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1st Hexham Scout Group

Fun & Adventure Hadrian District Scouts, Northumberland

 

THE LOOKWIDE CAMP OF 1908

 

The 1907 camp on Brownsea Island is widely regarded as being the site of the Worlds very first Scout Camp. However, this is a classic example of the chicken & the egg - What came first ? the Camp or the Scouts, One thing is for certain, the boys who attended the Brownsea Island camp were not Scouts. Scout Troops had not been formed, there was no Patrol system & no Law & Promise for the boys to adhere to. It wasn't until 1908, that the first series of "proper" Scout camps took place. If Baden Powells intention was to keep his experimental camp on Brownsea low key, the same could not be said of the Worlds first official Scout Camp, where he wanted as much publicity for the event as possible. This was to be the flag bearer & the model of good practice. The aim was to show what Scouting could offer & what could be achieved.

The announcement about the camp, came in the first edition of "The Scout" and proclaimed "who of you would want to spend a fortnight under canvas with a Troop of other boys & under the care of General Baden Powell ? For the many boys who read this magazine, many of whom would have loved this opportunity to camp with their hero, this seemed too good an opportunity to be true - and it was. There was a catch, what the magazine was actually announcing, was a competition, with an invitation to the camp as a prize. The winners would be the top 30 names listed in the Scout, of those who had collected the most votes in the issue published immediately before the camp. The voting system bore no resemblance to democracy & boys could vote for themselves, but only by using the special coupon printed in the magazine each week. It is thought Baden Powell was not to keen on the competition, but as he did not own the magazine, there was little he could do about it.

By the end of the competition the Scout with the most votes was called F.D. Watson & he appeared to have over 29,000 friends, something which few could probably match on Facebook today !  The scheme had attracted Tens of thousands of magazine sales, by the time the camp eventually took place in August 1908.

Baden Powell was as mentioned, not entirely happy about this money making scheme, so organised a special Scout camera for the first 20 unsuccessful boys & the next 50 all received a personally signed copy of Scouting for boys.

At the last minute Baden Powell agreed that a further Six boys could join the camp. The sons of some of his friends & his nephew Donald. These boys were put into a Patrol called the Wolves. The other Five patrols were the Kangaroos, Curlews, Ravens, Bulls & Owls. The boys came from all over Britain & Baden Powell wrote during the course of the camp, "I wish every boy Scout in Britain could be with us today". The actual location of the camp was not revealed until the end of the competition, & for one very good reason, a location to hold it had not actually been found & it wasnt until the 9th August that Baden Powell was able to write "I have found camping grounds at Walwick Grange, five miles from Hexham for a week, then tramps to neighbouring spots and bivouacs for the nights" The actual site is just outside the small village of Fourstones, just south of Hadrians wall, on a gently sloping hillside, adjacent to the Carr Edge Plantations. As such Hadrian District is very proud to have the site of the World first ever official Scout Camp within its borders. 

Army duties actually caused B.P. to miss the camps opening on the 22nd August, but he arrived in time for the camp fire on the Saturday evening. Much of the food came from local farms, tents were hired locally and the same flag that flew over Mafeking & Brownsea Island was used on the camp. In his final address Bden Powell said " The distinguishing mark of a Scout should be his unselfishness. He should always think of others & try to help them, before thinking of himself".

Today there is an official walk to the Cairn at the Lookwide camp. starting from the railway Inn at the village of Fourstones. This is where the train arrived and the Scouts equipment was transported up to the camp site using hand carts. There is an official badge & certificate available upon completion of the walk and full details are available from Northumberland county Scouts office. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                           

 





 

 

 

 


 
1st Hexham Scout Group
Lookwide Centre, Maiden's Walk, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 1DP
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