Scouting Around the World



Scouting began in England in 1907 based on Robert S. S. Baden-Powell's ideas and book Scouting for Boys. The book and program proved to have universal appeal for boys and quickly spread worldwide. Some aspects of the program vary around the world, but the principles of the Scout Promise and Law unite the world brotherhood of Scouting and prepare boys for adulthood in today's world.

From its beginning on Brownsea Island, the Scouting idea spread around the world until it became what it is now—the largest voluntary youth movement in the world, with a membership totaling more than 25 million. Although there might be some differences in program administration, the entire movement adheres to these fundamental principles:

Worldwide Principles

  • Duty to God and respect for individual beliefs
  • Loyalty to one's country and respect for its laws
  • Strength of world friendship and Scouting brotherhood
  • Service to others—community development
  • Universal regard for the Scout Promise and Law as a life guide
  • Voluntary membership
  • Service by volunteer leaders
  • Independence from political influence and control
  • Training youth in responsible citizenship, physical and mental development, and character guidance through use of the patrol system, group activity, recognition through awards, and learning by doing
  • Outdoor program orientation

Universal Practices

These acts and symbols of Scouting are familiar all over the world:

  • Scout Promise and Law—duty to God and country
  • Design of badge—basic trefoil
  • "Be Prepared" motto
  • Universal three-finger Scout sign—sign of personal honor
  • Scout left handclasp
  • Use of the patrol system
  • Basic ideal of the Good Turn

World Jamborees

A world jamboree is thousands of Scouts from many nations camping together in the spirit of world friendship. Such friendships and the desire to know one another overcome barriers of language and differences in custom, race, and religion, making Scouting relevant to world brotherhood.

At jamborees, Scouts compete in Scout skills, trade friendship tokens, meet around campfires, and make lifelong pen pals. They sample each other's foods; play games; swim together; and learn Scout stunts, how to make gadgets, and how Scouts live around the world. They also learn words and phrases in different languages.

The first world jamboree, called by Lord Baden-Powell in 1920, was held in England. Since then every four years, except during World War II, Scouts have met in a jamboree. The 17th World Scout Jamboree was held in Korea in August 1991. The Netherlands hosted the event in 1995; Chile hosted it in 1998-99; and Thailand will host it in 2003.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement

The World Organization of the Scout Movement is composed of three parts.

The World Scout Conference is the general assembly of Scouting and is composed of six delegates from each of the member Scout associations. If a country has more than one association, the associations form a federation for coordination and world representation. The basis for recognition and membership in the World Scout Conference includes adherence to the aims and principles of world Scouting and independence from political involvement on the part of each member association.

The conference meets every three years, at which time basic cooperative efforts are agreed upon and a plan of mutual coordination is adopted. The last World Scout Conference was held in Durban, South Africa.

There are 145 member associations in the World Scout Conference.

The World Scout Committee is the executive body of the conference and represents it between the meetings of the full conference. World Scout Committee members are elected at the World Scout Conference for a term of six years. The members are elected without regard to their nationality.

The World Scout Bureau is the secretariat that carries out the instructions of the World Scout Conference and the World Scout Committee. The World Scout Bureau office is in Geneva, Switzerland, with regional offices in six areas around the world: Africa Region (Nairobi, Kenya), Arab Region (Cairo, Egypt), Asia-Pacific Region (Manila, Philippines), European (Geneva, Switzerland), Inter-American Region (Santiago, Chile), and Eurasia Region (Yalta-Gurzuj, Ukraine).

The World Scout Bureau is administered by the Secretary General, who is supported by a small staff of technical resource personnel. The bureau staff helps associations improve and broaden their Scouting by training professionals and volunteers, establishing sound finance policies and money-raising techniques, improving community facilities and procedures, and assisting in marshaling the national resources of each country behind Scouting.

The staff also helps arrange global events such as world jamborees, encourages regional events, and acts as a liaison between the Scouting movement and other international organizations. A major effort in the emerging nations is the extension of the universal Good Turn into an organizationwide effort for community development.

BSA Involvement

The Boy Scouts of America is represented in world contacts and developments by the international commissioner.

The BSA is a charter member of the World Scout Conference and is an active participant in its many and varied projects, services, and committees.

The BSA shares its resources, program materials, and volunteer and professional expertise with the World Scout Bureau and its various associations throughout the world.

The international efforts of the BSA are supported by the International Committee, one of the operating committees of the National Executive Board, and the staff of the International Division at the national office.

World Friendship Fund

The World Friendship Fund (WFF) of the Boy Scouts of America was developed during the closing days of World War II. At the time, there was a great need to rebuild Scouting in those nations that had been wracked by war and were just emerging from the shadows of totalitarianism.

In the years that have elapsed, the WFF has aided virtually every nation in the free world that has Scouting. Both those nations that have had Scouting before and those newly emerging nations that desire the Scouting program for their youth have been helped.

Through the WFF, voluntary contributions of Scouts and leaders are transformed into cooperative projects that help Scouting associations in other countries to strengthen and extend their Scouting programs.

A sampling of WFF-supported projects in recent years includes improved facilities at Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland; desktop publishing and Scout literature for the Scouts of Greece; adult training materials for the Scout Association of Nicaragua; youth Scout program literature for 11 Scout Associations of the Caribbean; supply of BSA handbooks to the Scouts of Micronesia; assistance in the resurgence of Scouting in Ethiopia; and camping equipment for underprivileged Scouts of the Guatamala Scout Association.

Since the beginning of the WFF, more than $1 million has been voluntarily donated by American Scouts and leaders to these self-help activities.

National Boy Scouts of America Foundation

The United States Fund for International Scouting (USFIS), within the National Boy Scouts of America Foundation, provides the opportunity for substantial support of World Scouting by individual business, corporate, and foundation grants. This fund is administered by an appointed committee of the BSA International Committee. The National Boy Scouts of America Foundation has full tax privileges and is not a private foundation.

Provision is made for trust and endowed instruments as well as current support of special Scouting projects around the world. Grant proposals from Scout Associations around the world are received and reviewed for disposition by a volunteer committee.

Member Scout Associations of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and Their Membership (

Albania (4)1,284
Algeria (2)10,045
Angola (1)5,600
Argentina (5)45,452
Armenia (6)2,035
Australia (3)109,527
Austria (4)16,323
Bahamas (5)3,173
Bahrain (2)1,820
Bangladesh (3)1,325,014
Barbados (5)3,041
Belarus (6)7,500
Belgium (4)91,198
Belize (5)869
Benin (1)19,605
Bhutan (3)1,145
Bolivia (5)7,600
Bosnia & Herzegovina (4)8,000
Botswana (1)4,660
Brazil (5)60,518
Brunei Darussalam (3)2,617
Bulgaria (4)2,000
Burkina Faso (1)10,165
Burundi (1)6,661
Cameroon (1)6,535
Canada (5)238,957
Chad (1)8,132
Chile (5)35,180
China, Scouts of (3)69,353
Colombia (5)13,636
Comoros (1)2,200
Congo, The Democratic Republic of The (1)62,842
Costa Rica (5)11,729
Cote-dıIvoire (1)6,436
Croatia (4)3,607
Cyprus (4)6,183
Czech Republic (4)26,133
Denmark (4)51,727
Dominica (5)1,100
Dominican Republic (5)6,047
Ecuador (5)5,536
Egypt (2)74,598
El Salvador (5)4,180
Estonia (4)1,131
Fiji (3)2,445
Finland (4)30,545
France (4)113,570
Gabon (1)3,835
Gambia (1)14,134
Georgia (6)1,063
Germany (4)127,012
Ghana (1)2,311
Greece (4)19,467
Grenada (5)1,542
Guatemala (5)7,247
Guyana (5)294
Haiti (5)9,859
Honduras (5)4,319
Hong Kong69,121
Hungary (4)13,369
Iceland (4)1,808
India (3)1,963,266
Indonesia (3)9,961,921
Ireland (4)38,784
Israel (4)21,920
Italy (4)108,656
Jamaica (5)5,526
Japan (3)227,566
Jordan (2)14,238
Kenya (1)190,505
Kiribati (3)1,333
Korea, Republic of (3)247,445
Kuwait (2)6,061
Latvia (4)1,179
Lebanon (2)8,450
Lesotho (1)371
Liberia (1)2,418
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (2)14,220
Liechtenstein (4)421
Lithuania (4)1,500
Luxembourg (4)5,634
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav, Republic of (4) 3,443
Madagascar (1)9,473
Malaysia (3)96,409
Maldives (3)4,518
Malta (4)2,900
Mauritania (2)3,790
Mauritius (1)3,009
Mexico (5)59,531
Moldova, Republic of (6)1,540
Monaco (4)67
Mongolia (3)6,623
Morocco (2)12,304
Mozambique (1)11,403
Namibia (1)1,378
Nepal (3)25,814
Netherlands (4)59,315
New Zealand (3)28,531
Nicaragua (5)2,298
Niger (1)3,241
Nigeria (1)46,701
Norway (4)15,234
Oman (2)9,495
Pakistan (3)508,176
Palestinian Authority (2)20,275
Panama (5)2,367
Papua New Guinea (3)1,674
Paraguay (5)1,340
Peru (5)12,727
Philippines (3)3,491,911
Poland (4)117,733
Portugal (4)66,766
Qatar (2)6,000
Romania (4)4,930
Russian Federation14,000
Rwanda (1)5,479
San Marino (4)200
Saudi Arabia (2)19,267
Senegal (1)5,882
Sierra Leone (1)7,902
Singapore (3)11,290
Slovakia (4)3,680
Slovenia (4)6,624
South Africa (1)18,496
Spain (4)82,971
Sri Lanka (3)21,653
St. Lucia (5)393
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (5)1,017
Sudan (2)13,550
Suriname (5)2,601
Swaziland (1)4,994
Sweden (4)65,486
Switzerland (4)29,909
Tajikistan (6)1,100
Tanzania, United Republic of (1)49,993
Thailand (3)1,237,515
Togo (1)15,759
Trinidad & Tobago (5)6,600
Tunisia (2)40,920
Turkey (4)6,257
Uganda (1)65,152
United Arab Emirates (2)5,824
United Kingdom (4)542,277
United States (5)6,253,606
Uruguay (5)4,510
Venezuela (5)10,754
Yemen (2)6,481
Yugoslavia (4)12,080
Zambia (1)7,427
Zimbabwe (1)3,111
(1) Africa Region(2) Arab Region(3) Asia-Pacific Region
(4) European Region(5) Inter-American Region(6) Eurasia Region
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