The Troop first met in March 1936, in the Highfield Road Methodist Church Hall, and the Cub Pack was formed during 1938. Many hundreds of boys have passed through the Group over the years and have taken part in many varied activities including interstate hikes and Jamborees. Camping has played a large part in the life of the Troop and has brought many trophies and pennants to decorate the hall. Several members of the Group joined the fighting forces during the war. The Group helped in its own small way by collecting for Red Cross.
The Rover Crew was named after one of the Group’s members who paid the supreme sacrifice, Graham Potter.
After planning for many years, the Parents Committee tackled the problem of providing the Group’s own meeting place. They raised over 13000 in four years and moved the Group into a new hall in South Surrey Park in 1960. In the mid sixties the Camberwell District Association realised with 26 Groups a central administration point would be advantageous, as referred to in history of the District. The Group Committee of 19th agreed to convert part of the ground floor for this purpose. On Sunday November 1 1964 Lieut.-General Sir Sydney Rowell officially opened District Headquarters. This was the central point for East Suburban Area until the early nineties. Councillor Charles Gregory, who was Group Leader for many years, played a significant part in the history of the Group.
Many of the leaders have taken part in Camberwell Showtime including the present Scout Leader, Ian Carlson and Roy Hodge who were Musical Directors of the show.
As with many Groups, several people contribute significantly to their success, but unfortunately records are not always available for recording in writings such as this. The decade 1985 to 1995 was one of the strong periods in the Group’s almost 60 years of history. This success was led by three hardworking Group Leaders — Keith Thomas, Ross Carr and Peter Essex. During the decade, the Group introduced girl Scouts and girl Cub Scouts, and reformed the Rover Crew which had ceased operation. Joeys were introduced in the early nineties.
Strong Cub Packs have been the foundation of the Group. In 1988, the well established Cub Packs of Jumbunns and Yandiah were enhanced by the addition of the Bimbis, one of the first girl Cub Packs in Victoria. The first Akela of the Bimbis, and the inspiration for their foundation, was Andrea Schneller, who was also the Akela of the Jumbunns for a number of years. The Group was fortunate enough to have many dedicated Cub Scout leaders over the period, and besides Andrea and the others with the longest service were Robyn Tidball, Angus McCure and Roger Loveless. Cub Pack holidays were a feature of 19th Camberwell Cubbing and many Cubs will have happy memories of places such as Shoreham, Warburton East, Emer-ald Lake, Mount Eliza and Beaufort, where activities such as flying foxes, yachting, commando courses and camp fires were very popular.
The Group is indebted to Ray Stephenson, a member of District staff, who held the Scout section together for a number of years until Barry Pendleton offered to become Scout Leader in 1988. The Group flourished under Barry’s leadership, and supported by a strong cadre of over 10 leaders, Troop numbers grew to over 50, boosted by the introduction of girl Scouts in the late eighties. Popular activities by the Troop were the annual 24 Hour Hike (the brain child of Hayden Pound); an annual boating and swimming weekend at Lake Eppalock; many Troop camps at locations such as Phillip Island, Powelltown and Mount Martha thanks to the orginisation and dedication of Gill Milne, and innovative wide games by Graeme Thomson. Patrol camps and hikes including successful awards at L G Williams, Stradbroke and Scout Hike competitions. Jamborees in Sydney, Ballarat and Perth were other highlights in the last decade.
The Venturers started to rebuild under the leadership of Lee Burbeck, and continued to grow in more recent years under Robert Mackie and Andrew Lawson, and more recently Janet Walker and Mark Betros. The acquisition of the campsite at Narbethong provided the venue for many happy times together. The Unit has achieved 31 Queen’s (or Kings) Scouts since its inception, including nine in the last 10 years.
The Rover Crew reformed in 1993, and is now called the South Surrey Rover Crew with Rover Adviser Fred Garrett. The Crew is progressively growing in numbers, and was successful in taking out the award for organising the best stunt at a recent Hoadley Hide.
The success of the Group has been due to the commitment and dedication of dozens of leaders and a very strong and supportive Parents Committee.
History of South Surrey Park
Interesting history was recalled by the Mayor of Camberwell, Cr J S August, at the planting of a Royal Oak Tree at the newly established South Surrey Park, on July 20 1940 by Sir Winston Dugan. The ceremony took place in appropriate surroundings. Gaily decorated with banners and festoons, the area was occupied by over 1,000 people with a large sprinkling of school boys and girls. A guard of honour about 200 strong was formed by the Returned Soldiers Volunteer Defence Corps under Captain Edmunds. About 300 Scouts and 150 Cubs under the Scout Commissioner, Mr Albert Currey, of the Camberwell District, lent a colourful touch to the scene, their flags waving proudly in the breeze to the martial strains of the 24/39th Battalion Band under Lieutenant Stephens. The program included the singing of patriotic airs, and when the- Scouts forgot the words, they whistled the tune, producing a very pleasing effect in an inspiring spectacle. Sir Winston said he greatly appreciated the welcome accorded him, particularly seeing his old comrade in the war, and also the splendid turnout of Scouts, who were fine types like their forefathers.