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British Scouting overseas

There has been a long standing association between international schools and the Scout movement. Jon Gill, the Growth and Development coordinator of the British Scouting Overseas (BSO) Area wants to hear from schools who would like to find out more about working with them to set up a scouting unit.

* for more about our historic picture taken in 1919 with all its international connections, see below!

What’s it all about?                                                              

British Scouting Overseas (BSO) is a UK Scout area that provides Scouting to British citizens (and in some cases other nationalities) living overseas. BSO exists to support families around the world where, due to cultural or language barriers, it is not always possible for young people from the UK to join local Scout Groups in the country where they reside.

Our aim to is ensure that all members of BSO feel they are full members of UK Scouting, enjoying activities in a safe and secure environment best suited to their local circumstances, with access to high quality support and advice no matter where in the world they are situated.


How is BSO organised?

British Scouting Overseas is made up of 50 Scout Groups (6 – 14 years old), 17 Explorer Scout Units (14 – 18 years old) and 5 Scout Network Units (18 – 25 years old). These are spread across 25 countries worldwide! We have approximately 2,800 young people in BSO, and the delivery of the programme is supported by around 800 adult volunteers, with roles varying from section leaders, to skilled instructors, executive committee members and volunteer managers.

BSO is divided into four Districts in order to provide greater local support. These Districts are Northern Europe, France / Iberia, Middle East and Rest of the Word.

The Rest of the World District currently incorporates 16 Groups in The Falkland Islands, Ascension Island and St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. In Asia and Africa, our Groups are located in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Russia and Kenya.

Where do schools come in?

Many of our Scout Groups operate in British and International Schools around the world. Some use the premises with limited support from the school, but increasingly the model is for a Scout Group to exist as part of the extra – curricular activities / enrichment programme within the school.

How we would like to grow

BSO is always looking to further expand in any of the Districts and particularly in countries where we currently have no presence.

We would welcome enquiries from British Curriculum and International schools who may be interested in starting a Scout Group, either as an extra / curricular or enrichment activity, or as a standalone Group using the premises. We have a strong support network to assist the setting up of a Group and provide the necessary adult training and support, together with the requisite forms and advice for UK nationals DBS clearance, plus local Police checks needed on a country by country basis.


Click on our emblem to follow the link to the BSO website to view our current locations worldwide.

For further information, please contact me!

Jon Gill – Growth and Development coordinator, British Scouting Overseas Area team

District Commissioner – Rest of the World District



*Feature Image: September 1919 – 1st Scoutmasters’ Training Class – William Daniel Shankley front right

Our feature image illustrates some early international connections and one Scout leader who was to establish a scout group in an Australian school.  It was taken at Gilwell Park, Chingford, England at the first Scoutmasters training class. It features William Shankley, the inventor of the woggle, who in 1922 accompanied Sir Alfred Pickford, Overseas Scout Commissioner for the Empire, as secretary and to assist with training courses. He became involved with Scouting activities in Australia and New Zealand and rather than return to Britain, he worked in various places in Australia, primarily in West Australia. In 1952 he moved to Tasmania, taking up a position at The Friend’s School. He remained active with the Scouting movement for practically the rest of his life. He was instrumental in setting up a Scout Group at the school.


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