Camp Headgear

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Rule 12 of the original Abington Rules, as drawn up by CT Wood, CC, was

DRESS. All scouts leaving the camp must be properly dressed in Scout Uniform, but may wear any dress on camp, except fancy and highly coloured headgear such as berets.

Putting aside the idiosyncratic dislike of berets, a ruling that others attempted and failed to overturn the following year, the permission to wear ‘camp’ clothing possibly acknowledges the reality – that much of the work done on camp would mar the uniform and the uniform would potentially hinder the task.

Few pieces of ‘camp headgear’ are conspicuous in photographs, possibly because they were generally not ‘fancy’ – they do not shout as inappropriate. The colour does not come through in the black and white prints. This applies at all camps. Many photo’s are also of formal episodes at which uniform is worn.

The cap worn above is not a Cub cap, but appears to be adorned with badges, possibly Wolf Cub badges. 12th Cambridge 1930’s.

The fruit picking, above, from a 1917 Cambridge District Camp specifically to help the harvest, shows a number of Scouts using their scarves as bandeau, shading the neck in the heat. The same usage was commented upon and sketched by B-P the following year at centrally organised flax picking camps.

1918 Flax camp showing scarf use and other hat forms. C T Wood album
1920’s 9th Cambridge C T Wood album

The use of the scarf as sunshield is photographed on hikes and climbs in CT wood’s album of the 1920’s. In some of these they are shown in the same photographs as scouts using wet weather gear and sou’westers which might suggest that the wind and rain of the Lake District also shaped headgear choice.

Hats were so much part of dress for everyone before WW2 that the opportunity at camp not to wear one was possibly part of the joy of camp. As many camps were in summer and some photos were of day jaunts where a change of clothing was not used, the number of informal snaps showing odd hats are few.

It is likely that ‘camp’ headgear is so infrequently seen because most campers did not bring a second hat that was not specifically for wet weather or warmth. Kit lists were minimal and clothing bulkier. A scout hat was a battered item for younger scouts in any case and, as seen, the square scarf worked well as a sun shade.

JWR Archivist Sept 2021

Berets were to become part of the uniform with Senior Scouts after WW2. The negative associations that may have influenced C T Wood were presumably outweighed by the military links to Tank Corps, Paratroops and Commandos. It is possible that the original floppiness of some traditional berets were less evident and the colours moderated. Tank Corp wore ‘Black’, Paras ‘Maroon’ and Commandos ‘Commando green’. The British Forces now list 16 different beret colours plus UN blue.