Many works have been written on scouting worldwide, but most of them were centered in a particular country or moment of history. This book, based on the first existing academic research on world scouting, explains in a very comprehensible way the main characteristics of (boy and girl) Scouting, the largest youth movement in the planet, existing in more than 165 countries of the five continents. Using new data and storytelling, the work covers the main elements that distinguish the scout movement over the world, and explains its origin, evolution, operating system, and the soundness of its values.

If you were to ask someone on the streets of Mexico DF for the description of scouting, it is unlikely to include Asia, World War II, colonialism, or the United Nations. It might include a neighborhood scout unit or memories of being a cub scout as a child. But scouting is the neighborhood and also the world: the local group in London's East End and the training of those who would lead the processes of decolonization; the boys and girls camps in the Pyrenees and the brotherhoods of youths in countries and communities at war; the social implication in Harlem and the community development programs in Indonesia.

Thus, few people know that scouting is a movement particularly strong in developing and emerging countries, that it is one of the strongest association realities in Arab countries, and that when it was formalized in 1920, world scouting had national associations in over 50 percent of the world's independent countries--a percentage that has not dropped since and has actually increased to a current figure of 83 percent, while the number of independent countries increased from 63 (1922) to 194 (2008). It is likewise unperceived that former scouts constitute the main parliamentarian intergroup in the British House of Commons and in the Parliament of Korea. It is mostly unknown that scouting has been forbidden by totalitarian regimes, and it is still forbidden in communist countries. And not only this--even fewer people know that more than two-thirds of all current and former NASA astronauts have been involved in boy and girl scouting, among them 20 of the 24 men who traveled to the moon, including 11 of the 12 moonwalkers. Neil Armstrong, the first human who walked on the moon, had a Scout Badge with him in that historical moment.

Scouting is a movement that many people are vaguely familiar with, relating it mainly to recreational activities that have no social impact other than the fact that they keep the boys and girls busy. That is the consequence of one of the greatest strengths of the scout movement, which is also one of its worst weaknesses: the deeply intuitive nature of its educational action. For young people, scouting is about enjoying, not about learning. And that is why they become scouts. But, at the same time, this is a weakness because most scholars and professionals see only the recreational aspect of scouting, unable to perceive the strong educational impact of this movement. This is the gap this book attempts to cover.


© WSB Inc./Nuno Perestrelo