While the first Scout Troops have celebrated their 110th birthdays, the 4th Braid are very happy just to be marking their 90th – because the part of Edinburgh which they serve didn’t exist in 1907!
In January 1933, six boys formed a Troop at Greenbank, an expanding community on the south side of Edinburgh. A Cub Pack followed later in the year. One of the original six Scouts, John Cruickshank, is still alive and recorded this message for the Troop of today. Amazingly, John is the only surviving Second World War holder of the Victoria Cross. Granted the Scouts’ ethos of service, it’s interesting that three of Greenbank’s six pioneer Scouts gave their lives for their country, and two more (John Cruickshank and Charlie Tulloch) were decorated.
The Troop is slightly bigger now – 50 boys and girls! It’s part of the 4th Braid Group of 20 Beavers, 36 Cubs and 50 Scouts – plus the Greenbank Explorer Scout Unit of over 50 young people. During the pandemic, they never closed. The Beavers couldn’t meet, but the Explorers and Scouts instantly moved online for their weekly meetings and held online “camps” at Easter and Summer 2020, with members being encouraged to pitch tents in their gardens or make dens in their houses, while the Cubs restarted when outdoor meetings were allowed. They’re all enjoying being back to normal, though, and almost 100 members attended the Group Camp in 2022.
“Normal” involves a lot of time spent outdoors – in local parks in the summer, night hikes in the hills nearby in the winter, ski weekends (sometimes with snow!) and a lot of nights under canvas in the summer. The Group and Unit benefit from being close to the regional centre at Bonaly and the Scouts were very proud to win the Braid District Flag at a camp there in September 2022. In recent years, a lot of the Explorers have been taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, organised mostly by a Regional team (to whom, many thanks!).
The 4th have always been based at Greenbank Church, though the Group and Unit include young people of different faiths and of none, and benefit greatly from the support of the congregation (and a huge storage area in the church crypt). In the spring, they run what must be one of the largest and best Jumble Sales in Scotland, always attracting a queue of more than 100 people before it opens. The Sale is a major fundraiser, as well as being fun for the many helpers (young and old). It subsidises the work of the Group and Unit, keeping subscriptions down and allowing the occasional overseas trip – most recently ski-ing in the Alps just before lockdown.
The Group and Unit are lucky to have over 15 leaders aged from 18 to 72, including 11 with over ten years’ service and one with 25. Colin McRae, whose service stretches back to 1995, was formerly the Scout Leader and is now an Assistant Scout Leader. He says: “I come from a Scouting family and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved, as a Beaver, Cub, Scout, Explorer or leader. I’ve got a fantastic amount out of it – especially fellowship with other leaders and pleasure in seeing young people grow up living the values which we do our best to pass on to them. I’m seeing that happening for my own children now – one is an Explorer and two are Scouts.” Gordon Carruthers, a more recent leader, thinks much the same: “I had no Scouting connection until my sons joined Beavers where their mother was a leader. I first started volunteering to help when they were in Cubs and became an Assistant Scout Leader in 2015. My sons are now Explorers. But I so much enjoyed seeing the young people learning valuable life skills and gaining in confidence that I’m still heavily involved and value the esprit de corps which helping to run an active Troop entails.”
A big team of leaders is essential for a Group of over 100 and a Unit of over 50. But the result is that, over the past 90 years, thousands of boys – and, more recently, girls – have enjoyed what John Cruickshank VC calls “the benefits of the Movement”.
Editor’s Note: The 4th leaders tell me that they would welcome others joining their team – just email email@example.com Or indeed you could come and marvel at their Jumble Sale, which is at Greenbank Parish Church on Saturday 15 April from 9.30am to noon, and meet them at the same time!