FOR more than a century, scouting has been an important part of many people’s lives. The movement began in 1907 with an experimental camp on Brownsea Island, in Dorset, with Robert Baden Powell and a group of boys exploring the ideology of responsible citizenship.

Today, there are nearly 32 million members in 218 countries and territories – including Ryedale.

Norton Scout Group is celebrating its 70th anniversary of supporting the community by providing activities, mentoring, and fundraising.

More than 100 young people belong to the group, split into four sections – beavers, aged six to eight, cubs, aged eight to 10, scouts, 10 to 14 and explorers, 14 to 18.

“The skills they learn at scouts provide skills for life,” said Ian Appleby, group scout leader.

“I am supported by a great team of leaders who all give their time and energy to running great programmes for their sections, and also a small hard-working fundraising committee.

“Scouting is always changing and still offers a programme of activities to challenge youngsters, otherwise it would not have maintained its huge worldwide membership.

“The basics have not changed - there is still a huge emphasis on the outdoors with camping and cooking on open fires, but now badges can be gained in computing.”

Norton Scout Group started in November 1949, but was registered and became official in April the following year.

The group originally met at the Methodist Chapel in Norton under the leadership of its first scout leader Eric Smith.

Mr Smith, together with Ralph Cook, led the group for two years and were followed by Mike Elvy and Mike Muir. Under the leadership of Terry Gillingham and Bill Whelan, the group moved to premises behind the Buckrose in Norton.

In the 1960s, the group bought a wooden hut from Fylingdales which was put in Howe Road and became a permanent meeting place for the group. By this time, the scouter in charge was Peter Willison, who together with his wife Denise, cub leader, were to lead the 1st Norton Scouts for the next 30 years.

The group went from strength to strength acquiring a minibus, a fleet of canoes and improving the hut.

By now, annual camps were spent further afield in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District and Holland.

In January 1990, Peter and Denise stepped down to take up district appointments and the role of group scout leader went to Ian Appleby who had been with the group since joining as a cub in 1968.