I'm not sure who first developed the idea of summer camp. It was a natural follow on of Baden Powell's Brown Sea Island experience. Even before the foundation of Scouting, boys uin American had begun to enjoy summer camps. Scouts in American baegan building a network of summer camps. I'm less sure about Europe. Many German youth groups had summer camps and the same is probably true of other countries, especially England and France. The Hitler Youth seized the summer camps of other German youth groups and built an extensive nation-wide system. The Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries alsp built nation-wide systems, but were sold off after the fall of Communism.
Summer camps were a natural follow on of Baden Powell's Brown Sea Island experience. Even before the foundation of Scouting, boys uin American had begun to enjoy summer camps. Scouts in American baegan building a network of summer camps. I'm less sure about Europe. Many German youth groups had summer camps and the same is probably true of other countries, especially England and France.
The Boys' Brigade was very keen on taking city boys away to the wholesome air of the countryside. In fact the first summer camp held by a uniformed youth group was held by the Boys' Brigade in Scotland during 1886-fully two decades before Baden Powell's Brown SeacIsland camp in 1906 which laubched Scoting. Brigade camps in England followed soon after the first camp in Scotland. The camps were so popular that the Boys' Brigade considered launching a Scouting program. But what is fascinating about early Boys' Brigade camps is that the boys on these expeditions appear to have dressed up in suits! They may have been only their every day suits. Boys at the time did not have extensive wardrobes of casual clothing. Suits were worn for many activities. Many boys look like they are wearing their best suits, often three-piece
suits, in available early photographs. But presumablu mum sent them to summer camp in their every day suits. We do note that
Eton collars are not as common as we would have expected, especially at summer camps. Presumably they were not deemed
appropriate for camping, or to much trouble for the boys to bother with. Probably for more formal occassions when they were
at home, mums would have insisted on Eton collars. We have only a limited number of Boy's Brigade camping images, but they
show the boys wearing suits even at camp. Now as a camper and camp counselor, I find that almost inconceivable, but that
appears to have been exactly what the Boys' Brigade did. We can't help but thinking what mum must have said when those
boys came back home after camping in their suits--even their every-day suit.
Other groups like the BB's were founded in Britain. These were very similar to the BB, primarily differing in the denominational sponsor. One such group was the Church Lad's Brigade (CLB). Like the BB, the CLB also had a summer camp program, although we have few details about it at this time.
The Hitler Youth seized the summer camps of other German youth groups and built an extensive nation-wide system. An important part of the Hitler Youth program was the summer
camps. The camps were designed to toughen boys most physically and mentally. There were a lot of exercizes of a militay natue such as laying communications cable. Older boys might do actual fire arms training. HBU does not yet have any actual accounts from any of the boys.
The YMCA played a major role in the development of the summer camping movement in America. In fact the Y had an extensive summer camp program before Scouting was organized. There was a significant relationship beteen the Y and early Scouting in America. It was for this reason that William D. Boyce essentially turned the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) over to the Y to organize in the first few months.
The Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries also built nation-wide systems of youth camps. We believe that each of the European satellite countries as well as the Soviet Union had impotant ummer camp program. We believe that virtually all children particiapted in these programs, but are not sure if any choice was involved. We believe that these were coed camps, but again have little information. Nor do we have much information on what type of uniforms were worn at the summer camps. We are not sure if the Asian communist countries also had summer camp programs.
We have not yet developed country pages on the youth group summer camp program. Summer camping appears to have been an American movement begun in the late 19th century. The YMCA played a key role, but many summer camps were private facilities not associated with any youth group. In the early 20th century, many youth groups, especially the Scouts. We know less about when summer camping began in Europe. We notice summer camping in Europe after World War I, but we have no informatioin at this time before the War. Summer camping was popular in England, France, Italy, Germany and other countries.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Web organizatiion pages:
[Boys' Brigade] [Boys Club] [Camp Fire] [Church Lads' Brigade] [Hitler Youth] [National] [Pioneers] [Royal Rangers] [Scout] [YMCA]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Web Site:
[Return to the Main activities page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biography] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Essays] [Garments] [Organizations] [Other]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Questions] [Unknown images]
[Boys' Uniform Home]