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.
- 1 Birth of Scouting
- 2 United Kingdom
- 3 British Empire
- 4 Outside the British Empire
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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.
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.
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 16 January 1908, the Club was formally disbanded and the First Glasgow Troop of Boy Scouts was registered with Scout HQ in London.
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". 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.
In 2007, 1st Henfield Scout Troop was named as the oldest surviving Scout Troop in the world for the centenary of Scouting. 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.
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".
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.
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.
The 1st New Cross (The Greys) Scout Group was formed 17 January 1908 but was not registered until May 2008.
The 1st City Of Aberdeen Scouts existed in 1908. 1st Arbroath Scout Troop (2nd Angus) dates back to June 1908.
The 1st Norwich "Capt. Bower's Own" Sea Scouts started in January 1908. The group is one of few which has continuously run for 100 years and, remarkably, had just 4 Group Scout Leaders during that time. To celebrate their centenary year, the group published a book entitled, "It Can Be Done: The Hundred Year History of the 1st Norwich Sea Scout Group." drawing from their extensive archives.
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.
Wycliffe Scout Group (Gloucestershire) claims to be the oldest continuously active school-based Scout group in the world (active September 2013). It is listed in the Scout Association database with a registration date of 1 February 1909, although the Group celebrated their centenary in 2008, implying that there had been Scouting activity at the school before the Group was registered.
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. 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". However, by the end of 1908, there were 11 Scout Troops in Victoria.
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. Other Sydney groups founded in 1908 and still operating include 1st Hurstville, 1st Petersham, 1st Mosman, 1st Leichhardt, 1st Parramatta, and 1st Paddington (now Paddington-Woolhara).
In the spring of 1908, Canada became the first overseas Dominion with a sanctioned Boy Scout program. 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. 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.
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 2 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.
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. The 1st Sliema Scout Group in Malta was founded in 1909.
The Scout Movement arrived in India in 1909. A troop was formed in Bangalore by a Captain Baker, a retired naval officer. The troop had boys from St. Joseph's, Baldwin's, St. Andrew's, and Bishop Cotton's. The troop was registered with Boy Scout Headquarters in London in November 1909 and, according to records, was the first Scout troop in Asia.
Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scout Group was established in 1914, after Rustomji Edulji Sethna (1898–1954) came across Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. Sethna was enamoured with the book, and formed India's first Scout group for native boys. (Prior to this, there were some Scout groups, but they were primarily for British expatriate youth.) The group today is India's oldest continually running Scout group. Since its first day on 14 August 1914, the troop remains continuously active.
Isle of Man
Outside the British Empire
There are numerous troops which claim to be first Boy Scout troop in the United States. There appears to be several Boy Scout troops that were operating prior to the official establishment of the Boy Scouts of America.
- Bala One is another claimant for first Boy Scout Troop in the United States in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. It was started by Frank H. Sykes prior to the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.
- A claimant for first Boy Scout troop is Troop #1 of Barre, Vermont in 1909. 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. He is referred as the "First Scoutmaster in America" by Sir Francis Vane. Sir Francis Vane was London Commissioner of Scouts in Baden Powell's organization and also became President of the British Boy Scouts. 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.
- 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 17 March 1910. The Camp Fire Girls preceded the Girl Scouts of the USA by 2 years. (The Boy Scouts of America has always regarded the Camp Fire Girls - not the Girl Scouts - as its sister organization. Up until the 1970s there were suggestions to merge the BSA and the CFG.)
- 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. 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 in St. Johns, Michigan.
- The honorable Governor Deane C. Davis was an early member of Barre, Vermont's Troop #1.
- Another claimant for first Boy Scout Troop in the United States is in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in 1909.
- 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 10 September 1910, S. F. Lester of Troy, New York, became the very first person to hold the Scouting leadership position of Scoutmaster (approved 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, and Pownal. Pownal is only 35 miles (56 km) away from Troy.
- Troop 1, Paoli, PA (outside of Philadelphia) was chartered in March 1911 with the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America in New York City, but the troop was organized the year before at the Good Samaritan Church in Paoli, from which it takes its name. Efforts began in Paoli when church rector Horace A. Walton had returned from a trip to England where he was inspired by scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell, famed author of Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship, (1908), which would become among the best-selling books of the 20th century. Rev. Walton served as the first scoutmaster from 1911-25.
- Troop 5, Denver holds claim to be the oldest continually chartered Boy Scout troop in the United States having been chartered continuously since 1910.
- In November 1910, Troop #1 of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey received the first charter from the newly organized Boy Scouts of America, with Pastor E. C. Murphy as its first Scoutmaster, with 25 boys registered as charter members and the First Baptist Church as its sponsor. Scout William Orth of Troop #1 received Scout Certificate No. 1 from Washington D.C. 
- Troop 1, of Brentwood, Tennessee also holds claim to be the oldest continually chartered Boy Scout Troop in the United States, having been continuously chartered Since 1910. Troop One holds the distinction of only having three Scoutmasters in its over 104 year history.
- Troop 39, Chapel Hill, North Carolina is also one of the oldest currently active and continually chartered Boy Scout troops 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 chartered since 1912.
- Troop 1, Park Ridge, Illinois was formed in 1910 and chartered on 22 June 1912. Charles Morison Dickenson was the first scoutmaster from 1912 to 1914. Troop 1 has been continuously chartered by First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge since its inception.
- Troop 1, Chappaqua NY has been continually chartered since 1913, and is the oldest troop in what is now the Westchester-Putnam Council. The troop recently celebrated its 100th anniversary along with an equal number of Eagle Scouts in its history.,
The first recognized troop in Norway is "1. Kristiania (NGSK)", established 15 November 1909. This was a troop in Oslo, connected to an athletic organisation. This troop became a part of "Norske Gutters Speiderkorps", which was established by a national sport organisation. But there were single Scouting patrols earlier than this in some Norwegian cities.
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 25 February 1912 and the Scouting movement spread rapidly all over the country.
By 1910 Argentina, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Suriname, 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.
Elwood Stanley Brown, Physical Education Director of the Manila YMCA, founded basketball, volleyball, and Boy Scouting in the Philippine Islands (then a territory of the USA) in 1910. Hence the first Boy Scout unit in the Philippines was the YMCA troop organised by Brown.
In the official Handbook for Boys of the Boy Scouts of America, First Edition, August 1911 (still in print today!), page 354 (page 222 of PDF copy), in a letter from BSA Honorary Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (former US President) to BSA Executive Secretary (later Chief Scout Executive) James E. West, dated 20 July 1911, Roosevelt mentions a letter from a Scoutmaster in the Philippines narrating the noble work of "boy scouts of the Philippines" in rendering assistance during a big fire that hit Manila and in serving at the ten-day Manila Carnival. This is the earliest available documented mention of the phrase "boy scouts of the Philippines" in print. The Manila Scoutmaster's and Roosevelt's letters prove beyond doubt that there were Boy Scouts in the Philippines as early as 1910 - the same year that YMCA International Secretary for Boys' Work Edgar M. Robinson started actively organizing the Boy Scouts of America in the US mainland. Portions of Roosevelt's quote of the Manila Scoutmaster's letter were also printed (before and after the Handbook for Boys edition) in New Castle News (26 May 1911), The Corsicana Daily Sun (31 May 1911), The Washington Post (8 August 1911), The Youngstown Daily Vindicator (23 August 1911), and The Miami Metropolis (20 September 1911). According to The Miami Metropolis article "Boy Scouts Work with the Firemen Just Like Heroes" on page 3, it was "Elwood E. Brown, organizer in the Philippines" who had written to Roosevelt.
During his world tour in 1912, Lord Baden-Powell sent back articles for publication in The Scout. In issue no. 224, 27 July 1912, in the article "In the Cannibal Islands," he made a brief narration about Philippine history and culture and his trip to Manila, illustrated with his own drawings. He mentioned "Boy Scouts of the Philippines" and that he was met by a "Guard of Honour." He also quoted from Roosevelt’s letter about the Manila fire and the Manila Carnival in which Scouts rendered valuable service. In the article, Baden-Powell urged readers "to get into correspondence with your brother Scouts in Manila… The Chief Scoutmaster is Mr. Elwood Brown, Y.M.C.A., Manila."
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 Marianist Bro. Joseph 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 mixed nationalities". The group was registered by the World Scout Bureau as "Troop 1, International Boy Scouts" and has remained continuously active in Yokohama since its formation.
In Greece, Mark Mindler established in 1913 the third Sea Scout troop 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.
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.
- "The First Troops" (PDF). The Scout Association. August 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- The First Glasgow Scout Group, Registration Certificate
- http://croydonscouting.org.uk/?option=com_content&view=article&id=62:2nd-croydon-1st-crystal-palace-scout-group&catid=45:find-group&Itemid=64 2nd Croyden (1st Crystal Palace) Scout Group
- http://www.1sthenfieldscoutgroup.co.uk/history.html History of Scouting in Henfield
- 1st New Cross (The Greys) Scout Group
- Arbroath Herald
- 1st Norwich Sea Scouts
- It Can Be Done: The Hundred Year History of the 1st Norwich Sea Scout Group.
- Victoria Scout Heritage Centre - How Scouting began
- Those Boy Scouts: A Story of Scouting in Victoria, Victorian Scout Archives, 1987
- Sargent, Doris (1964). The Toongabbie Story. Sydney: Toongabbie Public School.
- 1st Scout Group in North America
- 1st Scout Group in North America
- 1st Sliema Scout Group
- 1st Claremont Scout Troop
- Sethnas 18th West Bombay Scout Group
- "The Group". Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scouts. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- 1st Douglas Scout Group
- "First Boy Scout Troop Historical Marker". Retrieved 8 July 2012.
- Troop Bala One History
- name="http://www.aldrich.lib.vt.us/Guide.htm#P16" See Cameron papers, and 1907 Barre City Directory at Aldrich Library
- Order of World Scouts
- Deane C. Davis
- Gilbert, Kevin. "This Day in 1910 in The Record: Aug. 10, 1910". troyrecord.com. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- this information was obtained from the Troop 1 BSA Ridgefield Park, NJ 75th Anniversary booklet from 6 May 1984.[unreliable source?]
- "Short history about Chilean Scouting". SCOUT+CHILE <http://scoutchile.blogspot.com>. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
- "SCOUTING IN CHINA-SCOUTS OF CHINA". N2ZGU. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- Dagblad Suriname Boy Scouts 84 jaar
- The History of Volleyball in the Philippines The Volleyball Story London Olympic Media Guide Volleyball Early Development Volleyball: Striking the interest of Filipinos since 1910 The Volleyball Story Vball Trivia History of Volleyball Memorandum to Colonel Bruce Palmer Giving the Game Away
- reprints include those of Applewood Books (1997, ISBN 9781557094414), Dover (1969, 2005, ISBN 0486439917, ISBN 9780486439914), Skyhorse (ISBN 978-1-61608-198-0) and the Boy Scouts of America
- Handbook for Boys
- November 1911
- The organization named Boy Scouts of the Philippines was inaugurated much later, on 1 January 1938.
- Roosevelt's letter has been reproduced in Scouting historian David Scott's book about Roosevelt, We Are Americans, We Are Scouts, 2008, but with Elwood Brown's letter about the Philippine events (rendered irrelevant by Philippine independence in 1946) excised.
- The article was reprinted in Chapter 6 of Baden-Powell's compilation Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas: "My World Tour", 1913, but with BP's date-dependent reference to Brown excised. Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas
- http://www.3oan.gr Book on the 25th Anniversary of 3rd Sea Scout Troop of Athens, 1913-1938
- 1st Bury St Edmunds (Mayors Own) claimant to be England's oldest surviving registered Scout Group
- 1st Glasgow, claimant to be Britain's and the world's first registered Scout group
- Sethna's 18th West Bombay Scout Troop, claimant to be India's oldest Scout group
- 1st Claremont Scout Troop, claimant to be South Africa's oldest Scout group
- Troop 20 in Brookyn, New York, claimant to be the oldest Scout group in the United States of America
- 1st Merrickville Scout Group, Ontario, Canada, claimant to be North America's oldest Scout group
- 1st Sliema Scout Group, Malta, claimant to be the oldest Scout group outside the United Kingdom
- 3rd Athens Seascout Group, claimant to be Greece's oldest Scout group
- Wr. Neustadt 1, claimant to be Austria's oldest Scout group
- I.B.S, Troop 1, claimant to be Japan's oldest Scout group