A short history of Scouting

Our foundation

Scouting began in 1907 and was founded by Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant-general in the British Army, serving from 1876 until 1902 in India and Africa.

In 1899, during the Second Boer War in South Africa, Baden-Powell successfully defended the town of Mafeking in a siege that lasted seven months. Baden-Powell's troops were vastly outnumbered so he used local boys to administer first aid, carry messages and run errands.

On returning to the UK, Baden-Powell realised that boys at home could benefit from similar sorts of activities to the boys at Mafeking. These activities went on to form the basis of the Scouting Movement.

While Scouting remains relevant, educational and exciting today, it has not strayed too far from its roots; outdoor adventure, helping others and Scouting skills remain the most iconic of its activities.

Milestones of Scouting

Over the years since our foundation we have constantly had to adapt to meet the needs of society and our young people.


Baden-Powell (B-P) runs an experimental camp for 20 boys, from different backgrounds, on Brownsea Island in Dorset, based on the ideas he had begun to formulate.


B-P writes his ideas in a book titled Scouting for Boys (one of the top 10 best-selling books of the 20th century). Scouting took on a life of its own as groups of boys across the country began to organise themselves into Patrols, using B-P's book as the basis for camps and activities, and persuading adults to become their leaders. B-P introduced the motto "Be Prepared" (based on his initials) which is still the Scout motto today.


A trial camp for Sea Scouts is held on board the T.S. Mercury. The branch is formerly launched in 1910. Around 11,000 Scouts, including Girl Scouts, attend a rally at Crystal Palace, London.


The Girl Guides Association is formed to meet the demand for Scouting for girls.


The Scout movement introduces a troop specifically designed to cater for disabled Scouts. The first of its kind. Scouts was ahead of its time in introducing inclusivity.


The Boy Scout Association is incorporated by Royal Charter, granted by King George V.


Wolf Cubs begins for younger brothers who want to get involved. Many years later it would be renamed Cub Scouts.  The Cornwell Badge for courage and devotion to duty is created in memory of 16-year-old former Sea Scout, Jack Cornwell VC. Jack died of wounds received at the Battle of Jutland.


Rover Scouting begins for young men from 18-25 years old.


Gilwell Park is bought to provide a Scout campsite and leader training centre. In September the first Wood Badge course is held.


Scouting's first Jamboree takes place at London's Olympia.  It included demonstrations and competitions of Scouting skills and was open to the public. Scouts from a total of 34 countries attended.


A new scheme to support Scouts with additional needs is launched.


Scouting celebrates its 21st birthday at the ‘Coming of Age’ World Scout Jamboree. The Movement buy Baden-Powell a Rolls Royce (Jam Roll) and caravan (Eccles) and at his request, a pair of braces.


The first gang show is held to raise money for a swimming pool at Downe Campsite, Kent.


The first National Scout Service is held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.


Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell, dies at his home in Kenya. The Air Scout branch is launched.


Scouts help the war effort in a number of ways on the home front. Some even lose their lives. In 1944  members of the Scout International Relief Service provide aid in war-torn Europe.


A new section, Senior Scouts, is launched for members aged 15–18 years.


The first bob-a-job fundraising week is held and is such a success that it becomes an annual event.


Scouting celebrates 50 years since the Brownsea Island camp and 100 years since Baden-Powell’s birth. Events include a World Scout Jamboree, Scouter Indaba and Rover Moot.


Baden-Powell House is opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The building provides a hostel for Scouts and Guides and acts as a permanent memorial to the Founder.


The first Little Brothers groups started up in Northern Ireland, they would later go on to become Beaver Scouts.


A report is published recommending the biggest shake-up of Scouting since it began. Wolf Cubs celebrate their 50th birthday.


The Boy Scout Association becomes The Scout Association, as changes from the Advance Party Report (1966) are introduced. Other changes include Rover Scouts and Senior Scouts being amalgamated into a single section called Venture Scouts. Wolf Cubs is officially renamed Cub Scouts.  


Following a decision taken the previous year, Venture Scouts become the first UK section to welcome girls into the Movement.


Scouting celebrates its 75th Anniversary with The Year of the Scout.


After a two-year pilot programme, the Beaver Scout section for 6–8 year olds is launched.


Changes are made to the Royal Charter and girls can join all sections of UK Scouting, and the familiar Cub cap is dropped from the official uniform.


The Scout Association HQ co-locates to Gilwell Park.


Venture Scouts replaced by Explorer Scouts and the Scout Network. The Balanced Programme is introduced.


New Adult Training Scheme is launched.


EuroJam, a European Jamboree is held at Hylands Park, Chelmsford


The centenary of Scouting is celebrated with a series of events including the 21st World Scout Jamboree at Hylands Park in Essex.


Bear Grylls appointed Chief Scout - the youngest ever at just age 35. Wayne Bulpitt, is appointed UK Chief Commissioner, to lead all UK Scouting volunteers.


Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, takes to the skies and visits thousands of UK Scouts for the first Bear in the Air tour.


Scout Community Week is launched with projects aiming to have a positive impact on communities throughout the UK. HRH Duchess of Cambridge joins Scouting as a volunteer.


UK membership reaches 550,000.  An additional alternative Promise is launched for humanists and members of no affirmed faith.


Bear Grylls reappointed Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories.  The Scout Association’s first UK Youth Commissioner, Hannah Kentish, is appointed. A Million Hands – a community impact project working with national charity partners is launched.


Cubs celebrates 100 years since it's formation in 1916.