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Camping with the Boys Brigade

"Camp!” a mother was quoted as saying with horror. “My children have always had a roof over their heads, and as long as I live, always will!"

It was the late 19th century and camping was not viewed as a leisure activity in Britain or America, except by Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

The Boys' Brigade, established by William Smith on 4 October 1883, changed all that. Smith’s hoped to promote “habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness" among boys. His methods were semi-military discipline, gymnastics, summer camps, and religious services and classes.

The Christian organization was refreshingly non-denominational. One of the first youth organizations, it inspired Robert Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and has half a million members worldwide.