Sky is the limit, by Ananda Melpitiya

1st Kandy scouts with Founder of World Scout Movement Lord Baden Powell and his wife Lady Olave Powell

1st Kandy scouts with Founder of World Scout Movement Lord Baden Powell and his wife Lady Olave Powell

Dharmaraja College, Kandy established on 30th June, 1887 after its founder Colonel Henry Steele Olcott’s arrival at the Galle Harbour on 17th May, 1880, did not take long to follow the founder of World scouting, Lord Baden Powell and in 1913, the 1st Kandy Scout Troop and the second in Ceylon was formed. It was due to the enthusiasm and drive of the then Principal, Mr. K. F. Billimoria when the troop flourished during his reign until his retirement in 1932. At the time the first scout master was late John Henry de Saram, founder of the troop, who became the first native Chief Commissioner of Scouting in Ceylon, and his assistant was G.H. de Saram.

The 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group has a remarkable 100-year history in the local and international scout arena with its very first great achievement, the "King's Flag" which they won for three consecutive years, 1917, 1918 and 1919. This flag was traditionally awarded to the troop in any one of the British Colonies that had the largest number of King Scouts, on September 30th in respective year. In those years the number of colonies in the British Empire was quite a considerable number and no other troop in the Colonies could emulate that achievement. Dharmaraja scouts were awarded the ‘King George V Flag’ by His Excellency the Governor of Ceylon and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Sir William Henry Manning on 30th May, 1919 at the Galle Face Green with the participation of hundreds of scouts from various parts of the Ceylon.

Mr. J. H. de Saram holds the unique length of time. Dharmaraja Scouts won the Brigadier Hackett Thomson Championship Flag for All-Round Excellence at the first ever All Island Rally held at the Colombo Race Course in 1917. Our scout Hendrick Thenuwara was the sole Ceylonese representative at the first Imperial Jamboree held in England in 1920 at the Crystal Palace.

The Troop had the unique distinction of providing a guard-of-honour when his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) visited Ceylon in 1922. This guard-of-honour was drawn up on the platform of the Kandy Railway Station on 23rd Mach, 1922 and was personally inspected by His Royal Highness who paid tribute Rajans on the very smart turn-out, thereby being the only troop in the East to receive this recognition up to that date in 1922. 

Honour the Founder

1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scouts had the rare opportunity to honour the founder, Lord Baden Powell in 1921 by his visit to Dharmaraja College. Dharmaraja scouts had felicitated the founder on three different occasions when over he visited Sri Lanka. In 1924 the Troop produced the first Bushman Thong Scout (Senior Scout Award) in Ceylon.

 The Summit which is on a promontory in the Lakeview Park within the 54-acre land belonging to Dharmaraja, provides a panoramic view of the surroundings, which had been allocated for the scout troop by the then Principal, late Mr. P. de S. Kularatne in 1924. Later, in 1984 this scout centre was named as the Lakeview Park International Scout Centre. The Park which is modelled on the famous Gilwell Park in London which was designed by Old Rajan Scout Mahendra Nambuge, was given a new look with contemporary amenities and will accommodate the foreign delegates who are due to here for the anniversary celebrations.

In 1930 Dharmaraja Scouting carried a niche in the history, when their founder Mr. J. H. de Saram was appointed as the first Native Chief Commissioner of National Scout Association. He rendered a yeoman service to the scout movement for a successful and continuous 12 years.

The Troop won the Sir Andrew Caldecott Silver Cup for the Best Troop in Sri Lanka in 1957 and again in 1958 when she won the Island Merit Flag for being the Best Troop at the Kandy District Rally.

 Exceptional three decades

 Late Mr. B. A. S. Wimalachandra rewrote history for being the Group Scout Master for over three decades up to 1967. During his lengthy stint, the scouts won accolades for several exceptional achievements.

After his era Mr. Saliya Rajakaruna was appointed Group Scout Master. During his period vast improvement was shown with hiking, mountain climbing, training camps and other scout activities added to the discipline. Under the noble guidance of Mr. Rajakaruna, Dharmaraja Scouts won the Island Merit Flag once again.

Dharmaraja scouts, again had the honour to hosting Mr. Dale Sylvester, Asia-Pacific Scout Commissioner of the World Scout Bureau, during his visit to Sri Lanka in 1971, when Mr. B. N. B. Dolapihilla was the Group Scout Master. Mr. M. B. Weerasekera who was the Group Scout Master from 1977 to 1993 had also received the award from the Royal Highness for his admirable leadership, creating another record during the Dolapihilla period.

 

 World of Old Scouts

 In 1977, Mr. M. Bandara Weerasekera was appointed as the Group Scout Master of the College. Before the new rendezvous he was a very talented innovator of the Group. Dharmaraja old scouts formed first ever old scout association in Sri Lanka the "Old Rajans Scout Association" in 1978, November 12.

The then Principal of Dharamaraja College Mr. A. P. Gunaratna's dedication and able guidance to scouting of the college, achieved these chronicles in the history.

 Centenary JIM

 When Dharmaraja College was celebrated the Centenary year in 1987, 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group and the Old Rajans Scout Association organized the 'Centenary JIM 1987' to commemorate 100 years in grand style. It was the very refreshing and fascinating program which any scout can remember with pride. President J. R. Jayewardene the chief guest at the 'Centenary JIM' paid tribute to the then principal A. P. Gunaratna and then Group Scout Master Bandara Weerasekera and the organizers for conducting a Jamboree of exceptional standard.

Mr. Sarath Mataraarachchi succeeded Mr. M.B.Weerasekera in 1993 as the Group Scout Master, who had accumulated more feats which were impressive honours for the Group. His scouting expertise and domination had targeted several feats.

From 1993 up to 2011, Dharmaraja scouts won the Island Merit Flag for being the Best Scout Group in Sri Lanka, consecutively.  From 2001 scouting at Dharmaraja is actively supported by the current Principal Mr. S. M. Keerthiratne.

 Breaks Jamboree record

 Thirty-one Dharmaraja scouts out of 138-member Sri Lankan contingent participated at the 21st World Scout Jamboree (Centenary Celebrations of World Scouting) from July 27th to August 8 in Gilwell Park, London, England. This is the first time in the history of scouting in Sri Lanka that such a large number of scouts from one school were represented at a world jamboree.

Memorable Achievements

Dharmaraja scouts brought honour to the motherland in several occasions, climbing the Himalaya Mountain seven times from 1985 to 2007. Expert Explorer Ajith Jayasekera, master of the Himalayan Expedition guided the scouts with his experience.

Our scout Chathura Deshapriya Mataraarachchi has won the most prestigious award ‘Outstanding Scout Award for Asia Pacific Region’ in 2009 as the 1st Sri Lankan scout grabbed that award in the history.

As a result of the dedication of incumbent Group Scout Master Manjula Wijesiriwardene, the group emerged number of achievements and continues the scouts’ scouting life and experiences at the Lakeview Park Scout Centre.

Historical Events

The number of memorable events has organized by the 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group in the past with the assistance of old scouts of the Group. In 1963 the Group organized the Golden Jubilee Celebration Jamboree to mark the 50th anniversary and the 60th anniversary in 1973, 70th anniversary in 1985 and the group organized a remarkable Dharmaraja Centenary Jamboree (JIM) in 1987 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the College.

The 1st Kandy scouts celebrated 80th anniversary with DESAI Jamborette in 1994 while holding Rajans Venture Jamboree to mark the 110 anniversary of the college. They celebrated the millennium with Millennium Jamboree in 2000 and 2003 JIM celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Group. In the year 2008, RANSAI 2008, adventure program was organized for the 95th anniversary.

Centenary celebrations of the Group

In the first time of Sri Lanka’s scouting history over thirty countries representing all six regions in the world including India, Australia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Pakistan, Italy, Korea, Venezuela, Nigeria, Jordan, New Zealand and England have confirmed their participation in the RISGO Jamboree to be held in Kandy from 18th to 22nd February.

As a part of celebrations of 100 years of scouting at Dharmaraja College, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group and Old Rajans Scout Association jointly organized a RISGO, Rajans International Scout Gathering of Centennial 2013, a largest ever scout Jamboree in Sri Lanka is scheduled to be held from 18 to 22 February at Lakeview Park International Scout Centre, Kandy. This magnificent gala event will enable over 6,000 scouts, guides and leaders from overseas and Sri Lanka to march together for unity and solidarity and share their experiences with each other. Theme of the Jamboree is ‘Towards Global Leadership’.

The RISGO Jamboree is full of excitement, fun, adventure and cultural activities including  exciting adventure challenges in land and water activities, survival skills, crafts, arts, cultural exchanges, friendship and social bonding, educational tours, rock climbing, night trekking, campfires every night, musical nights and many more attractive activities.

 

 




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