Scouting – A Social History

By Paul van Herpt, National Scout Museum

In 1907 when Robert Baden-Powell first published his book “Scouting for Boys”  he created a youth movement that has become part of the world’s social history. It did not take long, 1908 in fact, before the ideas expressed in his publications were also taking off here in New Zealand.

Being at the far flung end of the Empire in those days, things were organised in New Zealand that were unique to only this country. Col. David Cossgrove  took on the organising of the movement in New Zealand, taking the many units sprung up as a result of reading the book, and forming them into a nationwide organisation. He was responsible for many of the early unique features of New Zealand Scouting.

Throughout the 100 plus years Scouting has existed, it has relied on volunteers helping provide the Scouting programme to youngsters. This sort of organisation has therefore also heavily relied on oral history as incomplete recorded history tends not to be passed on between volunteers.

The National Scout Museum is part of Scouting New Zealand and is attempting to move beyond oral history and works at bringing that history onto a more formal plane, through the permanent display in its rooms at Kaiapoi, and its growing collection. The emphasis is on New Zealand aspects of Scouting history covering the distinct stages the Association has gone through including the early Cossgrove years, the period under the control of Imperial Headquarters in London,  post 1953 independence but still part of Commonwealth Scouting, to post 1967 “New Look” when a truly independent New Zealand organisation flourished. In addition to what happened in this country, the Museum also covers aspects of New Zealanders going abroad for Scouting and their impact on the world of Scouting.

Explore the National Scout Museum’s collections