Cambridge University Scouting: Structure

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The internal structure of Scouting within the University was based on four layers

Troop/ Crew    all the patrols  Troop Leader later Rover Leader (+scribe, & Treasurer)

Section            sets of patrols Section or Rover Section Leader / Senior Rover Mate post WW2 Rover Mate

Patrol              College patrols          Rover Mate by c. 1950 Patrol Leader

Rover/ Squire

The Court of Honour comprised Rover Mates, Rover Section Leaders and Assistant Rover Section Leaders.  An SL/RSL must have been an RM.  By 1949 the CoH required a ‘Representative’ from each Patrol, generally the Rover Mate.

Troop / Crew

The Troop Leader/ Rover Leader were aided by a Troop Treasurer, who held the money, and a Troop Scribe.  Later a junior treasurer did the collecting of subs.

It was intended that Rovers could not be Rover Mate and Section Leader at the same time but it did occur.  Being asked to move up was described as stepping into ‘Management’.  The management organised the inter patrol competition, Troop camps etc.


These started as A – E (five), increased to 6 by 1924 and dropped to 4 by 1935 where they stayed until it apparently faded away with diminishing numbers and the advent of CUSAGC (Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club).   In 1949 they had acquired names, Mill, Senate, Cavendish and Bridge.  In 1953 they included the women’s colleges and Addenbrooke’s, but it was recorded that no Rovers or Squires were registered for them; possibly a facetious comment.  It is not clear how the inclusion of women’s colleges, recorded in Rover records, was intended to work in the all male Crew that ran alongside the CUSAGC. 

Log Books for each Section were initially maintained.  The Section leaders reviewed the Patrol Logs before they were passed on to the Troop Leader for review.   After 1945 the function may have moved to one of administrative coordination.


Comprising anywhere between one member, during late WW2, and nineteen, the highest known, most may have been generally nearer five or six.  Complete numbers by patrol are not known.  Patrols often held one-off joint meetings, combined as Sections for large days training and as the combined University Troop or Crew.  Larger Patrols/ Colleges certainly held patrol dinners and camps.

Members from across patrols joined in specialist events such as the annual Norfolk Broads sailing trips. 


1921    The very first listing of C L de Beaumont was as Troop Leader, but the title was soon Rover Leader.

1928    Very briefly the RL was referred to as GSM at the start of the Group system and registration of the Troop as 31st Cambridge.

At this date ‘Troop’ should have become ‘Crew’ and whilst Crew was eventually used routinely a prolonged period of overlap occurred.

From Colin Walker (2022) we have: ‘Technically speaking Rover Patrols were replaced by Rover Crews in 1927. Before 1927 if there was more than one Rover Patrol the ‘unit’ was called Rover Group. Rover Mates were in charge of the patrol or prior to 1927 with a Senior Rover Mate being in charge of the Rover Troop. After 1927 the Crew’s leaders were of course RSLs and ARSLs. However as B-P said Rovers were men and should left alone to get on with it with a minimum of rules so way up into the 1930’s we have Rover Patrols in Rover Crews let by Rover Mates and sometimes the Crew led by a Senior Rover Mate. And, I suspect University Crews were even more cavalier in keeping to the Rules! 

A definitive progression has not yet been unpicked but Crew was in use by 1935.

1945    Sections were abolished and one Rover Patrol /Crew in each College.  This may have been a late war time arrangement; by 1949 four sections were again in use. These had some individual section activities around 1950 although this appears to have diminished and increasingly become ‘for administrative purposes’ as it was with CUSAGC five years later. No individual patrol activities are recorded in the Sky Blue newsletter of 1950.

1946    The patrol system became noticeably less robust after the war and the hierarchy gradually flattened. Patrol leaders were still being elected in 1950. The Sections were run by a Rover Mate at this date and the University Crew were attempting to restart pre war customs.

1953    With the start of the CUSAGC College based Patrols/ Crew appear to diminish.

1954    CUSAGC divided the Colleges geographically into four groups ‘for administrative purposes’.  There is no evidence of them acting as separate Sections.

1970’s  Provision was made ‘that the CUSAGC be divided into Matrices, the composition of which shall be determined by the Committee’. 

This history of the University scouting ends with the end of the Rover Crew in 1967. A history of CUSAGC is planned.

JWR Archivist Sept 2022