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Country Worldwide
United Kingdom (origin)
Founded 1907
Founder Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell

Scouting (or the Scout Movement) is a movement that aims to support young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society, with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills. During the first half of the 20th century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys (youth organizations.

In 1906 and 1907 Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army, wrote a book for boys about reconnaissance and scouting. Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys (London, 1908), based on his earlier books about military scouting, with influence and support of Frederick Russell Burnham (Chief of Scouts in British Africa), Ernest Thompson Seton of the Woodcraft Indians, William Alexander Smith of the Boys' Brigade, and his publisher Pearson. In the summer of 1907 Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in England to test ideas for his book. This camp and the publication of Scouting for Boys are generally regarded as the start of the Scout movement.

Leaders welcome a boy into Scouting, March 2010, Mexico City, Mexico.

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 headwear. Distinctive uniform insignia include the fleur-de-lis and the trefoil, as well as badges and other patches.

The two largest umbrella organizations are the centenary of Scouting world wide, and member organizations planned events to celebrate the occasion.


  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • Growth 1.2
    • Influences 1.3
  • Movement characteristics 2
    • Scout method 2.1
    • Activities 2.2
    • Uniforms and distinctive insignia 2.3
  • Age groups and sections 3
  • Adults and leadership 4
  • Around the world 5
    • Co-educational 5.1
    • Membership 5.2
    • Nonaligned and Scout-like organizations 5.3
  • Influence on society 6
  • Recent controversies 7
  • In film and the arts 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12



Stone on Brownsea Island commemorating the first Scout camp

Scouting virtually started itself; but the trigger that set it going was the 1908 publication of Scouting for Boys written by Robert Baden-Powell.[1][2] At Charterhouse, one of England's most famous public schools, Baden-Powell had an interest in the outdoors.[3] Later, as a military officer, Baden-Powell was stationed in British India in the 1880s where he took an interest in military scouting and in 1884 he published Reconnaissance and Scouting.[4]

In 1896, Baden-Powell was assigned to the Matabeleland region in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as Chief of Staff to Gen. Frederick Carrington during the Second Matabele War, and it was here (in June, 1896) that he first met and began a lifelong friendship with Frederick Russell Burnham, the American-born Chief of Scouts for the British Army in Africa.[5][6] This was a formative experience for Baden-Powell not only because he had the time of his life commanding reconnaissance missions into enemy territory, but because many of his later Boy Scout ideas took hold here.[7] During their joint scouting patrols into the Matobo Hills, Burnham augmented Baden-Powell's woodcraft skills, inspiring him and sowing seeds for both the program and for the code of honor later published in Scouting for Boys.[8][9] Practised by frontiersmen of the American Old West and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, woodcraft was generally little known to the British Army but well-known to the American scout Burnham.[5] These skills eventually formed the basis of what is now called scoutcraft, the fundamentals of Scouting. Both men recognised that wars in Africa were changing markedly and the British Army needed to adapt; so during their joint scouting missions, Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training programme in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldcraft, and self-reliance.[10] It was also during this time in the Matobo Hills that Baden-Powell first started to wear his signature campaign hat [11]like the one worn by Burnham, and it was here that Baden-Powell acquired his Kudu horn, the Ndebele war instrument he later used every morning at Brownsea Island to wake the first Boy Scouts and to call them together in training courses.[12][13][14]

Three years later, 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).[15] 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.[16][17][18] Each member received a badge that illustrated a combined compass point and spearhead. The badge's logo was similar to the fleur-de-lis shaped arrowhead that Scouting later adopted as its international symbol.[19] The Siege of Mafeking was the first time since his own childhood that Baden-Powell, a regular serving soldier, had come into the same orbit as "civilians" - women and children - and discovered for himself the usefulness of well-trained boys.

In the United Kingdom, the public, through newspapers, followed Baden-Powell's struggle to hold Mafeking, and when the siege was broken, he had become a national hero. This rise to fame fuelled the sales of the small instruction book he had written in 1899 about military scouting and wilderness survival, Aids to Scouting,[20] that owed much to what he had learned from discussions with Burnham.[21]

On his return to England, Baden-Powell noticed that boys showed considerable interest in Aids to Scouting, which was unexpectedly used by teachers and youth organizations as their first Scouting handbook.[21] He was urged 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.[22] 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,

  • Milestones in World Scouting
  • "Scouting Milestones - Scouting history site". Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. 
  • World Scouting infopage by Troop 97
  • The World Scout Emblem by Pinetree Web
  • Scoutwiki - international wiki for Scouting
  • The Scouting Pages - All sorts of Scouting Facts
  • Scouting at DMOZ

External links

  • László Nagy, 250 Million Scouts, The World Scout Foundation and Dartnell Publishers, 1985
  • 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
  • Block, Nelson R.; Proctor, Tammy M. (2009). Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement's First Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  
  • World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau, Trefoil Round the World. 11th ed. 1997. ISBN 0-900827-75-0

Further reading

  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Scouting Founded". Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  3. ^  
  4. ^  
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  6. ^ Lott, Jack (1981). "Chapter 8. The Making of a Hero: Burnham in the Tonto Basin". In Boddington, Craig. America – The Men and Their Guns That Made Her Great. Petersen Publishing Co. p. 90.  
  7. ^ Proctor, Tammy M. (July 2000). "A Separate Path: Scouting and Guiding in Interwar South Africa". Comparative Studies in Society and History (Cambridge University Press) 42 (3).  
  8. ^ DeGroot, E.B. (July 1944). "Veteran Scout".  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ van Wyk, Peter (2003). Burnham: King of Scouts. Trafford Publishing.  
  11. ^ By a happy co-incidence, these hats were already called "Boss of the Plains" hats – or "B-P hats" for short
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Orans, Lewis P. "The Kudu Horn and Scouting". PineTree Web. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  14. ^ Forster, Reverend Dr. Michael. "The Origins of the Scouting Movement" (DOC). Netpages. Retrieved October 2, 2007. 
  15. ^ "The Siege of Mafeking". British Retrieved July 11, 2006. 
  16. ^ "The Mafeking Cadets". Scouting Milestones. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2007. 
  17. ^ "The Mafeking Cadets". The African Seeds of Scouting. Scout Web South Africa. Retrieved February 4, 2007. 
  18. ^ Webster, Linden Bradfield. "Linden Bradfield Webster's Reminiscences of the Siege of Mafeking". Military History Journal 1 (7). 
  19. ^ "Scouting Milestones — The Evolution of The World Scout Badge". Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  20. ^  
  21. ^ a b "First Scouting Handbook". Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ "Woodcraft Indians". Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Ernest Thompson Seton and Woodcraft". InFed. 2002. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  25. ^ a b "Robert Baden-Powell as an Educational Innovator". InFed. 2002. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  26. ^ Woolgar, Brian; La Riviere, Sheila (2002). Why Brownsea? The Beginnings of Scouting. Brownsea Island Scout and Guide Management Committee. 
  27. ^ Johnny Walker. "Scouting Milestones — Brownsea Island". Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2006. 
  28. ^ Baden_Powell, Robert (1933). Lessons from the varsity of life. p. 14. Retrieved February 4, 2007. 
  29. ^ a b "The History of Scouting". ScoutBase. Retrieved August 18, 2007. 
  30. ^ "The birth of an idea". The History of Scouting. The Scout Association. 2005. Retrieved December 12, 2006. 
  31. ^ Baden-Powell, Robert (1998). "Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys, 1908". Retrieved December 9, 2006. 
  32. ^ 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 May 22, 2006. 
  33. ^ Masini, Roy (2007). "A Short History of Sea Scouting in the United Kingdom". Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  34. ^ Walker, Colin "Johnny" (June 2007). "The Early History of Air Scouting". Scouting Milestones. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  35. ^ Snowden, Jeff (1984). "A Brief Background of Scouting in the United States 1910 to Today". Troop 97. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  36. ^ a b "The History of Scouting". ScoutBaseUK. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  37. ^ "The Evolution of Cubbing, A 90 Year Chronology". Cubbing through the Decades. Archived from the original on September 30, 2006. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  38. ^ "Rover Scouts — Scouting For Men". Scouting Milestones. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  39. ^ a b Scouting 'round the World. Facts and Figures on the World Scout Movement (11th ed.). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1990.  
  40. ^ Block, Nelson R. (1994). "The Founding of Wood Badge". Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 
  41. ^ Rogers, Peter (1998). Gilwell Park: A Brief History and Guided Tour. London, England:  
  42. ^ "Scout-like Organizations". Troop 97. 2006. Retrieved December 5, 2006. 
  43. ^ Foster, Rev. Michael (1997). "Milititarism and the Scout Movement". Scout History. Scout History Association. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  44. ^ Kipling, Rudyard. "The Jungle Book". Mowgli’s Brothers. Authorama. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  45. ^ Walker, "Johnny" (2006). - the Influences, the Means, the Process and its Success"Scouting for Boys". Scouting Milestones. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2006. 
  46. ^ "What was Baden-Powell's position on God and Religion in Scouting?". Faqs. 1998. Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  47. ^ Baden-Powell, Robert (1912). "Baden-Powell on Religion". Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  48. ^ "Duty to God". BSA Legal Issues. Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  49. ^ "Rule 1.1: Variations to the wording of the Promises". The Scout Association. Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  50. ^ Bill Ray. "Be prepared... to give heathens a badge: UK Scouts open doors to unbelievers". The Register. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Standard Operating Procedures, Section 5000 - Scouts Canada's Programs" (PDF). Scouts Canada. 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2007. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ a b c d "Constitution of WOSM" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. April 2000. pp. 2–15. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  54. ^ a b "Scouting: An Educational System" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1998. p. 9. Retrieved July 10, 2006. 
  55. ^ "Scouting: An Educational System" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1998. p. 19. Retrieved January 13, 2007. 
  56. ^ "Constitution Booklet" (PDF). World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 2005. p. Article 6b. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  57. ^ "What Is Boy Scouting?". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  58. ^ "Mission Statement and Vision Statement". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved October 10, 2006. 
  59. ^ "Boy Scout Aims and Methods". Retrieved October 27, 2006. 
  60. ^ "2007 One World One Promise". World Centenary Activities. World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2006. Archived from the original on December 21, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  61. ^ "Pipsico Scout Reservation". Tidewater Council. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  62. ^ "Blue Ridge Mountains Scout Reservation". Blue Ridge Mountains Council. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  63. ^ "The Vision for Scouting". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  64. ^ "Introduction to Partnerships in Scouting". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  65. ^ a b Wade, E.K. (1957). "27 Years With Baden-Powell". Why the Uniform?, ch 12. Pinetree.web. Retrieved July 24, 2006. 
  66. ^ "World Scout Emblem". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  67. ^ "The World Trefoil". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Archived from the original on December 31, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  68. ^ a b "The Fleur-de-lis and the Swastika". Scouting milestones. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2006. 
  69. ^ "Educational Objectives of the Scout Movement" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 1994. Retrieved January 17, 2009. p. 12
  70. ^ "Boy Scouts of America, National Council". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  71. ^ "The Scout Association, Official UK Website". The Scout Association. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  72. ^ "Girlguiding UK Home and welcome". Girl Guiding UK. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  73. ^ "Girlguiding in the UK — The Senior Sections". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2001. Retrieved December 3, 2006. 
  74. ^ "Soorten Scoutinggroepen". Scouting Nederland. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  75. ^ "The Green Island" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2009. p. 210
  76. ^ "Troop Organization". US April 2000. Retrieved July 26, 2006. , p. 2–15
  77. ^ BSA Troop Committee Guidebook. Irving, TX: Boy Scouts of America. 1990.  
  78. ^ "The Council of the Scout Association". POR: Chapter 6: The Structure of the Headquarters of The Scout Association. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  79. ^ "The Chief Scout's Committee". POR: Chapter 6: The Structure of the Headquarters of The Scout Association. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  80. ^ "Awards, Decorations and Recognition of Service". Badges. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  81. ^ "Short history about Chilean Scouting". Scout+Chile. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  82. ^ "World Scout Jamborees History". World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2006. Retrieved December 5, 2006. 
  83. ^ "World Centres". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  84. ^ "BSA and Girls in Scouting". BSA 2005. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  85. ^ "Scouts Canada Policy on Girls". BSA 2005. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  86. ^ "Scouting in Germany". 2005. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  87. ^ Trefoil Round the World (11 ed.). London, England: World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau. 2002.  
  88. ^ "CESAN" (PDF). City of Edinburgh Scout Association Newsletter. City of Edinburgh Scout Association. Oct 2005. Archived from the original on June 21, 2007. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  89. ^ "Scouting for All Ages". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  90. ^ "For Adults — Volunteering". Girl Scouts of the USA. 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  91. ^ "National Scout Organisations". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Sep 2006. Retrieved February 4, 2007. 
  92. ^ "Scouting in Sweden". Scouting Around the World. rec.scouting. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  93. ^ a b c "International Scouting Organizations". Troop 97. Nov 2006. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  94. ^ "Argentina". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  95. ^ a b "Triennal review: Census as at 1 December 2010". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  96. ^ a b "Our World". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  97. ^ Scouting 'round the World. Le scoutisme à travers le monde (11th ed.). World Scout Bureau. 1979.  
  98. ^ Trefoil Round the World (11th ed.). World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau. 1997.  
  99. ^ "CHUMS". The Scout History Society. 2006. Retrieved December 20, 2008. 
  100. ^ "The Italian Boy Scouts (The Ragazzi Esploratori Italiani).". The Scout History Society. 2006. Retrieved December 20, 2008. 
  101. ^ "Traditional Scouting". American Traditional Scouting. 2006. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  102. ^ "The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association". The Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. 2006. Retrieved December 4, 2006. 
  103. ^ Vercamer, Arvo L. (October 3, 2003). "Hitlerjugend: An In-Depth History: HJ Organizational structure". Youth Organizations. Axis History. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  104. ^ Foster, Rev. Michael (2001). "The Growing Crisis in the Scout Movement". Scout History. Scout History Association. Retrieved December 9, 2006. 
  105. ^ Parsons, Timothy. "Race, Resistance, and the Boy Scout Movement in British Colonial Africa". Ohio University Press and Swallow Press. Retrieved December 25, 2006. 
  106. ^ "BSA and Religious Belief". BSA Discrimination. Archived from the original on January 20, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2006. 
  107. ^ "BSA and Homosexuality". BSA Discrimination. Retrieved February 6, 2006. 
  108. ^ Sanderson, Terry (February 4, 2008). "Scouting Without God". The Guardian (London). Retrieved December 23, 2009. 
  109. ^ Burns, Judith (October 8, 2013). "Scouts announce alternative promise for atheists". BBC News. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
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  111. ^ Dubill, Andy (2005). "Scouts On The Silver Screen". International Scouting Collectors Association Journal 5 (2): 28–31. 
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  113. ^ "Gerry Rafferty — I was a Boy Scout". Song lyrics. 1980. Retrieved December 8, 2006. 


See also

The works of painters Norman Rockwell, Pierre Joubert and Joseph Csatari and the 1966 film Follow Me, Boys! are prime examples of this idealized ethos. Scouting is often dealt with in a humorous manner, as in the 1989 film Troop Beverly Hills, the 2005 film Down and Derby, and the film Scout Camp 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.[113]

Scouting has been a facet of culture during most of the 20th century in many countries; numerous films and artwork focus on the subject.[111] 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."[112]

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

In film and the arts

Authoritarian regimes have often either absorbed the Scout movement into government-controlled organizations, or banned Scouting entirely. Tim Jeal argues that this is because Scouting has a strong anti-authoritarian stance and reinforcement of individualism.[110]

More recently, the Boy Scouts of America has been a focus of criticism in the United States for not allowing the participation of atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals.[106][107] In the United Kingdom, The Scout Association has been criticised for its insistence on the use of a religious promise,[108] leading to the introduction of an alternative in January 2014 for those not wanting to mention a god in their promise.[109]

Recent controversies

After the inception of Scouting in the early 1900s, the movement has sometimes been taken part in social movements such as the civil rights struggle in the American South and in nationalist resistance movements in India. Although scouting was introduced to Africa by British officials as a way to strengthen their rule, the values they based scouting on helped to challenge the legitimacy of British imperialism. Likewise, African Scouts used the Scout Law's principle that a Scout is a brother to all other Scouts to collectively claim full imperial citizenship.[104][105]

Influence on society

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

In 2008, there were at least 539 independent Scouting organizations around the world,[93] 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 created their own international Scouting organizations. Those are served by five international Scouting organizations:[93]

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 more political and less youth-based than 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.[101][102] Others do not want to follow all the original ideals of Scouting but still desire to participate in Scout-like activities.[103]

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.[99][100]

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

Nonaligned and Scout-like organizations

  1. ^ Full tables on 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 5,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Belgium
  6. ^ Including 20,000 non-aligned Scouts and Guides, see Scouting in Poland
Top 20 countries with Scouting and Guiding, sorted by total male and female membership of all organisations.[n.b. 1][39][97][98]
Country Membership[95][96] Population
Indonesia 17,100,000  7.2% 1912 1912
United States 7,500,000  2.4% 1910 1912
India 4,150,000  0.3% 1909 1911
Philippines 2,150,000  2.2% 1910 1918
Thailand 1,300,000  1.9% 1911 1957
Bangladesh 1,050,000  0.7% 1920 1928
United Kingdom 1,000,000  1.6% 1907 1909
Pakistan 575,000  0.3% 1909 1911
Kenya 480,000  1.1% 1910 1920
South Korea 270,000  0.5% 1922 1946
Germany[n.b. 2] 250,000  0.3% 1910 1912
Uganda 230,000  0.6% 1915 1914
Italy[n.b. 3] 220,000  0.4% 1910 1912
Canada 220,000  0.7% 1908 1910
Japan 200,000  0.2% 1913 1919
France[n.b. 4] 200,000  0.3% 1910 1911
Belgium[n.b. 5] 170,000  1.5% 1911 1915
Poland[n.b. 6] 160,000  0.4% 1910 1910
Nigeria 160,000  0.1% 1915 1919
Hong Kong 160,000  2.3% 1914 1916

As of 2010, there are over 32 million registered Scouts[95] and as of 2006 10 million registered Guides[96] around the world, from 216 countries and territories.


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.[92][93][94]

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.[91]

[90][89] 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,

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.[88] The traditional Baden-Powell Scouts' Association has been co-educational since its formation in 1970.

There have been different approaches to co-educational Scouting. Countries such as the United States have maintained separate Scouting organizations for boys and girls.[84] 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.[85][86] 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.[87]

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


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

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.[83]

Following its foundation in the United Kingdom, Scouting spread around the globe. The first association outside the British Empire was founded in Chile in May 21, 1909 after a visit to Baden Powell.[81] 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.[82]

Scouting 'round the world, 1977 edition

Around the world

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.[78][79][80]

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.[77]

Scout units are usually operated by adult volunteers, such as parents and carers, former Scouts, students, and community leaders, including teachers and religious leaders. [76]

Adults interested in Scouting or Guiding, including former Scouts and Guides, often join organizations such as the Scout and Guide Graduate Association.

Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement

Adults and leadership

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.[75]

The national programs for younger children include 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 .[74]

The traditional age groups as they were between 1920 and 1940 in most organizations:
Age range Scouting section Guiding section
8 to 10 Wolf Cubs Brownie Guide
11 to 17 Boy Scout Girl Guide or Girl Scout
18 and up Rover Scout Ranger Guide
[72][71][70]Scouting was originally developed for

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.[69]

A group of Hong Kong Cub Scouts

Age groups and sections

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.[68] Lord Baden-Powell's 1922 design for the Medal of Merit added a swastika to the Scout Arrowhead 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 German National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party. A new British Medal of Merit was issued in 1935.[68]

[67][66] 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

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.[65]

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".[65] 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 under cold weather.

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

Uniforms and distinctive insignia

At an international level Scouting perceives one of its roles as the promotion of international harmony and peace.[63] 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.[64]

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.[61][62]

Camping is most often arranged at the unit level, such as one Scout troop, but there are periodic camps (known 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.[60]

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.[58][59]

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


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'.[57]

Since the birth of Scouting, 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.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55] 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.[56]

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".[53] 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."[53]

Scout method

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.[53][54]

Movement characteristics

"Duty to God" is a principle of Scouting, though it is applied differently in various countries.[46][47] The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) take a strong position, excluding atheists.[48] The Scout Association in the United Kingdom permits variations to its Promise, in order to accommodate different religious obligations,.[49] As of the beginning of 2014, United Kingdom Scouts will no longer be required to pledge loyalty to God.[50] 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.[51] Worldwide around one in three Scouts are Muslim.[52]

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.[45]

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.[44]

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

Aspects of Scouting practice have been criticized as too militaristic.[43] 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.

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.[42]

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


Baden-Powell could not single-handedly advise all groups who requested his assistance. Early Scoutmaster training camps were held in London and Yorkshire in 1910 and 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.[40] 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.[41] 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.

[39] Girls wanted to become part of the movement almost as soon as it began. Baden-Powell and his sister

First procession of Armenian scouts in Constantinople in 1918

[38][37][36] 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

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.[35][36]


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.[32] However, because of the popularity of his person and the adventurous outdoor games 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 Scouts, Air Scouts, and other specialized units were added to the program.[33][34]

Scouting for Boys was published in England later in 1908 in book form. The book is now the fourth-bestselling title of all time,[30] and is now commonly considered the first version of the American Boy Scout Handbook.[31]

At the beginning of 1908, Baden-Powell published in six fortnightly installments a "magazine" called Scouting for Boys, setting out activities and programmes which existing youth organisations could use.[29] The reaction was phenomenal, and quite unexpected. In a very short time, Scout Patrols were created up and down the country, all following the principles of Baden-Powell's book. In 1909, the first Scout Rally was held at Crystal Palace in London, to which 11,000 Scouts came - and some girls dressed as Scouts. By the time of the first census in 1910, there were over 100,000 members of the Movement.[29]

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; he omitted the military aspects and transferred the techniques (mainly survival) to non-military heroes: backwoodsmen, explorers (and later on, sailors and airmen).[28] He also added innovative educational principles (the Scout method) by which he extended the attractive game to a personal mental education.[25]


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