Rover Scout

Rover Scouts, Rovers, Rover Scouting or Rovering is a service program associated with Scouting for young men, and in many countries, women into their early 20s. A group of Rovers is called a 'Rover Crew'.

The Rover program was originated by The Boy Scouts Association in the United Kingdom in 1918 to provide a program for young men who had grown up beyond the age range of the Boy Scouts. It was quickly adopted by many other national Scouting organizations.

Many Scouting organisations, including The Scout Association, no longer include a Rover program. Some have replaced it with other programs while others, including Traditional Scouting organizations maintain the original program.


The Rover program had its origins in two different schemes. The first, aimed at Boy Scouts in the United Kingdom who were aged between 15 and 18 years old, was called "Senior Scouts" which was launched in March 1917 during World War I. It quickly became apparent that there weren't enough adult male leaders available in wartime, and it was several decades before the Senior Scout program was successfully established. The second scheme was the series of Battlefield Scout Huts provided for the recreation of British and Empire soldiers in rear areas of the Western Front. Related to these was the St George's Scout Club for servicemen, which operated in the English garrison town of Colchester under the leadership of "Uncle" H. Geoffrey Elwes. From these projects, it became apparent that there was a need for a Scouting-related program that catered for young men, many of whom would shortly be returning from the war.[1]

The first mention of the term "Rover Scouts" was by Sir Robert Baden-Powell in the The Boy Scouts Headquarters Gazette in August 1918, and the scheme was fully established by November 1919. Baden-Powell set about writing a handbook for the new scheme, which was published in 1922 as Rovering to Success. It contained Baden-Powell's philosophy for a happy adult life as well as ideas for activities that Rover Scouts could organise for themselves. It remained in print in various editions in English until 1964 and was translated into many other languages.


Rovering provides enjoyable activities that combine personal development with meaningful service. A Rover Crew governs itself, but often has an older adult as a "Crew Advisor" or "Rover Scout Leader". Baden-Powell called it a “brotherhood of open air and service”.

The objectives of Rovering are to:

Rovering provides an experience that leads to a life enriched in the following ways:

Each of these elements, from character through service, finds expression in the Crew's activities.

From the inception of Rover Scouts in 1918, Baden-Powell intended Rovering to have no upper age limit; however, after his death in 1941, the typical age shifted to 18–25. Traditional Scouting organisations such as Order of World Scouts, World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS), Confédération Européenne de Scoutisme (CES), Baden-Powell Scouts (BPSA), Pathfinder Scouts Association (PSA), and the Rover Scouts Association (RSA) continue to honour the founder's intent by having no upper age limit.

"Rover Scouting is a preparation for life, and also a pursuit for life."
—Baden-Powell, 1928

Rovers in Australia

Main article: Rovers (Australia)

In The Scout Association of Australia, the Rover section includes young men and women between 18 years to 25 years of age. Though it is small in numbers, it provides a source of leader support and other service for the Association.

During World War II, Fred Dawes operated an independent Rover Crew in southern Sydney, Australia.

Unlike The Scout Association in The United Kingdom, where Rovers were disbanded after the Advance Party Report in the mid-1960s, Rovers in The Scout Association of Australia resisted attempts to abolish the program, or even reduce the program age range as advocated in the "Design for Tomorrow" Committee's report in 1970. Rovers famously threatened to pull out of Scouting entirely, surrendering the Rover Chalet on Victoria's High Plains and resigning as leaders and assessors for younger sections. The Scout Association of Australia did however change its Rover Scout program, including the name to 'Rovers' and admitted women in 1975.

Self-government of Rover Crews, came about in the mid-1970s following the Georges River Experiment (named after a Scouting district in New South Wales). Rovers demonstrated that they could govern themselves, as their leaders stepped back to become Rover Advisers.

Australian Rovers provide active service to all sections.. Service in the community is also valued, with many Branch Rover Councils (the governing bodies for Rovers in each State and Territory) making annual awards to Crews who provide exemplary service to the community and/or Scouting.

Another notable feature of the Australian Rover section is the existence of "Lone" Rover Crews in several states, drawing their membership from across the rural parts of the country, or from Rovers who (because of shiftwork or other reasons) cannot be members of regular Rover Crews. Meetings are held by correspondence, with opportunities to get together at an annual Crew camp and major state or national Rover activities.

National Rover Moots are held every 3 years in Australia.

In 2008, the Rover section marked its 90th birthday, together with the 100th anniversary of Scouting in Australia.

Planning is underway for activities and celebrations to mark the centenary year of the Rover section in 2018.

Rovers in Canada

Rovers (men and women ages 18–26) is part of the Scouts Canada program. The Rover program is the final stage in Canadian Scouting after the Venturer (ages 14–17) program. Following the major program reviews for the Cub and Scout sections in the mid-sixties, the Canadian Rover program was reviewed and overhauled in 1971. Part of this initiative involved a three-year experiment to allow young women to join the Rover Section. Each Crew had the option of voting to become a co-ed Crew for the duration of the experiment. At the end of the three years, a survey of all 2850 Rovers in Canada was conducted, and the co-ed option was overwhelmingly adopted in 1974. Scouts Canada became a fully co-educational organization in 1998.

Rover Scouts in Canada have modernized the program by adopting different themes to their program, much like the traditional St. George theme. Examples would include MedRover crews that focus on First Aid, Leadership and Management training such as the 180th Pacific Coast Rover Crew, however crews are welcome to create any structure that works for them.

Rover Knights are the Baden-Powell Service Association equivalent and is open to all adults (18+). It is the final stage after Senior Explorers (ages 14–17), and is open to both males and females as well. Informally, the term Knights is usually dropped and the section is referred to simply as Rovers.

The outdoors is an essential part of both Rover programs. Rovers often participate in adventurous activities like mountain climbing, white water rafting, or para-sailing. Rovers also help their local communities by running service activities such as food drives, park clean-ups, and tree plantings. Rovers meet in a group called a crew. Rovers develop and manage their own program under the mentorship of a respected advisor. Rovers adhere to the promise that is used in the Scout section onwards, and the motto "Service".

Rovers in the Philippines

Rovering started in the Philippines when the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) separated from the Boy Scouts of America on 31 October 1936. However, following The Chief Scouts' Advance Party Report in 1966, the section was discontinued in the Philippines, and was replaced by a different programme.

The Advance Party Report caused some disquiet amongst some leaders who believed that Scouting was progressing away from its traditional roots, and the Philippines was no different from other organizations affected by the programme changes in the late 1960s. As with countries like the United Kingdom, this led to the creation of independent Scouting organizations which continues the traditional Rover Scout programme.

In 1990, the BSP resumed a Rovering programme for men and women of 16 to 24 years in age, although there are considerable differences to the original programme. There is also a Rover Peers section for those over the age of 25.

On 12 December 2004, a number of Rover Scouts and Leaders grouped together and formed the Philippine Liahona Rover Crew as an affiliate of the Rover Scout Association. The crew became affiliated with the Baden-Powell Movement of Australia (BPSA-Australia) on 14 August 2005 and started to promote traditional Scouting programme to the younger sections.

In 2006, another independent group of Rover Scouts became part of the Rover Explorer Scouts Association, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom (The International HQ). This group was started as a single Rover crew on 21 April 2006 when their Rovermate and founder of the group was invested as a Rover Scouts, On the same year, the group gained a recognition as a Recognised COUNCIL or BRANCH Office of the Association in the Philippines. The Rover Explorer Scouts Association-Philippine Council was formed and recognised in August 2006. The Region has also adopted a local group from the United Kingdom, the Pathfinder Scouts Association(PSA). The Methodology, Practices, Programmes and beliefs of the Associations are based on the 1907 Original Scouting Programme and the Pre-Advance Party Report 1966.

Both Associations were founded by the Filipinos who are living in the Philippines through the help and assistance of Americans, Australians and British Scouts and Scouters who believe in Traditional Scouting and the Pre-1967 Scouting programme as laid down by B-P on his Rovering to Success and Scouting for Boys.

Rovers Philippines

On 18 July 2008, a national Rover Scouting network was established through the internet, a national network of Rover Leaders and Scouts in the Philippines. The members are affiliated with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the group is a founding national Rover organization in the Rover Scouts International. The dynamic network aims to promote the brotherhood of the open air and service by providing an avenue for a relevant journey of young people of Rovering age from their adolescence to responsible adulthood.

Rovers Philippines hosted the 1st Rovers Scouts International Fellowship in the 36th Asia Pacific Regional Jamboree in Mt. Makiling, Philippines with the Scouts Canada, Malaysia and Brunei. The occasion was spearheaded by the Rover Circles/Crews of RoversPhil-San Dionisio Rovers and assisted by Sacred Heart Rovers of Quezon City, SMNHS Rovers of Rizal Council, Marikina City, Butuan City and Surigao City.

On 12 December 2009, the leaders of the network elected its national committee which named the network as Rovers Philippines with the netname RoversPhil.[2]

Rovers in Japan

Rovers in Japan are usually, but not always, attached to local universities, such as Keio and Waseda. The program is seeing growth, in part due to rising dues in the similarly-aged Venture Scout program. The most recently created group is Takamatsu 15, attached to Takamatsu University on Shikoku.

Rovers in the United Kingdom

A Baden-Powell Scouts' Association Air Rover Scout, in 2008

Rover Scouts is no longer an active part of The Scout Association, having been replaced in the late 1960s by the Venture Scout programme, which in turn has been replaced by Explorer Scouts and Scout Network. There are other Scouting organizations (mainly the British Boy Scouts and British Girl Scouts Association, Baden-Powell Scouts Association, European Scout Federation (British Association) and Pathfinder Scouts Association) which are not affiliated to the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Rovering began in 1918 in the UK, ten years after the start of the Scouting program. After an initially rough start, due in large part to the effects of the First World War, the Rover Scout program began to grow.

By 1931, Rovering had established itself internationally to the extent that it saw the organization of the first World Rover Moot in 1931 at Kandersteg, Switzerland.

Initially, the age range for Rover Scout membership was not precisely specified. In 1921 the Conference of Rover Scouts stated that 'A Rover Scout is usually a Senior Scout aged 17 years and over'. In 1956 the upper age range was fixed at 24.[3]

Original programme and badges

In the 1920s, the progress badges of Rover Scouts (then known as "special proficiency badges") were not too different from the Scout section - Rover Scouts wore a First Class badge and the King's Scout badge that had red trim, together with their proficiency badges. In addition, they were qualified to achieve and wear the Rambler Badge (metal version) on the left epaluette and the Rover Instructor badge.

In the 1930s, the number of badges were greatly reduced- no more First Class badge, King's Scout badge or proficiency badges. A Rover was only entitled to wear only two badges - the Rambler and the Rover Instructor. After World War II, even the Rover Instructor was not issued for a brief period. The situation improved after 1948 when the "Plan for Rover Scouts" introduced the "Progress Badge", initially a lanyard worn on the right shirt pocket, but later changed to a cloth emblem to be worn on the right epaulette.

In a bid to rescue the flagging Rovering section, the Scout Association introduced a new organisation and training scheme in 1956, where new badges were launched to attract new members. Queen's Scouts were entitled to wear a miniature replica on their left sleeves (or the Airman's badge/Seaman's badge or Bushman's Thong under the right epaulette, but not together with the Queen's Scout badge replica) before they qualified for the highest award in the Rover section - the Baden-Powell Award (a special epaulette worn on the left shoulder).

Present day

All of the badges are now historic in The Scout Association, with the exception of the Queen's Scout Award, following their discontinuation of the Rover Scout programme.

The Baden-Powell Award still forms the award scheme for several of the traditional Scouting associations that retained Rover Scouting, such as the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. To qualify for the Baden-Powell Award, a Rover must gain the Rambler (cloth version), Project (renamed from Progress badge), Scoutcraft Star and Service Training Star. Rovers are also entitled to wear Interpreter emblems of the specialised language.[4]

In 2003 The Scout Association introduced the Scout Network, aimed at a similar age range (18 to 25) to the former Rover Scouts.[3]

Rovers in the United States

Early days

In the United States, glimmerings of Rovering emerged as local councils, Scout leaders, and Scouts worked together to deal with the "older boy" problem—that is, to find some way for Scouting to continue into young adulthood. As early as 1928 there were known to be Crews in Seattle, Detroit, Toledo and elsewhere. The program particularly flourished in New England around 1929, through the efforts of Robert Hale, who produced an early Rover Scout booklet. By 1932, there were 36 official experimental Crews, with 27 of them in 15 New England councils. Finally, in May 1933 the National Executive Board approved the program, and starting plans for development of literature and helps to leaders (Brown, 2002). A bimonthly newsletter, the Rover Record, was inaugurated in 1935 as a means of communicating directly with Rover Scouts and Leaders. A number of regional Rover Moots also were implemented during this period.

To further support the start of Rovering in the Boy Scouts of America, the first Wood Badge course held in the United States was a Rover Scout Wood Badge course, directed by English Scouter John Skinner Wilson.

Rovering, as it was conceived, was to serve as the oldest section in the program—the final stage of Scout training that started with Cub Scouts, continued with Boy Scouts, and was brought to fruition through Rovering.

Later development

The program was never very widespread in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The national office did not promote it much, preferring to push other senior programs like Sea Scouts and Explorer Scouts. Literature of the time, if it mentioned Rovers at all, gave them only a few paragraphs or a page or two. As WWI had slowed the start of Rovering in the UK, WWII caused the same difficulties for Rovering in the US, as many young men of Rovering age fought for their country overseas. The economic upheavals of the Great Depression also hampered the development of Rovering.

By the time of the 1949 reconceptualisation of senior Scouting, the BSA recognized only 1,329 Rover Scouts. In 1952, the BSA decided to stop chartering new Crews. In 1953, only 691 Scouts were officially recognised as Rovers. After 1953, they were counted together with Explorers. In 1965, when several other changes occurred in the Senior programs, National stopped renewing the registrations of Rover Crews. Those Crews that continued to exist were apparently re-registered as Exploring Posts (later Venturing Crews), but continued to use the Rover program.

Recent development

There are today Venturing Crews of the BSA following the Rover scheme and taking an interest in high adventure outdoor activities and international Scouting. To a great extent, these Crews follow B-P's idea of preparation for life and the pursuit of life. Typically, these Crews are made up of members who came up through the Boy and Girl Scouting programs and want to continue to serve the Scouting movement and the community while broadening and retaining the fellowship of Scouting and continuing self-development.

Another group maintaining a Rovering legacy is the Baden-Powell Service Association.[5] It has no upper age limit for its members to earn awards. It is not associated with the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, World Organization of the Scout Movement or World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. The group is dedicated to perpetuating the history and traditions of Rover Scouting.

Rovering in other countries

Rovering spread to many other countries following its inception in Britain in 1918, although it no longer exists in Britain. Today, the Rover section remains an important part of Scouting in many European countries, in most member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations (e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong), across Central and South America, the Middle East and in many other countries such as Ireland, Japan, Republic of China/Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. New Zealand Rovers, in particular, hold a National Moot every year over the Easter holiday weekend where international participants are always openly welcomed.

Rover Scouting continued among the troops during the Second World War, even in Prisoner of War (POW) camps. Some artifacts of the Rover Crew at Changi (Singapore), including the Crew flag, have been preserved; they are now held by the Scout Heritage Centre of Scouts Australia in Victoria, Australia. Additionally there is an ornate investiture certificate from the Changi Rover Crew in the Changi exhibit in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

International gatherings

While the Scout section has the World Scout Jamboree, Rovers have World Rover Moots. The first occurred in Kandersteg, Switzerland in 1931.

After the 7th World Rover Moot, these events were dropped from the international Scouting calendar for thirty years. The reasons can only be speculated on. Instead, the World Scout Bureau designated every fourth year a "World Moot Year" and countries were encouraged to hold their own events, as well as welcome international attendees. World Moot Years ended in 1982.

During the early 1980s, informal discussion developed among Rovers from a number of countries, notably Canada, Australia and New Zealand, of a push for World Moots to be reintroduced. Australian Rovers took the lead and made representations through the Scout Association of Australia. This was successful and in 1985, the World Scout Conference held in Munich, Germany resolved to re-establish the events. At the World Scout Conference in Melbourne, Australia in 1988, bid presentations to host the 8th World Moot were made by Australia and Switzerland. The Conference granted the event to Australia, then the 9th World Moot to Switzerland to be held 18 months later. In 1993, it was decided World Moots would continue, to be held every four years.

From the 8th World Moot, held in 1990 in Melbourne, Australia, the event was renamed World Scout Moot because the term Rover is not used in all countries.

Future World Moots:

International Scout events in Europe aimed at the older age section usually keep the Rover name. There was a European Rover Moot in 1965 at Tiveden in Sweden. There is currently a series of events called RoverWay. This first occurred in 2003 in Portugal, followed by 2006 in Italy and Iceland 2009, the next is scheduled for 2012 in Finland.

The CES (Confédération Européenne de Scoutisme) holds an annual International Rover Moot.

See also


External links





New Zealand


United States:

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