Welcoming Trinity’s newest society

The Rover Society has been set up at Trinity for those interested in scouting or the outdoors

Trinity’s Rover Society has been granted provisional recognition by the Central Societies Commission (CSC) after extensive planning and preparation. The idea came from a collaboration of three Trinity students: History student Ray Carey, Italian and Spanish student Aoife Brennan, and Physics student Peter Herbert. On the afternoon of March 27, it held its first event of the year; a shelter-building workshop on the Physics lawn. The society, though not formally linked to Scouting Ireland, drew inspiration from the organisation when planning their society, which is largely focused on outdoor activities, survival techniques, and fostering an appreciation of nature among students.  

The society’s Facebook page advertises Rover Scouting as an activity which “helps you build life skills, explore the great outdoors, and make connections”. Herbert, the society’s newly-elected treasurer, elaborated on what it means to be a Rover Scout at Trinity: “Being a Rover Scout in, say, Scouting Ireland (…) is sort of like a mix between outdoor activities, and also they try and push you to do service projects – helping the community, being a better citizen, all that jazz,” Herbert explained. “We were sort of focused on that a bit more last year, but the CSC determined we’ve already got societies for that, so it’s not niche enough, so this year we decided to focus more on the actual outdoor activities.”

“Other activities that are being planned will include learning skills such as wildlife identification and camping trips”.

The activities that the society will hold concentrate on outdoor-focused workshops. Wednesday’s shelter-building class is an example of the sort of activities they will be hosting. The workshop taught students the ins and outs of building shelters using a variety of materials. Other activities that are being planned will include learning skills such as wildlife identification and camping trips. Herbert explained that the current plan is to have a variety of smaller, more focused events on campus throughout the year, intermingled with a few bigger off-campus events. “For example, on reading week you might have a weekend away, or something camping somewhere in which you would learn a few skills.” Setting themselves aside from some other societies on campus, it is clear the society is prepared to offer a huge scope of activities across a wide variety of outdoor activities.  

Rovers are scouts from the ages of 18 to 26. The inclusion of a Rover Society on campus means that older scouts won’t have to give up their passion when they enroll at College. “It’s great if you’re moving away from home and you’re leaving behind your scout group,” says Brennan, secretary of the society. “A lot of people end up leaving scouts going into college. It’s a good way to keep it up.” However, newcomers are also welcome, and a membership fee for the rest of this academic year is €1.

For each of the founders, setting up a Rover Society was important. Carey and Herbert met at a Scout Camp last year in Denmark, and Brennan had hoped there would be a Rover Society already running at Trinity to allow her to continue scouting. Prior to this year, however, the society was merely an idea set in motion by student Cael O’Toole and alumni Allan Leeson, who, according to Herbert, “made the initial consultation with the CSC, set up the online petition, and made a start with writing the constitution”. They also created a Facebook page for the society. When Herbert, Brennan, and Carey realised that a Facebook page had already been created, they reached out to O’Toole and Leeson, and began to collaborate to bring their dream to fruition. Since O’Toole and Leeson were not Scouting Ireland members, the three founders, according to Herbert, “got this thing moving” this year. 

“That’s what we’re trying to do, encourage a real appreciation of nature by getting out into it.”

The process of getting the society formally recognised by the CSC did not come without its challenges for the three students. The CSC was at first unable to distinguish them from other outdoor-focused societies on campus, such as the Hiking Society, which bears similarities to certain events put on by the Rover Society. Herbert, Brennan, and Carey had to specifically define what made the Rover Society different: “Sure, we’ll be going for hikes,” Herbert agreed, “but that’s not the point of it, it’s outdoors, it’s learning how to live in the outdoors, and also just learning to appreciate nature.”

Rover societies can now be found on all university campuses in Ireland except University College Dublin and University of Limerick. With some Rover societies at other universities have been running for nearly a decade, Herbert has an optimistic outlook on the perpetuation and success of Trinity’s newest society, with high hopes for events down the line, once the society has more firmly established itself on campus. One of his goals for future members to look forward to is easy access to camping gear, in the hopes that this will foster an appreciation for the natural world and incite a passion among students for exploring it. “There are so many scouts in Trinity,” concluded Brennan.

With a successful first event under their belts and a driven team behind the society, the founders are preparing for next year, hoping to offer an abundance of activities and events dedicated to exploring the natural world. Herbert summed up the society, saying: “That’s what we’re trying to do, encourage a real appreciation of nature by getting out into it.”