A Celebratory dinner kicked off a series of Centenary events at Yass Scouts, with many former Scouts and Scout leaders coming together to commemorate their history and experiences.

Yass Scouts leader Jenny Hyland said that the dinner earlier this month is only the beginning of Yass Scouts’ 100th birthday, with more events planned for this year. 

These will include re-enactments of Scouting events that occurred back in the 1920s and 30s. 

One event that Jenny hopes to lead the Scouts in re-enacting is a 1929 Scout march.  The Yass Scouts marched down what was the Drill Hall, and now a road leading to Walker park. From there, they marched out to the Railway Junction to farewell their Scoutmaster, who was leaving because he was getting married.  

“We’ve also, as part of JOTA (Jamboree of the Air), got a special 100th anniversary call sign,” said Jenny.  “We’re also going to be doing something at the Railway Museum picnic day.” This will be held Sunday 9th of October. 

During the Centenary dinner, great memories were shared by former Scouts and leaders, fascinating pieces of memorabilia were displayed, and children in Yass Scouts put on a play.

One former Scout Leader, John Pearsal from Bowning, shared his memory of Scouts going on what was supposed to be a canoeing journey.

When the Scouts were late to arrive at the campsite destination, they began to worry. Then, the children turned up and one of the Scouts said, “next time we go hiking, we’re not bringing those canoes!“

The water had been so shallow where they were canoeing they actually spent half their time carrying the canoes along the riverbank, getting back in to paddle a little bit further, only to get out and hike again. 

Another former Yass Scout, who is now in his seventies, said that to this day, he still remembers and talks about his time Scouting and going to the Jamboree in the 1960s. Memorabilia from that same 1960s Jamboree was displayed during the dinner. 

Former Yass Scouts of the 1970s shared their memories of the old Yass Scouts Bedford truck. Peter Tilley, Morris Lawton, and Barry Bush were Venturer Scouts, the oldest Scouting division for those aged 14-18.

They reminisced about taking the old Bedford truck up to Queensland for an event where they had a fantastic time. 

“We traded [the Bedford truck] in at Luff Motors, then we got the Mazda which we had right up until the 90s. Then, a lot of the rules changed about the transporting of kids and so we got rid of that as well.”

Yass Scouts sharing their 50th celebration back in 1972

Jenny explained the seats in the Bedford were seats taken from an old Kingswood station wagon, and the children would ride army-style with no seatbelts.

“How much have things have changed in these fifty odd years! And how much are things going to change in another fifty years?” she said.

Special guests attended the dinner, one being Allison Crago, the granddaughter of Richard Crago, Yass’ first King Scout. Her great-grandparents were founding members of the Yass Scouts. The Crago family were local entrepreneurs in Yass for decades and are known for the old Crago Flour Mill.

Chief Commissioner of Scouts NSW, Mr Neville Tomkins, flew from Sydney to attend the ceremony dinner in Yass.

Jenny said the hall was filled with so much memorabilia they were unable to display all of it. 

“There were very significant pieces in our collection, most of them relating to Scout leaders,” she said. 

One piece, with a great story behind it, was Mrs Flora Pilkington’s photograph and certificate.

“Mrs Flora Pilkington was famously known in the Scout group for peanuts. She was a supporter of the group for over fifty years and would come along to all the Scout events, donate money to building things for the hall— putting fences up, concreting, paths,” said Jenny.

“Every year at Christmas, she would arrange with Tom Lock to bag up all these peanuts for the kids. If you were in the Cub Scout section, you would get thirty peanuts in your little brown bag, as a Christmas present. If you were in Scouts or older sections, you would get fifty peanuts in your bag,” she continued. 

“In the 1930s, when people were really poor during the depression, a Christmas present of fruit or nuts was an extremely generous present. Flora passed away in 1980, but we’ve found her photographs and her certificate of appreciation that came from the Scout’s 50th anniversary.”

What Jenny loves most about leading Scouts is experiencing the joy of children learning. 

Yass Scouts, cubs and venturers had a great weekend caving, abseiling and rock climbing camp at Wee Jasper

“Doing the outdoor activities, and you’re watching the kids get so excited about going into a wild cave or something they’ve never done before. Learning how they can paddle up the creek, and being excited that they finally mastered their strokes. Talking to Scouts halfway around the world using amateur radio,” she listed.

Recent caving trip at Wee Jasper

Abseiling

“The presentation at the dinner is a really good example. Watching the kids seeing all their planning unfold, and when they were finally on stage doing their performances,  hearing the people laugh.”

Jenny explained the Scouts had a number of hurdles to jump during their dinner performance, such as sound and microphone issues, wardrobe malfunctions, and actors being absent, all of which they overcame admirably. 

Jenny also extends her thanks to the Yass Soldiers Club who did a wonderful job in catering for the 140 dinner guests.

After all these 100 years, Jenny explains that Scouts remains highly relevant for children and the community to this day. 

“If you want to better understand Scouts, you have to understand that Scouts is a multinational, international organisation, and the head of Scouts globally is actually Bear Grylls, she said. 

“As part of a worldwide organisation, Scouts engages and inspires young people to develop confidence, resilience and leadership skills that will help them on their life’s journey. Neill Armstrong was a Scout. Not only was he a Scout, he carried his Scout badges onto the moon,” said Jenny.

As Scouting continues to be a part of the Yass Valley community, Australia, and the whole world, it’s a great time to celebrate 100 years of Yass Scouts, and to look forward to their next adventures. 

Southerly Jones