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The Scout movement, also known as Scouting or the Scouts, is a voluntary non-political educational movement for young people. Although it requires an oath of allegiance to a nation's political leaders and, in some countries, to a God, it otherwise allows membership without distinction of gender, race or origin in accordance with the principles of its founder, Lord Baden-Powell. The purpose of the Scout Movement is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys: Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Rover Scout. In 1910, the Girl Guides was created, encompassing three major age groups for girls: Brownie Guide, Girl Guide and Girl Scout and Ranger Guide. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.

In 1906 and 1907 Robert Baden-Powell, a lieutenant general in the British Army, wrote a book for boys about reconnaissance and scouting. This book, Scouting for Boys, was based on his earlier books about military scouting, with influence and support of Frederick Russell Burnham (Chief of Scouts in British Africa), Ernest Thompson Seton of the Woodcraft Indians, William Alexander Smith of the Boys' Brigade, and his publisher Pearson. In mid-1907 Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in England to test ideas for his book. This camp and the publication of Scouting for Boys (London, 1908) are generally regarded as the start of the Scout movement.

The movement employs the Scout method, a programme of informal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities, including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports. Another widely recognized movement characteristic is the Scout uniform, by intent hiding all differences of social standing in a country and making for equality, with neckerchief and campaign hat or comparable headwear. Distinctive uniform insignia include the fleur-de-lis and the trefoil, as well as badges and other patches.

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Merit Badges are awards earned by members of the Boy Scouts of America, based on activities within the area of study by completing a list of periodically updated requirements. The purpose of the merit badge program is to allow Scouts to examine subjects to determine if they would like to further pursue them as a career or vocation. Originally, the program also introduced Scouts to the life skills of contacting an adult they had not met before, arranging a meeting and then demonstrating their skills, similar to a job or college interview. Increasingly, though, merit badges are earned in a class setting at troop meetings and summer camps.

Each merit badge has a pamphlet or booklet associated with it, which contains information on completing the requirements for the badge. Before starting to work on a particular badge, Scouts must meet with their Scoutmasters and obtain a signed application card for it. They must then contact an adult who is registered as a counselor for that badge in order to arrange a meeting and determine which requirements (if any) must be completed ahead of time. The counselor initials the card to indicate the Scout's progress in meeting the requirements, then signs it once they have all been fulfilled. After turning in the completed card to the Scoutmaster, the Scout can receive a patch representing the badge. Read more...
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Robert Baden-Powell in 1896

Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, KStJ, DL (/ˈbdən ˈpəl/ BAY-dən POH-əl; 22 February 1857 – 8 January 1941), was a British Army officer, writer, founder and first Chief Scout of the world-wide Scout Movement, and founder, with his sister Agnes, of the world-wide Girl Guide / Girl Scout Movement. Baden-Powell authored the first editions of the seminal work Scouting for Boys, which was an inspiration for the Scout Movement.

Educated at Charterhouse School, Baden-Powell served in the British Army from 1876 until 1910 in India and Africa. In 1899, during the Second Boer War in South Africa, Baden-Powell successfully defended the town in the Siege of Mafeking. Several of his books, written for military reconnaissance and scout training in his African years, were also read by boys. In 1907, he held a demonstration camp, the Brownsea Island Scout camp, which is now seen as the beginning of Scouting. Based on his earlier books, particularly Aids to Scouting, he wrote Scouting for Boys, published in 1908 by Sir Arthur Pearson, for boy readership. In 1910 Baden-Powell retired from the army and formed The Scout Association. Read more...

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