Oldest Scout Groups

Oldest Scout Groups

Many Scout Groups claim the title of Oldest Scout Group in their respective countries.

Due to the rapid growth of Scouting, it took some time for central organisations to be established, and the earliest groups were only registered some time after their first meeting. Some groups first met under the banner of another organisation, including the Boys Brigade, churches or schools, and only officially became Scout groups later. This often makes it difficult to establish which groups started first. Today, national Scout associations often do not take a stance as to which was the first group in their country.


Birth of Scouting

Scouting is usually considered to have started on 1 August 1907 with a camp run by Robert Baden-Powell on Brownsea Island. Thereafter Baden-Powell began promoting Scouting in Britain, and Scouting for Boys, the first Scout handbook, appeared in six fortnightly installments in a boys' magazine starting in January 1908. Boys began forming Scout patrols and flooding Baden-Powell with requests for assistance.

The Scouting movement developed rapidly from here, first through the British Empire, and shortly afterwards around the world.

United Kingdom

The first Scout Troops were formed in the United Kingdom in 1907, and registered in 1908. There are a number of claimants to be the first troop. However, due to poor record keeping when the Scouting Movement started, The Scout Association does not acknowledge any single troop as being the first. The Scout Association maintains a list of all the Scout Troops who claim to have started in 1908.[1]

The Scout Troops with the strongest claims are listed below:

The 1st Glasgow Scout Group in Scotland holds the earliest known registration certificate, dated 26 January 1908, issued by the Scouting Association. The Group was formed from the Glasgow Battalion of the Army Cadet Corps; its Adjutant was Captain Robert E Young. In June 1907, they formed the 'Cadets' Winter Recreation Training Club'. The club was a success from the beginning, as 'Boss' Young related: "At first we met at my house, signalled up and down the stairs, tied knots around the banisters and always finished with a good tuck-in." 'Boss' Young met B-P during Autumn 1907 who suggested that the Club could experiment with the ideas contained in 'Scouting for Boys'. On the 16th January 1908, the Club was formally disbanded and the First Glasgow Troop of Boy Scouts was registered with Scout HQ in London.[1][2]

The first Scout Troop to receive a visit from Baden-Powell was the Vaux's Own Scout Troop in Sunderland. This visit was made on 22 February 1908, so it is assumed by The Scout Association "that it had already been in existence for some days at any rate".[citation needed] This was also the first Scout Troop listed in the Imperial records. The 1st Crystal Palace Patrol (now known as the 2nd Croydon, 1st Crystal Palace) is documented as being in existence on 28 February 1908. The group is still in existence.[citation needed]

In 2007, 1st Henfield Scout Troop was named as the oldest surviving Scout Troop in the world for the centenary of Scouting[citation needed]. They were the hosts of the only place that the centenary flame stopped in England for the night before reaching its goal of Brownsea Island. However, it is not the oldest Scout Troop, as others were set up before Henfield. It is said that the boys that went to Brownsea Island on the first ever scout trip were from Henfield.[citation needed]

The 1st Birkenhead (YMCA) has a claim to be the oldest Scout Troop as it was founded on 24 January 1908 when B P attended a meeting at the YMCA. Documents at the District Headquarters confirm this fact. Baden-Powell at the 1929 Coming of Age Jamboree in Birkenhead said "Here in Birkenhead that I first mooted the idea of Scouting".[citation needed]

The 1st Croydon Scout Group (Addiscombe) were founded in the latter months of 1907. The Group was officially registered by Imperial Scout Headquarters on 16 June 1908 and can claim to be one of the earliest Groups.[citation needed]

1st Church Kirk, Church near Accrington Lancashire. Formed 1907. Baden Powell formed a link with Accrington during his opening of the Ambulance Drill Hall in 1904.[citation needed]

There is an entry in Baden-Powell's diary on 4 February 1908 which mentions a Scout Troop in Nottingham.[citation needed]

1st Alsager, Cheshire were formed before 24 February 1908.[citation needed]

A troop from Hampstead was involved in various events in the first half of 1908.[citation needed]

The 1st City Of Aberdeen Scouts existed in 1908. 1st Arbroath Scout Troop (2nd Angus) dates back to June 1908. [3]

The 1st Norwich Sea Scouts started in January 1908. The group has only had 4 Group Scout Leaders. and is one of few Groups which has continuously run for 100 years. The group is currently in the process of writing a book to celebrate their centenary year.[4]

In Poole, Dorset, there are strong claims from 3 current Scout Groups, that all have separate newspaper articles back to 1908 listing Patrols or Troops practicing Scouting. 1st Parkstone has got a registration number back to February 1908 for a Scout Troop. Hamworthy are listed as having a Boat patrol at the Local Church in November 1908 and Broadstone having an Ambulance Scout at the Gathering on Brownsea Island in December 1908.[citation needed]

British Empire



Scouting appears to have started as early as 1907 in Victoria in an informal way when a boy in Caulfield received from a friend, who had been a member of the experimental camp at Brownsea Island, some pamphlets which had been issued by Baden-Powell.[5] The first Scout Group in Australia may have been founded in Northcote in Melbourne in early 1908, but the Victoria Scout Heritage Centre states that "It is very difficult to name the first Troop to start in Victoria".[6][5] However, by the end of 1908, there were 11 Scout Troops in Victoria.[5]

In New South Wales, 1st Toongabbie Scout Group in the western suburbs of Sydney was founded in 1908 by a Sydney University Scouts' member, Errol Knox (later Brigadier and knighted), and is still operating.[7] Other Sydney groups founded in 1908 and still operating include 1st Hurstville, 1st Petersham, 1st Mosman, Ist Leichhardt and 1st Paddington (now Paddington-Woolhara).[citation needed]


In the spring of 1908, Canada became the first overseas Dominion with a sanctioned Boy Scout program.[citation needed] The 1st Merrickville Scout Troop, founded in 1908, is the oldest Scout troop in North America. Reference "75 Years of Scouting in Canada". The 1st Port Morien Group claims to be the first Scout Group in North America.[8][9] The Nova Scotia Council of Scouts Canada recognized the centennial of the Port Morien Group by providing a crest to all Nova Scotian Scouts Canada members.[citation needed]


The first recognized overseas unit in a country controlled by the United Kingdom was chartered in Gibraltar with the establishment of the 1st Gibraltar Scout Troop on 27 March 1908. The group is still active and has a membership of around 140. It is expect to open a new troop and pack this coming year. The group celebrated its 100th anniversary with a parade along Main Street and received the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar on the 2nd October 2008. To commemorate the conferment of the title Marquis of Milford Haven one hundred years ago, the present marquis visited the Group during the celebrations.[10]


The Malta Boy Scouts Association applied to become a member of the British Movement on 9 November 1908 and was officially recognised, as was the procedure then, exactly a year later.[11] The 1st Sliema Scout Group in Malta was founded in 1909.[12]

South Africa

The first Scout Group in South Africa was 1st Claremont Scout Group, founded on 3 March 1908. It is still running, as are several other groups founded in 1908.[13]



The Scouting movement came to India in 1909. A troop was formed in Bangalore by Captain Baker, a retired Naval officer, and was a combined group of boys from St. Joseph's, Baldwin's, St. Andrew's and Bishop Cotton's. The troop was registered with the Scout Headquarters in England in November 1909 and, according to records, was the first Scout Troop in India, in fact in Asia.[citation needed]

Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scout Group[14] was established in 1914, after Rustomji Edulji Sethna (1898–1954) came across Scouting for Boys, written by Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement. He was enamoured by the book and formed India's first Scout group for native boys. Prior to that, there existed some Scout groups, but they were primarily for the British expatriates who were ruling India then. It is today, India's oldest continuously running Scout group. Since its first day on 14 August 1914, it has met every weekend without a break.[citation needed]

Isle of Man

The 1st Douglas Scout Group,[15] on the Isle of Man (a Crown Dependency of the UK and not technically part of the UK) was also founded in 1909.


Outside the British Empire


United States of America

  • Troop #1 was The First Boy Scout Club in America. It was formed in Barre, Vermont by William Foster Milne, who moved to the United States from Aberdeen, Scotland.
In 1907 William Foster Milne, a stonecutter immigrated to Barre, Vermont from Aberdeen, Scotland, where he had been active in the early scouting movement. [16] He is referred as the "First Scoutmaster in America" by Sir Francis Fletcher Vane.[17] Sir Francis Vane was London Commissioner of Scouts in Baden Powell's organisation and also became President of the British Boy Scouts.[18] In 1909 "Billy" Milne learned of a small group of boys at the First Baptist Church in Barre, who were already members of the Boys Brigade, he offered them an alternative to their routine of marching and drills. By re-organizing into a new "Boy Scout Club" (Troop #1 in the United States) these scouts learned first aid, new outdoor skills and being helpful to others. "Billy" Milne went back to his native Scotland and brought back the books and materials he needed along with a British Charter. By 1910 Barre's Troop #1 joined the Boy Scouts of America.[19]
By March 1910 the Boy Scouts in Vermont had expanded to such a degree that the girls of nearby Thetford became interested. These girls along with William Chauncy Langdon, Dr. Luther Gulick and Charlotte Vedder Gulick formed the Camp Fire Girls which became the sister organization of the Boy Scouts of America on March 17, 1910. The Camp Fire Girls preceded the Girl Scouts of America by 2 years.[20]
The original group of boys that made up Troop #1 were Charles Booth, George Booth, Gerald Brock, Carl Burgess, Earl Burgess, Stanton Burgess, Raymond Cave, Clarence Geake, James Grearson, Walter Grearson, Douglas Inglis, Harry Kent, George Murray, Milton Rollins, Craig Rollins, Cecil Watt and Wallace Watt.[21] Dr. Wallace Watt moved to Clinton County Michigan to attend college and remained there as a scout leader for his entire life. He received the Silver Beaver Award in 1981 and in 1984 a 75 year Diamond Jubilee service pin from the Boy Scouts of America. Upon his death his widow donated his Barre, Vermont Troop 1 artifacts to the Paine-Gillam-Scott Museum[22] in St. Johns, Michigan.[23]
The honorable Governor Deane C. Davis was an early member of Barre, Vermont's Troop #1.[24]
The first Boy Scout troop in America was organized in Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma, in May 1909 by Reverend John F. Mitchell. Rev. Mitchell was a missionary priest from England sent to St. Thomas Episcopal Church by the Church of England. Rev. Mitchell, who had been associated in scout work with Lord Baden-Powell in England, organized the troop of Boy Scouts under English charter and equipped them with English uniforms, manuals, and badges.
  • On September 10, 1910, S. F. Lester of Troy, New York, became the very first person to hold the Scouting leadership position of Scoutmaster (commissioned by the BSA). He received his certification from the BSA headquarters in New York City. In 1910 he led a group of 30 scouts at Camp Ilium, in Pownal, Vermont. Camp Ilium was the starting point of the Boy Scout Movement for Troy, NY and Pownal, VT which is only 35 miles away from Troy, NY.[25]
  • Troop 5, Denver holds claim to be the oldest continually chartered Boy Scout troop in the United States having been chartered continuously since 1910.[26]
  • Troop 39, Chapel Hill, North Carolina is also one of the oldest currently active and continually chartered Boy Scout troop in the USA. It was organized in the Fall of 1911 and chartered as Troop 1 in March 1912 by C. Walton Johnson, the original Scoutmaster. Troop 1 became Troop 5 when it was placed in the Cherokee Council in the 1920s and became Troop 39 when it joined the Occoneechee Council in 1937. The troop has been continually charted since 1912.[27]
  • Troop 1, Park Ridge, Illinois was organized and chartered in 1912, Troop 1 is one of the oldest active Boy Scout troop in the United States.[28]



Robert Baden-Powell visited Chile and gave a speech, that inspired the founding of the first Scout Group, Brigada Central. Some time later on 21 May 1909 the first Scout Camp was held.[29]


In Shanghai, a Troop of "Boy Scouts" was formed, as a branch of the then existing (British) "Boys’ Brigade” whose members were representative of the cosmopolitan but culturally Western population of the city. The 1st Dragon Troop, run on actual Baden-Powell lines, was also formed in early 1909, in Shanghai. These were mostly British boys. The first native Scout troop was organized by Reverend Yen Chia-lin in Wuchang on February 25, 1912 and the Scouting movement spread rapidly all over the country.[30]


By 1910 Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy,[29] Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Suriname,[31] Sweden and the United States had Boy Scouts too.


Toimen Pojat (Unga Fribyggare in Swedish), a Scouting troop in Kauniainen, Finland was established in 1910. Toimen Pojat is the oldest continuously operating Scout troop in Finland. During the Russian ban on Scouting in the 1910s before the Finnish independence in (1917), the troop operated underground. Many traditions that distinguish the troop formed during that period.[citation needed]



The first Boy Scout troop in Japan was organized in Yokohama in 1911 by Clarence Griffin. The boys of the troop were mostly British students of St. Joseph College, a boy's school in the Bluff area of Yokohama, and Clarence Griffin organized the troop under English charter. Clarence Griffin is recognized by the Scout Association of Japan as Japan's first Scoutmaster and is honoured with an inscription as such at his final resting place in the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery. In 1918 Bro. Janning, a missionary teacher of St. Joseph College, assumed the position of Scoutmaster at the school and opened the Troop to boys of all nationalities. The Group subsequently became the first directly registered group of the newly formed Boy Scouts International Bureau, receiving a Charter signed by B-P formally allowing the group to accept "scouts of all nations". The group was registered by the World Scout Bureau as "Troop 1, International Boy Scouts" and has remained continuously active in Yokohama since it's formation. [32]



In Greece, Mark Mindler established in 1913 the third sea scout group of Athens (3η Ομάς Αθηνών Ναυτοπροσκόπων) as the first scouting group of the country. (The first and second scouting groups were to be established later for training scout officers.) The group operates to this day.[citation needed]

Other claimants

Mafeking Cadets

During the Siege of Mafeking (1899–1900), boys in the town formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps, made famous by Baden-Powell in the opening chapter of Scouting for Boys. However, the cadets were not themselves Scouts.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b "The First Troops" (PDF). The Scout Association. August 2006. http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs295303.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  2. ^ The First Glasgow Scout Group, Registration Certificate
  3. ^ Arbroath Herald
  4. ^ 1st Norwich Sea Scouts
  5. ^ a b c Victoria Scout Heritage Centre - How Scouting began
  6. ^ Those Boy Scouts: A Story of Scouting in Victoria, Victorian Scout Archives, 1987
  7. ^ Sargent, Doris (1964). The Toongabbie Story. Sydney: Toongabbie Public School. 
  8. ^ 1st Scout Group in North America
  9. ^ 1st Scout Group in North America
  10. ^ http://www.gibraltarscouts.gi/history.html
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ 1st Sliema Scout Group
  13. ^ 1st Claremont Scout Troop
  14. ^ Sethnas 18th West Bombay Scout Group
  15. ^ 1st Douglas Scout Group
  16. ^ http://www.timesargus.com/article/20091026/NEWS01/910260350/0/MEDIACENTER
  17. ^ http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2010/resolutn/HCR244.pdf
  18. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_World_Scouts
  19. ^ http://FirstBoyScout.com
  20. ^ http://alicemariebeard.com/campfire/history.htm
  21. ^ http://framemaster.tripod.com/members.htm
  22. ^ http://miserybay.usanethosting.com/wordpress/2009/10/now-12/
  23. ^ http://www.ci.saint-johns.mi.us/community%20info/2009museum%20opening.pdf
  24. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deane_C._Davis
  25. ^ http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2010/08/10/opinion/doc4c6023c2d22ff856756887.txt
  26. ^ http://www.troop5denver.org/history.html
  27. ^ http://www.troop39nc.org/a-look-back/troop-origins/
  28. ^ http://www.park-ridge.il.us/record.php?_ID=4227
  29. ^ a b "Short history about Chilean Scouting". SCOUT+CHILE <http://scoutchile.blogspot.com>. http://scoutchile.blogspot.com/2007/11/short-history-of-scouts-in-chile.html. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  30. ^ "SCOUTING IN CHINA-SCOUTS OF CHINA". N2ZGU. http://n2zgu.50megs.com/CHIN.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  31. ^ Dagblad Suriname Boy Scouts 84 jaar
  32. ^ http://www.troop1.net/history/history.html

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