World’s First Scout Camp

If you have a chance to pass by the South Coast of England, you will see a natural harbour Poole located in Dorset. Just inside the entrance of this beautiful harbour lies the largest of its eight islands – the famous Brownsea Island.

Brownsea Island was the world’s First Scouting Camping Site. Robert Baden-Powell ran the experimental camp from August 1 to August 9, 1907 which resulted in the foundation of the World Scouting and Guiding Movements.

Since it was an experimental camp, B-P invited 20 boys from different backgrounds: 10 boys from public schools of Eton & Harrow. 7 boys from the Bournemouth Boys Brigade. 3 boys from the Poole Boys Brigade. Besides the 20 boys, BP’s 9 year old nephew and Simon Rodney, older brother of George, James and William were also on camp.

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 The boys wore khaki scarves and each boy was presented with brass fleur-de-lis badge, the first use of the Scout emblem. They were given another brass badge, a scroll with the words Be Prepared, to wear below the fleur-de-lis.

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20 boys were divided into four patrols. Each patrol were given long, wool streamers in different colours to pin on their left shoulder for patrol identification: Green for Bulls, Blue for Wolves, Yellow for Curlews, Red for Ravens.

The day began blast from a kudu horn  by Baden-Powell, brownsea_kudu1 followed by cocoa, exercises, flag break, prayers, and the the morning activity. After lunch there was a strict siesta, followed by the afternoon activity and Tea Break. The day ended with games, supper, campfire yarns and prayers.

Each day was based on a different theme: Day 1 (August 1) – Preliminary Formation of patrols, distribution of duties, special instruction for Patrol Leaders, settle into camp. brownsea_tent1Day 2 – Campaigning Camping skills, building huts, knots, fire lighting, cooking, health and sanitation, endurance. Day 3 – Observation Tracking, memorising details, deducing meaning from tracks and signs. training eyesight. Day 4 – Woodcraft Study of animals and birds, plants, stars. Day 5 – Chivalry Honour, code of the knights, unselfishness, courage, charity, thrift, loyalty, chivalry to women. Doing a “Good Turn” daily. Day 6 – Saving a life From fire, drowning, sewer gas, runaway horses, panic, street accidents etc. First Aid. Day 7 – Patriotism History and deeds that won the empire, British Navy and Army, flags, duties as citizens, marksmanship. Day 8 – Conclusion Summary of the course, sports day Day 9 (August 9) – Packing, Go Home.

Following the successful camp, Baden-Powell went on an extensive speaking tour arranged by his publisher, Pearsons, to promote his forthcoming book, Scouting for Boys. It initially appeared as six installments in a boys’ fortnightly magazine, beginning in January 1908, and later appeared in book form. Scouting began to spread throughout Great Britain and Ireland, then through the countries of the British Empire, and soon to the rest of the world.

Today the island is owned by the National Trust and is still used for Scout and Guide camps. The northern shore of the island is set aside as a nature reserve and is frequented by a wide range of coastal wading birds. With a boat trip required to get on and off the island it is always an enjoyable day out.

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