History of Scouting in Colombo District

Scouting was started in the Colombo District at Christ Church in Galle Face on 14th June 1914 by Mr. F.G. Stevens. He was an Engineer from England and worked at the Public & Works Department. This Scout Group was named 1st Colombo (Governor’s Own) in honour of Governor Robert Chalmeer, which was later called President’s Own.

A large Scout rally for the Western Province was held at Havelock Park in 1916. An All Ceylon Rally followed in 1917 at the same venue. Scouting quickly spreaded out officially to nearby schools like St. Thomas’s College, Wesley College, Carey College over the next few years.

Mr. F.G. Stevens acted as the Colonial Commissioner since it’s inception. In 1924 the Colombo District Scout Association was formed with Mr. Waldo Sansoni as the District Commissioner. He was succeeded by Mr. L.A. Hayter and the Colombo District has had 23 District Commissioners since. Mr. Charles Dymoke Green was the longest serving District Commissioner who served for 10 years and Brig. C.P. Jayawardena and Mr. Kingsley C. Dassanaike serving 6 years each. The current term of a District Commissioner is 5 years.

The Colombo Scout District Badge is a picture of a tree full of green leaves and a white bird perched on its branch and inserted into the Coat of Arms in gold. The Badge is dark blue in colour. In 1930 the Colombo District received its head quarters located at Baladaksha Mawatha with the National Association. With the takeover of lands by the Government in 1977 for the expansion of the Defense establishment, the District Headquarters was relocated to its current location at Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 2.

The first District camp was held from 7th to 9th August 1949 at the Royal College Primary grounds. This was organized by Capt.Vernon W Halpe and Mr. Ali Ossen. The next was in June 1959 at the Divinity School grounds organized by Mr. Ratnam Abraham. The District camp was an annual camp ever since, barring the years of turmoil or unrest in the city. The camp was named “Colombo Camporee” and was held at Divinity School grounds or at Havelock Golf Links. In 1970, the 13th Colombo Camporee was held at the Vihara Maha Devi Park and now is an annual event. Each Camporee has a different theme related to the environment, society or scouting.

The first Ceylon Jamboree was held in Koombi Kele, Colombo in 1952 . In 1962 the Golden Jubilee Jamboree to celebrate 50 years of Scouting in Sri Lanka too was held in Colombo at the Race Course. In 2014 the Colombo District celebrated its Centenary, by hosting the Colombo Centenary International Scout Jamoboree at Ygro Campsite in Madampe under the theme “Ayubowan” and was organized by Mr. Janaprith Fernando.