Saturday, April 18, 2009


The history of scouting goes back to the turn of the 20th century, when the first seeds of scouting were sown. On a farm in Connecticut, a naturalist and author named Ernest Thompson Seton had a problem with a group of boys who kept stealing fruits from his garden. He decided to organize those boys in a group. At first, he just told them Indians stories. A few weeks later, he took them out of the village in the nature where they spent a few days living in a teepee – an Indian tent. He called them the Woodcraft Indians. All that happened in 1902.

At about the same time, in 1907, a British Army officer, Robert Baden-Powell gathered about 20 boys and took them to Brownsea Island in a sheltered bay off England's southern coast. They set up a makeshift camp that would be their home for the next 12 days.
His idea of scouting was born while he was stationed in India. He discovered that his men lacked basic first aid knowledge and also that of the elementary means of survival in the outdoors. Baden-Powell realized he needed to teach his men many frontier skills. After returning from the Boer War, Baden-Powell was amazed to find that his little handbook called Aids to Scouting had caught the interest of English boys. They were using it to play the game of scouting.

The boys had a great time at the scout camp. They divided into patrols and played games, went on hikes, and learned stalking and pioneering. They learned to cook outdoors without utensils. Scouting began on that island and would sweep the globe in a few years.

In many ways, the two organizations were similar, but they were not connected. The boys who belonged to Woodcraft Indians had never heard of Baden-Powell or of Boy Scouts, and yet both groups were destined to become Boy Scouts one day soon. The biggest difference between those two organizations was a discipline. The Woodcraft organization was more about freedom to foster and emphasize the symbiosis with nature, Scouts, on the other side, were firmly organized and had well defined methods.

Next year, Baden-Powell published his book Scouting for Boys and Scouting continued to grow. That same year, more than 10,000 Boy Scouts attended a rally held at the Crystal Palace; a mere two years later, membership in Boy Scouts had tripled.

In these days there are more than 28 million Scouts, youth and adults, boys and girls, in 160 countries.

What about Slovenia.

In Slovenia the first scout groups emerged in Celje, Ljubljana and Maribor. In 1925 an active group of scouts published the idea of establishing Woodcraft organization. The Woodcraft organization was established in Ljubljana, but in Maribor it was the most active center at that time. There are no significant differences in the working methods of the Slovene Woodcraft and scout organizations. Both organizations have been expanding throughout Slovenia. There has been considerable expansion of members and local organizations. Political views of members of Woodcraft or Scouting organizations are not important. For the scouts the only condition for consideration is the Scout law and oath.

The name tabornik (i.e. Scout) was first mentioned in 1924 in the National Journal. It referred to members of both movements. The adoption of this term subsequently led also to the new name of this organization in 1925 the “Združenje slovenskih tabornikov”.

After World War II, on the 22 April 1951, the former scouts and woodcrafts merged in a joint organization called “Združenje tabornikov Slovenije”. Later it was renamed in Scout association of Slovenia (Zveza tabornikov Slovenije- ZTS).

Because of numerous engaging and attractive activities for young people, membership has grown rapidly from the initial 783 to over 10,000 members today. The movement has expanded, and organizations have emerged also in other republics of the former Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav scout organization was an umbrella organization linking together the branches from the different republics, including the Slovene ZTS. Savez izvidžača Jugoslavije (Scout association of Yugoslavia) was formed in 1951 on the initiative of ZTS. It never became a member of the World Organization of Scout movement because of the political situation in the previous system.
In time between 1951 and 1958 Scouts organization were founded in all republic of former Yugoslavia. After colaps of country, scout groups and association doesn’t stop to work, and now all Scout association from republic of former Yugoslavia are fully member of WOSM.

Compared to other Scouts associations in former Yugoslavia, ZTS has kept its identity, which is reflected in the Slovenian scouts' coat-of-arms, their distinctive code of behavior, units and description tags, and other peculiarities, which have varied in other scout organizations from the other republics of former Yugoslavia.

Custom manners and habits of both organizations from before of WW II are firmly rooted in ZTS. In 1989 the organization began the process of going back to the original ideas and began introducing higher common standards of organization and operation of local scout units. All these efforts payed off in 1994 when our national Scout organization ZTS became a full member of the World Scout movement - WOSM. This also meant that ZTS become a national scout organization.

Another related organization in Slovenia active since 1990 is called Slovenian Catholic Association of Girl and Boy Scouts (Združenje slovenskih katoliških skavtinj in skavtov - ZSKSS). The purpose and the Scout methods are the same as in the case of ZTS, but the forms of action and activities are slightly different. In 1996 the ZSKSS association joined the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which brings together girls Scout organizations around the world. To pursue common interests and promote diversity, the organization decided to adopt this special arrangement.


Ronaldo Lima, Jr. said...

Hi Vojko!

It was very interesting to read about scouting. I have never been a scout but really admire this activity.
Thanks for telling about it in detail for us.

Kindest regards from Brazil!


Saša said...

Hi Ronaldo,
thanks for stopping by. :-) I too have never been a scout, but my 6 year-old who has just started dipping his toes in the scouting waters seems to enjoy it very much.
thank you very much for your informative post. Will the scouts do the Labor Day bonfire in the center this year too?

Helen said...

Hi Vojko
your post brought back some memories ! I was a "Brownie" and a "Girl Guide" in England. I thoroughly enjoyed messing about with tents, first aid, knots and all sorts of outdoor sports !! Unfortunately I am still hopeless at knots !
regards from France

Vojko said...

Thanks all for yours post.
Yes Helen. One time scout, scout for ever:).
About Labor Day bonfire for this year we still don't know if we must make bonfire, but I think that this year bonfire will be managed by others.
But you can come to see us on Bevkov trg this Tuesday from 10.00 to 14.00 hours. There will be a presentation of local voluntary organizations. Members of our scout group will make pancakes.

Saša said...

Thank you very much for the invite, Vojko, I'm not sure if I'll manage to catch this - I wish it took place a bit later when I'm not at work so I could take my boys with me as well (they too are still at school and kindergarten at this time).

cristina said...

Hi Vojko!

I've never been a scout but I bet people enjoy their activities greatly. Thank you for writing about the origins of a world wide organization like this. Your visual aids are great. Regards from Argentina.

Aiden said...

Hi Vojko,

Ahhh, this reminds me of my days in elementary school. I was a girl scout and I enjoyed the weekend campings, but definitely not the mosquitos!

Well done!