To mark World Scout Scarf day, we take a look at our material relating to Scouting in Special Collections.Scouting was born from Robert Baden-Powell, who was notable for his defence of the small South African town of Mafeking during the Boer War. A soldier and free-thinker, Baden-Powell wanted to give young people the opportunity to use the same initiative men were required to use during warfare. He had already written a handbook for soldiers, and was encouraged by his friends to rewrite this as part of his planned training programme for young people in Britain. The book was called Aids to Scouting.
Wishing to trial out this training programme, Baden-Powell organised a camp on Brownsea Island in Poole, Dorset, for 20 boys from different backgrounds. Following the success of the camp, he wrote the book Scouting for Boys, which was published in 1908. The book was released for 4d a copy in six fortnightly parts. The publication became the handbook of what was to become the Scouting Movement, which King Edward VII approved. This acceptance also led to the formation of the King’s Scout Award.
The Movement soon grew, with almost 108,000 participants recorded in in its first census in 1910, and over 100,000 being young people. In 1916 Wolf Cub groups were formed for younger Scouts, and in 1920 Rover Scouts for older Scouting members.
Scouting grew not only nationally, but also internationally. The first World Scout Jamboree was formed in 1920, and was held at London’s Olympia. Scouts from across the world came together to celebrate international unison and the growth of their Movement. Lord Baden-Powell died in 1941 but his legacy lived on. Scouting became a metaphor for adventure, usefulness and global friendship.
Our collections relating to scouting include a scrapbook containing photographs, newspaper cuttings, and programmes of Boy Scout activities at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire dating from 1913-31; and the Southampton Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO) archive.Scouting and Guiding began to occur in universities as early as 1915, with the first units occurring at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, and London. In 1947, the Varsity clubs gathered at Beaudesert, Staffordshire, for a camp, which began the concept of rallies. Up until 1969, rallies were organised in the way of taking place over 7-10 days, with an AGM.
The first logbook for Southampton Scout and Guide Organisation dates from 1961, with entries covering activities such as freshers’ coffee evenings to attract new members, night hikes, and inter-varsity rallies in various cities across the country.The log books also contain other records, such as dinner menus and souvenir programmes for key events, such as visits of the Chief Scout. Along with camping, night hikes, and national rallies, SSAGO have also taken part in the university’s RAG week. In 1964, the Club decided to build an elephant float.
“ A couple of weeks before Rag, devious goings on were observed at the Rangers’ hut in Broadlands Road, and a metal structure weighing half a ton was seen to be constructed…We didn’t win a prize, but everyone (even those who got a blast from Nellie’s trunk) enjoyed themselves”. [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]
Other SSAGO activities have involved horse riding and swimming; and visiting local authorities and organisations such as the Ordnance Survey, the Southern Daily Echo newspaper offices, and Southampton Police Headquarters.
“We were met by an officer with lots of shiny buttons, who I believe was an inspector, and he was to show us the various departments. After a general introduction, we started our tour with a call at the Information Room, which we were told is the ‘nerve centre’ of all the activities, and immediately scenes from “Z-Cars” sprung to mind.” [MS 310/59 A4018 2/2]
The SSAGO archive continues to grow with two logbooks recently added to the collection, dating 2010-2015, and 2016-2017.For further information on SSAGO go to: