Primary Source

Organization of British Imperial Scouting

Lines of authority in imperial Boy Scout movement


This chart shows the official lines of authority in the imperial Boy Scout movement. In theory, the Imperial Scout Headquarters had direct control over local versions of scouting through its territorial associations. Scouting was like a secular religion, with Baden Powell as its prophet-like founder whose writings were the core of the scout canon and whose personal example was the guide for model behavior. Territorial scout associations around the world were like national churches that could make alterations to the movement within the limits of scouting orthodoxy. At the local level, troops were the congregations who put core scout values into practice. Local versions of scouting resulted from the blending of scouting orthodoxy and community values. In some cases these adaptations had the full blessing of the Imperial Scout Headquarters. For example, scouting allowed religious institutions to create "closed" troops solely for the members of their congregations. However, local communities sometimes made alterations to the scout canon that the scout authorities considered unacceptably heretical. This was the case in colonial Africa where nationalists, independent schools, churches, and outright imposters often took over the movement for their own purposes.

This source is a part of the African Scouting (20th c.) teaching module.


Smith, J. Stephen. Aids to Scoutmasters in East Africa. Nairobi: Eagle Press, 1951. Annotated by Tim Parsons.

How to Cite This Source

"Organization of British Imperial Scouting," in World History Commons, [accessed February 20, 2024]