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We were First.. Scouts are celebrating their centenary this weekend.. And it all started in Scotland.

Byline: By RON MOORE Former Scout, 175th Glasgow (Bishopbriggs)

IT'S been going 100 years, boasts 38 million members and has spread to 216 countries... But the Scout movement started with a dozen boys in a Glasgow house.

This weekend 200,000 Scouts are staging their largest ever simultaneous camp to mark the centenary. But only one troop can boast it was there from the very start.

Most history books trace the beginning of the Scouts to when Robert Baden-Powell took 22 boys camping on Brownsea Island, off the Dorset coast, in 1907.

But it's the boys of First Glasgow who cherish the earliest registration certificate of any troop in the Boy Scout Association - dated January 26, 1908.

The group owes its existence to a chance meeting between the movement's founder and Captain Robert "Boss" Young, who ran a winter recreation club in the West End.

Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking, struck up a lively conversation with Capt Young at dinner at a Highland guest house.

The soldiers had much in common. But when B-P discovered the captain was Adjutant of a Cadet Battalion and ran a club for boys, he urged him to experiment with some of the ideas in his book Scouting for Boys. (The guide would go on to become the fourth best-selling book of the 20th Century).

Capt Young was so engrossed with B-P that they talked all night and were only interrupted when a maid came in to raise the blinds the following morning.

Full of enthusiasm, "Boss" returned to Glasgow to found his troop, formed of local Cadets. B-P's ideas were formed in the battles of the Boer War - but they were put into practice in a house in Strathallan Terrace.

Capt Young recalled: "At first we met at my house, signalled up and down the stairs, tied knots around the banisters and finished with a good tuck-in."

Within weeks, the troop had 15 patrols of eight boys and the HQ was bursting at the seams. In honour of Capt Young's contribution to the Scouts, B-P took his own Silver Wolf - the highest medal in the movement - off his neck and awarded it to his friend. One of the troop's halls at Northcote in Dowanhill is named "Boss" after their founder.

Capt Young led First Glasgow until his death in 1940, but the troop has gone from strength to strength. Its old boys include film director Alexander Mackendrick, Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell, comedian and writer Stanley Baxter, actor Gordon Jackson and rugby star Copey Murdoch.

First Glasgow also has the honour of welcoming the world's first Girl Scouts, the precursors to the Guides.

In 1908, Allison Cargill enrolled in the First then took off her hat, letting her pigtails fall, and exclaimed: "Of course, you know I'm a girl." She went on become the Scottish President of the Girl Guides.

University administrator Dr Robbie Stewart, 38, now has the honour of leading First Glasgow. "Our members are rightfully proud to belong to the world's first ever registered Scout troop," he says.

"It's an amazing feeling when we are recognised by other troops. Everyone is very proud to be a member of the First, especially because of our direct connection with Lord Baden-Powell.

"B-P's being a friend of our founder Capt 'Boss' Young is a wonderful heirloom, but I'd have to say that a Scout troop is only as good as its current leaders and helpers."

Some of the modern day First Glasgow's activities would still be recognisable to the boys who first gathered with Capt Young in 1908 - with camping, games, outdoor cooking, shooting, climbing and - fire-lighting among the favourites.

But like other Scottish Scouts - who provide 50,000 of the UK's 500,000 members - they also enjoy trips to places such as Denmark and lessons in computing.

Dr Stewart said: "People love having fun and that's what the Scouts are all about.

"You are never too old to enjoy yourself and there's a companionship among Scouts of all ages and from all walks of life."

The group is one of 150 troops taking part in the Centenary Camp this weekend.

But the First Glasgow boys won't spend too much time dwelling on the past.

"We're looking forward to the next 100 years," says Dr Stewart.


BOSS: Captain Robert Young; ADVENTURE: A group from First Glasgow fly the flag as they embark on a day out; LEADER: Dr Stewart at Northcote
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 26, 2007
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