Trophies, Cups and Competitions

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Trophies, Cups and Competitions have been part of Cambridge District Scouting from the very beginning.

The first Cambridge District Trophy of note was the Silver Bugle, first awarded in 1911 a year after the registration of the District and three years after the first Troops were formed.

Types of Competition

The competitions and awards fall into three main areas

  • Sports
  • Camping skills
  • Scouting skills

Sports are the easiest to describe echoing the sport in question.  Some, such as swimming have persisted through the years, stopping for periods as external events intervene or organising bodies change but returning after a few years.

Some fall out of favour, boxing for cubs and later scouts not having been competed for since about 1950.    The musketry qualification for the Red Feather, part of the Scout Defence Corps, initiated in 1915, did not persist long after the end of the conflict.

Camping skills are based on District Camps and these were not possible for all Troops.   The Morley Trophy persisted for many years, although the expectations changed year on year.  Initially emphasis was placed on camping spirit and patrol order, the quality of the equipment specifically not being an issue.  Cheerfulness was appreciated.  The difficulty in getting all Troops to a camp generated a move to other formats in some years.    The County Camp Competition and the Hele Trophy were both awarded at some County Camps but the criteria for each are not clear.  The Hele trophy did require enjoying the camping.

Scouting skills is a catch all category and includes the Query and Alert competitions with the emphasis on observation and application as well as local knowledge.  Like the Morley trophy these changed format year by year whilst retaining a semblance of the original intention.  Attached to this may be the Ambulance Trophies, first aid completions at County level but with District heats.  The Clark Life Saving Award recognised the Troop with the most life saving awards earned in that year.

Beginnings and Ends

Trophies are usually donated, presumably after consultation with the District Executive, and sometimes named after the donor.  Early Trophies were often given worth by the cost of manufacture, the Silver Bugle was deemed to be worth selling on and the Inter Troop Athletics Challenge Shield initial ring of medallions were hallmarked silver. 

Trophies end for many reasons.  The Silver Bugle itself was deemed not to be a suitable symbol for scouting in the years immediately after the Great War.  It was to be sold and the Morley Trophy, named after the original donor of the Bugle, purchased as a replacement.

Trophies pass as Districts split and merge.  They are in danger of fading if one Group dominates a Trophy and others step back. Groups gain a reputation for being good in a field and competition fades. Very large groups, such as those based around schools, could readily dominate.

Trophies faded as Troops subdivided into Scouts and Senior Scouts. When the number of senior sections in the district is small trophies are in danger of lapsing.  Later, Ventures and Explorers also competed for few trophies. 

Before the 1946 formation of Senior Scouts several Trophies split offering Scout and Senior Scout awards.  Some Trophies were specifically for age limited Patrols, one having a total age limit for the six participants. 

The Query ??? Trophy may have lapsed in name as the word ‘queer’ for homosexual could no longer be denied by polite ignorance.  Starting in 1945 its use appears to have diminished in the 1970’s . The competition seems to have taken on the name of the subsidiary Alert trophy. 

Some competitions appear to rest after several years or for alternate years to ensure that the format does not become jaded and the involvement of Troops wane.

Forms of Trophy

Shields are the commonest form of physical award but statuettes are not uncommon.  The Cub Totem is in the shape of a wolf on a pole and in some formats has a leather roll of honour attached or dangling medallions.  A wolf head also exists although distanced from district competition.  More recently standard purchased shields are most usual although individually crafted trophies exist.  The Red Feather was awarded by a red feather to be worn in the hat.   It may be seen that when Trophies become full or the cost of engraving is too great gaps occur on the record list.  Some trophies past and present avoid the cost of engraving and rely on a clear hand or individual skills.

Some Trophies had 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies – see Morley Trophy.


Many scout trophies were based at the Patrol level.  Some required that all members of a Patrol be seen to take a part as in the Query competition.  In one year the format of the Alert Cup generated a single winner, the personal name standing out amongst a string of Patrol names.  Collective ages were sometimes used as a limit and composite patrols were banned or if allowed with limits.  Senior Patrols altered many trophy formats.

Cub competitions were generally by Pack.


The lists of winners attached to individual entries on competitions are not definitive except where they come from the trophies.  The records are often from Annual Reports and exist without dates in the minutes, being either the year of the report or the previous year.  Reports often do not differentiate between District and County competitions as in the Stratton Ambulance Competition which held District heats.  Where senior scout cups divide from the original this is rarely noted, this and other details being understood by the readership but no longer recalled.  This is particularly so in the Grafton Gazette and Abington Advertiser, the nearly monthly newsletter.

Cambridge Archive

1934    Decided to hold Swimming yearly and athletics alternative years. 

1935    At split of District it was agreed to open trophies etc. to all new districts for a year. District Minutes

1945    Sub Committee to consider effect of Senior Scouts on Trophies.

The Cambridge District Archive and collection would very much appreciate photos of past trophies and lists of winners.  We will accept Trophies for safekeeping into the Collection and any records relating to Trophies or any other event or Group.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019