Melba's Own - 1st City of Camberwell Scout Group Scouts Australia

The Den

celebrating 100 years


"Hullo, Mr. Raisbeck", said the boy on the pier.

"Hullo, young fellow", said the man in the boat, "you must be from Camberwell". He did not bother to say that his name was not Raisbeck. When you manage Raisbeck Newsagency, when you serve in the shop and live behind it, people jump to conclusions. It is too much trouble to tell everybody, "My name is Morbey. I married Miss Raisbeck, and I manage her father's shop". It saves all the explanation if you just answer to the name.

He liked kids, and this seemed a decent sort of youngster. He was probably on a sea-side holiday with mother, and bored stiff being away from his mates. In fact Mr. Morbey could place him now. He was one of that group, chiefly from Camberwell Grammar School, who regularly bought the fortnightly issues of Scouting for Boys and were so keen on it. So it was not long before the invitation came.

"Mum, Mr. Raisbeck from the newsagent shop in Burke Road is down here on holidays and he's going fishing, and he says I can go with him; I can go, can't I, Mum?"

And that was how it all started. During that afternoon they talked about the wonderful book, Scouting for Boys, written by Sir Robert Baden Powell, the hero of Mafeking. The boy told how he and his mates were trying to carry out the ideas in that book, how they met under a street lamp to talk, and went out into the paddocks on Saturdays to try to be real Scouts.

It has been said before that the first Scout Troops were unlike any other boy's organisations, in that they were started by the boys themselves. They were not started by adults for boys. Adults only came into the picture when the boys felt the need for adult assistance, and invited (or commandeered!) someone to come and help them.

First City of Camberwell was no exception. It was started by these boys who were inspired by a book. They met by themselves under a streetlamp in the evenings, because they had nowhere else, and in the open paddocks at the weekend. There was plenty of vacant land in an outer suburb like Camberwell in those days. They talked to their friendly newsagent, but he could not help them. A newsagents day started at 4.30 a.m. when the morning papers arrived, and finished when the shop closed at 8 p.m. or later. Mr. Morbey recalled that this went on for months, until when the weather got colder he could not stand the thought of those kids out in the cold under a street lamp, so he invited them into his dining-room for their evening meetings. And he got a friend of his, Mr. Townsend, from the Y.M.C.A. to help them.

So somewhere between mid-1908, when the fortnightly issues of Scouting for Boys reached Australia, and mid-1909, when the boys found a Scoutmaster (Mr Townsend), our Troop was born as a definite entity.

Extracted from The Saga of Melba's Own—The Story of 1st City of Camberwell (Melba's Own) Scout Group

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