30 Amazing Facts about Scouting

Did you know that David Bowie’s first public performance happened at Scouts? Or that Hergé’s legendary character Tintin is based on a Scout? Read on for more eyebrow-raising factoids about Scouts.
  • David Bowie’s first public musical performance was at a Scout camp on the Isle of Wight in 1958. David accompanied his friend George Underwood on the ukulele, while George played washboard bass and sang.
  • During World War II over 50,000 Scouts trained to undertake National War Service jobs, including acting as police messengers, firemen and stretcher bearers.
  • 31 million people are active in Scouting across the world – that’s equal to the population of Peru.
  • Scout Groups in Merseyside hold the current world record for the longest handshake chain.
  • Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys has sold 150 million copies since 1908, making it the fourth bestselling book of all time after The Bible, The Koran and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.
  • Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards credits Scouts with nurturing his music career. ‘I got to be patrol leader within six weeks – I just shot to the top. Once I had a bunch of guys together, it doesn’t matter if it was the Scouts or a band, I could see my way clear to pull all their various talents together.’
  • In the past one hundred years, over half a billion men and women have taken the Scout Promise.
  • In January 2012, Scout Bryony Balen became the youngest ever Briton to ski to the South Pole at 21.
  • There’s a Scouting poster in both the EastEnders and Coronation Street cafes.
  • To mark the centenary of Scouting in 2007, Scouts planted half a million trees across the UK.
  • There are only five countries in the world that do not have Scouting – China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Andorra.
  • Scouts were the original Olympic Games Makers. During the 1948 ‘austerity’ Olympics in London, Scouts were described as ‘The Oil within the Wheels of the Olympic Games Organisation’ – performing tasks like serving tea, running messages and carrying placards in the opening ceremony.
  • Gilwell Park, the Scouts’ UKHQ is home to part of the old London Bridge designed in the 19th Century by John Rennie. The rest is in Arizona.
  • Liam Payne from world-dominating boyband One Direction is a former Scout, as is ‘reem’ ankle watch-wearing TOWIE star Joey Essex.
  • Each day 100,000 people in the UK take part in Scouting activities – more than the capacity of Wembley stadium.
  • The first World Scout Jamboree in 1920 was attended by 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries as well as an alligator from Florida, a baby crocodile from Jamaica, a lioness cub from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), monkeys from South Africa, a baby elephant and a camel.
  • Georges Remi, aka Hergé, based his legendary comic-book character Tintin on a Scout.
  • Singer and DJ Jarvis Cocker donated the platinum disc for Pulp’s biggest ever album, Different Class, to his old Scout Group in Sheffield.
  • In 2012 Scouting was voted the UK’s most inspirational and practical charity.
  • The current and youngest ever Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, was one of the youngest people ever to climb to the summit of Mount Everest at the tender age of 23.
  • Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting Movement, was voted the UK’s 13th most influential person of the 20th Century.
  • In 2009 a group of Cub Scouts (aged 8 to 10) lobbying against the ‘rain tax’ were banned from entering Parliament for being too young.
  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney went to Cubs together.
  • When Scout volunteer The Duchess of Cambridge was pictured wearing a pair of Le Chameau Vierzonard wellies, sales of the boots rocketed over 30%.
  • Scouts are in the news all the time! Each month more than 70 positive mentions are made on the radio, TV and in the papers.
  • Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton took two Scouts with him on his final expedition to the Antarctic on the RSS Discovery.
  • During Scout Community Week, 16,000 Scouts and volunteers across the UK cleared 800 tonnes of rubbish, which is equivalent to 65 full double decker buses.
  • Sea Scouts helped evacuate Dunkirk during World War II.
  • In the past decade, 43,000 girls and young women have joined Scouts, Cubs and Beavers. That’s the same as the population of Folkestone.
  • Scout Leaders contribute the equivalent of 37 million hours of voluntary work every year – worth an estimated £380 million pounds.
Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls