Collecting Badges

Girls in Scouting - When did it all begin

3rd March 2018

Girls in Scouting - When did it all begin blog post

When did Girls first start Scouting?

Scouting members will have noticed over the past couple of decades that girls in scouting has grown rapidly. In 2011 finally more girls were joining than boys.  

Scouters have suggested that the date it all changed was in 1967 when the Scout association had a review of the movement known as the Advanced Party Report. The Senior Scout section was dropped and Venture scouting was introduced for 16-21 year old's and Ventures and Ranger Guides met together. Some have suggested it was in the late 1970’s that the Venture section became coeducational.

Newer scouters will remember when in 1989/1990 Girls were finally allowed into all Sections and by 2007 all groups (with some exceptions) had to have girls . The rest is history I hear you say………

Not Quite……

Let me take you back  to 1899 when our founder Baden Powell was in the Army fighting in the Boar War in South Africa. Baden Powell found himself and his men, trapped and surrounded in a little town called Mafeking. The struggle to defend this little town for 217 days was in every newspaper in England, capturing the imagination and inspiring young and old.   During this siege of Mafeking Baden Powell managed to despatch the final draft of his book “Scouting for non-commissioned officers”  from behind enemy lines, a book designed to instruct the army in the art of Scouting.

When Baden Powell returned to England he found the book had an additional audience, young people wanting to copy Scouting and joining with friends to practice what Baden Powell had written. We all know about Brownsea Island and the experimental camp of August 1907, we all know the first  six parts of Scouting for boys were published between January and March 1908…..

 So, when did girls start scouting, have a look at the letter below, sent on the 21st March 1908 by Baden Powell, I have typed the text alongside in case you have difficulty with his handwriting..

baden_powell_letter_watermarked.jpg 

Miss May Jones,

   I am glad to hear you are taking up scouting. I think there can be girl scouts just as well as boy scouts, and hope you will form a patrol, and let us   know as yours will be the first girl scout patrol.

You can work on just the same lines as the boys, and so need not do much more dusting and sewing than they, although a little of both are often necessary for a scout.

Wishing you all success.

Yours truly Baden Powell 

Just think about this letter for a second, this was written before the girl guides were introduced in 1910 and yet in march 1908 Baden Powell was suggesting, encouraging  an all-girl patrol, and to add to this amazing letter here is a picture of the patrol the letter refers to.
May_Jones_girl_Patrol_watermarked.jpg

As if this isn't amazing enough on the back of the picture it says that they were “The Owl Patrol 1905-9 Brislington" .

The women seated is Miss B.Wise. Three of the girls are known to be Marjorie Webb, Freda Webb and May Jones.

Miss Wise is referred to as the responsible adult, is this the first leader in Scouting.

In Part 1 of the original Scouting for boys, 1908 Baden Powell wrote

 “Scouting is equally suited to boys and girls”.

By 1909 Scouting for Boys was being re written to give details of the Girl Scout uniform, see below.

 sforboys_girls_2.jpg

During 1908,and 1909,  girls were taking up scouting and appearing every were including the National Scout Rally in 1909 at Crystal Palace. 

Girls names were also being registered with Headquarters.

So Going back to the question – When do you think the first girls started scouting. 1990, 1970's 1967, 1908 or even 1905. 

Author: Scout Collecting

Comments

As an Assistant Scoutmaster for a new Scouts BSA (Formerly Boy Scouts) all-girls Troop in Texas, United States, this was great to find. I'm quite sure this letter will be getting a lot of exposure in the USA now that the Scouts BSA have permitted girls to form new Troops in the US.


David - 23rd March 2019 at 8:35am


May the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts live forever!


Yvonne Lawyer - 10th May 2018 at 6:25pm


this is cool 1908


Brian - 31st May 2017 at 5:46am


Having been in Scouting for over 40 years I was amazed to find this out. What a fantastic question for our next Scouting quiz. Another first for a very far sited man - well done BP


David Mark - 13th November 2016 at 3:37pm


24th March 1908? so.... early 08?


Carl - 25th September 2013 at 10:27am


This is really cool and exciting news! The letter from Baden Powell is very interesting!


Jack - 05th April 2013 at 10:13pm


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