Scouting in South East England

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Scouting in South East England is about Scouting in the official region of South East England. The largest membership is represented by the Scout Association of the United Kingdom, while there is also a presence of traditional Scouting groups, such as the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association.

The Scout Association administers the region into 9 Scout Counties.

There are also student associations at various universities in the region, each of which is affiliated to the Student Scout and Guide Organisation. These are centred at Oxford University (Oxford University Scout and Guide Group—the oldest such organisation in the United Kingdom), the University of Reading, the University of Surrey and the University of Southampton.[1][2]

The Scout Association Counties[edit]

Royal Berkshire Scout County[edit]

County badge as worn on the uniform of Scouting members in Royal Berkshire

Royal Berkshire is a Scout County concurrent with the ceremonial county of Berkshire, and provides Scouting opportunities for 7,500 young people and adults in the area. The County includes the towns of Newbury, Reading, Bracknell, Slough and Windsor, and their immediate environs.[3]

Management of Scouting in the County of Berkshire is currently divided into eleven Scout Districts:

  • Kennet District
  • Loddon District
  • Maidenhead District[4]
  • Pang Valley District
  • Reading Central District
  • Slough District
  • South Berkshire District
  • South-East Berkshire District
  • Taceham Hundred District
  • Windsor and Eton District
  • Wokingham District

The district map has been redrawn several time through the county's history, with the latest change at the end of 2005 to merge the district of East Reading into its two neighbours, Reading Central and Loddon.

Some aspects of Scouting are run cross-District, for example, Pang Valley and Reading Central have been running a shared Young Leader programme since late 2005, and the Explorer Scout Units have been running joint activities and events, too.[5]

Notable Scout Groups[edit]

  • The 1st Reading (YMCA) Sea Scout Group is one of the founding troops of 1908.[6]


WINGS is a major event, open to all Scouts and Guides aged 10 to 25 in all parts of the world, and is normally held every 5 years in the County. It is a collaboration between Berkshire Scouts and Girlguiding Royal Berkshire. Participants camp in Windsor Great Park, where many of the activities also take place. Other nearby sites are also made use of, such as Dorneywood Scout Camp and Wraysbury Lake.

The most recent event took place in August 2009 and provided an international experience with seven days of adventure, challenge and fun with opportunities to work with others from across the world and build new and lasting friendships. This was a year later than normal due to the World Scout Jamboree taking place in 2007.[7] WINGS2009 was themed on Making A Difference, with participants encouraged to consider their role in making a positive impact on the lives of others alongside taking part in the fun, challenge and adventure offered by Scouting and Guiding.

The next event is due in the summer of 2014. It is anticipated to be around the same time as previous events in Windsor Great Park. The Steering Group was established in September 2010 and reports to the trustees of both organisations on high-level planning, financial budgeting and risk management. More information will be updated at

International Expeditions[edit]

Members of Royal Berkshire resting whilst walking in Slovenia

The County has a tradition of International Expeditions, where Scouting members from the age of 14 are able to experience and participate in activities outside of the UK. There was a hiatus in these large-scale expeditions prior to 2004, mainly due to low interest from Scouting members. Interest has since grown considerably.

Aragon2012 is planned for the summer of 2012, aimed at members aged 14–25 across Berkshire, and will involve a range of adventurous activities as well as cultural opportunities. Current plans envisage expanding the provision to accommodate even more young people than in recent years. More information at

Three Towers Hike[edit]

Organised by Reading Central District Scouts in Royal Berkshire, the Three Towers Hike is a competition hike held around Easter following routes through West Berkshire and South Oxfordshire. Walking is primarily along the Ridgeway, although it does not take in the full distance. The event takes its name from the three water towers passed on the main route.

There are three classes to allow participation of Scouts, Explorers and Adult walkers.

Participation is not limited to members of the Scouting Association.

Buckinghamshire Scout County[edit]

Buckinghamshire Scout County is concurrent with the political county of Buckinghamshire. The County includes the towns of Aylesbury, Buckingham, High Wycombe, Marlow, and Milton Keynes.[8]

The county is currently divided into ten Scout Districts:

  • Aylesbury District
  • Buckingham and Winslow District
  • Chiltern North District
  • Chiltern Vale District
  • High Wycombe District[9]
  • Marlow District
  • Milton Keynes District
  • Misbourne Valley
  • Vale of Aylesbury
  • Woodlands

East Sussex Scout County[edit]

East Sussex Scout County is divided into eight districts, with roughly 100 Scout Groups in total:

  • Ashdown
  • Brighton and Hove
  • Eastbourne and District
  • Hailsham and Heathfield
  • Hastings, Rye and District
  • Lewes
  • Seahaven
  • Senlac

Notable Scout Groups[edit]

  • 1st Ewhurst Scout Troop held their inaugural meeting on the lawn of Robert and Olave Baden-Powell's home, Ewhurst Place, on 1913-06-21. Olave was the Troop's Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters were Annie Court, housemaid to the Baden-Powells, and the gardener. At the opening meeting, they used the Union flag that had flown over Mafeking during the siege of 1889-90.[10]

Hampshire Scout County[edit]

Hampshire Scouts with 25,489 members (Jan 18 census figures), has the largest Scout County membership in the UK with 18,596 youth members, 4,045 volunteer leaders and 2,854 further adult volunteers supporting those leaders. It consists of 27 Scout Districts.[11]

  • Andover
  • Basingstoke East
  • Basingstoke West
  • Blackwater Valley[12]
  • Bramshill
  • Chandlers Ford
  • City of Portsmouth
  • Eastleigh and District
  • Fareham East
  • Fareham West
  • Gosport
  • Havant
  • Itchen North
  • Itchen South
  • Meon Valley
  • New Forest East
  • New Forest North
  • New Forest South
  • New Forest West
  • Odiham
  • Petersfield
  • Romsey
  • Rotherfield
  • Silchester
  • Southampton City
  • Waterlooville
  • Winchester

The 1st Lymington appears to be the first Scout Troop in Hampshire in 1908. The 1st Eastleigh, 7th Bassett and 14th Highfield were formed in 1909. The 6th Itchen South (Hamble) Sea Scout Group founded in 1909 were the UK's first Sea Scout group.[citation needed] The Chief Scout, Robert Baden-Powell toured Hampshire Scout troops in 1910. At that time there were 2,965 members in 104 troops in 22 Local Associations. The Grand Rally at Southampton Common on 2 October 1912, attended by Baden-Powell, was recorded on film now available in the Hampshire Archives.

County Commissioners:

  • 13 Jan 09 - 10 May 22 Colonel, The Honorable, Sir Henry (George Louis) Crichton KCB, ADC, DK, JP (Died 10 May 22)
  • 21 Feb 23 - 15 Mar 29 Captain Sir Lionel De Lantour CBE, CMG, CBE, Royal Navy (Retd) (Died 15 Mar 29)
  • 15 Jan 30 - 31 Dec 45 Admiral Sir Betram Sackville Thesiger KBE, CB, CMG, DSO, DL (Died 12 May 66)
  • 01 Jan 46 - 28 Jun 52 Lieutenant Colonel Clive George Austin DL, RA (Died 1963)
  • 28 Jun 52 - 09 Jun 60 Admiral Sir Vaughan Morgan KBE, CB, MVO, DSC, DL (Died 9 Oct 69)
  • 10 Jun 60 - 10 Jun 67 Air Vice Marshall Christopher Neil Hope Bilney CN, CBE, OBE Royal Air Force (Retd) (Died 3 Jul 88)
  • 10 Jun 67 - 20 May 78 John Henry Mitchener FCA (Died 25 Aug 00)
  • 20 May 78 - 31 Dec 85 John Victor Derben OBE
  • 01 Jan 86 - 22 Jun 91 Roy James George Farmers MBE JP
  • 22 Jun 91 - 31 Aug 96 Captain Micheal Henry Everett Royal Navy JP (Died 28 Oct 13)
  • 01 Sep 96 - 31 Aug 04 Richard Merefield
  • 01 Sep 04 - 31 Aug 09 David (Dick) Clive Whittington
  • 01 Sep 09 - 31 Aug 18 Adam Jollans
  • 01 Sep 18 - Present Commander Martin Christopher Mackey Royal Navy

Isle of Wight Scout County[edit]

The Isle of Wight is served by a single Scout County, divided into two districts:[13]

  • East Wight District
  • West Wight District

Kent Scout County[edit]

County badge as worn on the uniform of Scouting members in Kent

Kent Scout County is a Scout County of the Scout Association in the United Kingdom, covering the county of Kent.[14] It is divided into the following Scout Districts:[15]

  • Ashford
  • Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay
  • Dartford
  • Deal, Walmer and Sandwich
  • Dover
  • Faversham
  • Folkestone and Hythe
  • Gillingham
  • Gravesham
  • Maidstone East
  • Maidstone West
  • Malling
  • Medway Towns
  • Romney Marsh
  • Sevenoaks
  • Sheppey
  • Sittingbourne & Milton (Bexon Lane Scout Campsite)
  • Swanley
  • Thanet
  • Tonbridge
  • Tonbridge Wells
  • Weald
Logo of Kent Scout County

Kent Scout county has over 23,000 members with an active Water Activities and Land Activities team. The Land Activities includes the Invicta Mountaineering Club.

Kent International Jamboree[edit]

Every four years, Kent International Jamboree or KIJ is run in the county. It brings people from all over the world to Kent to experience Kentish Life and adventurous activities. The most recent was the 2017 gathering at the Kent County Showground near Detling. 6000 Scouts and Guides camped together for a week during the 2017 jamboree. The next event will be in 2021, again at the Detling Showground.[16]

Oxfordshire Scout County[edit]

The current logo for Scouts Oxon

Oxfordshire Scout County covers the county of Oxfordshire, and is divided into seven districts:[17]

  • King Alfred
  • North Oxfordshire
  • Oxford Spires
  • South Chiltern
  • Thames Ridge
  • Wallingford
  • West Oxfordshire

Surrey Scout County[edit]

Surrey Scout County is concurrent with the political county of Surrey, and is divided into 18 districts:[18]

  • Banstead
  • Caterham
  • Dorking
  • East Surrey
  • Epsom and Ewell
  • Esher
  • Farnham
  • Godalming
  • Guildford East
  • Guildford West
  • Haslemere
  • Leatherhead
  • Reigate
  • Runnymede
  • Spelthorne
  • Surrey Heath & District
  • Walton and Weybridge
  • Woking

Surrey Scouts run very popular activity days and events for its members across all sections. Surrey Scoutabout[19] runs every three years and hosts over 4500 Scouts and Guides at a weekend camp providing over 200 different activities. Bazzaz is a triennial activity fun day for Beaver Scouts and SCRAM is a triennial activity day for Cub Scouts of Surrey.

West Sussex Scout County[edit]

West Sussex Scout County is divided into 11 Scout Districts:[20]

  • Adur Valley
  • Arundel & Littlehampton
  • Bognor Regis
  • Chichester
  • Crawley
  • East Grinstead
  • Horsham Weald
  • Horsham West
  • Mid Sussex
  • Petworth & Pulborough
  • Worthing


Broadstone Warren Scout Site & Activity Centre[edit]

Broadstone Warren Scout Site & Activity Centre[21] is a 400-acre woodland camping and activity centre located at the heart of the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex and is open all year round. It has been in operation since 1937 and has been operated by East Sussex County Scouts since 1986 when it was leased from The Scout Association. On-site facilities include a large outdoor swimming pool, an Air gun|air rifle range, archery butts, indoor accommodation for 85 people in 4 buildings, a climbing tower,Grass sledging, pedal carts, a caving network, High and low ropes courses and a 140m zip wire.

Buckmore Park Scout Centre[edit]

Buckmore Park Scout Centre[22] is a camping and activity centre located to the south of Chatham in Kent. The site is run by the Medway Towns District Scout Council of the Scout Association.

Buckmore Park underwent significant development after the adjacent M2 motorway was widened in 1995, as a number of buildings were demolished and replaced with newer facilities.[23] On-site facilities included a swimming pool, a conference centre, an air rifle range, archery butts, a sports hall, a café, accommodation, a climbing tower, a caving network, and an assault course. However, despite the new facilities, the site entered into administration in 2003-04, and closed in 2005-06.

The site (excluding buildings) reopened in 2007. Scouting and Guiding groups of all ages are able to undertake a wide range of activities from camping and air rifle shooting, to caving and orienteering.

The uncertain future of the buildings lead to the relocation of the climbing wall to Lower Grange Farm, owned by the Scout County. This is currently under way, and is expected to be completed by February 2010.

Also located on the site is the Buckmore Park Kart Circuit, although this is a separate business to the Scout Centre. The Buckmore Park sports complex on the site closed in April 2003 and went into administration in 2008. A buyer is being sought for the 260-acre (1.1 km2) site. The Scout Association said the local Scouts had an existing lease on the site and would work with the new owners to secure a future for young people at the park.[24]

Longridge Activity Centre[edit]

Longridge Activity Centre was previously owned by The Scout Association but sold to an independent charity in 2007, to be run for the benefit for all young people. The centre now offers a range of water and land activities from its 12-acre site on the River Thames near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. With help from Sport England the centre built a new Training Centre in 2010 which provides large indoor spaces and in addition offers a range of indoor accommodation and camping as well as a Cafe providing a range of refreshments. The centre provides water activities such as Bell Boating, Dragon boat, Canoeing, Rowing, Sailing, Kayaking and Powerboating. It also offers land based activities including Climbing, Team Challenge Zones, Water Orbs, Go Karts and Disc golf.

The centre has a very good safety record and is now recognised as being a leading training centre for young people and their leaders.[citation needed] It as an approved British Canoe Union centre and RYA (Royal Yacht Association) training centre. Each year the team at Longridge run a large number of courses ranging from basic beginner skills right through to advanced coaching and instruction.

Longridge works in partnership with a number of other providers to improve community sport, such as Marlow Rowing Club, local schools, youth groups and other charities, such as The Rivertime Boat Trust that provides activities for young people with disabilities. Patrons include Steve Backshall, TV adventurer and naturalist.

Activities at Longridge are primarily aimed at young people, however when young people are not using the site, it is open to families and adult users. The Fire Service, GB Canoeing and GB Women's Rowing Team both train at the site, as well as the Men and Women's GB Dragon Boat Teams. In addition they encourage local businesses to use the site for team development days.[25]

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre[edit]

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre is one of the six Scout Activity Centres operated by The Scout Association across the United Kingdom, and is located to the west of Oxford.[26]

Youlbury is the oldest permanent Scout campsite in the United Kingdom, and acted as the National Headquarters when Gilwell Park was commandeered by the British Army during World War II.

Royal Berkshire[edit]

There are three campsites within the County. Earleywood is the largest facility, while the other two (Paddicks Patch, based in Loddon District and just outside the town of Woodley, and the 1st Burghfield & Sulhamstead Scout HQ, in the village of Burghfield and part of Pang Valley District) offer a single pitch with a fire-circle and a nearby hut.[27][28][29]

All three campsites are available to all members of the Scout Association for activities.


Longridge Activity Centre is no longer owned by the Scouts and is now run as its own charity. It still operates the campsite, kayaking and canoeing coaching, sailing, rowing, climbing, go-karting and many other activities.

Paccar Scout Camp is situated on the ridge between Chalfont St. Peter and the River Colne in the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Set in its own woodland, it offers both outdoor and indoor accommodation, an indoor air rifle range, outdoor archery range and climbing walls. Originally opened in 1938 when the camp was purchased by The Scout Association after an anonymous donation of money, it was operated by Scout Headquarters as a base for Scouts to camp. Denham Lane, Chalfont St. Peter.

Buckinghamshire Scout Association County is host to The Quarries Camping and Activity Centre

The Quarries is owned and operated by Milton Keynes District Scouts. It is located near the village of Cosgrove on the northern edge of Milton Keynes. As well as a range of camping sites and indoor accommodation there is an indoor air rifle range, outdoor archery range and Scoutcraft activities.[30]

In addition to Scouting activities, the Quarries also hosts many Girl Guiding camps and school parties during Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions.


Ferny Crofts, in the New Forest near Lyndhurst, is owned by Hampshire Scouts. It provides camping facilities plus indoor accommodation and activities including climbing, shooting, archery and a zip wire.[31] In 2009, Ferny Crofts became a National Scout Activity Centre.[32] Other Scouting and non-Scouting campsites in Hampshire include:

  • Solent Scout Training Centre (Lyons Copse)
  • Harry's Island
  • Wilverley
  • Runway's End
  • Pinsent
  • Cranbury Park
  • Cricket Camp
  • Foxlease Training and Activity Centre (owned and operated by Girlguiding UK)
  • Sandy Acres (owned by Girlguiding UK)


The Surrey County Scout Council manages Bentley Copse Campsite and Activity Centre,[33] which is situated in the Surrey countryside, an area of outstanding natural beauty, about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the village of Shere. Adjacent to the site is the Hurtwood, some 4,000 acres (16 km2) of mixed woodland. This area has numerous footpaths and bridleways suitable for hiking, orienteering, wide games and nature study. The site also offers a range of activities including Air Rifle Shooting, Climbing, Abseiling, Archery and its own Swimming Pool.[34]

Surrey is also home to Walton Firs Campsite. It was purchased from the Scout Association by Walton Firs Foundation in June 2008. It is now an Activity Centre used by many educational and activity organisations including schools, youth centres, Scouts, Guides, faith and special needs groups.[35]2007 Centenary celebrations were held at Walton Firs, with Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden visiting during the camp.

Surrey has a number of smaller sites[36] run by Scout Districts and neighbouring counties. These include:

  • Birchmere
  • Boiderhurst
  • Bourne Copse
  • Garners Field
  • Jordan Heights (Reigate) Shooting, archery, Pioneering, assault Course, Orienteering etc.
  • Little Acres
  • Park Farm
  • Polyapes
  • Ranmore
  • Roverdene
  • White Beeches

Bushy Wood Scout Camp[edit]

Bushy Wood is a 17-acre English woodland camp site and activity centre, situated just off the main A22, adjacent to Hailsham in East Sussex.[37]

Gang Shows[edit]

Basingstoke Gang Show started in 1980. It takes place every two years at the Haymarket Theatre.[38]

The Brighton Gang Show began in 1959, and ran for 30 shows until 1996. Between 1959 and 1991 the show was staged at the Brighton Dome.[39]

Epsom Gang Show started in 1975. It runs every second year in the Epsom Playhouse[40]

Gosport Gang Show started 1978.[41]

Hastings Gang Show started in 1966 and has been held continuously every year in November at the White Rock Theatre. The Gang in recent years has involved up to 150 young people from all sections including some members from the Guides.[42]

Hedge End Gang Show at Wildern School, Hedge End, Southampton.[43]

High Wycombe Gang Show started in 1986.[44]

Maidstone Gang Show was started in 1939. It has been staged almost every two years since 1970.[45]

The Milton Keynes Gang Show began in 1990 and has run 26 consecutive shows in the local area including the Milton Keynes Theatre and Stantonbury Campus Theatre. For the past few years Milton Keynes Gang Show has been held at Walton High's The Venue.[46][47]

Oxfordshire Gang Show started in 1951.[48]

The South East Berkshire Gang Show started in 1970. It grew larger and moved to Camberley Civic Hall where it stayed until moving to the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell. A show is produced every year in February. The Gang consists of around 180 people.[49]

Surrey Heath Gang Show started in 2004.[50]

Thanet Gang Show celebrated 60th show in 2010. Started in 1946 as Margate Gang Show.[51]

The Winchester Gang Show was started in 1955.[52][53]

The Worthing Gang Show first ran for four nights in October 1967 and has been staged every two years since, awarded the Red Scarf in 1971.[54] 2017 will be its 50th anniversary.[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ SSAGO England
  2. ^ OUSGG History
  3. ^ Berkshire Scouts Website
  4. ^ Maidenhead District
  5. ^ Reading Explorer Scouts
  6. ^ "The First Troops" (pdf). The Scout Association. August 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  7. ^ WINGS 2009
  8. ^ Buckinghamshire Scouts Website
  9. ^ High Wycombe District
  10. ^ "Window on My Heart. Chapter IX. A New Life". 25 April 2004. Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  11. ^ Hampshire Scout County
  12. ^ Blackwater Valley
  13. ^ Isle of Wight Scouts
  14. ^ Kent Scout County Website
  15. ^ Kent Scout County Districts
  16. ^
  17. ^ Oxfordshire Scout County
  18. ^ Surrey Scouts
  19. ^ Surrey Scoutabout
  20. ^ West Sussex Scouts Website
  21. ^ Broadstone Warren Scout Site
  22. ^ Buckmore Park Scout Centre
  23. ^ Highways Agency - M20/M26/A20(London - Dover) Route Management Strategy Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Sports complex in administration
  25. ^ Longridge Scout Boating Centre
  26. ^ "Scout Activity Centres". The Scout Association. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  27. ^ Earleywood Camp
  28. ^ Paddicks Patch
  29. ^ 1st Burghfield & Sulhampstead Scout HQ
  30. ^ Quarries Campsite
  31. ^ Ferny Crofts
  32. ^
  33. ^ Bentley Copse Campsite
  34. ^ Bentley Copse Activities
  35. ^ Walton Firs Camp site
  36. ^ List of Campsites in Surrey
  37. ^ Bushy Wood
  38. ^ Basingstoke Gang Show
  39. ^ Brighton Gang Show 2009 50th Anniversary Reunion
  40. ^ Epsom Gang Show.
  41. ^ Gosport Gang Show
  42. ^ Hastings Gang Show
  43. ^ Hedge End Gang Show
  44. ^ High Wycombe Gang Show
  45. ^ Maidstone Gang Show
  46. ^ Walton High's The Venue
  47. ^ Milton Keynes Gang Show
  48. ^ Oxfordshire Gang Show
  49. ^ South East Berkshire Gang Show
  50. ^ Surrey Heath Gang Show
  51. ^ Thanet Gang Show
  52. ^ History of Hampshire Scouts at Hampshire County Council
  53. ^ Hampshire County Council
  54. ^ History of Worthing Gang Show
  55. ^ Past shows of Worthing Gang Show