Scouting: an educational method for adolescent boys and girls

Boy scouts scrubbing potatoes for dinner at a camp near Cambridge, 1943. Photo: Wildman Shaw.


Scouting is a youth movement aiming to cultivate character and shape future citizens through the use of active educational methods. Founded in England in 1907, scouting quickly developed across the globe. In most European countries, its introduction led to the creation of a number of associations based either on a religious foundation or a principle of religious neutrality. For instance, there are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and secular associations, and more recently Muslim ones as well. Although it was initially intended exclusively for young boys, scouting quickly opened up to young girls, leading to the creation of separate women’s associations. During the second half of the twentieth century, the development of coeducation prompted most masculine and feminine organizations to merge, and to add gender equality to their pedagogical objectives.