Scouting is a worldwide movement with 161 National Scouting Organisations (NSO), present in 216 countries and territories, constituted by over 35 million boys and girls, men and women all over the world. The international scouting movement aims to encourage the education for peace, through a spirit of comprehension and solidarity among the people and awaking the respect for interculturality in young people, making them real world citizens. Scouting is therefore a worldwide brotherhood, whose members have transversal identifying elements, common to scouting, such as the scarf, law and oath, legacy left by Baden-Powell (B-P).
The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is an independent non-profit worldwide Organisation, serving the scout movement, aim is to promote union and understanding of scouting purposes and principles, facilitating its spreading and development. Scouting is a non-formal education movement for young people, based on the voluntary adhesion by its members, accessible to everyone, non-political and independent, aiming the creation of a better world. Its main purpose is to contribute to the education of young people, boys and girls, through a progressive self-education system based on a core value definition – adhesion to Scouting Law and Oath – according to B-P’s ideal.
Scouting is based on a “learning by doing” system. Through activities that are designed, developed and implemented by the project method and team work, the goal is to have scouts working on the following development areas: character, affective, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual. According to the age range, these activities may involve building, games, exploring, hikes or community service, but above all, are intended to reflect the challenges that young people find during their life cycle, preparing them for an active citizenship, relationships, environmental sustainability and integral personal development.
FEP (Portuguese Scout Federation) is the national scouting federation from which CNE (Corpo Nacional de Escutas) and AEP (Associação de Escoteiros de Portugal) are part of and represents them at WOSM. CNE is aware of the existence of a global society and a greater cooperation and interaction between people, based on the global dimension of the scout movement and is convinced of the importance of the international dimension of this topic in the association. It aims to promote the worldwide scouting brotherhood within the members of the association, guaranteeing the quality of scouting practiced by CNE elements, in the international context, inside and outside the country, and giving unique education opportunities. In an educational perspective, we focus on young people, promoting the sense of belonging to a worldwide movement, so they can develop a posture and awareness of different cultures, traditions, religions and spirituality, exploring additional educative dimensions, capable of contributing for their integral development.
Church and Scouting
When Lord Baden-Powell founded Scouting, it wasn’t identified with any particular religious confession – notwithstanding the religious education given to the British general in the Anglican communion – like nowadays, generically, still isn’t. Scouting and Religion belong to different domains that can’t be properly compared, given the essential differences. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a close relationship between the two spheres. On the anthropological assumption that the human being is intrinsically religious, it would be unthinkable that Religion was excluded from an integral education method with the one proposed by Scouting. A careful reading of B-P’s writings shows the indelible mark of a religious soul and, even more, of a pedagogical method based on Religion, even if not necessarily in an explicit way. From these assumptions, and having this method proven, since early days, its undeniable virtues, the Catholic Church decided to adopt scouting to pursue its goals, like other religious confessions did. This first happened in a non-systematic way, in small local groups. Later, with the relevant encouragement given by the Jesuit priest Jacques Sevin, interpreting the scouting method in the light of Gospel, gained a remarkable importance, given a more formal beginning to the so called “Catholic Scouting”.
Nowadays, the presence of many Catholics in Scouting is a reality, like the existence of catholic Associations that live according to the scouting method and configures the specific reality of the “Catholic Scouting”, concerning the specificity of both spheres and the best ecumenical and inter-religious relationships.