The History of Scouts

Remembering the past, embracing the future

How do we sum up 112 years in just a few lines?

On 1 August 1907, 20 boys gathered together to join the first experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island, near Poole in Dorset. The man behind the event was Robert Baden-Powell, a soldier, artist and writer. In bringing young people from different backgrounds together, he hoped to bridge gaps in society, and give everyone the opportunity to learn new skills. It was a radical idea at the time, but it paved the way for what was to come.

Things take off

The island was an inspired choice. Eight days’ worth of action-packed activities were set up on its shores. Designed to teach young people how to take the lead and try something new, it covered everything from tracking and fishing, to the study of animals, plants and stars. Thanks to B-P’s natural charisma, his ideas quickly caught on. Within two years there were 100,000 Scouts in the UK alone.

Why kindness is in our DNA

Being a Scout has always been about so much more than knowing how to put up a tent (although we are known to be exceptionally good at it). Inspired by their Founder, Scouts were encouraged to stand up for what they believe in and blaze a trail. In ‘doing their best’ for themselves and for others, the original Scouts set themselves apart from their other friends. From the very beginning, they were kind, considerate and always ready to help other people. ‘A Scout is a friend to all,’ BP wrote in Scouting for Boys. This book would go on to shift over 100 million copies, and launch a worldwide movement.

There when we’re needed most

We introduced new words and phrases to society, too: ideas like ‘The Good Turn,’ ‘The Scout Law’ the ‘Scout Promise’ took off, alongside BP’s famous motto: ‘Be Prepared’. Meanwhile, the Scout scarf (or neckerchief) was becoming a familiar sight – reassuring people in times of national crisis. The Scouts played a key role on the home front in both world wars, carrying messages, bringing in the harvest and even directing fire crews to throughout the Blitz.

How we’ve changed (but stayed true to our values)

Today, Scouts have grown and evolved in so many ways – welcoming people of all genders, beliefs and backgrounds.

But through it all, our aim remains the same: to prepare young people for the future and build stronger communities. Since 2013, we have opened over 830 new Scout groups in areas of deprivation, helping a new generation gain skills for life. Long may it continue.