Cambridge District Scout Archive

One of the underlying roles of Scouting was to raise the general fitness of boys, as a good thing in itself, to ‘Be prepared’, and as a requirement to engage in some of the more robust Scouting activities. Part of the programme was an education in food, hygiene, first aid and care for self and others. Much of the activity was hidden within games such as British Bulldog and Tug of War and sports which stepped away, in part, from the formal athletic events to activities that were generally team based and all inclusive.

The 9th Cambridge had a reputation of being perhaps excessively ‘fit’ and at least one Scout left to join another troop because of this focus. The SM was a cross country ‘Blue’, but perhaps the greater drive was the loss of two campers from drowning in a very early camp.

Few photographs remain locally of any exercises, perhaps because most look like the games they were turned into. These come from the 5th Cambridge (Perse) archive held by the school and date from the 1920’s. They are on camp at West Runcton, in the 1930’s. They appear to be more of a ‘camp’ activity than part of the weekly programme, although the co-ordination of the massed push ups might suggest otherwise. Nothing in the records suggests weekly exercises were part of the programme for the 5th Cambridge.

B. P. did not consider PT or PE as giving responsibility to the boy for their own fitness.

The mass swimming looks very much like a compulsory activity; whether for cleanliness, sport or fitness is not clear.

The trek cart run is not specifically exercise, but is energetic. Trek cart pulls of of 7.5 miles in 45 minutes and 6 and 3/4 miles (fully loaded) of 42 minutes have been recorded. The photograph is of the 5th Cambridge.

The river based swimming was the only option for most in Cambridge before the building of Jesus Green Lido. The ability to swim 50 yards was required to become a First Class Scout.

The role of ‘Tumbling’ as another zero equipment activity and covered under sport.

JWR Archivist Feb 2022