In 1907, when Robert Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island for 20 boys, it was the beginning of an extraordinary movement that today can boast 31million members around the world. Baden-Powell had observed the initiative young boys had shown during the spirited defence of the town of Mafeking during the Boer War, and wanted to find a formal structure within which he could untap this latent potential. The camp's success led to the publication of 'Scouting for Boys' the following year and a royal seal of approval for the movement. By 1910, Scouting already had 108,000 members, 100,000 of whom were young people.
The Scout Association archive traces the development of the movement through its 110-year history, including pictures from that very first Brownsea Island camp. The photographic element of the collection also reflects the international character of scouting, with images of scouts from Sweden to the Seychelles. There are records of the wide-ranging efforts of the scouts during both world wars, as well as their participation in the opening ceremony of the 1948 London Olympic Games and at jamborees around the world.
Nostalgic posters remind us of the annual 'Bob-a-Job Week' while the association's collection of art includes many examples by Baden-Powell himself who was an able and prolific artist. A particular highlight is the work of Ernest Stafford Carlos, who founded his own South London scout troop, and produced paintings such as 'Ripping Yarn' and 'The Pathfinder' that were to disseminate the image and ethos of the boy scout movement to the wider public in its early days. He was killed during the Battle of Messines in 1917.
Whether you were a boy scout or not, be prepared to get lost in a world of camp fires, woggles and jamborees.
Click here to see a selection from the 2500-strong Scout Association collection.
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