More than a purple patch: On the relationship between BSA and World Scouting

Scott TeareIn physical size, that purple patch above your left pocket is one of the smallest items on your Scout uniform.

But in significance, it’s one of the biggest.

The purple patch — official name: World Crest — represents the Boy Scouts of America’s membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement, or WOSM.

It’s worn by registered youth and adult leaders in all of the 161 National Scout Organizations around the world.

When I blogged about the World Crest last month, many commenters wanted to know more about WOSM and its relationship with the BSA.

So I wrote Scott Teare, the former director of the Boy Scouts of America’s International Division who now leads World Scouting. He serves as WOSM’s Secretary General at the organization’s office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

See our Q&A below.

Bryan Wendell: What is the World Organization of the Scout Movement?

Scott Teare: The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is a grassroots educational youth movement that is made up of 161 National Scout Organizations (NSOs), including the Boy Scouts of America. These NSOs are located in 223 countries and territories around the world. With more than 40 million members in some 1 million local community Scout Groups, WOSM is the largest youth movement in the world.

B.W.: How many of those 40 million belong to the BSA, and what role do BSA members play in WOSM?

S.T.: The BSA’s membership accounts for over 3.5 million of the Scouts in WOSM. The BSA participates actively at the world level in events such as World Scout Jamborees, World Scout Conferences and several WOSM-related activities conducted at regional level. In fact, the BSA, along with the Scout Associations of Canada and Mexico, will host the World Scout Jamboree in 2019 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The role of the NSO, for example the BSA, is to support and develop Scouting in their home country, and facilitate contacts with other NSOs and WOSM.

B.W.: How many of those 40 million are adult leaders?

S.T.: Some 7 million members in WOSM are adult volunteers who support local activities. Through peer-to-peer leadership, supported by adults, each local Scout Group embraces the same set of values illustrated in the Scout Promise and Law. Each of the 1 million local Scout Groups follows a similar system of nonformal education suited to the unique aspects of their local community.

B.W.: What is the mission of the WOSM?

S.T.: At the 40th World Scout Conference in Slovenia in August 2014, a new Strategy for Scouting and clear directions for a new Triennial Plan were endorsed. The Triennial Plan, “Forward Together Towards Impact and Growth,” is aimed at providing strong contributions toward achieving Vision 2023:

“By 2023 Scouting will be the world’s leading educational youth movement, enabling 100 million young people to be active citizens, creative positive change in their communities and in the world based on shared values.”

B.W.: Sounds a lot like the BSA’s mission

S.T.: This is the glue that binds the NSOs together with WOSM. We have a shared vision, shared values and purpose: To contribute to the education and development of young people to be responsible global active citizens in their local communities through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law.

B.W.: What more can BSA do to support the WOSM mission?

S.T.: One of the biggest contributions members of the BSA (individuals or packs, troops, crews, etc.) can make is to conduct a community service project that will support WOSM’s flagship program called Messengers of Peace.

It is well known that Scouts in the BSA carry out community service projects on a regular basis. However, the BSA members need to do a better job of telling their story. Go to scout.org and post a story about a service project that was conducted in your community.

The BSA is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. For over a century, like other NSOs, it has helped build the future leaders of its country. We believe the BSA is in a strong position today to continue to engage, educate and empower young people to become active global citizens through their non-formal educational programs.

By continuing to build the profile of Scouting through their great work in creating a better world, we are confident the BSA will play a key role in helping to achieve Vision 2023 — growing the number of members from 40 million to 100 million, as well as strengthening the profile of the Scout Movement to be the world’s leading nonformal educational youth movement.

B.W. Thanks, Scott, for taking the time to answer my questions. And for your leadership and service to the BSA and to World Scouting.


Photo: Scott Teare, the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement, is recognized for a lifetime of service by the National Eagle Scout Association at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree. Photo courtesy of the World Scout Foundation.