Scouting and Guiding in Belarus
The Scout movement in Belarus consists of an unknown number of independent organizations. There are at least five nationwide associations as well as some regional associations. In addition, there were at one time Scouts-in-Exile in metropolitan areas of the United States, and there are presently international Scout units in Belarus.
The initial development of Scouting in Belarus took place within the Russian Scout movement, as part of the Russian empire. A Scout organization was founded in Kletsk, and Scouts appeared in Nyasvizh and other nearby villages. In 1929, American Methodists helped found a Girl Scout organization in Vilna. It lasted until 1929, but by the end of the 1920s, Scouting had been banned by the Soviet Union, and Scout activities ended, with many leaders and members arrested and imprisoned.
In the period following World War II, ethnic Belarusians gathered in Scout troops in exile and in Scout troops in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, as did their counterpart Russians, Ukrainians and Balts. Belarusian Scouts formed the organization Belarusian Scout Association Abroad (Згуртаваньне Беларускіх Скаўтаў на Чужыне, English acronym BSAA, Cyrillic acronym ZBSCh), which existed from 1945 to 1951 in Germany. Unlike the other organizations, however, the BSAA did not survive to witness the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Whereas Russia, Poland and Ukraine in particular had ready-made Scouting available once allowed in 1990-1991, Belarus had to start essentially from scratch.
Emergence of democratic principles in the mid1980s made possible the creation of alternatives to the communist pioneer organizations. Close connections were formed with Guide and Scout organizations of many European countries, when children from areas affected by the Chernobyl accident were invited to summer camps abroad during the Chernobyl Children's Project in 1990. Especially close links were developed with Cyprus, and between Minsk and the Guides of Lincolnshire. In 1992, Cyprus was officially appointed Link country to support the development of Guiding in Belarus, and in June 1993 the first conference of the Association of Belarusian Guides was held in Minsk.
- Belarusian Republican Scout Association (Белорусcкая Республиканская Скаутская Ассоциация), member of WOSM
- The Association of Belarusian Guides, member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts since 1996
- Belarusian Scout Association (Аб`яднанне Беларускiх Скаўтаў), founded in 1991, liquidated in 2005 by the Supreme Court of Belarus
- YMCA Scouting in Belarus
Note: There may have been a link between one of the non-NSAB Belarusian Scout organizations and the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d'Europe, a Christian-based Scout alternative, but it is uncertain to whom they were linked.
Several countries have multiple organizations, divided on the basis of religion (for example, France and Denmark), ethnic identification (as is the case in Bosnia and Israel), or language (like Belgium). Belarus instead has regional Scouting organizations. Regional Scouting divisions of Belarus include the GomelScouts in Gomel. Because usage of the Belarusian language and the Russian language are contentious issues in the country, the emblem itself is captioned in English.
International Scouting units in Belarus
- In addition, there are American Boy Scouts in Minsk, serving in Boy Scout Troop 1101, linked to the Direct Service branch of the Boy Scouts of America, which supports units around the world.
- World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, World Bureau (2002), Trefoil Round the World. Eleventh Edition 1997. ISBN 0-900827-75-0