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.