Last year, Lithuanian scout movement celebrated its centenary. To commemorate this jubilee a book detailing the history of the scouts has been commissioned. Over 300 authors are contributing – not just from Lithuania, but also from overseas: Australia, Canada, USA, South America and England.
To become a scout you have to give a promise.
“ Scouts were founded in England in 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Lithuanian scouting history began in 1918 on the 1st of October with its instigator, captain Petras Jurgėla. In 1933 Lord Baden-Powell together with his wife and scouts from England visited Palanga in Lithuania, where they were received by the Lithuanian president, Antanas Smetona and burgmeister Jonas Šliūpas. The street currently called Pine Street was at that time named Baden-Powell street and the initials of A. Smetonas and R. Baden-Powell were carved onto a stone still visible at the foothill of Birute’s Hill in Palanga. To become a scout you have to give a promise (to serve God, Country and your fellow man). A scout is obliged to do a good deed for no reward every day” explains the book’s editor scout fil. Nomeda Bepirštytė.
How do scouts live?
The purpose of the book is not only to collect scouting history, but also to show how scouts actually serve God, Country and their fellow man – what sort of good deeds they do every day; what traditions they have; how they live; how a Lithuanian citizenship is enhanced; and how leaders (volunteers) willingly give their attention, time and hearts to guiding children.
“In the book you can travel across the whole of Lithuania from Kybartai to Zarasai, from Mažeikiai to Druskininkai because every scout troop – even ones no longer active – have described their activities. “The Scouting Family” is without doubt varied, everyone can find something that suits them: if you love the sea, swimming – you can become a sea scout; those who love to gaze up at the sky – can become air scouts; scouts from Samogitia province can gather under their provincial flag; tertiary students come together in university scout groups; horse-riding scouts bring together children who love riding and help maintain the Samogitian breed of horses; Catholic scouts are under the wing of the Pope; adult and Christian scouts also have their own flags’’ adds Nomeda.
What sort of Lithuanian scouting organisations are there?
Lithuanian scout association is the original scout group which continues the tradition formed in the country between the two world wars. The biggest of the scout groups, which has units across the country in every region and is called Lithuanian Scouting. Overseas, Lithuanian scouting has continued over the generations of immigration and is a way of keeping up Lithuanian traditions and instilling Lithuanian culture. The book also describes the activities of other scouts groups living in Lithuania – Polish scouts, Russian scouts in Visaginas and recently formed Jewish scouts.
Scouts: from the President to the actor
Today there are over 31 million scouts active in 216 countries across the world. Famous Lithuanian scouts include President Valdas Adamkus, major-general Jonas Kronkaitis, prof. Algirdas Avižienis, father Antanas Saulaitis SJ, cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis and Sigitas Tamkevičius SJ, opera soloist Merūnas Vitulskis, journalist Aistė Stonytė, prof. historian Valdas Rakutis, poet Rimvydas Stankevičius, LR ambassador to Greece Rolandas Kačinskas, actors Eimutis Kvoščiauskas and Paulius Tamolė, song-writer and singer Eglė Sirvydytė, pianist Eglė Andrėjavaitė, the group “Ugniavijas” member Martynas Švedas, CEO Alkas Paltarokas, lecturer Egle Verseckaitė – Grzeskowiak and many other well known people in the community.