John Sweet in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archive

‘NB Watch out for John Sweet, he’s a bit of a lad.’

This observation, from the 7th Cambridge Senior Scout log book of 1963, reflects the inventiveness and fun that John put into his leadership courses. These were held at Abington Scout campsite over a number of years. John was given to describing himself as ‘the lunatic fringe’ of Scouting in his regular pieces in the Scouter.

His merits as a skilled pioneer should warrant his inclusion, were this not a Cambridge District Scout based website. However, the District was fortunate to have John as Field Commissioner for several years (c.1959 – 1969) and invited him to be AGM speaker in both 1965 and 1978.

Scout Pioneering

I have re read John Sweet’s ‘Scout Pioneering’ and it is a very practical set of instructions on how to develop pioneering skills within a pack and troop. This appreciation is echoed by Geoffrey Budworth, co founder of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, who considers John to be the best writer on scouting knots.

The Abington Spring Bridge is named for the site of its first creation under John. Abington was a camp site just south of Cambridge, both Ely (also Cambridgeshire) and Thorrington (Essex) are name checked in his work. The Abington Rocking Chair, also invented by John, is named in the 7th Cambridge Senior Scout log book. It was later published in The Scouter. Some of these did not succeed first time.

Importantly he thinks about the teaching both in terms of the projects but also how the cubs, scouts and leaders react. Further he puts pioneering into perspective as a teaching aid, one that was and largely remains the preserve of Scouting.

See also Activities/ Scouting Skills/ Pioneering

JWR Archivist Mar 2020