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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Donate an item to the Heritage Collection

The Heritage Collection comprises a diverse range of over 250,000 objects, photographs and records. It’s been accumulated since Scouts began. It helps us create connections between members of The Scouts, and the wider community.

What we collect

We don’t just collect historic items, but modern materials and items are also welcome. Our Collecting Policy outlines the types of material we're able to collect, but our key themes are:

  • The life and works of founder, Robert Baden-Powell.
  • The story and development of UK Scouts, from its conception to the present day.
  • The historical landscape of Gilwell Park and the people who’ve contributed to it.

We have identified some gaps in our Collection and are particularly interested in collecting:

  • Personal Scouting memories or stories which can help bring our heritage to life. These do not have to be accompanied by donations of material. They can be from any time period.
  • Material from 1980 onwards.
  • Material or stories relating to the start of the Beaver Scout section.
  • Material or stories relating of young women joining Venture Scouts from 1976 and other sections from 1992.
  • Diaries, logbooks, photographs, and stories from World Scout events (e.g. World Scout Jamboree, Rover Moot, Roverway etc.) from 1970 onwards.
  • Material or stories relating to Scout groups or events which:
    • were the first or early type of that kind of provision.
    • offered Scout provision in an unusual setting e.g. hospitals.
    • took part in trialling new provision, ways of offering Scout activities.
    • Copies of the Scouts Policy, Organisation and Rules between 1968 and 1984.

What we no longer collect

As the Scouts is such a huge Movement with millions of former and current members it means that many items were produced in vast quantities, and we are offered multiple copies.

Because some of this material is already heavily represented in the Heritage Collection, we no longer collect:

  • Material relating to the 1957 Jamboree.
  • Good service or gallantry awards unless accompanied by personal memories/stories relating to the awards.
  • Copies of the Headquarters Gazette / The Scouter / Scouting magazines.
  • Copies of Scouting for Boys.
  • Gilcraft series of books.
  • Wood Badge training notebooks.
  • Material relating to non-UK Scout groups other than those who are part of British Scouts Overseas.
  • Camp blankets, unless accompanied by personal stories relating to the original owner’s time in the Scouts.

Donating objects and archives to the Heritage Service  

If you think your donation fits these criteria, please complete this short online form and we’ll get back to you.

We kindly ask that items are not sent in the post before contacting us. This is because we must list and complete paperwork for everything we receive, whether we decide to keep it or not.

Donations Process 

With over 250,000 items in our collection, we need to check potential donations against our databases to make sure we don't accept duplicates.

Last year, we received 930 items. However, 387 of these we weren’t expecting. This makes it difficult to plan our work, taking time away from looking after our main collection, and often these items unfortunately don’t fit with our collecting policy.

The Heritage Donations Team meet monthly to assess all potential donations. Following the meeting, we'll get in touch with a decision regarding your offer.

Unfortunately, we're unable to accept objects that have been left at, or posted to, The Scout Association without prior discussion and agreement with the collections team. We'll do our best to contact the donors of unsolicited offers. However, if objects/archives remain uncollected for four months, or if no contact details are left, absolute ownership will be transferred to The Scout Association, who may dispose of the items as it sees fit.

Please note, we’re unable to accept:   

  • Material on long-term loan.
  • Material with specific conditions attached.
  • Hazardous objects and substances, such as firearms, objects containing asbestos, explosive, flammable, poisonous, potentially carcinogenic, or radioactive material.

If we decide we'd like to accept your item/s into our Collection, we’ll ask you to sign a form. This permanently transfers ownership of the item from you to The Scouts (and means you may not reclaim it at a future date).   

Due to limited budgets, we’re unable to pay for donations to be sent or transported to Gilwell Park. We’re only able to collect items in exceptional circumstances.

If your donation fits in with our Collecting Policy and is in good condition, it’ll be accessioned into our permanent collections.

However, it may be that your object is more appropriate for use in education or community projects, for example. In this case, the item would not be accessioned, but form part of our valued Handling Collection.

Currently, the Heritage Collection doesn’t have a permanent location for displays and exhibitions.

Your item(s) may be used for learning activities and temporary exhibitions, but we can’t guarantee when this may happen.

If we aren’t able to accept your item into the Collection, please don’t be offended. We’re always grateful that you considered donating to us. Our staff will do our best to offer you advice on who else may be interested in the items. 

Learning resources

Have a look at our learning resources that you use with a wide range of audiences to explore more about the history of Scouts.

Our learning resources >
Enquiries Service

We run an Enquiries Service to support users with research into the history of Scouts.

Our enquiry service >