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History of Dharamaraja Scouting
Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in 1907 organised an experimental camp in Brownsea Island in Pearl Harbour, England for a group of 20 boys in 1907. This was not a scout camp, but was the birth of the Boy Scout movement which has now spread all over the world.
Dharmaraja College, Kandy did not take long to follow his footsteps, and in 1913, the 1st Kandy Scout Troop and the second in Ceylon was formed. It was due to the enthusiasm and drive of the then Principal, Mr. K. F. Billimoria when thetroop flourished during his reign until his retirement in 1932. At the time the scout master was late J. H. de Saram a Sinhalese, who became the first native Chief Commissioner of Scouting in Ceylon, and his assistant was G.H. de Saram.
First great achievement
The 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group has a remarkable 99-year history in the local and international scout arena with its very first great achievement, the "King's Flag" which they won for three consecutive years, 1917, 1918 and 1919. This flag was traditionally awarded to the troop in any one of the British Colonies that had the largest number of King Scouts, on September 30th in respective year. In those years the number of colonies in the British Empire was quite a considerable number and no other troop in the Colonies could emulate that achievement.
Mr. J. H. de Saram holds the unique length of time.
Dharmaraja Scouts won the Brigadier Hackett Thomson Championship Flag for All-Round Excellence at the first ever All Island Rally held at the Colombo Race Course in 1917.
Scout Henry Thenuwara was the sole Ceylonese representative at the first Imperial Jamboree held in England in 1920 at the Crystal Palace.
The Troop had the unique distinction of providing a guard-of-honour when his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) visited Ceylon in 1921. This guard-of-honour was drawn up on the platform of the Kandy Railway Station and was personally inspected by His Royal Highness who paid tribute Rajans on the very smart turn-out, thereby being the only troop in the East to receive this recognition up to that date in 1921.
Honour the Founder
1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scouts had the rare opportunity to honour the founder, Lord Baden Powell in 1921 by his visit to Dharmaraja College. Dharmaraja scouts had felicitated the founder on three different occasions when over he visited Sri Lanka. In 1924 the Troop produced the first Bushman Thong Scout (Senior Scout Award) in Ceylon.
The Summit which is on a promontory in the Lakeview Park within the 57-acre land belonging to Dharmaraja, provides a panoramic view of the surroundings, which had been allocated for the scout troop by the then Principal, late Mr. P. de S. Kularatne in 1924. Later, in 1984 this scout centre was named as the Lakeview Park International Scout Centre. The Park which is modelled on the famous Gilwell Park in London which was designed by Old Rajan Scout Mahendra Nambuge, was given a new look with contemporary amenities and will accommodate the foreign delegates who are due to here for the anniversary celebrations.
In 1930 Dharmaraja Scouting carried a niche in the history, when their founder Mr. J. H. de Saram was appointed as the first Native Chief Commissioner of National Scout Association. He rendered a yeoman service to the scout movement for a successful and continuous 12 years.
The Troop won the Sir Andrew Caldecott Silver Cup for the Best Troop in Sri Lanka in 1957 and again in 1958 when she won the Island Merit Flag for being the Best Troop at the Kandy District Rally.
Exceptional three decades
Late Mr. B. A. S. Wimalachandra rewrote history for being the Group Scout Master for over three decades up to 1967. During his lengthy stint, the scouts won accolades for several exceptional achievements.
After his era Mr. Saliya Rajakaruna was appointed Group Master. During his period vast improvement was shown with hiking, mountain climbing, training camps and other scout activities added to the discipline. Under the noble guidance of Mr. Rajakaruna, Dharmaraja Scouts won the Island Merit Flag once again.
Dharmaraja scouts, again had the honour to hosting Mr. Dale Sylvester, Asia-Pacific Scout Commissioner of the World Scout Bureau, during his visit to Sri Lanka in 1971, when Mr. B. N. B. Dolapihilla was the Group Scout Master. Mr. M. B. Weerasekera who was the Group Scout Master from 1977 to 1993 had also received the award from the Royal Highness for his admirable leadership, creating another record during the Dolapihilla period.
World of Old Scouts
In 1977, Mr. M. Bandara Weerasekera was appointed as the Group Scout Master of the College. Before the new rendezvous he was a very talented innovator of the Group. Forming first ever old scout association in Sri Lanka the "Old Rajans Scout Association" in 1978, November 12 th.
The then Principal of Dharamaraja College Mr. A. P. Gunaratna's dedication and able guidance to scouting of the college, achieved these chronicles in the history.
When Dharmaraja College celebrated the Centenary year in 1987, 1st Kandy Dharmaraja Scout Group and the Old Rajans Scout Association organized the 'Centenary JIM 1987' to commemorate 100 years in grand style. It was the very refreshing and fascinating programme which any scout can remember with pride. President J. R. Jayewardene the chief guest at the 'Centenary JIM' paid tribute to the then principal A. P. Gunaratna and then Group Scout Master Bandara Weerasekera and the organizers for conducting a Jamboree of exceptional standard.
Mr. Sarath Mataraarachchi succeeded Mr. M.B.Weerasekera in 1993 as the Group Scout Master, who had accumulated more feats which were impressive honours for the Group. His scouting expertise and domination had targeted several feats.
From 1993 up to 2006, Dharmaraja Scouts won the Island Merit Flag for being the Best Scout Group in Sri Lanka, consecutively.
From 2007 scouting at Dharmaraja is actively supported by the current Principal Mr. S. M. Keerthiratne.
Breaks Jamboree record
Thirty-one Dharmaraja scouts out of 138-member Sri Lankan contingent participated at the 21st World Scout Jamboree (Centenary Celebrations of World Scouting) from July 27th to August 8 in Gilwell Park, London, England.
This is the first time in the history of scouting in Sri Lanka that such a large number of scouts from one school was represented at a world jamboree.
Dharmaraja scouts brought honour to the motherland in several occasions, climbing the Himalaya Mountain seven times from 1985 to 2007. Expert Explorer Ajith Jayasekera, master of the Himalayan Expedition guided the scouts with his experience.
- Golden Jobilee Celebartion Jamboree in 1963
- 60th Anniversary Celebration Jamboree in 1973
- 70th Anniversary Celebration Jamboree 1985
- Dharmaraja Centenary JIM 1987
- 80th Celebration with Desai in 1994
- Rajans Venture in 1997
- Millenium Jamboree in 2000
- 90th Celebration with JIM 2003
- "Vishwaye Rathriya"
- Formation to Fortitude
- 95th Celebration with RANSAI 2008
- Group Camps with the participation of all the scouts of the group