Kibblestone Scout Camp can trace its history to 1927, when chairman of Spode Pottery and County Scout Commissioner for North Staffordshire, Ronald Copeland, agreed to the use of two acres of his family estate at Kibblestone as a permanent camp site. The site was recognised for the delivery of official Wood Badge courses by the Scout Association’s Training Headquarters in 1928.
The site has grown since then, initially as a result of the generosity and support of local families, volunteers and scouting organisations. Improvements were carried out gradually, to avoid disturbing the natural beauty of the site. The Copeland Cabin was erected in 1931, paid for through donations and dedicated to Ronald Copeland. This began a decade of improvements, with the construction of shelters, ablutions blocks, a shop and a swimming pool. The site was honoured to be visited by Lord Baden Powell in 1936.
Since its inception, Kibblestone has been a provider of training and education, from the first training camps for patrol leaders, to camps for “workless lads” in 1931, to working with schools in the present day in the “Learning Outside the Classroom” initiative.
The outbreak of the Second World War did not force the site to close, and camps and activities were still held.
In 1951 the Rotary and Inner Wheel Clubs of Stoke-on-Trent donated the open-air chapel, and a programme of tree planting was initiated. There are over 150 different types of tree on the site, carefully chosen to give character and shelter. The site is also home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Kibblestone Hall was uninhabited after 1935, although it was used as a hospitality centre. The Hall was demolished in 1954. The grounds and remaining buildings were developed for training and the next ten years saw more improvements with the installation of electricity supplies in 1956, the completion of an independent water system in 1966 and erection of more buildings.
The Copeland family sold Kibblestone estate to the Stoke on Trent and Newcastle Boy Scout Association in 1960. The Association was registered as a charity in 1962. Other major donors during this time include the Fox family who provided the means to construct the Fox Glen, and the Breeze family who donated twenty acres of land.
1974 saw the first International Friendship Camp at Kibblestone, bringing together 800 young people from five different countries. There have been a further ten IFC events, attended by over 11,000 young people from all over the globe.
In 1980 the decision was taken not to build any more new permanent buildings on the site, but rather to modernise, improve and maintain the existing buildings. All buildings offer modern cooking, ablution and accommodation facilities and are constantly reviewed so that the camp can provide the best experience for its visitors.
Kibblestone offers more than just camping. There is a wide range of activities available, including archery, rifle shooting, caving and numerous different climbing activities. Unfortunately, the swimming pool was drained in 2002 when changes to health and safety legislation made it unviable.
Much of the maintenance work on site is carried out by volunteers. A dedicated group – the “Gotcha” team – give up two days a week and have worked on many of the projects around the site. Local businesses, such as Vodafone also support the charity through staff volunteer days. These are especially useful for those large-scale grounds maintenance jobs such as path clearing, or fence repair. The site runs on a very small team of permanent staff and relies upon the goodwill of its volunteers to run smoothly.
The Charity changed its name to Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle Divisional Scout Council in the 1960s, changing again to Kibblestone District Scout Council in 2015. The Charity’s main purpose is to operate the campsite for use by the Scouting movement. Funds generated from campsite and activity fees are used to maintain and improve the campsite facilities.
The operation of Kibblestone has changed immensely over the last ninety years. It is no longer just for the weekends and through the summer, and cannot be operated by a part-time warden and volunteer Scouts. The trustees also acknowledge that the site cannot be sustained by just Scouting and Guiding customers. The site operates seven days a week, for fifty weeks of the year and needs to be responsive to the changing needs of modern Scouting and its non-Scouting customers.
The Charity is fortunate to have received support from several prominent local families during its history. The management team and Trustees recognises that to ensure the future of the site the income generated needs to increase. To do this the site needs to develop and offer more to customers and the Charity cannot do this without the support of local businesses and other supporters.