Scouting in The Netherlands





















The beginning



Scouting started in 1907, when an instruction book for the training of soldiers in the British army, written by Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smith Baden Powell, came into the hands of the British youth. After returning to England he noticed that AIDS to Scouting, as this book was called, was used at the education of youth, but that they also played with it. Baden Powell then decided to rewrite the book and chose Scouting for Boys as its title. To test his ideas in practice he organised a test camp. This camp, to which 21 boys participated (this in contrast to what was written on the memorial stone) varying from poor to wealthy, was organised on Brownsea Island from 1 to 9 august 1907. During this camp B.P. (as Baden Powell was called) noticed that the cloths the boys were wearing, weren't suitable for the game which he had in mind. Therefore special clothing had to be designed, clothes which were strong and moreover banned the difference between the existing classes.

Initially Scouting for Boys was released in six episodes, intended as a game plan for existing youth associations. Not the youth associations, but youngsters themselves started to work with the articles of B.P. It appeared that the youngsters spontaneously formed patrols on their own, without any aid of adults. Baden Powell then decided to lead the movement by himself and so this way Scouting started, an association which developed into the largest youth association in the world, initially intended only for boys of 12 till 17 years.


How Scouting came to Holland

Scoutmaster Bernhard Blythe of 16th Oxfordgroup had taken the idea to make an excursion in the summer holiday to the main land by bicycle, together with a number of boys. To plan his trip he contacted "Jongelingen Matrozenkorps Jong Nederland” in Rotterdam and journalist Gos de Voogt in Amsterdam. On Thursday August 4th he arrived in Rotterdam with six boys, chosen as the best by skill tests. Here they were welcomed by the members of the Matrozenkorps, who would grant hospitality to the patrol. After several guided tours in Rotterdam and visits to The Hague and Scheveningen the scouts left on Monday the 8th of Augusts to Amsterdam, where they were welcomed by Gos de Voogt who had ensured their lodging. After a stay of two days in Amsterdam the British Scouts continued their hiking tour through the Netherlands and Belgium. Finaly they left the European mainland on August 17th from Rotterdam to go back to Oxford.




The visit of the English Scouts was the signal to start scouts troops in several towns in Holland. As coordinating organisation the “Nederlandsche Padvinders Organisatie“ (NPO) was established on the 5th of January 1911 in Amsterdam and approximately at the same time in The Hague the “Jonge Verkenners” was realised. In November 1911 the “Nederlandsche Vereeniging of Boy Scouts“ arose, which later submerged later in the NPO. On the 10th of March 1912 the “Nederlandsche Padvindersbond“ (NPB) was founded, in which the “Jonge Verkenners“ were taken.




After a lot of discussions between NPO and NPB, which went rather difficult, the ”Vereeniging De Nederlandsche Padvinders” (NPV) was founded on December 11th 1915 as the coordinating organisation for all Dutch Scouts.


The girls also wanted to play the game of Scouting. Soon Girlscouts, Padverkensters, Meisjesgezellen etc. appeared in several towns. In 1912, there was an initiative to start a national organisation in The Hague, the “Eerste Nederlandsche Meisjesgezellen Vereeniging“ (ENMGV), but it didn't succeed. In some cities, such as Amsterdam and Amersfoort, the girls were associated with the NPO. At the NPB girl groups weren't accepted. When in 1915 the NPV came about the girls were again casted aside, because the NPV also didn't accept girl troops.

Some local associations, f.i.  Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Leiden, got together and set up the “Nederlandsch Meisjesgilde“ (NMG) (Dutch Girl Guild) on January 31, 1916. The ENMGV didn't join the NMG and remained independent for some time. In 1933, the name was changed in “Nederlandsch Padvindsters Gilde“ (NPG) (Dutch Girl Scout Guild).




Following the Cub Scouts in United Kingdom, the first Cub Scout groups started in 1919 in the Netherlands. The age of the cubs was initially from 9 till 11 years, later this was brought back to 7 till 11 years. The game of the cubs, which is based on The Junglebook written by Rudyard Kipling, takes place in the jungle.

On the general Laeders conference of October 30th 1920 the Cubs were officially recognised.


Shortly afterwards a third age group was formed, for boys from 17 till 21years, the rover scouts. The denomination of the three components together became a group, that of the cubs a pack, of the scouts a troop and of the rover scouts a tribe.




Also at the girl scouts movement new age groups started; the brownies from 7 till 10 years and pioneers from 17 till 21 years. The game of the brownies took place in the world of Tommie and Betty and the wise brown owl, written by Julia Horatia Ewing.




In 1930 the catholic scout groups united themselves to a catholic association, the “Katholieke Verkenners” (KV), which first was a part of the NPV. In 1938 it became an independent association.


In 1932 in Wassenaar the National Camp was organised from 2 till 12 August.

The camp, on which several foreign groups participated, was officially opened by HRH Prince Hendrik on the 3rd of August. The sea scouts had situated their camp at the Kagerplassen. This camp was also intended to be   a test camp for a possible jamboree.

On Thursday the 11th of August Baden Powell visited the camp.



In that same year the “Pavindersvereniging Nederland” (PVN) (Dutch Scout movement) branched off from the NPV for organizational reasons. In order to be able to participate in the Jamboree of 1937 the PNV joined the NPV again.


The fifth Worldjamboree,   in 1937, was organised in the Netherlands. More than 28000 scouts from 54 countries took part in this camp, which was located on the estate „Huis te Vogelenzang“ at Vogelenzang (near Bloemendaal). The camp was opened by HM Queen Wilhelmina in the presence of the founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden Powell of Gilwell. This was the last Jamboree he visited.




As the “Katholieke Verkenners” became an independent association in 1938, something had to be organised, because only one organisation in each country could become a member of the World Organisation of the Scouting Movement (WOSM). Therefore the “Nationale Padvindersraad” (National Scouts Council) was installed, to represent both associations (NPV and KV) at the world organisation.


The war period (1940 – 1945)


At first, Scouting could still play its game undisturbed, only camping wasn't possible and outdoor activities were almost impossible. Very soon it became clear that it was the intention to abolish all existing youth associations and to form one national youth movement together with the “Nationale Jeugd Storm“ (NJS) (the national socialistic youth movement). However the “Nationale Padvindersraad“ refused any cooperation.


On April 2nd 1941 Scouting was forbidden by the German occupier, because in their opinion it was a hostile organisation conducted from London. The headquarters   were sealed and all administration etc. was confiscated and destroyed. The troop homes were also sealed and were later given to the NJS. All stuff that wasn't useful for them was burned, so that much material had been lost. Nevertheless Scouting continued underground. Suddenly several new clubs arose everywhere, such as walking clubs, crafts clubs, etc. When scouts appeared directly after the end of the war and restarted their activities it was clear that the Scouting Movement in the Netherlands wasn’t affected by the war.




Also the catholic girls wanted to play the game of Scouting. On July 4th 1945 the “Nederlandse Gidsen Beweging” (NGB) (Dutch Guides Movement) was formed with brownies, guides and pioneers. Some years later the name was modified into “Nederlandse Gidsen” (NG) (Dutch Guides). The guides played the same game as the Girl Scouts of the NPG, but the brownies had their own story, they played in Het bos van avontuur  (The Forest of adventure).


In 1946, the Driehoeksmeisjes (Trianglegirls) linked up with Scouting and in 1948 the scouting groups of the Salvation Army followed. The girls joined the NPG and the boys joined the NPV.


On the occasion of forty years of Scouting in Holland the Cubs had a large Rimboejacht (Junglehunt) in 1950, and a large Sea Scout camp was held in Terhorne. In Ommen the national camp was held in which a large number of foreign scouts participated.




In 1957 the KV got a new age group, the rowans, intended for boys from 14-15 till 17 years. Shortly afterwards the NG followed with sherpas. In that same period the NPV experimented with senior scouts and in the NPG the girl scouts were divided into juniors and seniors.


The fiftieth anniversary in 1960, was celebrated in Ommen with an international leaders gathering, “Indaba“, and in Amsterdam the event “Youth and flowers“ took place bij boy scouts and girl scouts.


After the four associations decided to cooperate more intensly into the “Federatie Scouting Nederland“ a merger followed shortly afterwards. On January 6th 1973 the association “Scouting Nederland“ was founded in which all four associations merged.

The brownies of the NPG and the NG both had their own theme, so after the merger a new theme was ceated; Bambilië.



Following Canada a new age group for boys and girls from 5 - 7 years started in 1985: the bevers (beavers). They played in De wereld van Lange Doener (The world of Lange Doener). As more and more of the Scoutinggroups started to play with both boys and girls, a mixed unit started in 1991 for the age from 7 till 11 years: the Estas who play in Het land van Esta (The Land of Esta). In 2001 a new unit for the same age started for the waterscouts: Dolfijnen (dolphins), who play on Het dolfijnen-eiland (The dolphin island).




In 1995 the Netherlands organised a World Jamboree for the second time, the 18th World Jamboree in the Flevopolder near Biddinghuizen (municipality Dronten). Next to the Flevohof approximately 29000 scouts from 169 countries gathered there.

In that same area the European Jamboree took place in 1994. In this test camp not only Dutch scouts participated, but also a lot of scouts from other European countries. During this camp things could still be improved to make the World Jamboree a success.

Following HM Queen Wilhelmina, who opened the first jamboree in the Netherlands in 1937, HM Queen Beatrix opened this Jamboree on August 2nd in the presence of the patron of Scouting Nederland, HRH Prince Claus. This happened at a temperature of around 30 degrees centigrade, a temperature which practically remained this high during the entire Jamboree. In spite of that it was a very successful camp.


In 1996 a reorganisation took place in order to reduce the distance between the groups and the national level. Districts were combined and transformed into regions and the counties were banned. Servicepoints came to support the regions.


“Vrienden van Scouting”, an independent association of former Scouts and Guides since 1973, was incorporated in the new unit Plus-scouts in 2004, in which f.i. special interest rover scout units also have been categorised. Because of this they also became a full member of Scouting Nederland.




The jubilee year 2010 was celebrated with Bever-doe-dag in the Amersfoort Zoo, a massive happening for scouts from 7 years in Utrecht (for this occasion renamed as Scoutrecht) and Jubilee Jamboree in Roermond. The uniform was modernised and is now called “Scoutfit”. Also the game plan was reconsidered. The beavers will now play in the village Hotsjietonia instead of het house Hotsjitonia. The cubs, brownies, estas and dolphins will all play together in the jungle, with Mowgli and Shanti. From now on there will be only one name used for every age group: 5-7 years beavers, 7 - 10 years cubs, 10 - 14 years scouts, 14 - 17 years explorers and 17 - 21 years rover scouts.

The museum is always interested in "old" Dutch scouting stuff.
Are you considering removing your old stuff, please contact us.