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 three 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, and the University of Southampton.[1][2]

The Scout Association Counties

Royal Berkshire Scout County

File:Royal Berkshire Scout County (The Scout Association).jpg
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, 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
  • 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.[4]

Notable Scout Groups

  • The 1st Reading (YMCA) Sea Scout Group is one of the founding troops of 1908.[5]


WINGS is a major event which is 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 with Royal 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.[6]

International Expeditions

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.

  • 2004 - Slovenia - a multi-activity camp in the former Yugoslav republic
  • 2005 - Slovenia - a return to the Eastern European country, but specifically for completion of the Explorer Belt
  • 2006 - Spain - a multi-activity camp

There was no expedition in 2007, because of the World Scout and Guide Jamboree.

Three Towers Hike

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 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

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.[7]

The county is currently divided into twelve Scout Districts:

  • Aylesbury District
  • Buckingham and Winslow District
  • Chiltern North District
  • High Wycombe District
  • Long Crendon District
  • Marlow District
  • Milton Keynes Enigma District
  • Milton Keynes Great Ouse
  • Misbourne Valley
  • Vale of Aylesbury
  • West Chiltern
  • Woodlands

East Sussex Scout County

East Sussex Scout County is divied 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

  • 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 Scoutmaster were Annie Court, housemaid to the Baden-Powells, and home's gardener. At the opening meeting, they used the Union flag that had flown over Mafeking during the siege of 1889-90.

Hampshire Scout County

Hampshire Scout Country is the largest in the United Kingdom, and consists of 27 Scout Districts.[8]

  • Andover
  • Basingstoke East
  • Basingstoke West
  • Blackwater Valley
  • 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 the first Scout Troop in Hampshire in 1908. The 1st Eastleigh, 7th Bassett and 14th Highfield were formed in 1909. 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.

Isle of Wight Scout County

The Isle of Wight is served by a single Scout County, divided into two districts:[9]

  • East Wight District
  • West Wight District

Kent Scout County

File:Kent Scout County (The Scout Association).jpg
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.[10] It is divided into the following Scout Districts:[11]

  • Ashford
  • Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay
  • Dartford
  • Deal, Walmer and Sandwich
  • Dover
  • Faversham
  • Folkestone and Hythe
  • Gillingham
  • Gravesham
  • Maidstone East
  • Maidstone South
  • Maidstone West
  • Malling
  • Medway Towns
  • Romney Marsh
  • Sevenoaks
  • Sheppey
  • Sittingbourne & Milton
  • Swanley
  • Thanet
  • Tonbridge
  • Tonbridge Wells
  • Weald

The Loose + Swiss Scout Group in the Maidstone South District was started in 1908 by Jack Barcham Green a local Maistone business man.

Kent Scout county has over 16,000 members with an active Water Activities and Land Activities team. The Land Activities includes the Invicta Mountaineering Club. Other county level teams include the Hullabaloo Roadshow.

Every four years, Kent organises an international jamboree bringing scouts from all over the world to a location in the ocunty. The most recent was the gathering at The Shaws Guide campsite in Cudham, near Sevenoaks. 2,500 members of the scout association camped together for a week during the 2009 jamboree. The next will be in 2013.

Oxfordshire Scout County

The current logo for Scouts Oxon

Oxfordshire Scout County covers the county of Oxfordshire, and is divided into eleven districts:[12]

  • Abingdon
  • Banbury
  • Bicester
  • Didcot
  • King Alfred
  • North Chilterns
  • Oxford Spires
  • South Chiltern
  • Wallingford
  • West Oxfordshire
  • Wychwood

Surrey Scout County

Surrey Scout County is concurrent with the political county of Surrey, and is divided into 19 districts:[13]

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

West Sussex Scout County

West Sussex Scout County is divided into 12 Scout Districts:[14]

  • Adur Valley
  • Arundel & Littlehampton
  • Bognor Regis
  • Chichester & Midhurst
  • Crawley
  • East Grinstead
  • Haywards Heath
  • Horsham Weald
  • Horsham West
  • Petworth & Pulborough
  • Southdown
  • Worthing


Buckmore Park Scout Centre

Buckmore Park Scout Centre[15] 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.

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.[16] 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.

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 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.[17]

Longridge Scout Boating Centre

Longridge Scout Boating Centre is a water activity centre and campsite on the River Thames near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. It was once owned by the Scout Association but it is now an independent Charity. 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 and Disc golf.

With a very good safety record, Longridge is recognised amongst activity centres as being a leading training centre for young people and their leaders. 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.

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 and Women's Olympic Rowing Team both train at the site. In addition they encourage local businesses to use the site for team development days.[18]

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre

Youlbury Scout Activity Centre is one of the four Scout Activity Centres operated by The Scout Association across the United Kingdom, and is located to the west of Oxford.[19]

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

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 of the town of Woodley, and the 1st Burghfield & Sulhampstead Scout HQ, in the town of Burghfield and part of Pang Valley District) offer a single pitch with a fire-circle and a nearby hut.[20][21][22]

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


As well the Longridge Scout Boating Centre, Buckinghamshire Scout Association County is host to The Quarries Camping and Activity Centre

The Quarries is owned and operated jointly by the two Milton Keynes District Scout Councils. 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.[23]

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 the county. It provides camping facilities plus indoor accommodation and activities including climbing, shooting, archery and a zip wire.[24] In 2009 Ferny Crofts became a National Scout Activity Centre.[25]


Surrey Scout Association County manages two camp sites:

  • Bentley Copse Campsite
  • Walton Firs Campsite

2007 Centenary celebrations were held at Walton Firs, with Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden visiting during the camp.

Gang Shows

The South East Berkshire Scout District 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.

The Winchester Gang Show was started in 1955.[26][27]

Maidstone Gang Show was started in 1939. It has been staged almost every two years since 1970.[28]

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. More information on

The Worthing Gang Show first ran for four nights in October 1967, and was awarded the Red Scarf in 1971.[29] It was staged every two years up until 2001, with the following shows in 2004, 2007 and 2009.[30]

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.[31]

See also