History of Scouting

Scouting is fantastic for helping young people to learn new skills and explore new activities. Scouting originally started back on 1 August 1907, when 20 boys gathered together to join the first experimental Scout camp on Brownsea Island, near Poole in Dorset. The man behind the event was Robert Baden-Powell, a soldier, artist, and writer. In bringing young people from different backgrounds together, he hoped to bridge gaps in society, and give everyone the opportunity to learn new skills. It was a radical idea at the time, but it paved the way for what was to come.

The island was an inspired choice. Eight days’ worth of action-packed activities were set up on its shores. Designed to teach young people how to take the lead and try something new, it covered everything from tracking and fishing, to the study of animals, plants, and stars. Thanks to Baden-Powell’s natural charisma, his ideas quickly caught on. Within two years there were 100,000 Scouts in the UK alone.

The Scouting movement introduced new words and phrases to society with ideas like ‘The Good Turn,’ ‘The Scout Law’ the ‘Scout Promise’ which took off, alongside Baden-Powell’s famous motto: ‘Be Prepared’. Meanwhile, the Scout scarf (or neckerchief) was becoming a familiar sight – reassuring people in times of national crisis. The Scouts played a key role on the home front in both world wars, carrying messages, bringing in the harvest, and even directing fire crews throughout the Blitz.

Robert Baden-Powell in 1896

Baden-Powell himself started his working life in the army, where he led a distinguished career through postings in countries including India, Afghanistan, Malta, and various parts of Africa. His most famous posting was the defence of Mafeking against the Boers in 1899, after which he became a Major-General at the age of only 43. He retired from the Army in 1910 at the age of 53, on the advice of King Edward VII, who suggested Baden-Powell could do more valuable service for his country working on developing Scouting and its sister movement, Guiding.

Robert Baden-Powell led the start of a movement that still exists today. However, Scouting Groups across the country would not have been able to grow without local individuals working hard to make it happen for the young people in their local area. One such person is Jim Page Senior who helped to establish the Gainsborough Scouting Group and the campsite in Laughterton is named in his honour.

In 2017 I had the great honour of meeting his son also called Jim Page who I interviewed as part of the Centre’s oral history project. Jim Page Junior had visited the Centre previously a few years before and the staff at the Centre really enjoyed meeting him and listening to all of his stories. Jim has written down many of his memories including his time Scouting that is shown below with some oral history clips that you can click on to hear more!

Scouting Days By Jim Page

My father, Jim Page (Jim Senior) was active in Scouting in Gainsborough from as early as 1910. He was the first “Kings” scout before WW1. For the rest of his life, he was involved in Scouting in the area serving as District Commissioner twice and at one time Assistant County Commissioner.

Jim Page Oral History Interview, 2017

My scouting was much more limited, although I did hold a warrant as Scouter for senior scouts in South Wales for a time. As there was no scout group in Willingham-By-Stow, I was a “lone scout” attached to the 7 Gainsborough (K.T.C) Rover Crew”. Our base was in a log cabin in a wood at Kettlethorpe Hall. In those days the operative word in Scouting was Out.

Kettlethorpe Hall

Jim Page Oral History Interview, 2017

When Colonel Amcotts died in the late 1930s, the woods had to be felled to pay death duties. Parts of the outlying estate were sold off. As the Scout Hut had to be demolished, my father tried to buy a small plot in Laughterton to rebuild the hut.

The agents responsible for the land sales were not prepared to consider this, so our Scouting was at a low ebb.

However, the man who bought blocks of land between Laughterton and the River Trent had been so impressed with what had been achieved in Kettlethorpe, Fenton and Laughterton such as building bus shelters etc. that he made available a 10-acre site, not only to relocate the hut but to act as a venue for scouting activities. This was in 1939.

Gainsborough and District Scout Campsite at Laughterton 

Jim Page Oral History Interview, 2017

No development of the site could take place until after WW2.

After much thought and planning, the site was to become an ideal site for our scouts, not only from Gainsborough but also elsewhere to camp and pursue outdoor activities.

Because of my father’s efforts to keep scouting alive, it is now called the “Jim Page Camp Site”.

Jim Page Oral History Interview, 2017

Scout Groups across the country continue their hard work and have grown and evolved in so many ways – welcoming people of all genders, beliefs and backgrounds.

But through it all, their aim remains the same: to prepare young people for the future and build stronger communities. The Scout Movement states, ‘as of 2021, we have opened over 1,339 new Scout groups in areas of deprivation, helping a new generation gain skills for life. Long may it continue.

If anyone would like to share any memories of Scouting, Girlguiding or Brownies from the Gainsborough area or if you have any photos please get in touch. We would love to hear from you!

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  1. REPLY
    Joanne says

    I have sat round that camp fire pit many a time and enjoyed many a great camp fire and traditional stories and songs

    • REPLY
      Julie Price says

      A very interesting article Gemma re Scouting Nationally and Locally. Enjoyed finding out about the origins of the Jim Page Campsite, especially Kettlethorpe Hall. Thank you

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