The Duchess of Cambridge had a fun engagement this morning when she visited the Scouts’ headquarters in Gilwell Park, Essex.
Catherine was visiting Gilwell Park to learn more about the new Scouts pilot scheme and mark the centenary of the site, and looked in her element being surrounded by children.
The new pilot scheme, funded by the Department of Education, is aimed at encouraging younger children aged 4 to 6 into scouting and equipping them with the life skills and values of teamwork, leadership and resilience.
Kate, wearing a UK Scouting neckerchief, was greeted by Scouts of different ages upon her arrival, and asked them about the scouting badges they had received and were wearing on their uniforms.
There are 20 pilot schemes across England to introduce youngsters to scouting. Research that The Duchess of Cambridge has been involved in, shows that the first five years of a child’s life are the most pivotal for development, future health and happiness than any other age.
Kate joined in with a number of activities of the scouts, including making sailing boats and testing balloon rockets. Catherine was even persuaded to do some hand painting with bright green paint!
In recent years, The Duchess of Cambridge has centred much of her work on research and initiatives to help children in their early years. This has included working with experts and organisations championing the importance of providing social psychological, social and emotional platforms for children to support their mental health and emotional resilience.
Catherine had lots of fun playing with the youngsters and hiding in a den the children had made in the woodland using sticks and leaves. One of the helpers, Frankii Newbery, said, “The Duchess, braver than I am, got straight in there with one of our Beavers and had a whale of a time.
“She was straight in there and just thoroughly loving it, it was fantastic to watch.”
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 28, 2019
During her visit, Catherine told the children that she hoped Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be Scouts in the future.
Scouting is the largest mixed volunteer-led movement for young people in the UK and was founded by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907. Having seen war in South Africa, Baden-Powell was inspired by the initiative shown by boys under pressure, and realised that young people had huge potential that was often left untapped. He brought together 20 boys from a variety of backgrounds in a test camp in Dorset, and then published six instalments of ‘Scouting for Boys’.
Girl Guides were founded shortly after in 1912, but girls have been allowed into their male counterpart group for some time now.
Both groups offer informal programmes of learning, focussed on building skills with a large element of outdoors involved.
The future Queen was given a guided tour by Tahseen Patel, one of the teenage Scouts.
Tahseen later said of the visit, “She was interested in the early years and how you learn things in Scouting that you don’t learn in school and elsewhere, like you learn way more things in Scouting. And how she wants her children to grow up in the Scouting movement, not just in school, because she tries doing thing at home but there’s only so much you can do and you need to build relationships with other people.”
The Duchess of Cambridge became a Scout leader in 2012 when she joined a Scout group on Anglesey, where she was living at the time to support her husband, The Duke of Cambridge, when he was an Air Ambulance helicopter pilot.
Her last engagement with the Scouts was in December 2016.
The celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gilwell Park, The Duchess of Cambridge planted an oak sapling tree. Gilwell Park is a site recognised internationally as the home of scouting. Located on the edge of Epping Forest, the site hosts a training and adventure centre and a Scouts official campsite.
As The Duchess of Cambridge departed from the site, she said, “It’s been a wonderful experience.”