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see Boy Scouts Girl ScoutsGirl Scouts,
recreational and service organization founded (1912) in Savannah, Ga., by Juliette Gordon Low. It was originally modeled after the Boy Scouts (see Scouts) and Girl Guides, organizations created in Great Britain by Sir Robert Baden-Powell during the early 20th cent.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the most widespread systems of bourgeois extracurricular education, the basis for the activity of children’s and young people’s scout organizations.

Scouting seeks to train the younger generation in a spirit of loyalty to the ideals of bourgeois society. Although professing to be unaffiliated with any political party, scout organizations do in fact have clearly expressed political, militaristic, and religious tendencies: they strive to keep the younger generation from participating in the struggle for revolutionary and democratic change and to isolate young people from the influence of materialism and communism. Scouting advocates the idea of class peace in a capitalist state. The scouts’ law declares each member of the organization to be a “friend to all,” as well as a “friend and brother” to every scout, regardless of class or social group. There are separate organizations for boys and girls, but their goals and principles are basically the same.

The scout movement arose at the beginning of the 20th century. Its basic ideas were developed by an Englishman, Colonel R. Baden-Powell (1857–1941), in Aids to Scouting (1898) and Scouting for Boys. In 1907, Baden-Powell established the first Boy Scout camp, in Great Britain, where he implemented his ideas of a system of training adolescents through a program of games, physical exercises and competitions, and talks on military life and the exploits of military scouts. At the end of 1907 there were approximately 60,000 scouts in Great Britain. In 1909–10 groups of Girl Guides (as Girl Scouts are known in Great Britain and a number of other countries) were formed. In 1910 the scout organizations were recognized by a special royal charter. As of 1921 there were scout organizations in 63 countries, including Great Britain, Germany, the USA, Italy, France, Sweden, and India.

The first scout troops in Russia were organized at Tsarskoe Selo (now the city of Pushkin) in 1909. In 1914 an ukase of Nicholas II established the Russian Scout Society for training young people in the spirit of great-power chauvinism and militarism and devotion to the monarchical system. In 1917 there were 50,000 scouts in Russia. During the Civil War (1918–20) most of the scoutmasters and many scouts fought in the armies of the White Guards and interventionists.

The Komsomol consistently struggled against the scout movement. The second, third, and fourth Komsomol congresses (1918–20) adopted resolutions calling for the dissolution of scout groups and worked out a program for the creation of a new, communist type of children’s organization. In The Komsomol and Boy Scouting (1922), N. K. Krupskaia completely rejected the aims and principles of scouting but did point out the practical advantages of communist organizations adopting those scouting activities that appeal to adolescents, such as games, sports, hiking and camping, and instruction in practical skills. Some of the “left-wing” scoutmasters broke with the scout organization and took part in the Komsomol’s creation of the Pioneer organization. The V. I. Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization developed a program for working with children that was essentially new in content, form, and method, based on the ideas of communist upbringing. Scouting’s sphere of influence has been substantially curtailed by the growth of young people’s and children’s communist organizations during the 1920’s and 1930’s in the USSR and a number of other states, the creation of Pioneer and children’s democratic organizations in socialist and many capitalist countries after World War II (1939–45), and the emergence of children’s and young people’s democratic movements in African, Asian, and Latin-American countries in the course of national-liberation struggles.

Scout organizations include children and young people ranging in age from eight to 18. The law, oath, and motto of the scouts reflect the essence of bourgeois morality, demanding the scouts’ unquestioning obedience to their leaders and parents, the state, and the church. In Boy Scout groups attention is focused primarily on physical exercises, hiking and camping, militaristic games, vocational instruction, and instruction in the skills of self-reliance. Girl Scout organizations teach the girls the skills of future homemakers and mothers; for example, the girls are taught how to cook, economically manage the household budget, and care for children and the sick. Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs provide for several stages or ranks of advancement, developed with consideration to age and the principle of individual competition. The programs include regular activities, meetings, annual camps, excursions, hikes, and systematic tests that must be passed in order to receive the badges and stripes associated with the various ranks.

The work of the national scout associations is directed by committees of representatives of bourgeois business groups and the clergy, military leaders, members of charitable organizations, and others. The honorary presidents of national scout associations are usually the presidents of capitalist states or the members of royal families.

As of 1972 there were Boy Scout organizations in 106 countries, with a total membership of 13 million, including adult leaders; the Boy Scout organization in the USA, one of the largest, had more than 6 million members. There were Girl Scout organizations in 91 countries, with a total membership of 6.5 million. Contacts between the Boy Scout organizations of various countries are maintained through the World Scout Committee, which has 12 members, representing national associations, and by its executive organ, the World Scout Bureau, headquartered in Geneva. The Girl Scout World Committee and World Bureau are headquartered in London. These international bureaus conduct international scout radio jamborees every year and international conferences of the national scout association leaders every two or three years; they have international camps and centers in various countries for instruction and recreation and publish literature and methodological aids, including the journal World Scouting (in English and French).

The program of the scout organizations, despite constant updating, is increasingly less relevant to the needs of today’s youth. In capitalist countries young people are becoming increasingly interested in political events and are striving to take an active part in the work of progressive organizations and in the struggle against imperialism. The national scout associations of a number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, abandoning the traditional forms of scouting, extensively involve their members in socially useful work in economic and cultural development and public health and organize mass sociopolitical campaigns in the name of peace, democracy, and social progress. These scout organizations are attempting to establish and broaden contacts with democratic young people’s and children’s organizations united in the World Federation of Democratic Youth.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.