Scouting is currently active in 216 countries and territories, with a global membership of over 31 million, male and female. Two thirds of the international membership are in developing countries. The World Organisation of Scout Movements (WOSM) is an international body that supports Scouts across the world.
Scouting began in 1907 in the United Kingdom, based upon Lord Baden-Powell’s ideas and his book 'Scouting for Boys'. But the book and programme quickly spread world-wide. As early as 1908 Scouting was starting in many outposts of the British Empire. After a trip to South America, Scouting started in Chile, and it was already crossing the channel into Europe.
The big step across the Atlantic, and into the United States, came more by chance. In 1909, an American business man, William Boyce, was lost in the fog of London, when a small boy approached him, and offered to take him to his hotel. Once there, the boy refused any offer of money for the service, saying that it was his good turn as a Boy Scout.
Boyce was intrigued by this and tracked down B-P. before he left London to learn more. When he got back to the USA, he went about setting up the Boy Scouts of America. By 1918, its numbers had risen to 300,000, and had reached the million mark before the end of the twenties.
While Scouting’s Purpose, Promise and Law are timeless and universal, Scouting’s flexible programme adapts to meet the needs of youth and their society wherever they live.