First Global Survey on Scouts’ Spiritual Development Helps Build Respect and Tolerance

24 Jul 2017

The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) have completed an extensive survey examining the role of “Spiritual Development in Scouting”, which reached 116 of the 163 WOSM National Scout Organizations in order to strengthen understanding and programming in spiritual development within Scouting.

The survey found that Duty to God, one of the three main principles of Scouting, is an important part of Scouting for many Scouts, and furthered understanding of the role of religion within the movement. The findings will help understand religious and broader spiritual dynamics within Scouting, depending on whether the environment is predominantly religious or secular. This is key in improving their work and promoting understanding and tolerance among the Scouts from diverse cultural, religious and spiritual backgrounds.

Key Findings:

  • Spiritual development is a key element for many WOSM members.
  • The role of spirituality varies greatly depending on geographic location: while most organizations in Africa, Latin America and Arab countries see Duty to God as the key principle of Scouting, most European Scout organizations and many in Asia emphasize spirituality without necessarily linking it to religion.
  • Among the Scouts, spiritual development is most often practiced through personal reflection, followed by group reflection and discussions, and then, for some troops and national organizations, by participation in religious rituals that take place once a week or more frequently.

The World Scout Committee set up the Duty to God Task Force in 2015 to analyse, evaluate and assess how Duty to God is implemented among WOSM members, and it conducted two surveys that addressed all National Scout Organizations and Associations and members of the Interreligious Forum of World Scouting, including dialogue skills essential to many aspects of the Scouting activities such as spiritual development.

The next step is to improve inclusion of spiritual development in the Scouts’ Youth Programme as well as to provide activities related to spiritual development and adapt to the needs of current and future Scouts.

WOSM and KAICIID

The collaboration between WOSM and KAICIID started in November 2013 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding to “encourage interreligious and intercultural dialogue” and to join efforts in “improving relations among people of different religions and cultures”. Through joint programming, KAICIID has been helping WOSM introduce knowledge about and practices of dialogue into Scouting with the aim to incorporate dialogue into Scouting. The current strategic plan of the collaboration between KAICIID and WOSM includes joint activities running until the 41st World Scout Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, in August 2017, when the Dialogue Programme is anticipated to be adopted at the global level as part of the WOSM Youth Programme.  The action plan for the next triennium (2017-2020) was developed by KAICIID and WOSM Dialogue Core Team in April 2017.  It provides a solid basis for the continuation of the partnership to promote dialogue in Scouting.

The full survey can be found here.