Scouting has had a long history in the North East of Scotland, with Groups being formed in the County and City of Aberdeen as early as 1908 as a result of Baden Powell’s inspiration in writing ‘Scouting for Boys’.
COUNTIES AND DISTRICT ORGANISATION
Up to 1975 the Counties of the North East of Scotland, Moray, Banff, Aberdeenshire and Kincardine had each a County Commissioner and were subdivided into Local Associations. Aberdeenshire had seven, each with a District Commissioner. In 1975 the local government Grampian Region was formed from these counties, but the decision was taken by the Scouts to adopt the five district set up within the Region, but to be named Areas, so the Gordon Area was created. The Scouting boundaries tried to conform to the administrative areas. Reorganisation in Scotland resulted in the formation of Districts under the umbrella of the North East Regional Scout Council on the 1st April 2008. There were eight, including Shetland, and a Regional Commissioner was appointed.
Within the Grampian Region the Gordon Area was sub-divided into Districts - the Western, Eastern and Central. There was an Area Commissioner and three District Commissioners. When the NE Regional Scout Council was created, it was sub-divided into Districts, so Gordon Area became Gordon District, unified, with a District Commissioner being appointed.
GORDON AREA SCOUT GROUPS 1975 - 2008
Area Scout Fellowship & Area Scout Network
Explorer Scout Unit, Alford, Huntly, Insch, Pitcaple, Rhynie, Blairmore, Strathdon & Lessendrum.
Explorer Scout Unit, Balmedie, Daviot/Oldmeldrum, Ellon, Methlick, Newburgh, Newmachar, Udny & Tarves.
Explorer Scout Unit, Echt, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kinellar, Kintore, Westhill, Port Elphinstone, Skene, Keithhall
GORDON DISTRICT SCOUT GROUPS 2008 -
Explorer Scout Units, Network Unit, Scout Active Support, Alford, Balmedie, Ellon, Insch, Daviot/Oldmeldrum, Inverurie, Kemnay, Kinellar, Kintore, Methlick, Newburgh, Newmachar, Pitcaple & Westhill (incl Lyne of Skene)
Throughout the District changes, core groups such as Inverurie. Kemnay, Kintore ,Daviot and Oldmeldrum were continuously represented. The fortunes of smaller Groups such as Port Elphinstone, Blairmore, or Lessendrum waxed and waned, finding difficulty in continuing because of leader shortage. Trying to conform to local government administrative boundaries, so that grants, rates relief, etc. could be claimed, meant that several Groups had to change Districts, breaking long ties.
An Aberdeen Angus Bull was chosen as the Aberdeenshire County emblem in 1950. It was on a yellow background with a divided blue line below, representing the Rivers Don and Dee. When sited on the right shoulder it pointed backwards, so its position was changed to the right pocket. In 1967, the image was reversed, the badge reduced in size, and the position moved to the right shoulder. The badge name changed from ‘County of Aberdeen’ to ‘Gordon’ in 1976.
The Group has been the constant in Scouting organisation, being the ‘glue’ holding the various sections together. The Sections, however, have evolved over the past 100 years to reflect the social, educational and scientific changes in society and ensuring that Scouting stays relevant to the young people today. The first major review was the Advance Party Report in 1966, implemented in 1967, then a Programme Review was undertaken in 2002. The Leaders to begin with, were called ‘master’ or ‘mistress’ e.g. Scoutmaster or Cubmistress, changed in 1967 to ‘leader’, e.g. Scout Leader, Explorer Scout Leader.
Boy Scouts catering for boys aged 11 to 18 were so named till the Report of 1966, when the name was changed to ‘Scouts’. In 1946, Senior Scouts were started for boys between 15 and 18 to encourage older scouts to stay in the Movement, with a reorganisation in 1967 to become Venture Scouts.
Rover Crews for young men of 17+ started in 1920, but they were disbanded in 1967, along with Senior Scouts to become Venture Scouts whose age range was 15.5 to 20 years. They in turn, as a result of the further Programme review, were superseded on the 19th May 2002 by the Explorer Scouts (ages 14 – 18) and Scout Network (ages 18 – 25) Units. There is also the Scout Active Support Unit, which allowed adults to volunteer time in Scouting in a flexible way which suited them.
Wolf Cubs started in 1916, and were renamed Cub Scouts in 1967 under the new training scheme. The age group was 8 to 10.5 years.
Beavers were formed in 1982 for the boys aged 6 – 8 years of age, but were not formally registered till 1986. Kintore was the first Group in the District to start a Beaver Colony in 1982.
Girls could join Venture units from 1976, if the Group agreed; in 1990, all Sections could admit girls. In 2007, the centenary year, girls were able to join all sections. The first record of girls joining the Venture Scouts in the Gordon Area is in 1983, when there were 6 in Echt; 7 in Inverurie; 2 in Huntly and 1 in Udny; the Scout total for the Area was 1095. In the 80’s, Kemnay had a ‘Raven’ Unit for a short time, an amalgamation of the Venture Scout and Ranger Guide Units.
DAVIOT TRAINING GROUND
The 1st Daviot Boy Scout Group purchased the 9 acre hilltop site at Loanhead, Daviot, and erected a Group Headquarters. In 1959, the County Boy Scout Council purchased it for training, the Daviot Group acting as caretakers. The site has proved to be of great value to the Aberdeenshire Scouts and subsequently the Gordon Area and District - ideally suited for camping, competitions, section and District activities, especially as it is the only property owned by the Gordon District.
Over the years, it has developed into an excellent camping and training ground. The work improving the main building, developing the eight patrol areas with shelters, the camp fire area, bivy shelter, obstacle course, the football field and planting many varieties of trees (there are 22 different species) has been carried out by volunteer labour. The Daviot/Oldmeldrum Group hold their meetings here (except the Beaver Colony), using the railway carriage purchased in 1967 as Patrol rooms.
LOCAL AND NATIONAL COMPETITIONS
The County/Area/District Flag which was initiated in 1927, has been keenly contested in most years since then, but Gordon has been represented in National Finals over the years as well. Various Groups have been successful in the Vango Camping Competition, while Methlick won the National Fire Prevention Quiz, and Alford acquitting themselves well in the British Beef Cooking Competition in 1988.
Camps, where all units in the Aberdeenshire/District can meet have been popular for many years, and have been held in various locations, such as Haddo House, Castle Forbes, Cluny Castle and Fetternear, all well attended, and many were visited by the Chief Scout of the time, for example Lord Rowallan, Sir Charles McLean, Major General Walsh, Garth Morrison, George Purdy. The younger Sections such as Cubs or Beavers held ‘Fun Days’ at Daviot Training Ground giving the participants a chance to realise their Section is part of a much larger organisation. For a history of Gordon Gatherings click here.
Since 1931, when 3 Rover Scouts attended the Rover Moot at Kandersteg, Switzerland, many Scouts Troops have arranged their summer camps abroad, welcomed return visits and offered home hospitality in return for the hospitality shown when abroad. Unfortunately, home hospitality has ceased since child protection laws have been in force. Likewise, a number have travelled abroad in twos and threes as part of their Explorer Belt award.
Scouts from the Gordon District – and their predecessors, have attended nearly all the International Jamborees since their inception in 1920, by sending one or two Scouts as part of a composite patrol from Aberdeenshire or NE Scotland. In August 1994, 14 Scouts and 4 Leaders (Allan Thomson, Keith Millar, Jim Morgan & Adrian Simms) from the Gordon Area attended the Inaugural European Jamboree of 12,500 Scouts at Dronten in Holland. The Blair Atholl Jamborettes have also been well attended, while many troops have camped abroad, in such palces as USA, France, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Uganda, Iceland, Switzerland, Italy and Holland over the years. The Explorer Belt is an award for Explorer Scouts and Scout Network to travel abroad and undertake a project involving learning about the Country. A number of Scouts have successfully completed the award with Gordon District organised "belts" to Sweden and Germany.
REFERENCES: ‘A History of Scouting in Aberdeenshire 1910 – 1975, and annual reports of the Area/ District.