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Dear friends, dear scout brothers,


I am a french scout from Angers (France Western).

What about scouting in France...

I have seen it could interest someone. So, I will try to speak about it. My english being poor, I won't writte very long text. I will answer to your questions if you have questions.


However, I will give you a first idea about french scouting.


From the Baden Powell principles, the Father Sevin created catholic scouting in France in the end of 20's : "The Scouts of France". In the 60's, this scout movement wanted to change a few thing in its pedagogy, and almost the patrol system. The patrol system suppose to put in the same patrol (the same team) some boys from different ages (12 to 17). From that moment, french scouting divided in several parts.

Today, there are a lot of scout movements in France, but three of them are really important :

- "Scouts of France" : the most numerous. It is, of course, the oldest one, but there are less centered around religious aspect of pedagogy.

- "Unitarian Scouts of France" : Comes from the Scouts of France, but they wanted to keep the unit method, that is to say the patrol system. There are more traditional than the Scouts of France.

- "Scouts of Europe" : Movement created at the european level, but started from France. It looks like "Unitary Scouts of France", but more numerous and more nationaly united. They're also nearest from traditional scouting.


I belong to the Scouts of Europe. This year, I was chief in the "scout field" (12 - 17 years old), and before chief of the "road field" (17 and +).


I am waiting for your questions.




In a brotherly fashion,



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Very interesting. In France, there is no monopoly on Scouting as there is here in the USA. Also, some of the organizations are more clearly sectarian (only for one religion) than here. Please tell me if I understand your descriptions correctly:


1) The Scouts of France is for Catholic youth and does not use the patrol system;


2) The Unity Scouts of France - also Catholic (?) but uses the patrol system and is closer to the original Baden-Powel model;


3) The Scouts of Europe - also traditional, but non-sectarian (?)


At the WOSM web site, I found 5 organizations for France:


Fdration du Scoutisme Franais

Les Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs de France

Les Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs Israelites de France

Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs Unionistes de France

Les Scouts de France


Which are the three you mention?. and what are the other two???


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As you say, there is no monopoly on Scouting, not at all... On the contrary! Funny! I just noticed something : Catholic movement are as diversified as the religion is unified, and in USA it is exactly the opposite.

But I feel it is not division, it is diversity. Even I am Scout dEurope, I am glad to know that youth can choose. Someone wouldnt be very well in my movement. What is not normal is when a movement is more attacked because of its specificities which are not the society ones, but its another topic...


In order to answer :


1) Yes. Youth are in team into which they have the same age.


2) Absolutely.


3) Of course, non-sectarian as the 2 others.


There exists sectarian ones, but there are very local and little.


The WOSM recognize 1 and only 1 scouting association per country.

This one is Fdration du Scoutisme Franais, and in this federation there are several movements, those that you listed. Among those movements recognized by WOSM, only Les Scouts de France is really a big one. In term of number, the second one is Les Guides et Scouts dEurope and the third Les Scouts Unitaires de France.

This two last also belong to a second association (Confrence franaise du scoutisme) fairly created for being more recognized at the national level. At the international level, it is not possible because WOSM doesnt accept a 2nd movement.

In this association there are : les claireurs Neutres de France, la Fdration des claireuses et claireurs (not the same as in the 1st association). It is not very simple, is it?

We are in a same association because we share a same pedagogic mathod and common values.

The first one receive State help, not the 2nd one. But both of them are recognized as scouting association. However, the other associations are not recognized at all.


We cant belong to the 1st association because this one doesnt allow 2 association with same religion!


WOSM chose Les Scouts de France because for a long time there were only them. Now there is no reason for them to change. Maybe they will, if Les Scouts de France continue to reform too much...




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hmmm... somehow I'm still confused about the differences ...


But it is interesting to know that youth in France have a choice of organizations. In the USA, the competing scouting movement was stifled in 1919 (or thereabouts) when the courts gave the BSA the sole use of the name "Scouts".


As you may or may not know, the BSA does not allow membership to homosexuals, saying these people are not moral. This has caused much debate. How is this issue handled in France?

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I didn't know about homosexuals.

In France, each scouting movement has his principles.

But I think it is not possible to have such a rule in France. The sexual orientations don't take part of identity... It is something studied case by case.

It is stupid to say that homosexuals are not moral! You can be very religious (catho or protestant) and very moral, being homosexual.

Probably, some scouting movement (Scouts de France) wouldn't take care at all, and mine would only see, AS for an heterosexual, if this person is apt to be a chief. But it is the same thing as if he is a drunker, and only for responsability posts.


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Very interesting. I think, in general, we Americans are more prudish about sex than you Europeans. As I said, there is much debate in the BSA on this issue. Many of us feel the same way you do, but the big BSA executives (who make the policies) seem to be influenced by the conservative religions.


How about girls in scouting? Here, girls can not be members of BSA until they are 14, at which time they may join BSA's group for 14-20 year olds, called Venturers. If the girls are younger, they must join the Girl Scouts (not Boy Scouts).


Younger boys (8-11) can join Cub Scouts. I assume there is some similar age group in France?

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Boys and Girls...

An other big debate and big difference between movements in France.


- Les Scouts de France (SdF) are co-educated : Girls and Scouts can be mixed.

- Les Guides et Scouts d'Europe (GSE) separate boys and girls from the national level to the troop level. Thats why our movement name is Guides (Girls) et Scouts (Boys) dEurope.

- Les Scouts Unitaires de France (SUF) are also separate, but only at the local level. This point doesnt really matter because pedagogy takes place in the troops.


For the two last, girls and boys under 12 are separated, but pedagogy is the same.


Personally, I recon that pedagogy have to be separated, almost for teenagers. At this age, girls and boys grow up quite differently.


Else, girls have same possibility as boys. They can join all this movements from 8 years old, choosing (the parents) if she wants a mixed or a not mixed one...

In the GSE, girl field is maybe less developped than boy field. For example, raider patch (I think it is similar to the eagles) is not possible for girls. But girl scouting is younger and it will progress.


But what about BSA religion (confession)? It is strange for me. If I understood, into a same association there are different religious groups (like the catholic dioceses) which can organize their own activities? Is there methodists troops, baptists troops, catholics troops, etc...?


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This is quite fascinating to me. Your English skills are very good! But I am still not understanding about 10-15% of what you are saying. For example - what do you mean when you say 'pedagogy'? Somehow this doesn;t quite translate into English.


Ahh. Religion! Here in the US, the BSA is completely non-sectarian, meaning that we accept people of ALL faiths. The only rule is that Scouts must believe in God (or 'gods', or a 'higher power'). Some troops are segregated with only a single religion represented, but MOST troops have boys of a variety of religions.


For example, my troop of 75 boys meets every week at a Presbyterian (Protestant) church, but we also have Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Unitarian-Universalists, and Wiccans in the troop, as well as other kinds of Christians such as Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Baptists, Lutherans, and others.


What do French Scouts do for adventure?


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This is incredibly interesting! I am SO VERY MUCH enjoying hearing about scouting in other countries.


Hugolin, I see your point about homosexuals and drunkards. Hard to argue that either one is more morally fit than the other.


And I echo Trevorum's question... I'm very intested in what the French scouts do for adventure.


We just returned from a 3 day backpack trip to Yosemite National Park in California, where we hiked to the top of Half Dome, the last 700 feet of which you must negotiate a cable stairway. Take a look at this link:











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Ok! It is really interesting!


Sorry, I made a mistake about the word sectarian. In french we make the difference between sects (sectarian organizations) and religions. Scientology Church is a sect, but Reformed Church or Catholic Church are religions. That is why I said that our main scouting movements were not sectarian. But there are religious (exact word in french is confessionnels, like for a catholic private school for example). Some of them are not (Eclaireurs Neutres de France [ENF], for example).


We can see, in scouting policies (word? Politics?), the differents country policies, namely that your scouting seems to be more multi-culturalist. In France, as for school, you have the choice between neutral (lacist?) scouting or religious scouting. But be careful! The first is not the gathering of all the religion like BSA, but it is the gathering of no gods . It is the great idea of the French Republic. I like BSA system.

Multiculturalism and republicanism both have their qualities and problems...


Personnally, it is important for me to be able to pray with my scouts after de campfire before to go to sleep. Thats why I am glad to belong to a catholic scouting. But it is very personnal and I understand that others prefer a neutral movement.


I am sorry for the word pedagogy. I used it a lot thinking I was right . It is simple. It means the method used for making youth to progress.




Yeah! It is a great link... Very beautiful! And it seems to be very intimidating as you wrote. It is very interesting to see a kind of activity you can do...

Adventure is very important in our pedagogy. During our activities we always go in the middle of nature. Here, each game can become an adventure. For example, a night game. During our summer camp (at least 15 days) we have a 3-days game. Scouts leaved the camp for 3 days by team and this is often a surprise departure in the middle of the night.

I think that for a 12 years old youth, camping in the airs during 2 weeks is an adventure. For the olders, we organize raids : walk with a boussole (I dont know the word object for finding the North or the azimut 46, or etc...), without card. This raid is necessary for becoming 2nd class scout then 1st class scout. The first raid is with 2 or 3 scouts, the second one was alone, but for security reasons we are forced to have 2 scouts together.

There are a few scouts (not a lot) who are 1st class and who make a survie raid (maybe overlife raid or safe-life raid??? Its the name from the verb which means to resist in order to life). This is a raid without food in the bag. The scout have to manage.

What else?

Sometimes we make rappel (descend a wall with a twist??). When we built a scout raid, we can give an azimut (a direction with boussole) which cross a river, without bridge. For example, my sister made planner (plane without motor) this summer with the guides (girl scouts).

All is possible...

BUT !!!!!! Now, in France, we are all submitted to the reign of SECURITY. All is security. There lot of things we cant do for a few years. It is good to protect the youths, but now it is crazy and adventure become very hard. And it is worst for see scouts!



Sorry for being so long, but I am impassioned. :)




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Brad, your English is getting better already! A "boussole" is a "compass" and what you refer to as a "raid" doesn't have a direct translation into English. A "campout" is the same as the military "bivouac" but to use a map and compass (plan et boussole) may be considered an "orienteering course". The "survie" campout is very similar to one of the requirements for the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge.


The chartering of units in France was incredibly complex. This was because large churches [like the Catholic Church] were seen as "religions", that is, somehow more valid because of their size. It is true that the Catholic youth groups received government funding. If you did not belong to one of these, the Youth Ministry [this is similar to a department in the United States, like the Department of the Interior or the Department of Justice] would either try to categorize you as something you weren't or they would completely ignore you.


What our young men wanted was to be Scouts and to do their Duty to God as their chosen religion interpreted it, not as the government interpreted it. We didn't want any government money, just recognition and acceptance. It was very difficult to tell them that we couldn't attend pan-French Scout gatherings because they were not "recognized" scouts because of their faith, even though they lived the Scout Oath and Law and implemented the methods of Scouting. :(


That didn't keep us from having fun and adventure, though! We camped, played "capture the flag", visited castles, did service projects, and hiked in the Pyrenees. France is a beautiful place to be a scout...

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Dear friends !


I have a question.

For example, some units of GSE are, today, at Cologne for the WDY (the World Days of Youth ???). No troops of course (too young!), bu some units of elders, as we say. Elders (there are boys and girls) are 17 and more... Most of them are scout chiefs (Scoutmasters, Cubmasters, ...).

It is possible for us because we all are catholic.


Is it possible for BSA to go to such a meeting?


Another question :

Is BSA allowed to form (to teach?) his own scoutmasters for framing (managing?) a camp or you have to pass a State diploma ?


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Hugs and Alki, between the two of you, I am now understanding much more about Scouting in France. It is different in structure, yes, but I suspect it is very similar at the grass roots level (for the boys) Alki, I presume you were on an LDS mission?.


Here in the BSA, most troops (11-17 year old Scouts) will go camping once every month. Being outdoors is one of our important methods (pedagogie!) Most monthly adventures will have a theme (backpacking, caving, swimming, boating, etc.)


There are 8 methods we use in BSA:

1. Ideals (Scout Law: Trustworthy, Loyal, etc.)

2. Patrols (small groups of boys working together

3. Outdoors

4. Advancement (working on badges, earning awards)

5. Personal Growth (character, mind, body)

6. Adult Association (adults a good examples)

7. Leadership Development

8. Uniform


Back to outdoors. Most troops also go on a week long camp once every summer where boys have special opportunities for adventure (rapelling, sailing, etc.). The older boys (14-17 years old) within a troop may also choose to do something more adventurous like canoeing down a river, or backpacking through the montains (3,000 m!) or SCUBA diving in the ocean.


Separate from troops are the coed (boys and girls) units called Venturing Crews (not Scout troops). These are also within BSA, but are for boys and girls 14-20 years old. These crews do adventures that are more appropriate for the older teenagers. All coed Crews have both men and women as adult leaders.


Your mention of "raid without food in the bag" made me smile, because we do the same thing. We call it "survival camping". Scouts learn how to survive "in the wild" with little or no special equipment. This is always very popular and fun with our boys. This year we taught them how to start a fire using ONLY an aluminum drink can (like coca cola) and a tube of toothpaste!


Once a year, many troops in the same town also join together in a big 'camporee'. This has 10-20 troops and maybe 300-500 boys. The troops compete against each other in skill games such as pioneering (building structures from from logs and rope) and other scout skills.


Every 4 years, scouts from all over the USA have our National Jamboree. We just finished this last month. There were 32,000 scouts and 8,000 leaders together in one giant encampment.


I am not sure what you are asking about Scoutmasters. Can you re-ask the question please? BSA offers many, many different kinds of excellent training. The leader of a troop (Scoutmaster) is chosen by the troop's committee of adults and is approved by the troop's sponsor (the local church for example). Usually the Scoutmaster is already very experienced in Scouting, but not always. Scoutmasters new to scouting have several training sessions (both video, classroom, and outdoors) so they can learn how to lead a troop of boys.


We also take safety (securitie?) very seriously. In addition to several very basic principles (scouts always use the 'buddy system' [are never alone while outdoors], an adult may not be alone with a scout, etc), we have many common-sense safety rules in our booklet "Guide to Safe Scouting", such as always using flotation jackets while boating, etc.


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Our friend Hugs is even able to teach us some English. I learned a new word:


Main Entry: pedagogy

Pronunciation: 'pe-d&-"gO-jE also -"g-, esp British -"g-gE

Function: noun

: the art, science, or profession of teaching; especially : EDUCATION

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