This is a black-and-white photograph of members of the Fourteenth Canberra Troop of Boy scouts erecting a tent at an unidentified location near the Murrumbidgee River in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
- The Boy Scouts was a youth organisation officially founded in 1908 in England by former British soldier Robert (later Lord) Baden Powell (1857–1941). With the motto of 'be prepared', it had the objective of encouraging the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development of young people. The organisation now has girls as members in Australia and many other countries and is known simply as the Scouts. In 2005 it was the biggest youth organisation in Australia (65,000 members) and the world (about 28 million members).
- The photograph shows a boys' camp, from which the scouting organisation was born. Baden Powell developed an army manual called Aids to Scouting while in the British Army in India, but it was after a boys' camp in 1907 that he developed his Scouting for Boys, which for years remained one of the bestselling books in English-speaking countries and was translated into many other languages. Scouting grew in line with the popularity of the book.
- Until the 1970s the organisation in Australia only accepted boys as members. Girls and young women were admitted in 1973 into the 'Venturer' and 'Rover' sections (ages 14–26), and in 1988 into its Cub and general Scout sections (ages 7–14). Since 1990, a Joey Scout section has been open to boys and girls (ages 6 and 7).
- The photograph shows members of the newly formed Fourteenth Canberra Troop of Boy Scouts either at their first camp, or practising for it. Although the Scouts has always been a non-sectarian organisation, this particular troop, formed in August 1957, comprised boys linked to St Paul's Anglican Church in Manuka. Although scouting began in Australia in 1908, the First Canberra Scout Troop was not formed until 1917; in 2005 the ACT had 37 troops and 8 Rover 'crews'.
- A key Scout activity was erecting a tent at a camping site. As well as camping, Scouts undertake a wide range of adult-supervised activities, both indoors and outdoors, emphasising skills such as survival, innovation and problem-solving, as well as service to others and good citizenship.
- The tent in the photograph is a 'cottage'-shaped canvas tent, which is relatively easy to erect, with poles and ropes providing support – sometimes a large canvas 'fly' would be put over such tents to provide shade or protection from rain, and a shallow ditch would usually be dug around the outside for drainage in case of rain.
- The Boy Scouts wore uniforms, including wide-brimmed hats and scarves that had to be specially tied and held in place with a 'woggle' close to the neck – 'proficiency' badges would be sewn onto the shirts after the boys had passed tests in fields such as bushcraft, first aid, camping, cooking, and knot-tying. Although aspects of the uniform have changed, scouting administrators have always insisted on neat, clean and properly worn uniforms, with military-type inspections.
- The boys in the photograph may have found the quasi-military aspects of scouting attractive because military themes featured in much of the popular culture to which they were exposed, such as movies and comics. The boys did not have television at home acting as a disincentive to participation in recreational activities outside the home; television had been introduced in Sydney and Melbourne in 1956, but did not reach the ACT until 1962.