The History of Scouting in Belize
The Scout Association of Belize exists by virtue of the Scout Association of Belize Act, 1987 passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate of Belize and assented to by the Governor-General of Belize on 25 January 1988.
Prior to that date, on 15 December 1987, having complied with the requirements of the Constitution of the World Organization, the World Scout Committee granted recognition to The Scout Association of Belize as a member organization and so registered the Association with the World Scout Bureau. On September 18, 1988 the Interamerican Scout Committee certified The Scout Association of Belize as a member organization of the Interamerican Scout Conference.
Records found to date in England show that Scouting in Belize (known back then as British Honduras) started in 1911. The records also show that two Scout Troops were active with a total membership of twenty Scouts. In 1912 only one Scout Troop was active which had a membership of twenty–four Scouts and three Leaders. However, the British Honduras Branch of the Scout Association was officially registered in 1917 and had a membership of one hundred thirteen (113) Scouts, fifty-nine (59) Cub Scouts and eight (8) adult Leaders, a total membership of one hundred eighty (180).
However, according to local research undertaken by Mr. Leopold Flowers, former Executive Scout Commissioner and Mr. William Faux, a Scout Leader who has dedicated his life to Scouting and has held many key appointments within The Scout Association, Scouting in Belize started in 1910 when one Henry Longsworth established the first Scout Troop at St. John’s Cathedral.
The research also found out that in 1915 an American Scout, Robin O. Phillips who was seventeen years old, conducted an investiture ceremony at his house, then situated at the corner of Wilson Street and Barrack Road. It is said that twenty young boys made their Scout Promise.
When these Scouts were considered well-trained, Robin’s father approached the then Governor William Hart Bennett to seek assistance and support for the Scout Troop. It is said that Governor Bennett then selected Mr. George Grabham to head the program. Grabham in turn appointed Mr. Philip Ely, Mr. Wexham and Mr. Paul Shephard Berry, Superintendent of the British Honduras Wireless Station as Scout Masters to run the Troop. Scouting flourished for about three years after and then died when Grabham left the country.
Scouting was revived again in 1934 in the Belize City area by Brother John Mark Jacoby, S.J. MBE, Professor of Mathematics at St. John’s College. Hundreds of young boys (including many leading citizens of today), passed through Scouting with “Bra Jake” as he was affectionately known. For many years, Scouting revolved around activities held at the Holy Redeemer Scout room (the home of Troops 1, 2, and 3) and at an annual summer camp at San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
In 1936 Scouting was introduced to the districts, beginning with the Stann Creek District and eventually spreading to all the other districts. Since that time there has always been Scouting activities in the country. The level of these activities has varied over the years, depending largely on the Movement’s ability to attract and maintain committed voluntary leadership.
In the late 1950s the Association acquired from Government one hundred acres of land in the Burrell Boom area. Later named Camp Oakley, this site has been the venue for many National Camps, Training Courses and other Scout programs. In 1974 with the assistance of the Baron Bliss Trust a concrete building was constructed on the site, named the Bliss Building.
In 1987 the Association embarked on a revitalization program that has had many different approaches and successes. Camp Oakley was upgraded and new facilities were constructed with funds obtained from the Interamerican Foundation, the Canada Fund and local fundraising.
In 1999 with the cooperation and support of the Ministry of Education, a program to introduce Scouting into primary schools was launched. This program has proven its success as membership has doubled, allowing more young people the opportunity of participation in a value-driven program. As of March 31, 2009 our last census shows a membership of one thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven (1,927) Scouts and adult Leaders in sixty (60) Scout Groups.
Scouts from Belize have taken part and continue to participate in many international camps in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the United States of America.