The Student Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO) exists to support Scouts, Guides, and people who have never been members of a Scout or Guide Association, who are students at Colleges and Universities in the United Kingdom and are interested in the aims, objectives, and methods of The Scout Association and Girlguiding UK. Many universities have a Scout and Guide Club affiliated to the University Student Union, although it is not necessary for a club to be union affiliated to be part of SSAGO. Where a University or College has no club, students can join SSAGO as Individual or „Indie“ members.
Most clubs run a number of weekend and evening events during term and longer events during vacations. Each term one club organises a weekend open to all Club and Indie members of SSAGO called a Rally.
The oldest example of a Scout and Guide Club in the United Kingdom is the Oxford University Scout and Guide Group.
After leaving University many members of SSAGO choose to join the Scout and Guide Graduate Association (SAGGA).
Informal Scout and Guide Clubs have existed as early as 1915, when the first generation of Scouts grew out of Scouting age yet wanted to keep some sense of fraternity. Some early organizations at colleges were known as Baden-Powell Guilds and Saint George Guilds. A world equivalent to this exists today in the International Scout and Guide Fellowship, or ISGF. Some of the first clubs were set up in university towns, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and London. Inter-club activities were run intermittently until 1927. By 1920, Rover Scouts had been set up for people over 18 but many people were also part of Scout and Guide clubs. University clubs banded together to form an Inter-Varsity organisation while College based clubs formed a similar set-up. It was not until 1947 that inter-club meetings started again, and even then only for the Varsity clubs (those from universities, rather than colleges). Only two colleges (Loughborough and North Staffordshire) were admitted to Varsity. No other colleges were admitted, partially because of snobbery in the old red-brick establishments. The Federation of Scout and Guide Clubs in Training Colleges was set up in 1956 for colleges, and a year later it formed the Intercollegiate organisation. In 1967, the Intercollegiate and Inter-Varsity merged to form SSAGO due to the dwindling number of colleges as many became universities.
SSAGO was 40 in 2007, to celebrate this event a special emblem was designed and the Summer Rally replaced with a Reunion Event held near Lincoln in July. Whilst this event was run as a Rally there were some noticeable differences; there were fireworks on the Friday night, all members old, new and SAGGA (who themselves are celebrating their 50th Anniversary) were invited to attend along with visits from prestigious guests such as Liz Burnley the current Chief Guide.
United Kingdom Scout and Guide Clubs and Rovers Crews were responsible for establishing an international Student Scout and Guide event called the Witan, named after the Anglo-Saxon gathering of the wise called a Witan. The first two such events were organised by the Oxford University Scout and Guide Group at Gilwell Park in 1959 and 1961.
Rally is a national camp, held once every term where SSAGO clubs around the UK meet up to socialize and participate in a weekend of activities. The size of a rally can vary from around 100 to over 250 people. The three rallies are held each year in February, June and November and, as they are hosted by different clubs each time, they offer an opportunity for participants to visit new places. The host club for each rally is chosen at the previous years‘ national SSAGO AGM.
Each rally has a theme chosen by the host club, which is incorporated into the rally through the different activities on offer across the weekend. Often, this includes experiences such as walks or hikes, on-site activities, visits to nearby attractions or simply an afternoon off with which to explore. In addition, rallies also typically include a themed fancy-dress competition.
In addition to the three rallies, there is also an annual ball hosted every year by a chosen SSAGO club. Ball provides an alternative to the camping and outdoors often associated with Scouting and Guiding by offering a formal meal, dancing and another chance to socialize with other SSAGO members.
Typically balls will be themed, with accommodation available nearby, varying from hotels to scout huts depending the participants‘ budget. Balls offer a packed evening program, giving everyone a chance to make new friends, catch up with old ones and have a great night outside of the campsite. Often, the ball will include activities nearby to help participants make a weekend of the event.
There are currently more than thirty universities with a SSAGO club. There are also at least ten that no longer exist. The Universities with a functioning SSAGO club are: