Youlbury Scout Activity Centre

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Youlbury Scout Activity Centre is one of a number of National Scout Activity Centres in the United Kingdom and is the oldest permanent Scout campsite in the world (while Brownsea Island was the site of the first campsite, it was a private island for many years after).

The Centre, which is based near Oxford, is open to Scouts from around the world, and offers many activities as well as camping and accommodation in huts.


The site was first used as a meeting place and camping field in 1913 when the site owner, Sir Arthur Evans, had a cabin built for a local Scout Patrol. This building was demolished in the 1980s, but many other of the original buildings still stand.

Since then, the site has been developed and expanded to accommodate large gatherings of Scouts, offering activities such as swimming, archery, shooting, climbing, and more.


  • 1913 - the log cabin for the Scouts is built
  • 1919 - Gilwell Park, a centre for Scoutmaster training is founded
  • 1925 - Baden-Powell approaches the landowner to use Youlbury as another training centre
  • 1939 - Gilwell Park is commandeered by the Army, and the Scout Movement move their headquarters to Youlbury
  • 1941 - Sir Arthur Evans dies, leaving instructions that site be sold to the Scout Movement for a "reasonable price"
  • 1946 - Headquarters returns to Gilwell Park


Map of UK showing location of Oxford

Youlbury is situated in a wooded area just north of Boars Hill, about 5 miles west of Oxford.



Youlbury has a large number of fields and sites spread around the woodland.

Each camping area has designated fire circles, and have shared toilet and washing facilities.

Indoor accommodation

There are a number of buildings with varying facilities available on the site. This provides for the younger sections who require alternative indoor accommodation when camping, and also for training purposes.

  • The Lawn Hut - was originally a Croquet pavilion and was the building which the Scouts had asked to be allowed to use before having the log cabin built. It has a kitchen and main hall, but no beds
  • Camp Headquarters Building - has 2 rooms of 10 beds and 2 rooms of 4, kitchen, and a large indoor hall
  • The Gulf Building - a self-contained chalet with 6 rooms of 2 beds and 3 rooms of 6, a kitchen, and indoor hall
  • The Brazier Building - 4 rooms of 4, 1 room of 2, kitchen and hall. This building is alongside The Lawn Hut
  • The Training Centre - has a kitchen, office, 4 classrooms, and a main hall
  • The Activity Barn - simply a large hall
  • The Den - has a kitchen, hall, and 18 beds. It also contains the museum


The site offers a number of activities on or near site, all properly supervised:

  • Swimming
  • Climbing and Abseiling
  • Go-Karts
  • Air Rifle Shooting (Indoor Range)
  • Assault Course
  • Archery
  • Pioneering
  • Orienteering
  • Sailing
  • Karting

There is also the CuriOXity Science Centre in Oxford, and a rural farm museum nearby.


The site is overseen by a Chief Warden, who manages a small permanent staff who maintain the site and supervise the various activities.

Over the summer months, as the site is much busier, volunteers are recruited from nearby Scout Groups. There are opportunities for international members of Scouting to volunteer as staff. The minimum term is two weeks, and are in the months of June, July and August, with at least one day off a week (although, the other six days are not always full).

However, staff members must met the following requirements:

  • Be a current member of a recognised Scout or Guide organisation
  • A basic level of competence with the English Language
  • The ability to work as a member of an International Team
  • Prepare to try anything once
  • Be over 16 years of age (no upper limits)

See also

External links