International Scout Cooperation between Czech and English Scouts celebrates 25 years!
February 2, 2019 The Blue Tortoise Ratboř has completed the selection of entries for the next scout exchange with the English Scouts that will take place in the summer of 2019. On this occasion, we publish Paul Paulie Havlíček and Michaela Linhartová, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Scouting with our partners from Newark District Scouts. We are looking forward to the forthcoming friendly exchange and another 25 years of cooperation 🙂 This article was printed in the previous issue of the Ratbořský zpravodaje.
In the early 1990s, the world was gradually opening up to new Scouting opportunities for Czech Scouts. At that time, the founder and head of the 12th Blue Birds Ratboř Adolf Lisy (Hugo) and Karel Čihák – the former head of the Junák District Council in Cologne – decided to build an interesting challenge and establish cooperation with partners from North-Newark-on-Trent. The collaboration between the Cologne district and Nottingham County, which both Scout leaders used, has been connected with Czech and British scouting and has allowed mutual understanding of both cultures, divided by the Iron Curtain for 40 years. It was then that 1994 was written when Ratboř, Kouřimi Scout Clubs (Plaňan Scouts joined later in 2002) and Newark for the first time in the first camp in England. A spirited event was the visit to Bohemia by several English leaders who preferred to see the camp conditions in the post-socialist “wildlife” before they first brought their scouts in 1996. Thanks to our founding fathers (and many other wonderful people) more than 1,000 scouts and guides have been participating since then, and over the past 24 years, countless friendships have been established.
Group photo of Czech and English Scouts from 1996.
Our friendly exchanges take place every two years with regular visits to the Czech Republic (Ratboř, Plaňany) or England (several Newark districts). The camp takes two weeks and is filled with many interesting activities. During the English exchange in 2014, the Czech Boy Scouts had the chance to try for example artificial climbing, boat riding, and also visited the Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood or London and its majestic monuments. Familiarizing with the partner country, its cultural sights, but also knowing each other and yourself through scouting and experiencing new adventures is the mission of this unique exchange. As in the past eleven camps, the last of 2016 was attended by about 80 scouts and girls from both countries. Every morning there is a regular onslaught accompanied by the anthem of the Scouts in both languages and a jam of the work ax. With the flags of both countries on the mast in the middle of the camp, the scouts are learning a new day program. All participants are divided into Czech-English teams, which leads to the breaking of linguistic, cultural and other barriers between individuals and their rapprochement during the joint program. Therefore, the camp is constantly sounding Czech, English, but also broken versions of both languages, as well as laughter and constant chit. Mutual sharing and presentation of traditions and customs of all resorts is part of our camps as well as a good atmosphere
Attending the camp in Rataje nad Sazavou in 2016.
This exceptional collaboration is more of Scouting, but always with the same goal of educating, educating and interconnecting young people across Europe. Although there are some differences between the partners, it is crucial for the young Czechs and the English to understand the complexity and breadth of the Scout Movement and to be able to verify that Scout values share all our sisters and brothers around the world. According to the words of many of our English friends, we can not forget the big camp fires organized in Czech camps or the cutting of wood for daily consumption. Both of these activities are very difficult in England due to private ownership of forests and strict safety rules. On the contrary, Czech scouts remember very well the beautiful Kelham camp site with the nearby majestic town hall building and gazebo that we could use during our stay. Likewise, the participants in our exchanges will always remember various culinary variations of both national cuisines, the final feasts held at the end of the camp or the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s celebrations. Scout international exchanges, of course, also have their pitfalls, such as Brexit, which is currently under way, which can complicate the conditions for mutual visits in the coming years. However, it is our friendship that is the best proof that if there is will, there will always be a way to overcome all possible pitfalls. With the expectation of another camp in England next year, we hope this cooperation will last for at least another 25 years!
A joint photo in front of Kelham Hall in 2014.