The 5th Dartford Scout Group is the longest continuous running Scout Group in the district and was founded on the 4th December 1916 as the 5th Dartford Scout Troup, for boys aged between 11 and 16 years of age. Mr A B “Skipper” Leigh was the Scoutmaster and weekly meetings were held in a classroom in the Congregational Church Hall just down the hill from our current site. This first Scout Troop later became known as the “Earley Troop“, so named after one of it’s former 1940’s members, Tich Earley.
In 1922 Mr Willie Phillips, who owned the haberdashers shop in Dartford, generously donated a roll of salmon pink coloured material, which was made up into the original neckerchiefs for the 5th Dartford Scouts. Mr Phillips later became involved in the Scouts as an administrator and then as the Group Scout Master (GSL.) From his own pocket he purchased a piece of land (an old chalk quarry) on West Hill from the church for just £250, upon which was situated a wooden hut – the original Scout hut. This land was and still is held in trust for the 5th Dartford Scout Group.
Throughout the war years the group continued to meet regularly, with members acting as fire watchers and asisting with other community services.
Willie Phillips continued in his role as Group Scout Master until 1951. During this time a senior section was added for lads aged between 16 and 18 years and also a Rover crew for 18 years and over.
In 1952 Mr Ernie Johnston, who joined the 5th in 1930, took over as Group Scout Master and in 1953 our first Cub Pack, the “Leigh Pack” named after our founder, “Skipper” Leigh, was added to the group. By this time the old wooden hut was in a very sorry state and so fund raising was entered into with a view to building our hall. It took 3 years to raise the money for this project and building started in 1959. Initially, there were 64 volunteer parents and friends of the group working on the construction of our New Headquarters, but by the end of the 2 year project, there were only a dozen still committed to it’s completion.
The years went by and the group had its ups and downs (membership was approximately 100 lads and leaders) until 1966 when the advanced party report came into being. Out went short trousers for Scouts and the Dib Dib Dobs for the Cubs. Senior Scouts and Rover Scouts were disbanded and replaced by Venture Scouts aged between 16 and 20 years. Unfortunately we were not in a position at the time to form a Venture Unit.
On March 6th 1967, as reported in The Reporter on 17th March; our founder “Skipper” Leigh passed away at the age of 77. Skipper had given up active work with the group in 1933, but remained involved until he died, with the last four years holding the position of Group President.
In 1972 a second Cub pack, the “Collins Pack” was formed, closely followed by a third, the “Phillips Pack” in 1975. These additions increased the group membership to approximately 120 lads and leaders.
In 1975 Ernie Johnston our Group Scout Master vacated this post and moved on to become the District Commissioner. Mr Ron Peacock took on the task of the Group Scout Leader (1975-1983). During this time a male Venture Scout Unit was formed. This coupled with an expanding Scout Troop took our membership to 150 lads and leaders.
In 1983 Richard “Dick” Medcalf took over as Group Scout Leader.
January 1985 saw our male Venture Scout Unit granted permission to go mixed, which more than doubled its members. In February, a new section was also formed – Beavers for lads aged between 6 and 8 years. This first colony was named “Philpott Colony“, which proved so successful that a second Beaver Scout Colony, the “Peacock Colony“, was formed in September 1985, closely followed by the inclusion of girls joining the venture unit to make senior scouting at the 5th all inclusive. A second Scout Troop – the “Burne Troop” started in January 1986.
In 2003, Venture Scouts were disbanded and replaced with Explorer Scouts for 14-18yr olds and Scout Network for 18-25’s. Our newly formed Explorer Scout section later became known as the “Johnston Explorers” in memory of past GSL Ernie Johnston.
Sadly Ernie Johnston passed away on 21 May 2005 after 75 years continuous scouting, broken only by his war service.
In 2009, after 16 years as GSL, Richard Medcalf sadly passed away after battling sustained ill health. Richard was succeeded as GSL by Paul Boreham, who like Dick before him is a very active GSL who leads by example to motivate the leaders and young people alike. As with most management roles, it’s difficult to focus on all areas without help and therefore Lyn Medcalf was appointed AGSL to oversee the cubs and younger members, leaving Paul to focus on the older sections.
On 3rd November 2010, our new mixed gender sections opened their doors. The Edwards Beaver Colony, headed up by Victoria and Kimberley Watts and named in remembrance of Ian ‘Eggy’ Edwards, was our third Beaver Colony and was needed to reduce the 5th’s extensive waiting list and to fully embrace the movements position of inclusive scouting. The Phillips Cub Pack, led by Tracy and Zara followed shortly after on 24th November 2010, on the same evening to provide our Edwards Beavers with a clear path for progression in to Cub Scouting at the 5th Dartford Scout Group.
December 12th 2012 saw Kay O’Brien invested as an ACSL with the Phillips Cub Pack.
On 20th December 2012, we experienced a change in the Burne Troop leadership team, with Del and Wendy handing over the reigns after many years service to Tim, Jason and Matt. However, it was only a scaling down of involvement as they still remained at the helm of the Philpott Colony and other group activities.
Like many Scout Groups, we like to go camping as frequently as possible and irrespective of weather, we battle the elements and go out with a smile on our faces. The one camp which everyone looks forward to however is the summer scout camp, where there are generally in excess of 50 in the party. Below is a list of where we’ve been for the last few years and pictures can be seen in our photo archives: