Wide Games

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Wide Game, Field Day, Night Attack Activities: all terms for activities that range across large areas.   If not entirely interchangeable the terms have an underlying element of free ranging application of scouting skills in the field.

Field Day was originally a military term and moved into school use for days outside the school grounds.  It was used as a term in Scouting before the use of ‘Wide Games’ became general.

The following quotes register the shift of terminology in the Cambridge Archives. Many other similar activities are recorded without using these terms.

The term wide game does not appear as often in those events organised for older Scouts or Rovers. Generally significantly larger in scale and planning these events are often known by the name of the competition. The distancing from the term ‘game’ is in keeping with the age of the participants and the shift of emphasis from team competition to a personal challenge.

Town and Country

It was quickly recognised within Scouting that many of the troops and much of the outdoor work were within cities. Urban based wide games altered in form and were often less physical and less notable – at least they are less often noted. The focus is often on tracking and observation, occasionally combined with estimating height, width, distance or time. So the following from a 60th Cambridge (Leys) report of 1948 is not a foolish assumption:

‘On another day the patrols engaged in local observation practice got mixed up in the hue and cry for a man who had just run off with £600 and fired a revolver : at first they thought it was a put-up job arranged by the scouters and later there were great regrets that it was not they who had captured the fugitive. Another afternoon was spent at the Cambridge Accident Prevention Exhibition,’ Leys ‘Fortnightly’ school magazine.

One of the Mowll brothers, leaders at the 5th around the Great War, wrote of Wide Games (not yet known aby that name) ‘Massed fights should be avoided, it not only spoils the scheme, but is a poor substitute for individual Scouting’. The fifth was a very large Troop and constructing activities that required and provided individual action would have been a challenge. The culture was perhaps still the ‘uninhibited horseplay of the early camps‘ and not yet ‘given way to easy going comradeship’ of the 1920’s.

Cambridge Archives

Nov 19th 1910              Red Force (7th and 10th) defended the magazine at Baits Bite Lock. Blue Force (1st, 8th, 9th and Newnham Patrol of the 1st District) Marched back and dismissed at Guildhall.   (from The Scout)

1911    A rocket (powder magazine) defended by the 8th and 1st Cambridge District.  1st Cambridge located and fired the rocket, followed by a short display of fireworks     (from The Scout)

1912    About 150 Boy Scouts took part in a convoy scheme at Histon. The idea was that a Blue Force, about 40 in number, was besieged in Histon village by a Red Force of over 60 Scouts, while a Blue relief column from Cambridge, some 40 strong, divided into two parts, each with a trek-cart, endeavoured to relive them. The relief party, under Scoutmaster Curzon, advanced via Milton but met with serious opposition at Impington. A detachment of the Red Force was sent to hold the level crossing on the Histon-Girton Road but was ambushed. After the ‘Cease Fire’ the scouts had tea at Histon Institute  12 02 23h           Mike Petty

1912    Field day Grantchester           1, 10, 12, 15, 16th        (from The Scout)

1918    Queens College Record 2008 Vere Stoakley recalls a game in which items were hidden in a field to be located by the troop.  The object placed under a dried cow pat was not located.

1918    ‘In 1918 we held an Association Field Day, long before we called them wide games, and marched to Babraham. In 1919 we went to Quy and ran gold dust through Quy Water. I think the 23rd were on the Bush rangers side.’  Archaeology WTT

1921                District Minutes          ‘After an animated discussion on the last nights attack the meeting ended.’

1920/30’s 5th Cambridge (Perse) Spotting Schemes in which someone hid in a spot, camouflaged but within direct sight of the spotters. No description remains, but the photographs suggest the ‘prey’ was static, up a tree or in a ditch.

1933                Association wide game organised on Croydon Wilds            (Croydon cum Clopton)           District Minutes

1934 A number of wide games are detailed in the Harston log books of 1934 – 1937. One in particular replaced capturing the opposition by the use of ‘grenades’, a hundred flour bombs. At the time this was between the 48th and 56th Cambridge, before the 1st Harston budded from the 56th.

“instructions for wide game” Unknown troop c. late 1930s, late 1940’s (possibly 25th)

1943 ‘There were a lot of hurts but not too great.’

1947                Senior Scouts arranged a wide game with Senior Scouts from Little Hadham.  It was postponed owing to outbreak of infantile paralysis in the village.

1950                Senior Scout  ‘Night Operation’.

1952 44th Cambridge (Trumpington) ‘The object of the (wide) game was for one patrol to set a firework off while the other patrol tried to stop them.’

1957 7th Cambridge The Senior Scout Log book refers to ‘Wide Games’, ‘Night game cum hike’ and ‘Field Day’ in close succcession. Being school based the last was probably a school term.

1958                54th Cambridge           Wide game against St Luke’s (14th)    ‘set your flag in the woods and defend it using catapults, peashooters and water pistols as weapons.’

Nothing closer to a photograph of a wide game exists in the archives.

Blindfold Activities                  C T Wood’s album No.’s 393, 394     Lake District 1928
Instructions for a (Senior Scout) Venturer Journey

1959 Below 5th Cambridge Squirrels Patrol wait to be taken to an unknown spot. The P/Ls organised a wide game each over camp. This one was known as ‘Three Blind Mice’.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019