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.
2007 marked the centenary of Scouting world wide, with member organizations planning events all over the world in order to celebrate the event.
As a military officer, Baden-Powell was stationed in British India and Africa in the 1880s and 1890s. Since his youth, he was fond of woodcraft and military scouting, and therefore – as part of their training – showed his men how to survive in the wilderness. He noticed it taught the soldiers to develop independence, rather than just blindly follow officers' orders.
In South Africa in the Second Boer War, Baden-Powell was besieged in the small town of Mafeking by a much larger Boer army (the Siege of Mafeking). 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. 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.
In the United Kingdom the public followed his struggle to hold Mafeking through newspapers, and when the siege was broken 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. He was suggested by several 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. He studied other schemes, parts of which he used for Scouting.
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. 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 and held a week-long camp in August on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England. 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.
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). He also added innovative educational principles (the Scout method) by which he extended the attractive game to a personal mental education.
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, and is now commonly considered the first version of the Boy Scout Handbook.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
Aspects of Scouting practice have been criticized as too militaristic. 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.
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.
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.
"Duty to God" is a principle of Scouting, though it is applied differently in various countries. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) take a strong position, excluding atheists. 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. 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.
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..." 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."
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At an international level Scouting perceives one of its roles as the promotion of international harmony and peace. 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.
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". 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. Uniforms are now frequently blue, orange, red or green, and shorts are replaced by long trousers in winter, and in areas where the culture calls for modesty.
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.
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. While these are the largest boy and girl Scouting associations, not all Scouts or Scouting associations belong to them.
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. 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 National Socialist German Workers Party. A new British Medal of Merit was issued in 1935.
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.
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, Rover 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1928 the WAGGGS started as the equivalent to WOSM for the then female-only national Scouting/Guiding organizations. It is also responsible for the various international centres such as Our Chalet.
Today at the international level, the two largest umbrella organizations are:
Worldwide there have been different approaches to co-educational Scouting. Countries such as the USA have maintained separate Scouting organizations for boys and girls. In other countries, notably in 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. In others, for example 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 Greece it is the other way around, as the national Guide association has opted to admit both boys and girls, the national Scout association accepts both boys and girls but they function as different organizations. In some countries like Slovenia and Spain there are separate associations of Scouts (members of WOSM) and guides (members of WAGGGS), both admitting boys and girls.
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.
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.
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 which belonged to both WOSM and WAGGGS were open to boys and girls. 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.
As of 2008, there are over 28 million registered Scouts and 10 million registered Guides around the world, from 216 different countries and territories.
Top 20 countries with Scouting and Guiding, sorted by membership. Full tables on List of World Organization of the Scout Movement members and List of World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts members.
|Country||Membership||Scouting introduced||Guiding introduced|
Alternative groups have formed since the original formation of the Scouting "Boy Patrols." They can be a result of groups or individuals who refuse to follow the original ideals of Scouting but still desire to participate in Scout-like activities. Others maintain that the WOSM is 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 seek to return to the earliest, simplest methods.
There are at least 520 separate national or regional Scouting associations in the world. Most have felt the need to create international Scouting organizations to set standards for Scouting and to coordinate activities among member associations. Six international Scouting organizations serve 437 of the world's national associations, and the largest two organizations, WOSM and WAGGGS, count 362 national associations as members, encompassing the vast majority of the world's Scouts.
As Scouting has been a facet of culture throughout most of the 20th century in many countries, numerous films and artwork use the subject. It is especially prevalent in the United States, where Scouting is tied closely to the ideal of Americana. Movie critic Roger Ebert has 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."
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.