Vietnam rejoins Scout Movement, growing membership to 170 strong
World Scouting today welcomed Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam as its 170th member, marking a historic moment as Vietnam formally rejoins the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) after 44 years. The move comes following a period of collaboration and unification for Scouting in Vietnam, supported by local leaders in close collaboration with the World Scout Bureau’s Asia-Pacific Support Centre and the Regional Committee.
Scouting has existed in Vietnam for nearly a century, but official Scouting activities ceased as a consequence of the war in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in the loss of official WOSM membership in 1975. However, over the past two decades, Scouting has seen a resurgence at the grassroots level with activities for Cubs, Scouts, and Rovers conducted on a weekly basis by trained Scout leaders.
During recent meetings of Vietnamese leaders with representatives from the Asia-Pacific Support Centre, several members of Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam’s interim board expressed their eagerness and anticipation for the future of Scouting in Vietnam that after a long wait, the time has come to give the young people of Vietnam the educational programme of Scouting they long deserve.
“I’d like to express my gratitude to the leaders of Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam and colleagues at the Asia-Pacific Support Centre for their incredible commitment and contribution, which has made this milestone a reality. Thanks to your efforts, we can now bring quality Scouting to Vietnam, advancing our work to prepare young people for an ever-changing world,” said World Scout Committee Chairperson, Craig Turpie, following the announcement.
“The leadership at Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam has worked hard to engage volunteers and young people in an inspiring Scouting programme that will have a lasting impact in the empowerment of young people in Vietnam,” said WOSM Secretary General, Ahmad Alhendawi. “With Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam rejoining, the Scout Movement is now 170 members strong, making WOSM the largest youth organisation in the world both in terms of the numbers of countries and active Scouts. We look forward to the work ahead in supporting the growth of Scouting as a unique programme for young people in Vietnam.”
Today, there are more than 5,000 Scouts in Vietnam and the country’s Scout leadership comprises former Scouts from the business, education, and public service sectors. “This journey for Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam has been 20 years in the making, and we are looking at the future of Scouting in Vietnam with great anticipation,” said the Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific Scout Region, J. Rizal C. Pangilinan. He added that “Part of Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam’s strategic goals are membership growth and the Sustainable Development Goals. We have a pool of Scout leaders, WOSM consultants, and partners inside and outside of Vietnam to support the organisation in achieving these goals.”
A long history of Scouting in Vietnam
Scouting began in Vietnam as early as the 1920s. During this time, early Scout troops consisted mainly of children from the French quarters where local educators such as Tran Van Khac and Hoang Dao Thuy took interest and pioneered the first Scout units in northern Vietnam.
The first training centre was created in 1938, and the first Indochina Jamboree was held in 1941 in Vietnam with the participation of Scouts from Cambodia and Laos. Scouting flourished in subsequent years and the Scout Association of Vietnam became a member of WOSM in 1957. Vietnam was one of the founding countries of the 1st Far East Regional Scout Conference in 1958 (the predecessor of the Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Conference).
Since the loss of official WOSM membership in 1975, Scouting endured throughout the years, with a notable increase in the last few decades during which local leaders persisted to regain official recognition in the country, as well as in WOSM.
Over the past 20 years, with continued support from the World Scout Bureau’s Asia-Pacific Support Centre, Scouting in Vietnam has strengthened its training programme for a new generation of Scout leaders with three consecutive advanced Wood Badge training courses held in the Philippines from 2010 to 2011. Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam also received technical and financial support from other National Scout Organizations and individuals.
Subsequent basic training courses and simultaneous camps were held in the cities of Hanoi, Nghe An, and Nam Dinh, and more Scout groups were formed in the highland provinces. A strategic plan was prepared in 2013 to set the roadmap for Scouting in Vietnam, including the unification of parallel Scout groups.
The formal membership application from Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam to rejoin WOSM was received in July 2018 and endorsed by the World Scout Committee in October 2018. Following a formal postal ballot with all existing 169 Member Organizations over the past three months, Pathfinder Scouts Vietnam has become the 170th member of WOSM as of 10 January 2019.