Rover Crew in the world.
Baden-Powell’s “Rovering to Success” was also published in 1922. Whilst more a book of “wise advice for young men” than a handbook like ”Scouting for Boys”, it established itself as the foundation of Rover ideals and practice and is still available and in use today.
The Rover section spread rapidly throughout the world during the twenties. At Baden-Powell's suggestion, the term "Moot" was first used in 1926 to describe a gathering of Rovers and the first World Rover Moot was held at Kandersteg, Switzerland in 1931.
Until the mid-thirties, Rovering had been regarded as a “pursuit for life”, with no leaving age, however in 1936, an upper age limit of 25 was introduced in Australia. Interestingly, Britain took until 1947 to catch up with this change.
In 1970, the Design for Tomorrow Committee recommended that Rovers in Australia be abolished and replaced with a new "Pathfinders" section. This concept was totally rejected by the Rovers of the time and instead, the section was progressively revamped during the seventies, with females allowed to join, self-government through a system of councils and a broadening of the Baden-Powell award scheme. The framework created by the “Rover Revolution” of the seventies is still very much in place today, and the Rover section’s development and evolution are ongoing.
Today, our Rover Crews continue to offer all young adults a huge variety of opportunities for personal development through outdoor, service and social activities. Rovers play a part in the management of Scouting and support a range of activities at all levels.
In “Rovering to Success”, Baden-Powell described Rovers as “a ‘brotherhood’ of the open air and service”and also wrote “By Rovering, I don’t mean aimless wandering, I mean finding your way by pleasant paths with a definite object in view….”
After 100 years, today’s Rover section is still true to those concepts… and long may it continue to thrive!
Rovers across Australia and around the world will be celebrating the Centenary throughout 2018 with a variety of service projects, major events and inter-section activities. There are also proposed events to bring former Rovers together. Visit Sydney North Rovers on Facebook for the latest local news.
Find out more about the Rover Centenary Birthday Bash on Sunday 16th September
Download a Rovers100 Crew Resource Pack
Read more about the early history of the Rover section here