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Country Worldwide
Founded 1907
Founder Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell
Scouting portal

Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, so that they may play constructive roles in society.

Scouting began in 1907 when Robert Baden-Powell, Lieutenant General in the British Army, held the first Scouting encampment at Brownsea Island in England. Baden-Powell wrote the principles of Scouting in Scouting for Boys (London, 1908), based on his earlier military books, with influence and support of Frederick Russell Burnham (Chief of Scouts in British Africa), Seton of the Woodcraft Indians, Smith of the Boys' Brigade, and his publisher Pearson. During the first half of the 20th century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups each for boys (Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Rover Scout) and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls (Brownie Guide, Girl Guide and Girl Scout, Ranger Guide).

The movement employs the Scout method, a program of informal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities, including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports. Another widely recognized movement characteristic is the Scout uniform, by intent hiding all differences of social standing in a country and making for equality, with neckerchief and campaign hat or comparable head wear. Distinctive uniform insignia include the fleur-de-lis and the trefoil, as well as merit badges and other patches.

In 2007, Scouting and Guiding together had over 38 million members in 216 countries. The two largest umbrella organizations are the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), for boys-only and co-educational organizations, and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), primarily for girls-only organizations but also accepting co-educational organizations. That year marked the centenary of Scouting world wide, and member organizations planned events to celebrate the occasion.




Stone on Brownsea Island commemorating the first Scout camp

As a military officer, Baden-Powell was stationed in British India and Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Since his youth, he had been fond of woodcraft and military scouting, and—as part of their training—showed his men how to survive in the wilderness. He noticed that it helped the soldiers to develop independence rather than just blindly follow officers' orders.[1]

In South Africa during the Second Boer War, Baden-Powell was besieged in the small town of Mafeking by a much larger Boer army (the Siege of Mafeking).[2] The Mafeking Cadet Corps was a group of youths that supported the troops by carrying messages, which freed the men for military duties and kept the boys occupied during the long siege. The Cadet Corps performed well, helping in the defense of the town (1899–1900), and were one of the many factors that inspired Baden-Powell to form the Scouting movement.[3][4][5] Each member received a badge that illustrated a combined compass point and spearhead. The badge's logo was similar to the fleur-de-lis that Scouting later adopted as its international symbol.[6]

In the United Kingdom, the public followed Baden-Powell's struggle to hold Mafeking through newspapers, and when the siege was broken, he had become a national hero. This rise to fame fueled the sales of a small instruction book he had written about military scouting, Aids to Scouting.[7]

On his return to England, he noticed that boys showed considerable interest in the book, which was used by teachers and youth organizations.[8] He was suggested by several to rewrite this book for boys, especially during an inspection of the Boys' Brigade, a large youth movement drilled with military precision. Baden-Powell thought this would not be attractive and suggested that it could grow much larger when scouting would be used.[9] He studied other schemes, parts of which he used for Scouting.

A 2007 British fifty pence coin commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Scout Movement

In July 1906, Ernest Thompson Seton sent Baden-Powell a copy of his book The Birchbark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians. Seton, a British-born Canadian living in the United States, met Baden-Powell in October 1906, and they shared ideas about youth training programs.[10][11] In 1907 Baden-Powell wrote a draft called Boy Patrols. In the same year, to test his ideas, he gathered 21 boys of mixed social backgrounds (from boy's schools in the London area and a section of boys from the Poole, Parkstone, Hamworthy, Bournemouth, and Winton Boys' Brigade units) and held a week-long camp in August on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England.[12] His organizational method, now known as the Patrol System and a key part of Scouting training, allowed the boys to organize themselves into small groups with an elected patrol leader.[13]

In the autumn of 1907, Baden-Powell went on an extensive speaking tour arranged by his publisher, Arthur Pearson, to promote his forthcoming book, Scouting for Boys. He had not simply rewritten his Aids to Scouting, but left out the military aspects and transferred the techniques (mainly survival) to non-military heroes: backwoodsmen, explorers (and later on, sailors and airmen).[1] He also added innovative educational principles (the Scout method) by which he extended the attractive game to a personal mental education.[11]

Scouting for Boys first appeared in England in January 1908 as six fortnightly installments, and was published in England later in 1908 in book form. The book is now the fourth-bestselling title of all time,[14] and is now commonly considered the first version of the Boy Scout Handbook.[15]

At the time, Baden-Powell intended that the scheme would be used by established organizations, in particular the Boys' Brigade, from the founder William A. Smith.[16] However, because of the popularity of his person and the adventurous outdoor game he wrote about, boys spontaneously formed Scout patrols and flooded Baden-Powell with requests for assistance. He encouraged them, and the Scouting movement developed momentum. As the movement grew, Sea Scout, Air Scout, and other specialized units were added to the program.[17][18]


The Boy Scout movement swiftly established itself throughout the British Empire soon after the publication of Scouting for Boys. The first recognized overseas unit was chartered in Gibraltar in 1908, followed quickly by a unit in Malta. Canada became the first overseas dominion with a sanctioned Boy Scout program, followed by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Chile was the first country outside the British dominions to have a recognized Scouting program. The first Scout rally, held in 1909 at The Crystal Palace in London, attracted 10,000 boys and a number of girls. By 1910, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Malaya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States had Boy Scouts.[19][20]

The program initially focused on boys aged 11 to 18, but as the movement grew, the need became apparent for leader training and programs for younger boys, older boys, and girls. The first Cub Scout and Rover Scout programs were in place by the late 1910s. They operated independently until they obtained official recognition from their home country's Scouting organization. In the United States, attempts at Cub programs began as early as 1911, but official recognition was not obtained until 1930.[20][21][22]

Girls wanted to become part of the movement almost as soon as it began. Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell introduced the Girl Guides in 1910, a parallel movement for girls, sometimes named Girl Scouts. Agnes Baden-Powell became the first president of the Girl Guides when it was formed in 1910, at the request of the girls who attended the Crystal Palace Rally. In 1914, she started Rosebuds—later renamed Brownies—for younger girls. She stepped down as president of the Girl Guides in 1920 in favor of Robert's wife Olave Baden-Powell, who was named Chief Guide (for England) in 1918 and World Chief Guide in 1930. At that time, girls were expected to remain separate from boys because of societal standards, though co-educational youth groups did exist. By the 1990s, two thirds of the Scout organizations belonging to WOSM had become co-educational.[23]

Baden-Powell could not single-handedly advise all groups who requested his assistance. Early Scoutmaster training camps were held in London in 1910 and in Yorkshire in 1911. Baden-Powell wanted the training to be as practical as possible to encourage other adults to take leadership roles, so the Wood Badge course was developed to recognize adult leadership training. The development of the training was delayed by World War I, so the first Wood Badge course was not held until 1919.[24] Wood Badge is used by Boy Scout associations and combined Boy Scout and Girl Guide associations in many countries. Gilwell Park near London was purchased in 1919 on behalf of The Scout Association as an adult training site and Scouting campsite.[25] Baden-Powell wrote a book, Aids to Scoutmastership, to help Scouting Leaders, and wrote other handbooks for the use of the new Scouting sections, such as Cub Scouts and Girl Guides. One of these was Rovering to Success, written for Rover Scouts in 1922. A wide range of leader training exists in 2007, from basic to program-specific, including the Wood Badge training.


U.S. President Calvin Coolidge greeting 1500 Boy Scouts making an annual pilgrimage to the Capitol, 1927

Important elements of traditional Scouting have their origins in Baden-Powell's experiences in education and military training. He was a 50-year-old retired army general when he founded Scouting, and his revolutionary ideas inspired thousands of young people, from all parts of society, to get involved in activities that most had never contemplated. Comparable organizations in the English-speaking world are the Boys' Brigade and the non-militaristic Woodcraft Folk; however, they never matched the development and growth of Scouting.[26]

Aspects of Scouting practice have been criticized as too militaristic.[27] Military-style uniforms, badges of rank, flag ceremonies, and brass bands were commonly accepted in the early years because they were a part of normal society, but since then have diminished or been abandoned in both Scouting and society.

Australian Scouts attend Scouts' Own, an informal, spiritual Scouting ceremony

Local influences have also been a strong part of Scouting. By adopting and modifying local ideologies, Scouting has been able to find acceptance in a wide variety of cultures. In the United States, Scouting uses images drawn from the U.S. frontier experience. This includes not only its selection of animal badges for Cub Scouts, but the underlying assumption that American native peoples are more closely connected with nature and therefore have special wilderness survival skills which can be used as part of the training program. By contrast, British Scouting makes use of imagery drawn from the Indian subcontinent, because that region was a significant focus in the early years of Scouting. Baden-Powell's personal experiences in India led him to adopt Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book as a major influence for the Cub Scouts; for example, the name used for the Cub Scout leader, Akela (whose name was also appropriated for the Webelos), is that of the leader of the wolf pack in the book.[28]

The name "Scouting" seems to have been inspired by the important and romantic role played by military scouts performing reconnaissance in the wars of the time. In fact, Baden-Powell wrote his original military training book, Aids To Scouting, because he saw the need for the improved training of British military-enlisted scouts, particularly in initiative, self-reliance, and observational skills. The book's popularity with young boys surprised him. As he adapted the book as Scouting for Boys, it seems natural that the movement adopted the names Scouting and Boy Scouts.[29]

"Duty to God" is a principle of Scouting, though it is applied differently in various countries.[30][31] The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) take a strong position, excluding atheists.[32] The Scout Association in the United Kingdom requires adult leaders to implement the Association's religious policy which, inter alia, encourages members to belong to some religious body.[33] Scouts Canada defines Duty to God broadly in terms of "adherence to spiritual principles" and leaves it to the individual member or leader whether they can follow a Scout Promise that includes Duty to God.[34]

Movement characteristics

Scouting is taught using the Scout method, which incorporates an informal educational system that emphasizes practical activities in the outdoors. Programs exist for Scouts ranging in age from 6 to 25 (though age limits vary slightly by country), and program specifics target Scouts in a manner appropriate to their age.[35][36]

Scout method

Scouting Statue at the Cockrell Scout Center of the Boy Scouts of America in Houston

The Scout method is the principal method by which the Scouting organizations, boy and girl, operate their units. WOSM describes Scouting as "...a voluntary nonpolitical educational movement for young people open to all without distinction of origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by the Founder..."[35] It is the goal of Scouting "to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities."[35]

The principles of Scouting describe a code of behavior for all members, and characterize the movement. The Scout method is a progressive system designed to achieve these goals, comprising seven elements: law and promise, learning by doing, team system, symbolic framework, personal progression, nature, and adult support.[37] While community service is a major element of both the WOSM and WAGGGS programs, WAGGGS includes it as an extra element of the Scout method: service in the community.[38]

The Scout Law and Promise embody the joint values of the Scouting movement worldwide, and bind all Scouting associations together. The emphasis on "learning by doing" provides experiences and hands-on orientation as a practical method of learning and building self-confidence. Small groups build unity, camaraderie, and a close-knit fraternal atmosphere. These experiences, along with an emphasis on trustworthiness and personal honor, help to develop responsibility, character, self-reliance, self-confidence, reliability, and readiness; which eventually lead to collaboration and leadership. A program with a variety of progressive and attractive activities expands a Scout's horizon and bonds the Scout even more to the group. Activities and games provide an enjoyable way to develop skills such as dexterity. In an outdoor setting, they also provide contact with the natural environment.[36]

Since the birth of Scouting in 1907, Scouts worldwide have taken a Scout Promise to live up to ideals of the movement, and subscribe to the Scout Law. The form of the promise and laws have varied slightly by country and over time, but must fulfil the requirements of the WOSM to qualify a National Scout Association for membership.[35]

The Scout Motto, 'Be Prepared', has been used in various languages by millions of Scouts since 1907. Less well-known is the Scout Slogan, 'Do a good turn daily'.[39]


Girl Guides in front of a Catholic church in Poland
Sculpture erected in 1982 to commemorate the 1979 Jamboree at Perry Lakes Western Australia and 75 years of Scouting

Common ways to implement the Scout method include having Scouts spending time together in small groups with shared experiences, rituals, and activities, and emphasizing good citizenship and decision-making by young people in an age-appropriate manner. Weekly meetings often take place in local centres known as Scout dens. Cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors and outdoor activities is a key element. Primary activities include camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports.[40][41]

Camping is most often arranged at the unit level, such as one Scout troop, but there are periodic camps (known in Australia as "jamborettes" and in the US as "camporees") and "jamborees". Camps occur a few times a year and may involve several groups from a local area or region camping together for a weekend. The events usually have a theme, such as pioneering. World Scout Moots are gatherings, originally for Rover Scouts, but mainly focused on Scout Leaders. Jamborees are large national or international events held every four years, during which thousands of Scouts camp together for one or two weeks. Activities at these events will include games, scoutcraft competitions, badge, pin or patch trading, aquatics, woodcarving, archery and activities related to the theme of the event.[42]

In some countries a highlight of the year for Scouts is spending at least a week in the summer engaging in an outdoor activity. This can be a camping, hiking, sailing, or other trip with the unit, or a summer camp with broader participation (at the council, state, or provincial level). Scouts attending a summer camp work on merit badges, advancement, and perfecting scoutcraft skills. Summer camps can operate specialty programs for older Scouts, such as sailing, backpacking, canoeing and whitewater, caving, and fishing.[43][44]

At an international level Scouting perceives one of its roles as the promotion of international harmony and peace.[45] Various initiatives are in train towards achieving this aim including the development of activities that benefit the wider community, challenge prejudice and encourage tolerance of diversity. Such programs include co-operation with non-scouting organisations including various NGOs, the United Nations and religious institutions as set out in The Marrakech Charter.[46]

Uniforms and distinctive insignia

Individual national or other emblems may be found at the individual country's Scouting article.
The R. Tait McKenzie sculpture Ideal Scout depicts a Scout in proper uniform

The Scout uniform is a widely recognized characteristic of Scouting. In the words of Baden-Powell at the 1937 World Jamboree, it "hides all differences of social standing in a country and makes for equality; but, more important still, it covers differences of country and race and creed, and makes all feel that they are members with one another of the one great brotherhood".[47] The original uniform, still widely recognized, consisted of a khaki button-up shirt, shorts, and a broad-brimmed campaign hat. Baden-Powell also wore shorts, because he believed that being dressed like a Scout helped to reduce the age-imposed distance between adult and youth. Uniform shirts are now frequently blue, orange, red or green and shorts are frequently replaced by long trousers all year or only in winter.

While designed for smartness and equality, the Scout uniform is also practical. Shirts traditionally have thick seams to make them ideal for use in makeshift stretchers—Scouts were trained to use them in this way with their staves, a traditional but deprecated item. The leather straps and toggles of the campaign hats or Leaders' Wood Badges could be used as emergency tourniquets, or anywhere that string was needed in a hurry. Neckerchiefs were chosen as they could easily be used as a sling or triangular bandage by a Scout in need. Scouts were encouraged to use their garters for shock cord where necessary.[47]

Distinctive insignia for all are Scout uniforms, recognized and worn the world over, include the Wood Badge and the World Membership Badge. Scouting has two internationally known symbols: the trefoil is used by members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and the fleur-de-lis by member organizations of the WOSM and most other Scouting organizations.[48][49]

The swastika was used as an early symbol by the British Boy Scouts and others. Its earliest use in Scouting was on the Thanks Badge introduced in 1911.[50] Lord Baden-Powell's 1922 design for the Medal of Merit added a swastika to the Scout fleur-de-lis to symbolize good luck for the recipient. Like Rudyard Kipling, he would have come across this symbol in India. In 1934, Scouters requested a change to the design because of the later use of the swastika by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Nazi Party). A new British Medal of Merit was issued in 1935.[50]

Age groups and sections

A group of Hong Kong Cub Scouts

Scouting and Guiding movements are generally divided into sections by age or school grade, allowing activities to be tailored to the maturity of the group's members. These age divisions have varied over time as they adapt to the local culture and environment.[51]

Scouting was originally developed for adolescents—youths between the ages of 11 and 17. In most member organizations, this age group composes the Scout or Guide section. Programs were developed to meet the needs of young children (generally ages 6 to 10) and young adults (originally 18 and older, and later up to 25). Scouts and Guides were later split into "junior" and "senior" sections in many member organizations, and some organizations dropped the young adults' section. The exact age ranges for programs vary by country and association.[52][53][54]

Original age groups as developed by Baden-Powell:

Age range Scouting section Guiding section
7 to 10 Cub Scout Brownie Guide
11 to 17 Boy Scout Girl Guide or Girl Scout
18 and up Rover Scout Ranger Guide

The national programs for younger children include Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Daisies, Rainbow Guides, Beaver Scouts, Joey Scouts, Keas, and Teddies. Programs for post-adolescents and young adults include the Senior Section,[55] Rover Scouts, Senior Scouts, Venture Scouts, Explorer Scouts, and the Scout Network. Many organizations also have a program for members with special needs. This is usually known as Extension Scouting, but sometimes has other names, such as Scoutlink. The Scout Method has been adapted to specific programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, Rider Guides and Scoutingbands .[56]

In many countries, Scouting is organized into neighborhood Scout Groups, or Districts, which contain one or more sections. Under the umbrella of the Scout Group, sections are divided according to age, each having their own terminology and leadership structure.[57]

Adults and leadership

Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement

Adults interested in Scouting or Guiding, including former Scouts and Guides, often join organizations such as the International Scout and Guide Fellowship. In the United States and the Philippines, university students might join the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. In the United Kingdom, university students might join the Student Scout and Guide Organisation, and after graduation, the Scout and Guide Graduate Association.

Scout units are usually operated by adult volunteers, such as parents and carers, former Scouts, students, and community leaders, including teachers and religious leaders. Scout Leadership positions are often divided into 'uniform' and 'lay' positions. Uniformed leaders have received formal training, such as the Wood Badge, and have received a warrant for a rank within the organization. Lay members commonly hold part-time roles such as meeting helpers, committee members and advisors, though there are a small number of full-time lay professionals.[58]

A unit has uniformed positions—such as the Scoutmaster and assistants—whose titles vary among countries. In some countries, units are supported by lay members, who range from acting as meeting helpers to being members of the unit's committee. In some Scout associations, the committee members may also wear uniforms and be registered Scout leaders.[59]

Above the unit are further uniformed positions, called Commissioners, at levels such as district, county, council or province, depending on the structure of the national organization. Commissioners work with lay teams and professionals. Training teams and related functions are often formed at these levels. In the UK and in other countries, the national Scout organization appoints the Chief Scout, the most senior uniformed member.[60][61][62]

Around the world

Scouting 'round the world, 1977 edition

Following its foundation in the United Kingdom (UK), Scouting spread around the globe. The first association outside the UK was opened in Malta, which is independent now but was a British colony at the time. In most countries of the world, there is now at least one Scouting (or Guiding) organization. Each is independent, but international cooperation continues to be seen as part of the Scout Movement. In 1922 the WOSM started as the governing body on policy for the national Scouting organizations (then male only). In addition to being the governing policy body, it organizes the World Scout Jamboree every four years.[63]

In 1928 the WAGGGS started as the equivalent to WOSM for the then female-only national Scouting/Guiding organizations. It is also responsible for its four international centres: Our Cabaña in Mexico, Our Chalet in Switzerland, Pax Lodge in the United Kingdom, and Sangam in India.[64]

Today at the international level, the two largest umbrella organizations are:


Scouts and Guides from several different countries meet at World Scout Moot in Sweden, 1996

There have been different approaches to co-educational Scouting. Countries such as the United States have maintained separate Scouting organizations for boys and girls.[65] In other countries, especially within Europe, Scouting and Guiding have merged, and there is a single organization for boys and girls, which is a member of both the WOSM and the WAGGGS.[66][67] In others, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, the national Scout association has opted to admit both boys and girls, but is only a member of the WOSM, while the national Guide association has remained as a separate movement and member of the WAGGGS. In some countries like Greece, Slovenia and Spain there are separate associations of Scouts (members of WOSM) and guides (members of WAGGGS), both admitting boys and girls.[68]

The Scout Association in the United Kingdom has been co-educational at all levels since 1991, but this has been optional for groups, and currently 52% of groups have at least one female youth member. Since 2000 new sections have been required to accept girls. The Scout Association has decided that all Scout groups and sections will become co-educational by January 2007, the year of Scouting's centenary.[69]

In the United States, the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs of the BSA are for boys only; however, for youths age 14 and older, Venturing is co-educational. The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is an independent organization for girls and young women only. Adult leadership positions in the BSA and GSUSA are open to both men and women. [70][71]

In 2006, of the 155 WOSM member National Scout Organizations (representing 155 countries), 122 belonged only to WOSM, and 34 belonged to both WOSM and WAGGGS. Of the 122 which belonged only to WOSM, 95 were open to boys and girls in some or all program sections, and 20 were only for boys. All 34 that belonged to both WOSM and WAGGGS were open to boys and girls.[72]

WAGGGS had 144 Member Organizations in 2007 and 110 of them belonged only to WAGGGS. Of these 110, 17 were coeducational and 93 admitted only girls.[73][74][75]


As of 2008, there are over 28 million registered Scouts and 10 million registered Guides around the world, from 216 countries and territories.[76][77]

Top 20 countries with Scouting and Guiding, sorted by membership.[n.b. 1][23][78][79]
Country Membership[76][77] Scouting
Indonesia 8,100,000  1912 1912
United States 7,500,000  1910 1912
India 4,000,000  1909 1911
Philippines 2,300,000  1910 1918
Thailand 1,250,000  1911 1957
United Kingdom 1,000,000  1907 1909
Bangladesh 1,000,000  1920 1928
Pakistan 590,000  1909 1911
Kenya 420,000  1910 1920
Korea 280,000  1922 1946
Germany[n.b. 2] 250,000  1910 1912
Canada 240,000  1908 1910
Japan 220,000  1913 1919
Italy[n.b. 3] 210,000  1910 1912
Uganda 210,000  1915 1914
France[n.b. 4] 200,000  1910 1911
Nigeria 160,000  1915 1919
Poland[n.b. 5] 160,000  1910 1910
Belgium[n.b. 6] 160,000  1911 1915
Hong Kong 150,000  1914 1916
  1. ^ Full tables on List of World Organization of the Scout Movement members and List of World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts members.
  2. ^ Including 90,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Germany
  3. ^ Including 30,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Italy
  4. ^ Including 60,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in France
  5. ^ Including 20,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Poland
  6. ^ Including 5,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Belgium

Nonaligned and Scout-like organizations

Girl Guides from the Polish ZHR, an associate member of the CES

Fifteen years passed between the first publication of Scouting for Boys and the creation of the current largest supranational Scout organization, WOSM, and millions of copies had been sold in dozens of languages. By that point, Scouting was the purview of the world's youth, and several Scout associations had already formed in many countries.[80][81]

Alternative groups have formed since the original formation of the Scouting "Boy Patrols". They can be a result of groups or individuals who maintain that the WOSM and WAGGGS are currently far more political and less youth-based than ever envisioned by Lord Baden-Powell. They believe that Scouting in general has moved away from its original intent because of political machinations that happen to longstanding organizations, and want to return to the earliest, simplest methods.[82][83] Others do not want to follow all the original ideals of Scouting but still desire to participate in Scout-like activities.[84]

In 2008, there were at least 539 independent Scouting organizations around the world,[74] 367 of them were a member of either WAGGGS or WOSM. About half of the remaining 172 Scouting organizations are only local or national orientated. About 90 national or regional Scouting associations have felt the need to create alternative international Scouting organizations to set standards for Scouting and to coordinate activities among member associations. Those are served by four international Scouting organizations:[74]

Some Scout-like organizations are also served by international organizations for example:

Controversy and conflict

Since the inception of Scouting in the early 1900s, the movement has sometimes been entangled in social controversies such as the civil rights struggle in the American South and in nationalist resistance movements in India. Scouting was introduced to Africa by British officials as a way to strengthen their rule, but turned to challenge the legitimacy of the British Empire, as African Scouts used the Scout Law's principle that a Scout is a brother to all other Scouts to collectively claim full imperial citizenship.[85][86] More recently, Boy Scouts of America has been criticized for not allowing the participation of atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals.[87][88]

In film and the arts

The young, fictional Indiana Jones is portrayed as a Life Scout in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Scouting has been a facet of culture during most of the 20th century in many countries; numerous films and artwork focus on the subject.[89] It is especially prevalent in the United States, where Scouting is tied closely to the ideal of Americana. Movie critic Roger Ebert mentioned the scene in which the young Boy Scout, Indiana Jones, discovers the Cross of Coronado in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as "when he discovers his life mission".[90]

The works of painters Norman Rockwell, Pierre Joubert and Joseph Csatari and the 1966 film Follow Me, Boys! are prime examples of this idealized American ethos. Scouting is often dealt with in a humorous manner, as in the 1989 film Troop Beverly Hills and the 2005 film Down and Derby, and is often fictionalized so that the audience knows the topic is Scouting without any mention of Scouting by name. In 1980, Scottish singer and songwriter Gerry Rafferty recorded I was a Boy Scout as part of his Snakes and Ladders album.[91]

The Boy Scouts of America are quite particular about how and when the Scout uniforms and insignia may be used in film and other portrayals however, and for that reason, most films and television productions made in the U.S. utilize "ersatz" Scouting organizations. Examples of this include the "Order of the Straight Arrow", portrayed in the King of the Hill cartoon series, and the "Indian Guides" depicted in the 1995 Chevy Chase film, Man of the House. A notable exception to this policy, is the final scene of The Sopranos television show, where Tony Soprano (apparently about to be murdered) sits down to dinner in a restaurant. At another table, several Webelos Cub Scouts, in full uniform, are seated.


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  2. ^ "The Siege of Mafeking". British Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  3. ^ "The Mafeking Cadets". Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  4. ^ "The Mafeking Cadets". The African Seeds of Scouting. Scout Web South Africa. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  5. ^ Webster, Linden Bradfield. "Linden Bradfield Webster's Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking". . The South African Military Society (Military History Journal) 1 (7). 
  6. ^ "Scouting Milestones — The Evolution of The World Scout Badge". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  7. ^ "Scouting Milestones — Aids to Scouting — Scouting for men". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
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  9. ^ Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. Yale University Press. pp. 360–362, 371. 
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  11. ^ a b "Robert Baden-Powell as an Educational Innovator". InFed. 2002. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  12. ^ Woolgar, Brian; La Riviere, Sheila (2002). Why Brownsea? The Beginnings of Scouting. Brownsea Island Scout and Guide Management Committee. 
  13. ^ Johnny Walker. "Scouting Milestones — Brownsea Island". Retrieved 2006-07-07. 
  14. ^ "The birth of an idea". The History of Scouting. The Scout Association. 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  15. ^ Baden-Powell, Robert (1998). "Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys, 1908". Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  16. ^ Peterson, Robert (Oct 2003). "Another youth organization, the Boys' Brigade, was flourishing when the first official troops of the Boy Scouts of America appeared in 1910". Scouting Magazine. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2006-05-22. 
  17. ^ Masini, Roy (2007). "A Short History of Sea Scouting in the United Kingdom". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  18. ^ Walker, Colin "Johnny" (June 2007). "The Early History of Air Scouting". Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  19. ^ Snowden, Jeff (1984). "A Brief Background of Scouting in the United States 1910 to Today". Troop 97. Retrieved 2006-07-22. 
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  22. ^ "Rover Scouts — Scouting For Men". Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2006-07-22. 
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  24. ^ Block, Nelson R. (1994). "The Founding of Wood Badge". Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  25. ^ Rogers, Peter (1998) (in English). Gilwell Park: A Brief History and Guided Tour. London, England: The Scout Association. pp. 5–46. 
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  27. ^ Foster, Rev. Michael (1997). "Milititarism and the Scout Movement". Scout History. Scout History Association. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  28. ^ Kipling, Rudyard. "The Jungle Book". Mowgli’s Brothers. Authorama. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  29. ^ Walker, "Johnny" (2006). "Scouting for Boys - the Influences, the Means, the Process and its Success". Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  30. ^ "What was Baden-Powell's position on God and Religion in Scouting?". Faqs. 1998. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  31. ^ Baden-Powell, Robert (1912). "Baden-Powell on Religion". Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  32. ^ "Duty to God". BSA Legal Issues. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  33. ^ "POR: Chapter 2: Key Policies: The Equal Opportunities Policy". The Scout Association. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  34. ^ "Standard Operating Procedures, Section 5000 - Scouts Canada's Programs" (PDF). Scouts Canada. 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  35. ^ a b c d "Constitution of WOSM" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. April 2000. pp. 2–15. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  36. ^ a b "Scouting: An Educational System" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1998. p. 9. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  37. ^ "Scouting: An Educational System" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1998. p. 19. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  38. ^ "Constitution Booklet" (PDF). World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 2005. p. Article 6b. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
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  41. ^ "Boy Scout Aims and Methods". Retrieved 2006-10-27. 
  42. ^ "2007 One World One Promise". World Centenary Activities. World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  43. ^ "Pipsico Scout Reservation". Tidewater Council. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
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  45. ^ "The Vision for Scouting". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved 2006-07-08. 
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  47. ^ a b Wade, E.K. (1957). "27 Years With Baden-Powell". Why the Uniform?, ch 12. Pinetree.web. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
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  49. ^ "The World Trefoil". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  50. ^ a b "The Fleur-de-lis and the Swastika". Scouting milestones. Retrieved 2006-01-10. 
  51. ^ "Educational Objectives of the Scout Movement" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1994. Retrieved 2009-01-17. p. 12
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  58. ^ "Troop Organization". US April 2000. Retrieved 2006-07-26. , p. 2–15
  59. ^ BSA Troop Committee Guidebook. Irving, TX: Boy Scouts of America. 1990. ISBN 0-8395-6505-4. 
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  61. ^ "The Chief Scout's Committee". POR: Chapter 6: The Structure of the Headquarters of The Scout Association. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  62. ^ "Awards, Decorations and Recognition of Service". Badges. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
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  65. ^ "BSA and Girls in Scouting". BSA 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  66. ^ "Scouts Canada Policy on Girls". BSA 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  67. ^ "Scouting in Germany". 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  68. ^ Trefoil Round the World (11 ed.). London, England: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau. 2002. ISBN 0-900827-75-0. 
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Further reading

  • László Nagy, 250 Million Scouts, The World Scout Foundation and Dartnell Publishers, 1985
  • World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau, Trefoil Round the World. 11th ed. 1997. ISBN 0-900827-75-0
  • World Organization of the Scout Movement, Scouting 'round the World. Facts and Figures on the World Scout Movement. 1990 edition. ISBN 2-88052-001-0

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Guide to Scouting

The Wikibook Guide to Scouting aims to be a complete resource detailing what is needed to maintain an active presence in all the activities that Scouting organizations offer around the world.


National Scouting Sections

United States of America

Simple English

Scouting (sometimes called the Scout Movement) is a youth movement. It was started in 1907 as a movement for boys by Robert Baden-Powell.

Baden-Powell took many ideas from the experiences he made with the Mafeking Cadet Corps. This corps was a paramilitary group made of boys. It was formed during a siege in the Second Boer War. The boys mainly carried messages; that way the soldiers coud focus on defending the city.

Today, the scout movement is for boys and girls, aged about eight to about twenty. Originally, the movement was for boys only. A movement for girls, called "Girl Guides" was started in 1910. Today, both the movement for boys, and that for girls are part of the scout movement.

In the scout movement, people learn to work together to achieve a goal. They also train their character, to become better adults.

Usually when they start in the scouts they give a promise to live by certain rules, and to help others when they can.

Scouts spend their time outdoors, whenever possible.


How many scouts there are

In 2005, there were more than 28 million boy scouts and over 10 million girl guides, from 216 different countries. Only in six countries was there no scout movement in 2006. They were Andorra, People's Republic of China, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar and North Korea.[1]

In Cuba, there was a scout organisation, but the Communist government replaced it by the José Martí Pioneer Organization, which is similar to scouts, but without the international brotherhood and the peace mission. Scouting organisations have been banned in China. They have been replaced by Young Pioneers of China and Communist Youth League of China. There was Scout Association in Hong Kong , Macau and Republic of China (Taiwan). These organisations are similar to scouts, but without the international brotherhood and the peace mission. There are no scouting organisations in Myanmar, but there are a few boy scouts and girl scouts (headed by the US scout movement) in Yangoon.

How it started

commemorates the first scout camp.]]

Baden-Powell was a military officer. He was stationed in India and Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Since his youth, he was fond of woodcraft and military scouting. He therefore showed his men how to survive in the wilderness. He noticed that if he taught the soldiers to develop independence, they would no longer follow the orders given by their officers blindly.[2]

In 1896, during the Second Matabele War, Baden-Powell first met and became friends with the American-born British Army Chief of Scouts Frederick Russell Burnham. From Burnham he learned the ways of cowboy and indian scouts of the Western United States, he started to wear a scout hat like the one worn by Burnham, and he discussed with Burnham a scout training program for boys.[3][4][5] Three years later during the Second Boer War, Baden-Powell was besieged in the small town of Mafeking by a much larger Boer army (the Siege of Mafeking).[6] The Mafeking Cadet Corps was a group of youths that supported the troops. The cadets carried messages. This freed the men for military duties. It also kept the boys occupied during the long siege. The Cadet Corps performed well, helping in the defence of the town (1899–1900). This experience was one of the many factors that inspired Baden-Powell to form the Scouting movement.[7][8][9] Each member received a badge that showed a combined compass point and spearhead. The badge's logo was similar to the fleur-de-lis that Scouting later adopted as its international symbol.

In the United Kingdom the public followed his struggle to hold Mafeking through newspapers. After the siege, Baden-Powell had become a national hero. This pushed the sales of a small instruction book he had written about military scouting, Aids to Scouting.

On his return to England he noticed the large interest of boys in this book, which was also used by teachers and youth organizations.[10] Several people suggested to him to rewrite this book for boys, especially during an inspection of the Boys' Brigade. This brigade was a large youth movement, drilled with military precision. Baden-Powell thought this would not be attractive and suggested that it could grow much larger when scouting would be used.[11] He studied other schemes, parts of which he used for Scouting.

The original scout law

(Simpler English version, where needed)

  1. A scout's honour is to be trusted - This means the scout will try as best as he can to do what he promised, or what is asked of him
  2. A scout is loyal - to his king or queen, his leaders and his country.
  3. A scout's duty is to be useful, and to help others
  4. A scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other scout - Scouts help each other, regardless of the differences in status or social class.
  5. A scout is courteous - He is polite and helpful to all, especially women, children, and the elderly. He does not take anything for being helpful.
  6. A scout is a friend to animals - He does not make them suffer, or kill them without need to do so.
  7. A scout obeys orders - Even the ones he does not like.
  8. A scout smiles and whistles
  9. A scout is thrifty - he avoids unnecessary spending of money.
  10. A scout is clean in thought, word and deed (added later)

(When these laws were made in 1907, there were no girl scouts; of course the laws apply to girl scouts all the same)

The promise of 1907

In his original book on boy scouting, General Baden Powell introduced the scout promise, as follows:[12]

Before he becomes a scout, a boy must take the scout's oath, thus:

On my honour I promise that---

  1. I will do my duty to God and the Queen.
  2. I will do my best to help others, whatever it costs me.
  3. I know the scout law, and will obey it.

While taking this oath the scout will stand, holding his right hand raised level with his shoulder, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger and the other three fingers upright, pointing upwards:--- This is the scout's salute and secret sign.

(This was later adapted to different countries, and organisations)

Other scout-like organisations

Since the scouts were formed, other people have tried to form scout-like movements. These movements are much like the scouts, but they put more weight on different things. There are for example socut-like movements that focus more on the fact that the young people should get a good education in religious matters. The movements that have been formed in countries such as Cuba or China are much like scouts; they leave out some elements tohugh, that the national governments thought would harm the country.

Related pages


  1. "Scouting around the World – Scouting elsewhere". Retrieved January 13,2007. 
  2. Baden_Powell, Robert (1933). "Chapter X". Lessons from the varsity of life. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  3. Baden-Powell, Robert (1908). Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship. London: H. Cox. xxiv. ISBN 0-486457-19-2. 
  4. Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-170670-X. 
  5. DeGroot, E.B. (July 1944). "Veteran Scout". Boys' Life (Boy Scouts of America): 6–7. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  6. "The Siege of Mafeking". British Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  7. "The Mafeking Cadets". Scouting Milestones. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  8. "The Mafeking Cadets". The African Seeds of Scouting. Scout Web South Africa. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  9. Webster, Linden Bradfield. [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Linden Bradfield Webster's Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking"]. . The South African Military Society (Military History Journal) 1 (7). 
  10. "Robert Baden-Powell: Defender of Mafeking and Founder of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides". Past Exhibition Archive. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2006-12-03. 
  11. Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. Yale University Press. pp. 360–362, 371. 
  12. Baden-Powell, C.B., F.R.G.S., Lieut.-General R. S. S. (1908). Scouting for Boys (Part I ed.). Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, London E.C.: Horace Cox. pp. page 40. 

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