Letter to the Lancaster Guardian
Published 6 May 1938
FIRST BOY SCOUTS
Sir, — As four of those now living who were present at the first Boy Scout camp, held on Brownsea Island in 1907, we think you may be interested in hear of our personal experiences first hand – particularly at the present moment when an appeal for funds for the Boy Scout Movement has been launched.
During the summer of 1907, General Sir Robert Baden-Powell sent a letter to Mr Robson, of Bournemouth, requesting that six boys from working-class families be selected to help form a camp at Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, together with a number of public school boys. Six members of the Boys’ Brigade were selected, three from Bournemouth and three from Poole, with their respective Officers, Mr H. Robson and Mr. G. W. Green. One of the boys at the camp was Sir Robert’s own nephew, Donald Baden-Powell, who acted as B.P.’s Orderly. The camp was held from 25th July to 9th August, 1907 Major MacLaren and Mr. P. W. Everett were there as helpers.
The Poole contingent were taken from Poole Quay to the camp in a motor launch, and on their arrival they found the tents had been already erected. At night the boys sat round a camp fire and the Chief Scout gave a talk on Scouting. . He told them the camp flag was the one which flew over Mafeking, and it was evident that it had seen good war service.
Four patrols were formed, entitled “Curlew,” “Raven,” “Wolves” and “Bull”; each leader being given full responsibility for the behaviour of his patrol. Discipline was so good that a Court of Honour which was formed was never needed. The boys were awakened each morning by the Chief Scout by a blast from the ” Kudu ” Horn
The mornings were occupied in tracking. One of the games was harpooning the whale, for which a real harpoon was used, the whale being a log of wood. Fire drill was taught by the Chief Officer of the Coast Guards, Mr. Stevens. The boys jumped from the cottage window on to a sheet, and thoroughly enjoyed the rough and tumble.
Each night a patrol was sent out with rations which had to be cooked by the boys. The dough for the biscuits was mixed in the linings of their jackets and afterwards baked in the embers of the fire.
One night the Chief Scout stole out. He was observed by an outpost who warned the patrol by a smoke signal, with the result that one of the boys in his excitement fell from the bough in which he was hidden on top of the Chief Scout.
The meals were prepared by a chef, and the lads were requested to “dress for dinner” each evening. The camp was such a success that instead of lasting six days, as was first intended, it was extended to 10 days
On the last day of their stay the owner of the island, Mr. Van Rialte (van Raalte), invited all the member’s of the camp to tea at the castle. During the afternoon they gave a display of camp craft including life-saving, harpooning and throwing the lead. The function was attended by many friends.
Upon leaving, each boy was presented by the Chief Scout with a memento of the camp. Some of the mementos were books in which the General wrote his name. One of the Poole Scouts still retains the original Scout badges given him on the Island.
Our personal impression of the camp is that it presented to all the boys a high code of honour which they had never before fully appreciated.
REGINALD WALTER GILES
PERCY ARTHUR MEDWAY
GEORGE W. GREEN