13 Things You Didn't Know About Scouting

By Spencer Hart on at

On Monday the Scouting Association announced that it was introducing a Media Awareness Badge. Unfortunately there's still no such thing as a General Knowledge Badge, because with our new weekly factmodo (this week, on scouting) you'll know enough to pass with flying colours.

1.) Lord Robert Baden-Powell used to catch and cook rabbits while at boarding school

As a youngster Robert Baden-Powell was the adventurous type -- capturing and cooking rabbits while at boarding school and tracing the Thames to its source in the summer holidays. He became a lieutenant-general in the British Army and started the Boy Scouts after he retired in 1911. [Image Credit: Scouts]

2.) Over half a billion men and women have taken the Scout Promise

It's difficult to imagine how big the worldwide Scouting Association is, but the fact that over half a billion people have joined throughout its history helps to put it in perspective. The UK Scout Promise consists of the following four lines: On my honour, I promise that I will do my best / To do my duty to God and to the Queen, / To help other people / And to keep the Scout Law. There is also an Atheist version which skips the God part. [Image Credit: St Augustine's Scouts]

3.) The 1st Buckingham Palace Company was created to allow Princess Elizabeth to become a Girl Guide

Princess Elizabeth and 20 children of Royal Household employees formed the Girl Guide group which regularly met at the Summer House in Buckingham Palace's garden. The Queen currently holds the honorary role of Patron within the Scouting Association. [Image Credit: Reuters / Mirror]


One of my lasting memories of Scouting is standing around in a circle and shouting, 'DYB DYB DYB, DOB DOB DOB;' I had no idea what it actually meant until yesterday. The Scout Leader calls, 'DYB DYB DYB,' which is an acronym for Do Your Best and the reply, 'DOB DOB DOB,' stands for Do Our Best. [Image Credit: Keep Calm-O-Matic]

5.) Only five countries in the world do not have a Scouting organisation

The countries, Andorra, Cuba, Laos and North Korea, have previously had Scouting organisations but they have since been disbanded. Vatican City is the only country/state to have never had a Scouting organisation. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

6.) The highest award achievable in the Scouting movement is The Queen's Scout Award

This award is obtained by being an Explorer Scout for 18 months, spending 18 nights away from home, holding the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and completing two activities which have an international or environmental value. Finally prospective recipients must present their achievements to an audience, at which point they are awarded with the badge and a certificate carrying the Queen's signature. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]

7.) David Bowie's first public musical performance was at a Scout camp on the Isle of Wight in 1958

David Bowie and his friend George Underwood performed three songs around the campfire whilst attending the 18th Bromley Scout Pack's annual summer camp. David played the ukulele and single-stringed bass while Underwood sang. They performed 'Gamblin' Man' and 'Putting on the Style' by Lonnie Donegan. [Image Credit: The Line of Best Fit]

8.) Russell's Wilderness Explorer badges feature the Luxo Ball and references to other Pixar films

UP follows Pixar's tradition of including Easter Eggs in every film, with one of Russell's badges featuring the famous Luxo Ball. Some concept art features badges which reference Bugs Life, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and The Good Dinosaur. [Image Credit: Pixar]

9.) Ernest Shackleton took two Scouts on his final expedition to the Antarctic

James Marr and Norman Mooney were the two boy Scouts chosen to accompany Ernest Shackleton aboard the Quest, on Shackleton's final trip to the Antarctic. The expedition was wrought with setbacks and problems; unfortunately Norman Mooney was sent home early -- unable to cope with the journey. Shackleton died of a heart attack while moored in South Georgia where he was later buried. [Image Credit: The Telegraph]

10.) It's all about collecting the badges

The Media Awareness Badge may sound strange, but it's not a patch on some of the original badges. In 1914 Scouts could earn the Blacksmith Badge, which required them to know how to make and fit a horseshoe, or a Fireman Badge which required them to complete a 10ft jump into netting and carry a friend down a ladder. Perhaps the most bizarre badge is the Poultry Farmer Badge, which required Scouts to kill and pluck a chicken. [Image Credit: Radyr Scouts]

11.) Famous Scouts

Including the boy band above, there have been a number of Scouts which have become famous; Richard Branson, John Craven, Betty Boothroyd, Ken Dodd, Delia Smith, Ainsley Harriott, John Major PM, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Keith Richards, Buzz Aldrin, Bill Gates, Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, Michael Parkinson, Jeremy Paxman, George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Jamie Oliver, Richard Hammond and Lorraine Kelly. [Image Credit: David Beckham's Facebook, David Attenborough, and Wikipedia]

12.) US Girl Scouts make $700 million a year from selling cookies

Since 1999 American Girl Scouts collectively make around $700 million a year from selling cookies in the US, with the most popular variety being Mint Thins. American can find your nearest cookie dealing Girl Scout by downloading the "Girl Scout Cookie Finder" app to their smartphones -- lucky Yanks. [Image Credit: Pearls of Profundity]

13.) Baden-Powell wrote a posthumous letter to Scouts

A fitting end to this article is the posthumous letter which Baden-Powell addressed to all Scouts. He carried the envelope, marked 'in the event of my death,' around with him for several years before he died. The letter includes his guide to happiness and the poignant line 'try and leave this world a little better than you found it.' [Image Credit: God and Politics UK]