Open/ Sponsored/ Controlled/ Closed

Cambridge District Scout Archives

Sponsored, Controlled or Closed Groups

Closed groups had a controlling body from which the membership was taken (e.g. boarding schools), Controlled groups had a pre existing authority which exerted a level of control over the Group (e.g. Religious organisation), Sponsored groups were slightly softer version.   Open Groups had no external controlling body. Those completing Scout Form C – Registration, or C2 – Change in Registration used the first three of the above terms without a clear distinction. 

Sponsored initially implied Controlled and the two terms appear to have been used without differentiation.   The degree of direct control in between a sponsor and a group varied greatly.  Ken North, in his memories, describes the 13th St Phillips in 1924 as ‘a good parish troop (not rigidly controlled)’. 

Closed may have implied a very restricted membership base, such as a school, but does not appear to have been consistently used in this manner.

In February 1944 the term Controlled was formally dropped and Sponsored became the standard description.

In 1947, nationally, sponsors were: 51% CoE, 13% Methodist, 12% schools, 6% RC, 6% Congregational, 4% Baptist, 2% Presbyterian, 0.1% Jewish.                        The Scouter Nov 1947

From 1968 Form F ‘Annual Group Registration and Census Return’ provided the options Open/ Sponsored Open/ Sponsored Closed, recognising the different level of oversight or limitations on membership.

Open Groups

Groups that were initiated and named after an interested body were not automatically sponsored.  28th Cambridge (St John’s) Group was open from the first registration in 1928 but always held the St John’s name. 

Cambridge Archives

One Troop required boys to be from the parish or attending the Church regularly.

Cambridge Troops in the first two decades were nearly all sponsored; the constant exception was the 1st Cambridge Sea Scouts.  The number of sponsorships decreased as Troops and Groups stepped away from the limitations of the sponsoring body or the original sponsor passed on the responsibility of running a Troop.  Thus some college choirs abandoned the connection to the choir (9th Cambridge) and some Groups stepped away from the limitation of a school that finished at 14 (12th Cambridge Troop).  

Groups did step back into sponsorship or stepped between sponsorships.  The 11th are listed in 1930 as St Pauls – Open, St Pauls pack – Controlled, and without a change of IHQ number became 11th Emmanuel Congregational Church – Controlled (1932).  By 1934 they are re registered without Sponsorship.

The following figures and categories are taken from the Census returns to Headquarters that gave details of the sponsors.  Some figures, given in red, do not add up.

  • CoE      Church of England
  • SA        Salvation Army
  • Cong    Congregational
  • Meth   Methodist
  • J           Jewish

29/5/1925       ‘that in the case of controlled troops within the Town of Cambridge, where the controlling body nominate a Scouter without experience of Scouting, the Association will not in future recognise the Troop.                                                        District Minutes

In 1950 a District letter was sent which identified that on the withdrawal of sponsorship from the 25th Cambridge Groups would be sponsored by the Cof E, Methodists, Wesleyans, Salvation Army but not the RC or Congregationalists.

1972    A ‘hot’ article in the press concerning the closed 16th Cambridge St James was followed by District action to open another Cub pack in the area.

Expectations of Sponsors

In 1924 the 13th Cambridge scouts were often ‘caught for chores’ and regularly asked to transfer chairs between halls, hiring a cart to do so.  In 1959 the use of a Church hall for the 4th Cambridge came with the proviso that the Group hold regular Church parades, about one a quarter.  Use of the hall was withdrawn seven years later.  The reasons for this were not recorded in the Group minutes.

One sponsoring Church withdrew their name from a Group not wishing to be associated with the temporarily leaderless Troop that was meeting on their premises.  They were willing to remain associated with the Pack. 

POR 1952        179

The following bodies were recognised as sponsors by I H Q (Imperial Headquarters): Churches of any denomination; Universities, Colleges, and Schools; Youth Committees of Local Education Authorities; Hospitals and Institutions; Works; and the following organisations: YMCA, British Legion, Church Army, Church of England Temperance Society, National Association of Boys Clubs, National Juvenile Templers Council, Salvation Army, Society of St Vincent de Paul in England, Regnal League (for Groups consisting of Troops, Senior Troops and Crews only), Toc H....and others which from time to time may be approved by IHQ.

In Cambridge no groups have been identified as being directly sponsored by industrial or commercial firms.  Close liaison between Pye and the 12th Cambridge has been recorded with ex Scouts working at the works, links between the works sports club and scout training and involvement with the new technologies.

POR 2018

Rule 3.13              The Open Scout Group

  • An Open Scout Group has no formal relationship with any other organisation and has a policy of unrestricted recruitment.

Rule 3.14              The Sponsored Scout Group

  • A Sponsored Scout Group can be sponsored by an organisation approved by Headquarters. The Group will have a policy of recruitment defined in a formal agreement with the Sponsoring Authority.
  • Examples of approved organisations include religious bodies, schools, industrial or commercial firms, residents’ and community associations and formations of Her Majesty’s Forces.
  • In the case of a Sponsored Scout Group which is sponsored by a university, college or school, membership of the Group must be voluntary for the students or pupils of the Sponsoring Organisation.
  • Sponsored Scout Groups may have a policy of unrestricted or restricted recruitment as defined in a formal agreement between the District Executive Committee and the Sponsoring Authority.
  • No restriction on recruitment may be made which contravenes the provisions of any law.
  • The organisation which sponsors the Group shall appoint a person or committee to act as the Sponsoring Authority. The District Commissioner must be informed of this appointment. Chapter 3 THE SCOUT GROUP The Scout Association – POR January 2018 Page 11 of 26 h. In the event of a disagreement between the Sponsoring Authority and the Group Scout Leader, the matter must be referred to the District Commissioner. (See Chapter 15 for further information)

JWR Archivist Feb 2019