The Scouting Movement


Scouts are young people who learn the values of life by spending time and doing things in groups. During the 20th century Boy Scouts and later Girl Scouts became a worldwide movement.  Today there are over 32 million young adults registered in Scout groups around the world.  Indonesia is the country with the most Scouts – over 17 million, the United States counts 7.5 million and India has 4 million active Scouts.


In 1906 Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant in the British army, had the idea of bringing boys together and showing them how to survive in the wilderness and gather information. He wrote a book which became very popular and inspired thousands of young people around the world. This book is regarded as the beginning of the Scout movement. The Boy Scout movement spread quickly to all areas of the British Empire. During the first decades of the 20th century it caught on to European countries and the United States.

Scouting originally focused on young boys aged 11 to 18, but it quickly became obvious that older and younger boys, as well as girls, became interested in the Scout movement. In 1910, a few years after the Boy Scouts were founded, a similar group for girls was formed in England. Today, Boy and Girl Scouts are separated in most places, however there are also countries that allow them to be together.


Scouting is an educational system that teaches young adults practical activities outdoors. Members are expected to behave in a certain way. They must show trust, take on responsibility and develop good character. Scouts take an oath and promise to follow moral values. They are also trained in leadership. Scouts play games and undergo activities to learn this.

In many countries, Scouts are divided into sections by age. As young adults grow older they advance into the next group. Scout units are led by older Scouts or adults, such as parents and teachers.

Activities concentrate on outdoor games and sports. Scouts go camping, make things out of wood, go on hiking trips and do a lot of sport.  During the summer holidays scouts spend time together in camps where they share experiences. During most of the year regular, weekly meetings also take place.

Scouts can be identified by their special uniforms, which should abolish the differences between social groups and make every person equal, regardless of their skin colour or social background. The uniforms include a cap and a scarf around their neck.

Many of the activities that scouts do are often criticized as being too militaristic. As time went on military ranks, badges and other ceremonies lost their importance.

Although the Scouting movements is based on the same principles around the world, there are many regional and local differences. American Scouts, for example, use symbols and pictures from the frontier movement of the 19th century, while in Britain, Scouting has been strongly influenced by ideas from colonial India.


Related Topics



  • abolish = get rid of , do away with
  • activity = action; thing you can do
  • advance = move on to
  • although = while
  • badge = piece of metal or plastic with a picture or words on it; you wear it on your body to show that you are a member of a group
  • based on = come from
  • behave = act
  • cap = kind of flat hat that has a curved part sticking out at the front; it is often worn as part of a uniform
  • caught on to = spread to
  • century = a hundred years
  • ceremony = special action that a group does
  • colonial = here: when India was a colony of England
  • decade = ten years
  • develop = get, grow
  • equal = the same
  • focus on = concentrate on
  • found – founded = start something new
  • frontier movement = the time when American settlers moved westwards in the 19th century
  • gather = collect
  • hiking = long walks in the countryside or in the mountains
  • identify = put into a category or group
  • inspire = motivate
  • leadership = being the leader of a group
  • lieutenant = a low rank in the army
  • local = in a certain region
  • militaristic = here: too many symbols and objects from the army are used
  • moral values = here: things that are right to do
  • movement = here: organisation
  • oath = official promise
  • obvious = clear
  • outdoors = outside; in the open
  • popular = liked
  • practical = useful
  • principle = idea, belief
  • promise = to say that you will do something
  • rank = position in an organisation
  • regarded as = people think that …
  • regardless = in spite of ; without being influenced by …
  • register = on an official list
  • responsibility = to be in control of something and make decisions ; you can be blamed if something bad happens
  • scarf = piece of cloth that you wear around the neck
  • separated = not together, apart
  • share experiences = here: talk with each other about things you have done
  • similar = almost the same
  • social background = where a person comes from
  • spread = expand; grow larger
  • survive = live in a dangerous situation
  • trust = believe in being honest and in everything that is good
  • unit = group
  • value = what is important
  • wilderness = in the wild; area of land where nobody lives
  • worldwide = around the world