Cambridge District Scout Archive
Camp visitors generally fall into three categories; Family, Group and Inspectors. Often the landowners visit, which may be considered an inspection, occasionally neighbouring camps are invited in. The requirement to inform the host DC carried with it the likelihood of a visit and a formal inspection – this is reviewed elsewhere.
See Activities/ Camping/ Camp Inspection
Photographs rarely give names or roles of visitors but some hint at local worthies or landowners.
During the longer harvest camps of WW1 the rumour of starvation rations and cheese rinds (thriftily used but not all that was provided) was checked by parents travelling to Histon. Being just out of town and the Scouts not moving off site this was readily achieved.
The coach in the background of the photograph below was presumably hired to bring the parents to a camp further afield for the day. This reassured parents and gave the Scouts an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, self care and continued existence.
Camp wardens at established sites had a role to oversee and often visited campers. The warden at Abington County Scout, campsite which stayed open during the war, had strict instructions to take down tents without warning if they did not comply with the requirement to be dispersed and camouflaged. It is not known if this ever occurred, but a camp in the North of Cambridge on an informal site was machine gunned where these precautions were not observed.
Camps beyond the reach of a day trip for parents were also open for visits. One 5th Cambridge (Perse) camp in 1919 near Oxford had a visit from the Headmaster who was presumably staying nearby as he rode over on a horse. More usually parents coincidentally close to a camp were advised to communicate with the leaders to ensure that the Scouts were on site on the day. Records show one visiting Inspector who arrived, as arranged, to find the camp empty. The resulting report was decidedly mediocre.
In WW2 parents were invited to visit the Scout camps over the Speech day weekend. That the school had been obliged to move to Pitlochry in Scotland for the duration made this a significant exercise for many.
Visiting and hosting fellow campers is one of the pleasures of camping and alongside spontaneous games records recall the co-opting of a Pack into the neighbouring Girl Guides entertainment, joint games with the Boys Brigade on camp and visiting another Cambridge pack on camp nearby to enjoy a sea bathe, and coincidently have a good wash. The female host in the last meeting was found wearing what for the time was a very brief bathing costume, with nothing but a small towel to moderate the outfit. This last touches on another aspect, that of leaders mixing with likeminded members of the opposite sex. There are no tales of inappropriate events on camp; though the meeting of Max Barrett and Winifred Heeps, later parents of Syd Barrett, occurred in a haystack whilst at a District camp.
Camp followers are another category and whilst not in official reports one correspondent recalls being asked to leave his troop following his meeting with girls from the local town. Another recalled, some 60 years after the event, a fleeting encounter with the daughter of his host.
JWR Archivist Feb 2022