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Group's History

The need to form a Scout Group was for a long time felt, but for diverse reasons it was postponed, until in April 1956, when Bro. James (Director of the College), Capt. Callaby (District Commissioner Oak District) and Mr. Edward Tortell (Assistant District Commissioner Oak District), held a meeting and together agreed that a Scout Group could and should be formed.

On their invitation, Mr. Cecil J. Crockford - an Old Boy of the College and with a good past record of Scouting (he joined the Scout Movement in February 1914) - accepted to take on the post of Group Scoutmaster.

The Scarf Colours chosen were blue with a white stripe on the back. Co-opting Mr. Roland Warr, Queen's Scout, ex-Gzira Group and a Senior Scholar at the College, they called together a meeting of all those boys within the age limit. Mr. Crockford explained to them what Scouting meant with all the advantages and learning a boy can get.

Notwithstanding all the efforts made by the Bro. Director and his supporting Brothers, the Group Scoutmaster and his Assistant, the response then was not very encouraging.

The Group was given a room, to serve as a Den, and some furniture. The boys were allowed to attend school in Scout uniform on days of parade, and were given many other amenities, besides. Yet only 12 boys answered the call and these soon fell to only 3 during the 1956 Summer holidays. Not encouraging at all! But A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties and the Leaders never gave up.

On the 27th October 1956, the first Recruits were invested as Scouts at the 1st Sliema Group Headquarters. They were: Joseph Bonello, Saviour Zammit, Valmore Galea, Alexander Vella.

During the following winter, the Group grew by easy stages and it then stood at 3 patrols of 7 boys each: Bulldogs, Horses and Cats.

In January 1957, some youngsters under 12 years of age, wanted to join so a Wolf Cub Pack was started.

The need of having a Scout Flag was now being felt, so Bro. James and the Community decided to present the Group with one, and soon the Scout Flag arrived through the local Scout Shop.

history_flag_presentation.jpgTo commemorate this occasion, a Rally was held on Saturday, 13th July. The 1st Sliema Group was invited to co-operate. Thus, with the help of their brother Scouts and Cubs from Sliema, the College Scouts gave a fine show on the College Ground, at which the Acting Island Commissioner Lt. Col. J. V. Abela, Capt. Callaby, Mr. Edward Tortell, Mr. A. C. Azzopardi (District Commissioner) and Mr. A. Mifsud (Hon. Island Secretary) as well as many parents and friends were present.

Fr. Caruana, the College Chaplain, assisted by Bro. Norbert, blessed the new Colours. Then Bro. James presented the new Colours to the Group Scoutmaster who received them kneeling and in turn handed them over to the Senior Patrol Leader Alex Vella.

Displays of Tracking, First Aid, Drill by whistle, Trek Cart assembling/dismantling, various methods of carrying the injured were given by each Patrol of both the College and the Sliema Groups.

A final March Past to the Assistant Island Commissioner concluded the afternoon.

By 1958, the Group had expanded and its good effects on the whole of the College had started to show themselves. However, it eventually became necessary for the College to use their Den as a dressing room. Consequently, they were reduced to inaction and in October 1958, the Group's short existence came to a regrettable end.

However, Scouts never say die and so it was that in the dying days of the 1963-64 school year, GSM C. Johnson, lately in charge of the Msida Troop, reformed the College Group. In this he was vigorously supported by the former GSM Crockford and GSM E. Tortell of the Sliema Troop. The first enrolment of 17 boys took place on June 7th. In a rousing pep talk, the boys were told all about the nature and aims of scouting. Let us hope, said the GSM, that each of you will learn to be chivalrous, thrifty, patriotic and know the rules of health of soul and body. We shall endeavour to make of you leaders of youth, for as Lord Armstrong once said: A man's success in life depends incomparably more upon his capacity for useful action than upon his acquirement in knowledge!

The first Group Camp after the reopening of the Group, was held from the 28th to the 30th August. The venue of this first major activity was Ghadira, on the left flank of the valley, where with dexterity not usually found in such a green crowd of youngsters, three tents were swiftly erected. The Patrols, Tigers and Lions, surpassed themselves in their efforts to organise themselves without loss of time. Enough foodstuffs were generously provided for the hungry wolves by Bro. Director and the College caterer, Bro. Victor. Life in the open air made the boys realise the call of the wild and the beauty of God's creation. No wonder then that the happy scouts enjoyed tremendously their rough and ready existence cooking their own food and indulging in the thousand and one activities of camp life. The Goddess of Luck presided over the scout stews all the more so when the cook happened to be Bro. Mark.

When the two-and-a-half-day camp came to an end, each and every one of the young participants regretted that it had been so short. GSM Johnson, ASM M. Brockdorff and the Patrol Leaders promised, however, to organise a longer one soon.

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Since then, the Group continued to strengthen itself and evolve. The Venture scout section was eventually opened, and in the 1990s, with the approval of the College Director, the Group opened its doors to female scouts in all sections.

In 2006-2007, the Group commemorated the 50th anniversary since being established. The highlights of these celebrations were a Thanksgiving Mass that was followed by a District Parade along the streets of Gzira, held on the 1st July 2007, and a trip to the United Kingdom between the 29th July and 9th August 2007.

The first activity was held in the College's Junior School grounds, for which eight other North District groups attended. Chief Scout Mr V. Cassar, Chief Executive Mr Godwin D'Anastasi, and District Commissioner Mr Pierre Mangion were also present, while Bro. Emanuel Sciberras and Bro. David Mizzi (a very keen past scouter) represented the College. Fr Ray Scicluna said Mass, which was animated by Mr Frank O'Neill. This was followed by a short speech by Group Scout Leader, Mr Joseph Bartolo. The Chief Scout then presented the College Group with a memento of the occasion. Those present were then served refreshments, after which all Scout Groups marched around the town of Gzira to the tunes played by the four Scout Bands that led the Parade.

The eleven day trip to the UK was timed to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the Scout Movement. On the 29th of July, a group of seventeen scouts, ventures and leaders left Malta for the UK. During their stay, the Group visited the 21st World Scout Jamboree, which was held in Hylands Park. This event was attended by 38,000 participants and 42,000 day visitors. On the 1st of August 2007, the contingent arrived very early at Gilwell Park so as to participate in the Gilwell Adventure Sunrise, together with another 3,000 scouts from all over the world. At 8am all present renewed their Scout Promise in a short but moving ceremony - an experience that will be treasured by all for years to come.

In December 2007, the Rover Crew was opened, with the first nine Rover scouts being invested. The Stella Maris College Scout Group is still growing, and at present it consists of some 75 members.