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For professional sport scouts, see Scout (sport).

Scouting is a world-wide youth organization. Its aim is to develop young people physically, spiritually and mentally through non-formal education with emphasis on practical activities in the outdoors so that youth may take a constructive place in society. The movement was founded by Lord Baden Powell in 1907 who at that time was a senior member of the Boys' Brigade. Currently it has over 28 million members in 217 countries and territories.



Lord Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement in 1907 in the United Kingdom. He also introduced Girl Guides in 1910 with the aid of his sister Agnes Baden-Powell. The Guides are known as Girl Scouts in the United States.

The stone on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, England, commemorating the first Scout camp.
The stone on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, England, commemorating the first Scout camp.

The seeds of Scouting began during the Siege of Mafeking, South Africa, where Baden Powell served as the commanding officer during the Boer War of 18991902. Baden-Powell defended the town against the Boers (Afrikaners), who outnumbered his troops eight to one. He formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps to help support the troops. The Corps consisted entirely of boy volunteers. Baden-Powell trained the boys and they acquitted themselves well, helping in the successful defence of the town (18991900). Each Cadet Corps member received a badge, a combination of a compass point and a spearhead. This logo eventually became the fleur-de-lis, which Scouting adopted as its international symbol.

As a result of his status as a national hero, acquired as a result his determined defence of the Siege of Mafeking, Baden-Powell's military training manual, Aids to Scouting (written in 1899) became something of a best-seller and was used by teachers and youth organisations.

In 1906, Ernest Thompson Seton sent Baden-Powell a copy of his book entitled The Birchbark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians. Seton, a British-born Canadian living in the United States, subsequently met Baden-Powell and they shared ideas about youth training programs.

Baden-Powell was encouraged to re-write Aids to Scouting to suit a youth readership. By 1907 he had finished a draft called Boy Patrols. The same year, to test out some of his ideas he gathererd together 21 boys of mixed social background and held a week-long camp, beginning August 1, on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England. His organizational method, now known as the Patrol Method, the key to the Scouting method, allowed the boys to organize themselves into small groups with an elected patrol leader. In the fall of 1907, having his draft publication and a successful camp behind him, Baden-Powell went on an extensive speaking tour arranged by his publisher, Pearsons, to promote his forthcoming book. Beginning in January 1908 its initial publication appeared as six installments in a boys fortnightly magazine. The parts were subsequently published in book form as Scouting for Boys, now commonly considered the first edition of the Boy Scout Handbook. At the time Baden-Powell intended that the book would provide ideas for established organisations, in particular the Boys' Brigade in which he held the postion of Vice-President for some time. However, boys spontaneously formed Scout patrols and flooded Baden-Powell with requests for assistance. In this manner the Scouting movement unintentionally arose and developed by the weight of its own momentum. As the movement developed Sea Scout and Air Scout units were added to the program options. Baden-Powell could not single handedly advise all the youth who requesting his assistance. To provide for adult leadership training was required. The Wood Badge was developed to recognize adult leadership training. In 1919 Gilwell Park was purchased as an adult training site and scouting campground. Baden-Powell also wrote a book for the assistance of leaders entitled Aids to Scoutmastership.

Early history

A small number of Scout groups founded in 1908 have the right to wear a green neckerchief in recognition of their membership of those founding groups.

Scouting began to spread throughout Great Britain and Ireland soon after the publication of Scouting For Boys. The Boy Scouts quickly became an organization in and of itself. Scouting moved swiftly throughtout the British Empire. The first recognized overseas unit was chartered 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 of the British Dominions to have a recognized scouting program. The first Scout rally was held at the Crystal Palace, London, in 1910. It attracted 10,000 boys, as well as a number of girls, who turned out for this exhibtion of scouting. By 1910, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, France, Russia, Finland, Germany, Norway, Mexico, Argentina, Greece and the United States had Boy Scouts.

World Membership Badge

Missing image
The Scout World Membership Badge

The world membership badge is part of the official uniform of scouts in all parts of the world. It is a purple, circular shaped badge with a fleur-de-lis in the centre, surrounded by a piece of rope tied with a reef knot. The arrowhead of the fleur-de-lis is designed to represent the North point on a compass, and is intended to point Scouts on the path to service and unity. The three points on the fleur-de-lis represent the duties to a god, self and others. The two five-point stars stand for truth and knowledge, with the ten points representing the ten points of the scout law (see below). The bond at the base of the fleur-de-lis shows the family of scouting. The encircling rope symbolises the unity and family of the World Scout Movement.

Scouting around the world

Main article: Scouting around the world

Following its foundation in the UK, the Scouting movement started to spread around the globe. Today the World Organization of the Scout Movement is the governing body for the mainstream of the Scouting Movement. In addition to being the governing policy body it organizes the International Scout Jamboree every four years.

Today, there are over 28 million registered Scouters around the world, participating from 216 different countries and territories.

Top 15 countries with Scouting, sorted by membership. Full table on Scouting around the world.

Country Membership Joined WOSM Scouting Founded Admits Boys/Girls
Indonesia 8,909,435 1953 1912 Both
United States 6,239,435 1922 1909 Both
India 2,138,015 1938 1909 Both
Philippines 1,956,131 1946 1923 Both
United Kingdom 498,888 1922 1907 Both
Korea, Republic of 252,157 1953 1922 Both
Japan 220,223 1922 1913 Both
Canada 212,259 1946 1909 Both
Kenya 151,722 1964 1910 Both
Germany 123,937 1950 1910 Both
Tanzania, United Republic of 102,739 1963 1929 Both
France 102,405 1922 1910 Both
Italy 100,675 1922 1912 Both

Scout Promise (or Oath), Law, Motto, and Slogan

Scout Promise (UK version)

 On my honour, I promise that I will do my best,
 To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
 To help other people,
 And to keep the Scout Law.

Scout Promise/Oath (US version)

 On my honor I will do my best
 To do my duty to God and my country
 and to obey the Scout Law;
 To help other people at all times;
 To keep myself physically strong,
 mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Outlander Promise

 On my honour, I promise that I will do my best,
 To render service to my country;
 To help other people,
 And to keep the Scout Law.

Baden-Powell wrote this alternative oath called the “Outlander Promise” for Scouts who could not, for reasons of conscience, recognize a duty to a King, for individuals or members of religions that do not worship a deity, and for members of orthodox religions that do not use the name of God in secular settings.

Scout Law

The original Scout Law, together with BP's commentary extracted from Young Knights of the Empire (

  1. A SCOUT'S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a Scout says "On my honour it is so," that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly if a Scout officer says to a Scout, "I trust you on your honour to do this," the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a Scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he may be directed to hand over his Scout badge and never wear it again. He may also be directed to cease to be a Scout.
  2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his parents, his Country, his employers, and to those under his orders. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy or who even talks badly of them.
  3. A SCOUT'S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure or comfort or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, "Which is my duty?" that is, "Which is best for other people?"--and do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save life or to help injured persons. And must try his best to do a good turn to somebody every day.
  4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL and a Brother to every other Scout, no matter to what social class the other belongs. If a Scout meets another Scout, even though a stranger to him, he must speak to him and help him in any way that he can, either to carry out the duty he is then doing, or by giving him food, or, so far as possible, anything that he may be in want of. A Scout must never be a snob. A snob is one who looks down upon another because he's poorer, or who is poor and resents another because he is rich. A Scout accepts the other man as he finds him and makes the best of him -- "Kim," the boy scout, was called by the Indians "Little friend of all the world," and that is the name which every Scout should earn for himself.
  5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS. A Scout should be polite to all--but especially to women and children, old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.
  6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. He should save them, so far as possible, from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly, for it is one of God's creatures. Killing an animal for food, or an animal which is harmful, is allowable.
  7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS of his parents, Patrol-leader, or Scoutmaster without question. Even if he gets an order which he does not like, a Scout must do AS soldiers AND SAILORS DO, or AS he would do if he got it FROM his CAPTAIN in a football match--he must carry it out all the same, because it is his duty; after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.
  8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES UNDER ALL DIFFICULTIES. When he gets an order, he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way.
  9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY. It is expected that a Scout will save every penny he can, and put it in the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.
  10. A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED. Decent Scouts look down upon silly youths who talk dirt, and they do not let themselves give way to temptation, either to talk it or to do anything dirty. A Scout is pure, and clean-minded, and manly.

The Current UK Scout Law:

    A Scout is to be trusted.
    A Scout is loyal.
    A Scout is friendly and considerate.
    A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.
    A Scout has courage in all difficulties.
    A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.
    A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.

The Current UK Cub Scout Law is:

   Cub Scouts always do their best
   Think of others before themselves
   And do a good turn every day.

US Scout Law

  1. A Scout is Trustworthy.
    • A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him.
  2. A Scout is Loyal.
    • A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation.
  3. A Scout is Helpful.
    • A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.
  4. A Scout is Friendly.
    • A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.
  5. A Scout is Courteous.
    • A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
  6. A Scout is Kind.
    • A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.
  7. A Scout is Obedient.
    • A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.
  8. A Scout is Cheerful.
    • A Scout looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
  9. A Scout is Thrifty.
    • A Scout works to pay his own way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
  10. A Scout is Brave.
    • A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.
  11. A Scout is Clean.
    • A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He chooses the company of those who live by high standards. He helps keep his home and community clean.
  12. A Scout is Reverent.
    • A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

Scout Motto

Be Prepared.

Scout Slogan

Do a good turn daily.

Breakaway organisations

The first schism within Scouting occurred during November 1909, when the British Boy Scouts (later the Brotherhood of British Scouts, and known internationally as the Order of World Scouts) was formed, initially comprising an estimated 25 per cent of all Scouts in the United Kingdom, but rapidly declining from 1911 onward. The organisation was formed due to perceptions of bureaucracy and militaristic tendencies in the mainstream movement. With several smaller organisations, such as the Boy's Life Brigade Scouts they formed the National Peace Scouts federation. The British Girl Scouts were the female counterpart of the British Boy Scouts.

In 1916 a group of scoutmasters in Cambridge, led by Ernest Westlake and his son Aubrey, who believed that the movement had moved away from its early ideals and had lost its woodcraft character, founded the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry. The order survives to this day in England.

In the years following the First World War, the Commissioner for Camping and Woodcraft John Hargrave, broke with what he considered to be the Scouts' militaristic approach and founded a breakaway organisation, the Kibbo Kift, taking a number of similar minded scoutmasters and troops with him. This organisation was the direct antecedent of the Woodcraft Folk.

Baden-Powell Scouts were formed in 1970, initially in the United Kingdom but now also elsewhere, when it was felt that the "modernisation" of Scouting was abandoning the traditions and intentions established by Baden-Powell.

In the early 2000s, The Navigators were formed in the US as an inclusive alternative to Scouting. Other than the Boy Scouts of America, the Navigators allow those of all sexes, cultures, and sexual orientations.


Different Scouting organizations in different countries have different ideas of what constitutes the values of Scouting. In addition, most national associations admit both boys and girls. The Boy Scouts of America is at the center of some controversy because it has a prohibition of atheist or homosexual members and leaders. Other Scouting organizations (e.g. Scouts Canada and European associations) place more emphasis on inclusivity. The European region of the World Organization of the Scout Movement formally condemned the policy of the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gays. The controversy surrounding the Boy Scouts of America is mostly not relevant to Scouting organisations in other countries or to the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (which is an entirely separate organization).


At the international level, there are separate organisations for boys (WOSM) and girls (WAGGS). Scouting for Girls was started by Baden Powell's wife after the success of the Boy Scouts. Some countries have separate scouting organisations for boys and girls, while in other countries, there is a common organisation for boys and girls, which is a member of both WOSM and WAGGS. In those countries, there are often mixed groups of boys and girls.

See also

External links

cs:Skauting da:Spejder de:Pfadfinder el:Προσκοπισμός es:Escultismo eo:Skoltismo fr:Scoutisme he:הצופים העבריים it:scoutismo ms:Pengakap nl:Scouting ja:ボーイスカウト pl:Skauting pt:Escotismo sk:Skauting fi:Partio sv:Scouting minnan:Scouting zh:童子軍


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