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The South Africa Scout Association

The Movement in South Africa began as spontaneously as it did in Britain and other parts of the world. Boys read Scouting for Boys, and Patrols and Troops were started. Scout Troops were formed as early as 1908, and there are Scout Groups in South Africa that can claim an unbroken record from those early days. It soon became necessary to provide some form of local co-ordination.

Some historyBetween 1912 and 1916 Provincial Councils of the Boy Scouts Association were formed in South Africa. These Councils were directly responsible to Scout Headquarters in London and had no direct contact with one another. In 1922, the first Union Scout Council was formed to provide a common national control on an advisory basis. Six years later, the Union Scout Council adopted a constitution which gave it the power to perform the functions of Imperial Scout Headquarters.
In 1929, a separate Pathfinder Council was formed for African Scouts under the control of the South African Scout Council.

During the following year, the London-based Imperial Headquarters affirmed the complete independence of the Scout Movement in South Africa, and work was commenced on yet another constitution, which was finalised in 1936 at Bloemfontein during the visit of Lord Baden-Powell to this country.

During 1937, the Boy Scouts Association of South Africa became a member of the International Scout Conference (now called the World Scout Conference) and was registered with the International Bureau (now World Scout Bureau) on 1 December 1937.

South Africa was the first of the Commonwealth countries to achieve independence for its Scout Movement. During the years 1930 to 1936, negotiations took place between the Voortrekker Movement and the Scout Association, but although both Movements had a common desire to promote the interests of the South African youth, the points of divergence were such that amalgamation was not possible. Cordial relations were however established and have been maintained between the two Movements at national level.

Baden PowiellThe 1936 Constitution made provision for four parallel Movements in South Africa: the Boy Scouts Association, the African Boy Scouts Association, the Coloured Boy Scouts Association, and the Indian Boy Scouts Association. In 1953, this was altered by appointment of an executive Chief Scout and Deputy; the African, Coloured and Indian Associations each having a Chief Scout's Commissioner as its executive head under the Chief Scout.

From 1960 onwards, various amendments were made to the constitutions of the four parallel Associations. The effects of these were:

  • to strengthen central control by the establishment in 1960 of the Chief Scout-in-Council, a body which served to co-ordinate the policy of all sections of the Scout Movement in South Africa. !
  • to build up a national team by the appointment of departmental heads for Training, Development, International Affairs, Publications, Supplies, and Public Relations. These Commissioners served all the Associations, as did the SAHQ secretarial staff. This development greatly increased the effectiveness of the support that SAHQ was able to give to South African Scouting as a whole.
  • to increase the co-operation between the four parallel Associations. Because the Chief Scout-in-Council and South African Headquarters were concerned with all the Associations, the latter were drawn together and worked in co-operation to an increasing extent, especially in connection with adult leader training. Even with these developments, finance and a certain amount of administration remained in the hands of the separate Scout Councils.


The Chief Scout, the Deputy and Assistant Chief Scout(s), National President and Vice-President(s), National Chairman, the National Scout Council, and the National Commissioners, with the South African Headquarters administrative office under the Chief Executive.


The Area Commissioner, Deputy Area Commissioner, Area President, Area Chairman, Area Scout Council, Assistant Area Commissioners, with Area Headquarters administration under the Area Secretary.


Regional Commissioner, Regional Chairman, Regional Scout Council, Assistant Regional Commissioners.


District Commissioner, Assistant District Commissioner, District Chairman and Local Association.


The Group Scouter, the Group Committee, Troop Scouter and Assistants, Pack Scouter and Assistants, and the members of the Pack, Troop, and Crew. Through the Parents Association to which they all belong, parents and all lay members are encouraged to participate in Pack and Troop supportive functions, and may accept appointment as Scout Instructors or Pack Helpers.

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