A Campfire at Pavlovsk

The Park at Pavlovsk was the location of the first Russian Scout campfire on April 30, 1909. It is a special place to Russian Scouts, and today is the site of commemorative gatherings as Russian Scouting seeks its roots.

Birches in Winter in the Park at Pavlovsk.

The Palace was begun in 1782 and was built for the future Emperor Paul I. It is set in a beautiful park designed by some of the foremost landscape architects and designers of the day.

An aerial view of the Palace at Pavlovsk.

In his book, St Peterburg, Architecture of the Czars, Dmitri Shvidkovsky writes of Pavlovsk Park:

John Lowdon, the famous early-nineteenth-century English garden specialist, informed readers in his 1827 Encyclopedia of Gardening that "Pavlovsk is the most beautiful park in the English style not only in the environs of the Russian capital but, it would seem, in all the empire." Lowdon could hardly have chosen a worse moment to assess Russia’s gardens. He crossed the country’s western border only shortly before Napoleon’s armies, and his tour was conducted during the War of 1812. When he visited Moscow the city was in ruins, having been largely destroyed by fire. According to his wife’s memoirs, the couple barely escaped being eaten by wolves on the road to St. Petersburg. Despite all these misadventures, the author seems to have retained his powers of judgment, for Pavlovsk is indeed the most beautiful landscape park in Russia.

An aerial view of Pavlovsk Park.
In the foreground is the Pil Tower;
in the background the Temple of
Friendship and the Palace.

Campfire at Pavlovsk.

The sun had set behind the trees.
The wood was dark.
You could hear night birds calling and crickets chirping.
The palace loomed over the nearest trees.
The white of its classic pillars barely visible
In the soft golden light of its broad windows.

You could hear water flowing below the dam on the Slavyanka.
The leaves of the birches ruffled like feathers.
The night air was cool and crisp.

In the trees ahead was a clearing.
The cheerful light of a fire could be seen.
The fire’s warm light shone through the trees.
The white birches and the dark majesty of the oaks stood guard.

If you listened carefully, you could hear voices singing.
A sad melody.
Who was there that night of the first campfire?
The Tsarevitch with his sailor companions?
Colonel Pantuhoff of the Guards?
The children of nobles and palace retainers in their new uniforms?
Russia was there.
Its children were singing.

As the flames burned low,
The Scouts looked into the glowing embers.
They looked with eyes of all Scouts witnessing the magic of the fire.
The warmth touched their skin.
The magic touched their hearts.
Through this magic they are linked
To all Scouts watching the fading embers of a campfire …
In Russia today after so many years, and around the world.

— L. P. Orans

Links to Russian Scouting

Scouting in Russia reports on the activities of the Boy Scouts of America in Siberia and its Siberian Scouting Intitiative. The Americans work primarily with SiBAS, the Siberian Association of Scouts.

The Scouts de France are active in the Crimea, Ukraine and Belarus. Other European Scouting organizations, including the Danish and Belgian Scout Associations, are contributing to these efforts.

The US-Siberian Scout Symposium was held near Lake Baikal, Siberia in June, 1995. It celebrated three years of cooperation between the Boy Scouts of America and the Siberian Association of Scouts (Photos by American participants)

The 1st Russian International Jamboree was held on the shores of Lake Ladoga near St. Petersburg in June, 1994 (Photos by Scott Potter). Site not currently available.

Network Russia documents the work of the Scout Association of the United Kingdom and British Scouts in St. Petersburg, Moscow and European Russia. The British are working with several associations. The largest, the Federation of Scouts of Russia (FSR) is based near St. Petersburg. Other organizations in European Russia include, the Union of Moscow Scouts, the St. Petersburg Scout Association, and the Volga Scout Association. (U.S. Mirror Site)

National Organization of Russian Scouts (Australia). The National Organisation of Russian Scouts (N.O.R.S.) carries on traditions of Russian Scouting from its foundation in 1909, through its exile from Russia, and to the present day. The Chief Scout of the National Organisation of Russian Scouts in Australia, has written this short history to create an awareness that Russian Scouting remained active for 85 years and that the rebirth of Scouting in Russia is another phase in a long tradition.

A Chronicle of Scouting in Eastern Europe With the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, Scouting has returned to many lands where it had previously taken root. These pages chronicle the return of former members and the addition of new members to the World Organization of the Scout Movement. They also report the growth of Scouting in the other nations of Eastern Europe. Currently, the "Chronicle" reports on the progress of Scouting in 19 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The Chronicle Home Page provides links to each.

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Please write to: Lewis P. Orans

Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1999
Last Modified: 11:40 AM on September 19, 1999