Ath. Lefkaditis, the founder of Greek Scouting
Eight seven years have already gone by since the unforgettable Founder of Hellenic Scouting, Athanassios Lefkaditis, introduced the scouting system in Greece, with the formation of the first Scout Troop. Without Ath. Lefkaditis's initiave, the establishment of Scouting would have definitely taken place a lot later in our country. At that time, schoolchilds had little freedom of action and development of initiatives outside the boundaries of the parental shelter and school. Openings to the natural environment as well as exercises of the mind and body, except those within school, were still priviledges of the few.
It's obvious that a lot of courage and will was needed for such a innovatory system, as was the Scouting one, to impose itself in the society of the times.
Athanassios Lefkaditis became familiar with the existance of Scouting in London, during the 1908 Olympic Games. One day, he met in a store a small kid wearing the scout uniform. Lefkaditis asked him what a Boy Socut stands for. The small kid aswered in good grace that "a Boy Scout is a kid that is always ready to help others and to do a good thing everyday". Then Lefkaditis asked him what was the good thing he had done that day and the kid replied: "I haven't yet but I'll do it now. Wait here." The kid left and came back after a while with his hands full of Scouting leaflet and books describing the scout system. "Here, this is for you to study" he said and gave the books to Lefkaditis. That simple act amazed Lefkaditis that determined himself to introduce the Scout System in Greece. It's Founder, general Robert Baden-Powell, had conceived the idea of Scouting during the Agglo-boeric war of South Africa (1899-1901). Due to a shortage in soldiers defending the city of Mafeking, he instituted a corps of approximately one thousand children and assigned them the auxilliary services of the fighter camp. That experiment marked the beginning of the idea of organizing the youth and teenagers in a pedagogical system different than military training and with the purpose of completion of the physical and moral education that school poorly provided.
Athanassios Lefkaditis in another trip of his to London, studied the fundamentals of the scouting system, intending to introduce it in our country. In Athens, Ms. Xarikleia G. Mbaltatzi help him with translating documents explaining the operation of Scouting in England and encouraged his first Greek followers.
A professor of physical education in Makris's Lyceum in Athens, Athanassios Lefkaditis had already selected a team of sportsmen and excursionists and toured with them Attica's mountains on Sundays and explained them the means of operation of the scouting system. That team along with it's founder, become the core of Hellenic Scouting.
Scouts of one of the first Squads, in 1911
In October 1910, the first Greek Boy Scout Squad was founded by Emmanouil G. Mbaltatzis, M.P. Melas, Baseilios Androulis, Nikolaos Tombazis, Ioannis and Alexandros Kountoumas, G. Zalokostas, I. Zannos, A. Vorres and Sp. Delaportas. For the first time the scout uniform appeared in Greece. Supporters of those first days where also M. Malamidis, P. Petrokokkinos and G. Spetseropoulos.
Society was watching the steps of the movement with great interest. In the beginning of 1911, K. M. Melas, G. Panas and N. Paspatis, officers in the "royal Navy" and Filippos Xrisovelonis, banker, joined the Hellenic Scout movement, supported it, constituted it's First Managing Committee and later become members of the Executive Board of "Omilos Hellinon Proskopon" ("Association of Greek Scouts") as the corps was initially called. In March 1912 there were 128 Boy Scouts in Greece.
The first official public appearance of the Boy Scouts took place during the Grand Parade for the National Independence Day, on March 25th 1912. The Boy Scouts marched in front of the officials at the entrance of the "Zappeio" mansion, in front of "king George A'" the "royal family" the Board of Ministers under Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos and other authorities. The crowd's impression and the press's comments after that first appearance were enthusiastic.
Grand Parade of March 25th, 1912.
Hellenic Scouting started imposing itself in the public awareness as a notion. In June 9th, 1912 the (dated May 20th) "royal" Enactment recognized and accepted the articles of the Association "Soma Hellinon Proskopon" (Boy Scouts of Greece), the final name for Hellenic Scout Movement. The purpose of the association was the "physical and moral development of Greek childs everywhere in order for them to become good and beneficent citizens and soldiers". The first Executive Board consisted of 12 members; president was M. Negrepontis and secretary-general was K. Melas.