District Camping Records

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Camping has always been a significant part of the Scouting experience, born as it was in practice out of the experiments on Brownsea Island. The first identified camp in Cambridge was the 2nd Cambridge in 1908

Camping in Cambridgeshire

1915    This was not permitted for some of the First World War.  The camps at Impington and later Fortheringhay (over the border in Northants) used camouflaged tents, reflecting the concern about Zeppelins. ‘Our Scouts Column’ in the local paper recorded that some Troops were able to find buildings in which to ‘camp’.

Many camped during the war on farms whilst helping the harvest. Two District Harvest camps occurred in 1917 and 1918, one is alluded to in 1916 but no details remain. An Association camp occurred in August 1920.

From 5th and 13th records. Leaders l to r as seen: Mr. P D Power, Mr. Armitage, Rev A V Valentine-Richards, Rev C T Wood, C L de Beaumont

1932    Abington County camp site open

1939 – 1945    Abington County camp site remained open during the war

Mid Cambs District (closed 1948) had a Camp site at Harston and encouraged Cambridge District to use it.

Cambridge Archive

1909    The first District Camping Rules were formulated at a meeting held on February 15th 1909 and on July 12th “agreed that 28 boys from Cambridge would attend a camp at Hartford. £2 profit from a Promenade Concert was given towards camp funds’.    Ken North 70 years of scouting

1922 The DC, C T Wood, relayed BPs concern about ‘bad camps’ with ‘fatal bathing (neglecting HQ rules), untidy, bad sanitation, and the misdemeanors of a few Scouts. This was not specific to Cambridge District but, as has been seen elsewhere, good Scouting skills are not automatically found in leaders. Presumably he felt he needed to emphasize this observation.

Camping as packs

An early Wolf Cub camp, the earliest I have noted, is that of the 4th Cambridge at Stow cum Quy in May 1922. It is unclear who the 4th were at this date being between the Harvey Goodwin School whose last recorded date was 1919 and Kings College Mission whose first recorded date is November 1922. Kings College Mission met at the Theatre Royal in Newmarket Street and folded in October 1923.

1929 Five packs reported camping in the AGM CM report.

In 1932 the original Rules for Camping at Abington Camping Ground stated – ‘No.3 Cubs are not allowed to camp on the site except on certain specified occasions.’

1932    Six packs camped in 1932 one (46th) with 2 cubs.      District Minutes

1933    11 packs 86 Cubs                                                        District Minutes

POR 1943

1944    Attention drawn to notice in The Scouter ‘Strongly recommended that cub camps should not take place this year in tents, barns or huts but only brick halls’

1945    IHQ recommendation was that Cubs did not camp.   The 42nd pack camped for 10 nights with 33 Cubs in this year.  Reports in the paper ‘made it difficult for other CM who had passed on the IHQ ruling.’           

1945    Mt Saunders (Field Commissioner) asked to raise the question of Cubs Camping with IHQ            District Minutes

1945    Hiring of District tents   It was stated that preference would be given troops over packs.

Following the Conference of ACCs (Cubs) and Akela Leaders in June 1946 ’It was recommended that no Cub under the age of ten years should be allowed to camp’.  Changes to POR in The Scouter May 1948 stated ‘No Cub under 9½ may be taken to camp except with the specific permission of the DC’.  It also required ‘a clean permanent shelter or marquee as backup for bad weather’.   The reasons for these moves were not given. 

1949     Cambridge Scouters Meeting ‘Did not approve of IHQ plan to replace Cub Camping with Pack Holidays’

1969 1st District camp for Cub Scouts sixers under canvas at Abington. It is not clear what the ‘1st’ refers to here, the ‘District’, the ‘canvas’ or the ‘sixers’. It would appear to signal an attempt to open the experience to all packs.

1979 +/- Father and Son camps were organised by Richard Crabtree for the District

Camping as troops   

1908                            2nd Cambridge held a camp

1909                            District camp at Hartford (see above)

1910                            5th Cambridge held its first camp in August 1910 on Houghton Island.  15 Scouts camped for a week swimming, boating and cultivating musical talents.

1911                            9th Cambridge held its  first troop camp at Houghton

1913                            13th at camp in Clayhithe when the Notts brothers were called up

1915 – 1950 7th record (in 1950) camping every summer except 1940

1917                            ‘CM desiring to hold camps should apply for authority to the DC.’                                                            District Minutes

1919 – 1923                13th      Joint camps with the 23rd (St. Matthew’s) were held at Heacharn and Dovercourt Bay-and with the 6th (Higher Grade) at Stow-Cum-0uy 13th Hist

1921/22                       17 Troops held camps of more than a week             

                                    10 troops possessed all or part of their own equipment; the remained had to hire bell tents etc, very expensive.  I remember this was the case during most of my Boy Scout service in 1920’s.                      Ken North 70 years

1923 and 1924 7th Cambridge held sailing ‘camps’ on the Norfolk Broads

1929 AGM report, from CDN, 24 troops (of the 40 in existence) reported camping, many of those who did not were the newer troops. Four new troops were formed that year.

1932                            301 Scouts camped for more than 7 nights (+50%)   District Minutes

1933                            380 Scouts camped for more than 7 nights (49%)     District Minutes

1940’s, Scotland          60th Cambridge Leys   ‘Pewit patrol held the tenth and last camp of the term’

1942                            Three packs camped

1943                            5th Cambridge ‘We regret that a Troop camp will be impossible during the holidays as so many Scouts are helping with the harvest which will be an early one’

1945                             5th recorded 1488 nights under canvas

1945                            5177 nights 1, 5, 7, 9, 1, 12, 13, 19, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29/42, 36, 42, 54, 60, 66th camped

1948                            60th Cambridge Leys    ‘During the summer all Scouts may have weekend patrol camps but they must be back on Sunday afternoon to attend chapel at 6pm.’ The campsites of Madingley Hall and Toft Manor were favourite locations.

1949                            Scouters Meeting  Did not approve of IHQ plan to replace Cub Camping with Pack Holidays

1952                            5th Cambridge             ’60 Scouts at Patrol camps at half term’

1959                            54th Cambridge Court of Honour        Two of the three patrols recorded patrol camps at Easter.

Camping as a District

1917                Impington (Chivers) fruit picking         8 hours a day             35 boys x 3 weeks

1918                Fortheringhay Northants flax picking                                     70 boys x 5 weeks

WTT in Archaeology of Scouting recalls these District camps  Would that we could find national work again, as an excuse for a District Camp! ‘

1926                District weekend camp at Trumpington Hall

1930s               District camps were held, Trumpington in ‘33           Ken North 70 years

1940’s              Association w/e camps most years (not 1940)

Immediately after WW2 a District camp was revived at Trumpington Hall, another example of the long term generosity of the Pemberton family.

1950’s              Association w/e camp at Whitsun most years

1951                Pampisford

1954                ‘A good contingent’ of Cambridge Scouts attended the Sandringham Coronation Rally

1961                District winter camp   Edale

1962                District winter camp   Kings Lynn

1966                District Expedition to Switzerland

County Camps

The first County Camps outside Rallies are difficult to list.  Last recording was in 1979 after which the archives falter.

1925 A County Rally on Owlstone Croft overlooking Sheep Green Cambridge. The General Inspection by Sir Alfred Pickford was followed by a camp on the Rally Ground See Gazette Feb 1926

  • Hele Trophy competition recorded from       1937
  • County Camp competition recorded from     1938
  • Gauntlet (sometimes?) at County Camp        1969

1971    Coloured caps were used for each area.

9th Cambridge camping history 1919 – 1930

This early troop history is not a complete list of patrol and weekend camps but is from the album of C T Wood in which he was present and photographed the occasion. It is of note that they returned to Forgtheringhay, the site of the 1918 Flax picking camp.

1919    Easter: trek to Quy and Newmarket. Summer: West Runton (with the 7th).

1920. Easter: Babraham (with our Serbian friend, A. Kostitch). Summer: West Runton (with 7th and 10th) Olympia jamboree in August.

1921. Easter: Longstowe (snow: burning accident to W. Blackburn). Summer: Harlech, with ascent of Snowdon. [Acting of play “Vice-Versa”]

1922. Easter: Longstowe. [June Rally in Queens’ Grove with Chief Scout]. Summer: Wall-End Farm, Langdale, with ascents of ScaFell, etc., and rock-climb on Little Gully, Pavey Ark.

1923. Easter: Fotheringhay. Whitsun: Haslingfield. Summer: West Runton.

1924. Easter: Longstowe. Summer: VaI D’Iere Savoy. [Acting of play, “A Boy-Scout at the Court of King Arthur”].

 1925-1927. Easter: Longstowe. Summer: West Runton.

 1928 March Rally in Guildhall with Chief Scout, and Sioux Chief Dr. Eastman]. Easter: Wyton Vicarage. Summer: Nook Farm, Rosthwaite.

 1929. Easter: Brent Pelham. Summer: West Runton. Jamboree at Arrowe Park, Birkenhead.

1930. Easter: Waresley Park. Summer: Giffard Bay, Jersey.

1931. Easter: Croxton Park. Summer: Saint’s Bay, Guernsey.


Camping Abroad (see International travel and Jamborees)

1924. Summer: VaI D’Iere Savoy.                   9th Cambridge  CT Wood

Census reports 1935 – 1949

For some years a record of nights camped as a district was compiled, being part of Group Annual report forms. Early reports only requested information on those who had camped for more than seven nights.  This implied an expected minimum that could be deemed a worthwhile level of camping.

1935    229 Scouts camped for more than 7 nights   (of 198 Rovers, 451 scouts, 261 Cubs)

193?    301 Scouts camped for more than 7 nights   (2107+ nights)

The nature of information requested altered after 1945 to total nights camped.  Each year’s report was compiled in March and refers to camping largely in the previous year.

1941                During this year the 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 23rd, 25th, 29th/42nd, and 54th camped.  The 7th,23rd, 29th/42nd, and 54th Wolf Cubs camped.  All camps were in excess of 6 nights except the 54th which camped for 3 and 9 nights.   The 13th recorded 21 nights camping with 8 campers.

1945                Time of year / type of camp  

Weekend and Patrol are not clearly defined and probably overlap significantly.  Some groups noted ‘many’ weekend camps which were not individually listed. 

Following this census camp numbers were requested as the 12th had provided them – total nights under canvas.

1946                The following review of Camps from 1946 is clearly incomplete having some returns with partial information, some with unclear entries or approximations. The total figures (below) are unravelled from the numbers given at the time.

Sites     It lists many sites close to Cambridge, repeat use suggesting a landowner friendly to Scouting in general rather than a group, or as with Abington a Scout camp site.  The 5th camped at Toft, Toft Manor being the home of their GSM MacFarlane-Grieve.

The 48 named camps used 29 campsites.  Eight were used more than once, Abington seven times.  Thirteen were out of the County, four in Scotland (60th Cambridge, The Leys, were evacuated to Scotland) five in Norfolk. 

The destination RSS Discovery suggests that ‘camping’ was not necessarily under canvas. The 28th Wolf Cubs name a Rangers Hut as their base.  

The 7th and 12th with multiple sites specifically state or imply many Patrol camps.  The 5th with high scout nights but low leader nights suggests the same; leaders not necessarily being present at Patrol Camps.  In 1950 five of the eight patrols in the 5th Cambridge camped ‘on their own’ for a short or long weekend.

Length of camps         Many camps appear to be of 5 days or longer as suggested by the multiples of leaders and Scouts/ Cubs camping.  The cost and difficulties in transporting kit to camp make short camps difficult.  I have no experience of using Trek carts or railways to get to camp.  The cost and work involved may have made longer camps more likely.

The 28th Wolf Cubs camped for at least five nights, judging from the pack numbers at the time, probably 7 nights.  The form specifically asked for Cub numbers camping.  The reason for the 68th comment ‘Pack only’ may stem from the IHQ recommendations above, but clearly not all packs anticipated the acceptance of these recommendations.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019