In 1888 while Baden-Powell was fighting in Africa he obtained Dinizulu's string
of many wooden beads. These signified Dinizulu's leadership in his Zululand
tribe. In September of 1919 when B-P gave his course in Scoutmaster training at Gilwell Park, England, he took beads from that string to present to the participants, signifying their leadership in Scouting. The tradition continues. This course is what we now call Wood Badge, and is given internationally. Graduates receive their beads and scarf and are henceforth known as Gilwellians
The GILWELL REUNION
is held annually ONLY for and by Woodbadge2 Scouters (Gilwellians). In Ontario Canada one such Reunion takes place at the Blue Springs Scout Reserve, just west of the town of Acton. Blue Springs Scout Reserve, Ebor Park, was used as a training ground for Scouters so it held a lot of memories for many Gilwellians. Eventually some of these Scouters informally arranged to meet again at Blue Springs for a get-together in the fall. The 1st "official" Reunion of Gilwellians at Blue Springs (Ebor Park) was held in 1952. It has grown in attendance from a just a few to over 2500 in the 90's, and now (2008) average around 1400.
2001 Marked the 50th Anniversary of the Reunion, and was also the year that the Ontario Provincial Council sanctioned it as an "Official" Provincial Scouting Event. This necessitated every attendee being a current member in good standing in the Brotherhood of Scouting, retired or non-active Scouters being given the option of joining a BP Guild.
Starting in 2003 and lasting through 2006, all attendees NOT registered with Scouts Canada, Boy Scouts of Amercia or the Boy Scout organization in their Country, were charged an additional fee to cover their liability insurance costs for the weekend. (Membership in a BP Guild did not provide insurance coverage, hence the additional charge for those not currently registered in Scouting.) For 2004 - 2006 membership in a Gilwell Club was also acceptable, provided the additional fee for liability insurance was paid. Starting in 2007, an agreement was reached concerning the insurance and only those registered with the Boy Scout organization for their country or holding membership in a BP Guild were henceforth eligible to attend the Reunion at Blue Springs.
The Reunion has traditionally been held the 2nd weekend of September (the weekend after Labour Day), but was changed for the first time in 2002, to the 3rd weekend of Sept. due to a conflict with the Jewish Holiday Rosh Hashanah. Unfortunately, the 3rd weekend is also the Fort George Re-enactment, which is a very large "youths" event that also occupies a large number of leaders, including several hundred Gilwellians, thereby reducing our numbers somewhat. The change in date also came as a surprise to about 40 Gilwellians, some from out of Province, who showed up at Blue Springs Scout Reserve in 2002 on the "usual" 2nd weekend of September in anticipation of taking part in the Reunion.
For 2003 the date was again changed back to the "traditional" 2nd weekend in September and it is hoped by many that, in future, the date will not be changed again.
While foreign Gilwellians are always welcome, in the mid 1980s a task force was set up to work out a policy for Gilwellians from other countries wishing to attend the Reunion. It was decided that Gilwellians from the United States must be hosted by an existing contingent. This move was deemed necessary because of the ever increasing numbers of particiants pushing our facilities to the limit at the Reunion and the close proximity of large numbers of U.S. Woodbage holders. To ensure that this Reunion remains uniquely "Canadian" and is not turned into an "American Gilwell Reunion" that is held "north of the border" a ratio of 7 Canadians for each American hosted by a Contingent was determined.
While our numbers in the last few years have been declining, that ratio remains in place. Guests from other countries are not affected by, or subject to, that ratio.
Gilwell Reunion History
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