Camp Blankets

Cambridge District Scout Archive

References to Camp blankets are few. This list will expand as more are found. Below the picture of Ali in a white blanket is an attempt to describe the fundamentals of a camp blanket.

Cambridge Archives

1953 From the ‘5th Cambridge The First fifty years’ We hope everyone is busy on a camp fire robe, in readiness for the first camp fire in the new Grand Circle at West Runcton. Some staves have been excellently decorated – but more ought to have been.’

Ali Easterfield, Camp Leader at Cherry Jam 2007
Hand embroidered badges , pop studs at neck, armholes, and a giraffe.

Description from 28th Cambridge Scout Group

Camp Blankets are worn around camp and particularly around the campfire. They may double as a sleeping blanket or pillow. They are not carried on a hike camp.

Camp Blankets are a history, a display of your scouting life- what you have done, where you have been and who you have met.

Camp Blankets are not part of the kit, they are not uniform and they are not always blankets.

FunctionThe guiding principles, although unspoken, may be practicality, longevity
and that all facets have a connection with the owner.
ShapeCamp blankets can be cut as ponchos, capes, cloaks, coats, waistcoats blankets
or as you will. They may be fastened, hooded, or otherwise individualised.
BadgesScout badges may, amongst others, come from:
– past sections (beavers, cubs…)
– jamborees, celebrations and commemorations
– camps and trips
– past packs
– swapped with friends.
Other badges may include such as:
– Swimming, Duke of Edinburgh, Sailing, Canoeing, First Aid…
ScarvesDuplicates of current scarves, from previous groups, or celebrations
such as the centenary ‘wizard stars’ one.
FasteningsIf your design requires closing make them individual
– personalised, hand made or imaginative use of the commonplace
– buttons, button knots, toggles, ties or cloak pins.
Braids & fringesIn group colours?
Yachting cord comes in many colour mixes.
SilhouettesSome use silhouettes of patrol emblems, maps identifying camps,
mountains climbed, courses sailed, etc.
BindingsSew any cut edges and add a softer binding to neck holes in contrasting colours.
EmbroideryTo add unique items not available in badge form.

The layout of badges, scarves etc. is entirely up to you. By shape, colour, size, date, section; to make a picture; to fill a map….

Some Personal Preferences

Do get the owner to be involved in the design and sew at least part of each badge. It will then be more wholly theirs.
Do use wool – synthetics will often melt into holes or worse if they catch a spark.
Do invite questions in the design. You can spell out your Group, District, County, etc. but this may answer all the questions and stifle the first approach.
Don’t use Velcro – no one wants a ‘scrrrrrrip’ of Velcro when the song is ‘sad and low’ and it lacks elegance and individuality.
Do go for mid to dark colours as campfires can be unclean.
Do use a close stitch for embroidery or it will snag readily.
Don’t use metal badges or pins if you intend it to double for sleeping. You may wish to contrive a removable fastening to avoid an uncomfortable night or for washing.
Do have a head hole that will allow ready removal – no tent is big enough for even a small struggle and should it be foolishly wafted too close to a fire…
Don’t use fiddly fastenings; cold hands and dark tents won’t appreciate the choice.
Do plan for growth (if applicable). This may also dictate style – ponchos may allow greater growth than a ‘coat style’.
Don’t worry if your badges fade to illegibility. Fading implies age, age implies more history, the more history the better.
Do feel free to fill the starting blank with the block colour of a scarf or silhouette – it will take forever to fill with Activity Badges.
Explore what designs your blanket can take – coats, ponchos, cloaks, capes. Try to be different, but warm

My Camp Blanket: Purely as an example and by no means an exemplar my camp blanket is a simple poncho.
It is an old grey blanket bound at the neck with gold velvet.
It has a silhouette of the British Isles with camps marked across the back.
The front has badges of Cubs or rather Wolf Cubs (no Beavers then), Scouts, and Ventures, camps and other trips, swimming awards, first aid… These are laid out in a pattern with regard to shape and, secondarily, colour.
It has not been updated for 30 years, having been styled by my mother, but has been worn recently, in anticipation of his own, by my son. So, time for a new one? I am, after all, fully grown now.
This time I will do all the sewing.

JWR Archivist June 2020