Cambridge District Scout Archive
Venture Scouts began in 1967 as part of the adoption of The Chief Scouts’ Advance Party Report. The term Venturer had been used for a major badge of Senior Scouts, a compulsory element of the First Class Scout Award.
The age range for Venture Scouts was 15½ – 20 and as such overlapped two existing sections and CUSAGC membership. Those over 20 became members of Scout Fellowship.
In Cambridge Venture Scouts replaced the 14 Senior Patrols (15 – 18) and 4 Rover Crew (17 – 24).
Venture Scout Units
In Cambridge Venture Scouts retained two of the three Senior/ Rover strands;
- Group affiliated Units
- District Unit (The three sub districts of Cambridge District operating in 1967 became separate Districts in 1983)
- It was not a component of CUSAGC.
1967 A Cambridgeshire report of 1974 stated that in 1967:
- 4th, 11th/9th, 16th, 23rd, and 29th elected to feed to Sir John Cockcroft VSU (District)
- 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 14th, and 54th elected to start their own Units (the 5th and 7th were working closely together.)
- 50th, 57th, 29th, 32nd started units between 1967 and 1974
- 26th and 56th expressed interest in starting units
Sir John Cockcroft Venture Scout Unit was formed in 1967 from the District Senior Scouts (15 – 18) and District Rover Crew (17 – 24) both of which met at Perne Road HQ.
Both District Sections had low numbers although the Rover numbers may not reflect the total involved. Other Groups elected to feed this Venture Scout Unit. (See above)
District VSU and Groups reporting Venture Scouts in their Census returns
Census returns are largely complete between 1967 and 1984. The total from 1975 is taken from contemporary records
- Red no Census data
- Orange VSU listed in Census returns. Some of these had as few as 1 VS.
- Dark blue District units
Note – whilst the Districts did not split until 1983 they were administrative Sub Districts from 1976.
1968 16th – possibly a misunderstanding having Venture age members but no formal Unit
1969 52nd — Littleton House School – for those with special needs and probably not expected to feed into Venture Units by dint of age or infirmity. This needs clarification.
1974 The Cambridgeshire Report identified that the average Unit size in the district was 9.5, just above the minimum recommended size. They had small leadership teams which provided a limited skill base and left units vulnerable to leaders moving. Larger groups were better at generating involvement and leaders. At this point it was recommended that no further Units fed by single groups be registered and that District Groups be favoured.
The new proposals were for 6 Units in the three Cambridge sub Districts: South, North and Crafts Hill
- S 5th, 7th +13th
- S Sir John Cockcroft 4th, 11th/9th, 16th, 23rd, 28th +13th
- S 27th, 29th, 57th
- N 32nd, 50th, 54th
- N 12th, 14th, 18th, 19th, 26th
- Crafts Hill 6th/17th, 56th, Bar Hill, Cottenham, Histon, Oakington, Over, Willingham, Gamlingay + 10th Cambridge, Girton?
- 44th to support Granta (confirming established practice)
1975 District Scout Council Minutes:
- 5th and 7th (VSU’s) have combined and are looking for a name (became Tithe)
- – Sir John Cockcroft has too many leaders
- – Cam Valley VSU formally registered
Following the above report the three areas all formed District VSU’s. The three Cambridge sub Districts became separate Districts in 1976.
- Tithe VSU joined the existing
- Sir John Cockcroft VSU
- Cam Valley VSU which ran until 1978 then became the 12th Cambridge VSU
- Crafts Hill VSU which ranuntil 1981
- Belsar VSU opened in 1982
- Bullock Haste VSU opened in 1984
The 14th, 26th, 54th and 57th Cambridge all continued to run VSU’s, the 12th later taking on the role of Cam Valley VSU.
1976 Granta South Cambs. VSU Bodica VSU
1980 list from Cavesac (Venture Scout periodical)
- Camb N 12th, 14th, 26th, 54th
- Camb S Tithe, Sir John Cockcroft, Fulbourn
- Crafts Hill Crafts Hill
- Ely Ely
- Granta Fleam, Rhee Valley, S Cambs
- March Mercian, Whittlesey
- Newmarket Crofter, Fen Heath, Bodica
- Wisbech Wisbech
RA – VEN Committee of Ranger Guides and Ventures coordinating events for the two groups.
1980 Newmarket Camp: Rangers and Ventures (list of Venture Units)
- Sir John Cockcroft
- Crafts Hill
- S Cambs
- Crofters (Newmarket)
1981 12th, Boudica, SJC, Crofters (Newmarket), South Cambs, Fleam, New B Hill – no name, Whittlesey, Rhee Valley, South Cambs, 50th started April 1981
1988 Gog Magog From Swimming Trophy
1995 Paddocks VSU From Swimming Trophy
2001 Cambridge South
- Salamander VSU Open 31/01/1999 Reg 463131988
In 2003 as Explorer Units took the place of Ventures 61 Venture Scouts were listed on the Census and 15 Explorers.
Female Venture Scouts
In 1976 Venture Scouts were the first program of The Scout Association opened up female participants. Combined Scout and Guide Unit had been running in Cambridge since 1965. Later called ‘Venture and Ranger Guide Unit’ it held an AGM in 1975. The 1973 /74 Annual Report recorded that the Guides ‘felt it necessary to withdraw support ‘.
The 5th/ 7th had existing ties with Guide Ranger Units before this time and held joint training schemes.
In the 1974 report all Units were encouraged to ‘form stronger links with Ranger Guide Sections … than is often the case at present’.
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’.‘
Records recording male/ female Venture scouts started in 1979.
The Census did not ask for a split by gender until 1979. The first female members were recorded in 1983. Bolstered by the large intake into Tithe VSU 29% of Venture Scouts were female in 1983. Tithe VSU started the year the Perse School (5th) and County School (7th) VSU’s closed.
There were two awards available to members of the section – the Venture Scout Award, and the Queen’s Scout Award. The latter award was the highest award available to the youth sections of Scouting.
Venture Scouts wore the same uniform as leaders but could choose from a brown tie or group/unit/district scarf.
East Cambridge Venture Scouts County produced a magazine ‘Cavesac’, that ran for over ten years. It details activities of the Venture Units.
Venture Scouting was at its strongest in the 1980s when it became quite fashionable to be ‘in a unit’. It rapidly declined in the 1990s as the target age-group were staying on longer at school and the educational demands on 16- to 18-year-olds placed a limit on their free time.
It was recorded that between 1968 and 1974 following the implementation of the Advanced Party report scouting numbers had increased by 50% in the District. (Census returns + doc. attached in Archives)
Names of units
Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, OM, KCB, CBE, FRS (27 May 1897 – 18 September 1967) was a British physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1951 for splitting the atomic nucleus and was instrumental in the development of nuclear power.
He won a scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge, completing his doctorate under Rutherford’s supervision in 1928.
The Venture Unit was named in agreement with his widow and they met her to report on the activities of the Unit. The Unit Scarf had a hydrogen atom as a badge.
Bullocks Haste (Crafts Hill) Romano-British settlement on Bullocks Haste Common, Cottenham
A fuller list of names is available under County
JWR Archivist June 2019
JWR Archivist Jan 2019