This Week in History


Scouting Around

For the week of Monday August 5, 2013

On August 5,1907, 20 British boys were in the middle of a weeklong camping trip on Brownsea Island, England. This was the first ever Boy Scouts event. Today, more than 300 million youth worldwide, including more than 18 million Canadians, have since been a part of the Scouts!

Scouts Canada Logo
© Scouts Canada
The goal of the Scouts is to help raise confident, well-rounded individuals. Scouts are taught the values of citizenship, co-operation and responsibility, but they are not taught in the classroom. Instead, groups of Scouts, known as patrols, take part in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities, especially camping.

The very first Scout camp was organized by Robert Baden-Powell, a British military hero who popularized the movement through his book Scouting for Boys. During the day, the boys hiked and learned such skills as how to pitch a tent and use a compass. At night they listened to Baden-Powell’s stories and sang campfire songs.

Stamp issued in 1955 to commemorate the World Scout Jamboree in Niagara Falls
© Canada Post Corporation / Library and Archives Canada / copy negative POS-000411 / 1955


After this first camping trip, Scout patrols sprang up throughout Great Britain and beyond! The first Canadian patrols were formed in 1908 and, by September 1914, more than 14,000 boys had joined the organization. By 1939 there were more than three million Scouts world wide and a sister organization – the Girl Guides – formed one year after the Boy Scouts, was also growing in popularity.

In 1955 Canada hosted the 8th World Scout Jamboree, the first world jamboree to take place outside Europe. Held at Niagara-on-the-Lake in mid-August of that year, the event was attended by more than 11,000 Scouts from 60 countries! It was a huge success and helped develop a favourable image of Canada for those who attended from around the world.

Due to its prominence as a youth organization in Canadian society, the Scouting Movement in Canada was designated a National Historic Event in 2009. To read about another individual who influenced the Boy Scout movement, please read Naturalist, Author and Boy Scout in the This Week in History archives. For more information about camping, please visit our Learn to Camp and National Parks pages.

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