(‘Some very happy cooperation with Rangers’)
Cambridge District Scout Archive 1908 – 1976 – 2007
For many years Boy Scouts was just that, for boys. Girls were not permitted to join. Between 1908 and 1976 involvement of girls in scouting was at social events and mixed Scout/ Guide events. In the 1960’s joint training started and ties improved between Rangers and Scouts.
The shift from ‘no they can’t’ to ‘yes they can’ took 69 years to start and 100 to finalise.
1908 – 1910 No evidence of girls in Scouting in Cambridge in the earliest period has yet been identified from the Cambridge District archives.
Girls were first admitted into the Venture Scouts in 1976 and to all Sections in 1991; from 2000 new sections were required to accept girls; from 2007, the centenary, all Scout groups and sections become co-educational. Girl Guides were formed in 1910, the first in Cambridge in 1911.
Now a very dated term mixed events refers to planned events where both girls and boys are assembled together. Even in the late 1960’s some school playgrounds were still separated into boys and girls. Social change is generally driven outside the institutions of the day; within Scouting, debates on mixing were a balance of a ‘natural and pleasant relationship’; maintaining a boys only zone; and the wider social moves and mores of the age.
1934- 1936 The Rover This magazine for Rover age was consciously aimed at men but portrayed mixed activities. Active and attractive female companions were frequent in advertisements. An article ‘The Rover and The Girl’ appeared in August 1934 the gist of which was Rovers should not shun those members ‘taken with a girl’, but acknowledge it as an appropriate step towards matrimony.
1963 The Scoutmaster Guide from A – Z Girls To Troop Christmas Parties ‘…Scouts are encouraged nay, expected to bring sisters and girl friends, is a most wholesome and happy occasion.’ ‘what is important is that the natural and pleasant relationship …should also exist between Scouts and their girl friends.’ ‘…co-operation with our sister Movement (Rover Ranger conferences, PL’s Socials, Joint Parades) should constantly be on your mind.’
The age at which Girls became Ladies was no clearer in the past than now. Rovers were aged between 17 and 25 and Rover/ Ranger events are listed here for completeness. This is a representative not a complete list. The Grafton Street Gazette (GSG) did not report on past events so details after the occasion are lacking from this source.
1917 The Senior Scouts Club was organised for all Scouts. The proposal ‘girl friends on invitation’, generated a ‘considerable difference of opinion’.
1917 ‘I wish Jock Dawson was here to know of a minute of the Executive Committee of November 1917: Senior Scout Club. Girl friends and relations of the members may be invited to social evenings with their mothers from time to time, but no girl shall be admitted unless accompanied by a suitable chaperone,” But the permissive age crept on, and on the 27th of January, 1919 the Executive solemnly decided that “Chaperones on the social evenings are no longer required.”’ WTT Archaeology 1978
1917 B P visit to Cambridge – a newspaper called Guides ‘Girl Scouts’
1922 Mike Petty Boy Scouts and Girl Guides packing toys for the Children’s Toy fund. (2 oranges, 1 apple, 1 bag of nuts, 1 bag of sweets, 1 bon bon, 2 large and 1 small toy, a book or a picture paper)
1931 GSG It is hoped to arrange a joint dramatic venture for Rangers and Rovers
Joint Rangers and Rovers Social (Rovers are the hosts)
1932 GSG Joint Rover Ranger Troop night
Joint Rangers/ Rovers talk (on British Birds)
1933 GSG Ranger/ Rover meeting
Scout and Guides Own at Great St Mary’s St Georges Day
Rangers and some Rovers are having Country Dancing lessons… and would like Rovers and Scouters…
Girl Guide rally … about 1400 GG are expected, we need at least 300 to balance this horde Also request for 50 Rovers to act as stewards
1934 26th Cub log ‘A district Girl Guide camp was held in the field opposite. The Cubs went over to have a look and stayed all day… made themselves useful…again on Sunday..on Monday …took part in a play given by the Guides.’
1937 A Garden Party, based on St Phillips Church, but combining Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and Boys Brigade. Later that year the 13th Cambridge presented a colours to the 9th Girl Guides (St Philips). This was repeated the following year with the Girl Guides joining the occasion. These events were described as unique (for the District or County?) by Mrs de Beaumont, GG Commissioner.
1941 12th Cambridge held joint meetings with the 4th Girl Guides (below)
1945 + The Query??? and later the Alert Competition was open to Patrols of both Guides and Scouts. The event did not mix boys and girls, the presentation did.
‘Since the War, there has been more co-operation with the Girl Guides than in the earlier years. I think that in a small way it helped when I opened the Guide Section at the Shop about 1945, commencing selling their uniforms when clothes rationing ended. ‘(Ken North)
1946 Miss Jarman’s Rangers to use Grafton Street HQ
1947 Ranger Senior Scout YHA w/e ‘Agreed that a Scouter or Guider should be present at this event.’ District Minutes
1947 Senior Scout Hike report 12th Cambridge ‘we saw some Rangers we knew but didn’t stop.’ The planned hike, with a tight schedule and a scenario that they should ‘not be spotted’, which assumes ‘spotters’ might excuse this seeming lack of manners.
1948 5th Cambridge note ‘the sudden and – we must admit – quite unexpected awakening of the Rangers Senior Scout Club. This body…having lain dormant since its formation last year’ The 5th was ‘poorly represented’ at Club meetings
1948 60th The Leys, notes ‘combined operations’ with the Rangers (also Rangers Senior Scout Club)
1950 Guide/ Rover Cycle hike and three evenings of Scottish Dancing Guides invited to join the Alert competition (which they won readily)
1951 Some very happy cooperation with Rangers
1953 Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club formed. The Cambridge University Rovers continued as a male only part of this organisation for some years.
1954 CUSAGC Annual subscription10/- (ladies 7/6) or 4/- (ladies 3/-) a term
1957 May Brownie and Cub Quiz
1961 54th Cambridge Social with Rangers and Guides
Joint Guide and Scout meetings were trialled before the mixed Venture Units in 1976.
1963 Scout and Guide Club restarted (Also called Scout and Guide Troop)
Pre 1965 The 5th/ 7th had existing ties with Guide Ranger Units before the Ranger/ Rover Unit and held joint training schemes.
1965 cc 37.9 A Combined VS and Ranger guide unit started 1965 – in 1970 had 30 members. This predates mixed VSU’s by two years
1966 A member of the 5th tells of a camp when, as a Patrol Leader, he was sent home for meeting girls in Cromer. No more details exist.
1966 Combined Unit ‘very successful’ and made a film and held a joint camp
13th held first Rangers Rovers Conference
1967 £10 grant to combined unit which met at Perne Road
1970 Oct Venture Scout meeting with Guides ‘successful’, but the (District Executive) committee was ‘not in favour of (supporting) a purely social event’ (a theatre trip)
1970 The Cambridge Gang show started in 1970 after a gap of 32 years and was a combined Scout and Guide event.
1973 Guides were attempting to form a Guide and Scout Orchestra for those over 10 years old.
1973/74 Following the division of the District in 1973 the Guides felt it necessary to withdraw their support from the Combined Scout and Guide Unit, ‘which has served a very useful purpose over several years’. The reasons for this are not explained.
In the 1974 report all Units were encouraged to ‘form stronger links with Ranger Guide Sections … than is often the case at present’.
1974 May Dist Minutes ‘agreed that GG might take part in some activities; Morley, Scout Decathlon, First Aid.’
VS and Ranger w/e ‘very successful’
1974 Nov Joint Guide and Scout events were happy
1974 The County Commissioner had received a complaint from the Guides about drinking taking place at Mixed Activities. (Venture Scouts and Rangers both had members legally old enough to drink)
1974 Nov Joint Guide and Scout events were happy
1975 Joint Guide and Scout PL training weekend. AGM of Ventures and Ranger Guides had been held.
1976 Mike Petty 4000 present at Little Thetford where the Bishop of Ely held an open air service 100 Brownies and Cubs collapsed in the heat
RA – VEN Committees of Rangers and Ventures coordinating events for the two groups in Cambridge and elsewhere.
1976 Girls could become Venture Scouts
1977 CUSAGC organised Joint activity day for Scout Troops and Guide Companies
1979 CSG ‘District Executive has… given their support to the DC Crafts Hill for the formation of a mixed Venture Scout Unit in that District on the understanding that it is regarded at present as a unique arrangement having regard to the local conditions and that it must not be assumed that similar support will be forthcoming automatically for experiments elsewhere. Good luck to Crafts Hill on this new ‘Venture’.’
1980 Newmarket Camp: 12 Venture Units and 13 Ranger Units
1982 The Tithe VSU (formed from the 5th and 7th) stated that they were the first mixed Unit in Cambridge District. Crafts Hill, which in 1979 was one of three sub divisions of a large Cambridge had now become a separate District.
1991 All Sections could be co-educational
1997 At a 1997 Granta District camp (separated from Cambridge in 1932 but to rejoin neighbouring Districts in 2012) all 120 Cubs attending were boys, by 1999 85 of 87 were boys. The uncertainty about girls attending camp at this point, for both parents and leaders, may mean that these figures do not reflect the actual numbers of girls in the packs.
2000 All new Sections must be co-educational
2007 All Sections were co-educational
Female Venture Scouts
In 1976 Venture Scouts were the first Section of The Scout Association opened up female participants. Crafts Hill had been given permission to form a mixed group in 1979 and listed 24 members. By 1982 numbers had dropped to 8.
Venture scouts The Census did not ask for a split by gender until 1979.
The first female members were recorded in 1983 in Tithe VSU. Bolstered by the large intake into Tithe VSU 29% of Venture Scouts were female in 1983. Tithe VSU formed from the Perse School (5th) and County School (7th) VSU’s in 1976, at that time both boys schools, both with a good reputation.
All scouts A smaller reformed District monitored the numbers of girls and the split of leaders in all sections.
A strong and long standing Girl Guide network exists in Cambridge.
It is evident that regular social interaction between girls / Girl Guides and Scouts was most often seen in the older Sections. The exact nature of the interactions at each event is hard to unpick from these one line reports.
The skills to negotiate purely social events were generally first tested in the senior sections.
It is well recorded that ‘numerous’ girls wanted to be Scouts. The above entry in the 1909 HQ Gazette is clear on the subject. The Girl Guides in Cambridge whose first public appearance was at the 1911 Rally (See People/ BP in Cambridge 1911) were lead from 1916 by Hon Mrs de Beaumont and her daughters Elise and Marguerite who had been present at the first national rally and made their wishes known. Marguerite was later also Lady Cubmaster in Cambridge.
JWR Archivist Feb 2019