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The growth of Scouting in South Africa

South Africa, after the Anglo-Boer war was a British colony and in the cities many boys and young men read Baden-Powell's book "Scouting for Boys" as it arrived in the mail from Britain. In March 1908, only 7 months after the Scout movement began with B-P's camp at Brownsea Island, the first troops were established in Cape Town and further afield in Johannesburg and Natal. It is not clear who was the very first, and there are many claimants, but the earliest registrations with the imperial HQ in London came for several groups in July 1909.

Scouting grew rapidly in South Africa and in 1912 Baden-Powell himself came to watch the Scout movement here. During the 1st world war Scouts showed their worth as observers, messengers and hospital orderlies. Contingents of Scouts from South Africa have attended world jamborees since the first one in 1920. The first national jamboree took place in 1936 with Baden-Powell again attending. Many troops still have photos and logbooks from these early days of Scouting - some even still race the wooden trek carts which were formerly used to take the equipment to camp.

The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is today the largest non-formal youth education movement in the world with 216 member countries and territories and more than 28 million individual members. The South African Scout Association (SASA) is a member of WOSM.

There are eight Areas in South Africa, each aligned to the major provinces. The local area, Mpumalanga, was formerly part of the then Northern Transvaal, but recognizing the difficulty of servicing these outlying districts from Pretoria, it was decided to form a separate Area and that Area is the Mpumalanga Area. It was formed in June 1997.

For more information about Scouting in South Africa you can go to the National Web Page www.scouting.org.za.