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Scouting History


The Scout Movement, the largest youth movement in the World, with over 600,000 members in the UK and over 25,000,000 members in 150 countries, started in 1907 from a dream of one man, our founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Gilwell (1857 – 1941).  BP as he was known was acclaimed as the first (and only) Chief Scout of the World in 1920.


In August 1907, B-P organised the first Scout camp that took place on Brownsea Island, Dorset.  Two patrols totalling 12 boys took part in this experimental camp undertaking activities and learning skills that they had not, up to then, had the opportunity to take part in.


Boys too young to become Scouts began to take part unofficially in Scouting activities and such was the demand for this that a new Section ‘Wolf Cubs’ was formed in 1916 to deal with the situation.  A programme of activities was established based around the Jungle Books of BP’s close friend, Rudyard Kipling (In 1966, the same year that 7th Crawley was formed, this Section became known as ‘Cub Scouts’ and then later simply as ‘Cubs’ as they are known today).


A year later, in 1917, boys too old to stay in Scouts began to join another Section to be known as ‘Rover Scouts’ (later ‘Senior Scouts’).  Scouting was growing, 325,000 members in the UK and over 1,000,000 members world-wide.


Originally, B-P had envisaged Scouting as a movement for boys aged between 11 & 18, but it soon became apparent that girls also wanted a piece of the action and he was all in favour of allowing girls to become Scouts (in separate troops), but had to change his mind due to the pressures of Edwardian society.  It was not considered right that young ladies should be out-and-about, camping, hiking etc., (remember this was about the same time as the Suffragette movement).  He addressed this problem by setting up the sister movement the ‘Girl Guides’ in 1910, with (initially) the help of his sister, Agnes and then later to be run by his wife Olave (elected Chief Guide in 1918).


The Venture Scout Unit was launched in 1967 (later to split into Explorer Scouts and Scout Network) and Beavers in 1982.  Other ‘specialist’ Sections are the ‘Sea Scouts’ formed in 1910 (and formally ‘Deep Sea Scouts’), and ‘Air Scouts’ (1941).


See also: Milestones, Lord Baden Powell, 100 Years Old