The Troop at Camp (1934-1968)

Camping before the Advance Party Report

1936 Two Scouts setting off
on a 1st class hike

The first camp ever was held at Humphrey's Farm, Guestling, at Whitsun 1934, as a training camp for Patrol Leaders and Assistant Patrol Leaders (or Seconds as they were then known). Whitsun camps, which started straight after school on the Friday of half-term and finished on the Tuesday morning, continued to be held at local farms until the late 60's. They were regarded as training camps for the Tenderfoots, as new Scouts used to be called.

The first Summer Camp, attended by 13 Scouts, was at Shopham Bridge, near Petworth - an area to which we have returned many times. The trek cart, which we still use, was already one of the Troop's treasured possessions.

By now there were 35 Scouts in camp, plus the first of a long line of visitors from abroad, one André de Ny, a French Scout, whose excellent singing voice was much appreciated at the camp fires. I think it was at this camp that the tradition of camp fire singing, which was to become such a feature of the Troop's life for many years, really began to blossom.

By the time of the Cranham camp of 1939, two Senior patrols, the Owls and the Buffaloes, had been established, and there were over 40 Scouts at camp. Aerial runways and axemanship were well established in the programme, as these two photos from the second Cranham camp illustrate.

Four PLs at Kettlewell in 1944

During the war camping continued more or less as normal; the two main problems the war brought were camouflaging the tents, and coping with food rationing. The camps were mostly held at Gorhambury Park, which was about 3 miles from the St. Albans HQ. It says much for the enthusiasm of the Scouts at the time that everything had to be taken to camp by trek cart. By the time the Troop returned to Hastings there were eight patrols, with eight Scouts in each patrol!

As you can see from the list of venues below, the following twenty years took the Troop to many locations around the South of England, and Wales. Always there were large numbers in camp, usually over 50, including Seniors and Rovers. Camp invariably lasted two weeks and included many hikes, often staying out overnight to qualify for the 1st Class Scout test. Cooking was always done by the Patrols on wood fires (as it still is today), and everyone, including the Scouters, slept in bell tents.

Topsey-turvey Day, Cranham 1937
The day began with a camp fire
and ended with breakfast!

The whole Troop went out on a day hike together, and there were camp sports, and a coach excursion to a local place of interest. There was always a church parade on Sundays, and there were many camp fires, usually led by Mr LHG Baker, or Com as he was known to the Scouts.

In 1956 the Troop achieved the ultimate
in camping prowess by winning
the County Camping Competition.

My first camp was in 1965 at Wootton Courtney. This was rather an in-between period. Of the old team of Messrs. Baker, Byrom, Cookson and Bowmer, who had run things for so many years, only Bish (Mr. Byrom) was still active. David Thompson joined the year before me, and Bish taught us all about camping, 24th style. By now, the glory days had passed and things were rather run down. For the next few years we only had a comparative handful of Scouts in camp - about 15 was the average.

The Day Hike Chagford 1968
But we kept running the camps, and by the time of the second Chagford camp the numbers were restored to the mid twenties, where they stayed for the next twenty years or so.

Icelandics replaced the old bell tents, which were mildewed and unusable, and by now the Scouters had taken to using 14 x 14 ex-army tents, but otherwise remarkably few changes were made to our style of camping.

Another popular pastime, which is still enjoyed, was bivouacking. Although it was inevitable that the Scouts would get almost no sleep, and would probably be soaked if it rained, there was never any lack of enthusiasm to try one's hand at shelter building.

Summer Camps 1934-1968
  • 1934 Petworth, Sussex
  • 1935 Petworth
  • 1936 Ilminster, Somerset
  • 1937 Cranham, Gloucestershire
  • 1938 Ilminster
  • 1939 Cranham
  • 1940 St. Albans
  • 1941 St. Albans
  • 1942 St. Albans
  • 1943 St. Albans
  • 1944 St. Albans
  • 1945 Tenterden, Kent
  • 1946 Tenterden
  • 1947 Dinas Cross, Fishguard
  • 1948 Gorhambury Park, St. Albans
  • 1949 Fritham, New Forest
  • 1950 Buckfastleigh, Devon
  • 1951 Petworth
  • 1952 Wootton Courtney, Somerset
  • 1953 Fritham
  • 1954 Stevington, Bedford
  • 1955 Hadnock Court, Monmouth
  • 1956 Petworth
  • 1957 Romsey, Hampshire
  • 1958 Blockley, Oxfordshire
  • 1959 Lulworth Castle, Dorset
  • 1960 Romsey
  • 1961 Goodrich, Monmouth
  • 1962 Lulworth Castle
  • 1963 Chagford, Devon
  • 1964 Frome, Somerset
  • 1965 Wootton Courtney
  • 1966 Goodrich
  • 1967 Frome
  • 1968 Chagford