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Salvation Army Scouting
A Proud History*

by John Pettifer

Baden-Powell invited only one religious minister to become a vice-president of the Scout Association when he formed it - the Salvation Army's founder; Reverend William Booth.

After declining the offer due to his heavy work load, Reverend Booth asked B.-P. if the Salvation Army could use the Scout program and method when training its youth. When B.-P. agreed, the Salvation Army Scout Association (a branch of Scouting known as the "Life-Saving Scouts) was created; it ran independently until the mid 1030s. In 1937, an agreement brought an affiliation between the Salvation Army Scout Association and the Boy Scouts of Canada.

Today, the Salvation Army Scout Association continues as a separate Scout Association, recognized by World Scouting through that affiliation. In almost all respects, the Salvation Army Scout Group is a full member of the local Scouts Canada Council. (The other recognized Scout Association in Canada is L'Association des Scouts du Canada. Representatives from both these organizations sit of Scouts Canada's National Council.)

Ties that Bind
Recently, the Salvation Army's Territorial Commander, Commissioner Don Kerr, attended the National Council meeting to sign a revised Memorandum of Agreement that allowed for co-education Scouting within the Salvation Army groups. As well, he strengthened the bond between the two organizations.

Until recently, the Salvation Army had a strong affiliation with Canadian Guiding, but decided to sever that relationship due to changes within Guiding that the Salvation Army felt were weakening the spiritual emphasis. The Army made the change reluctantly, but continues to recognize and praise Guiding for its excellent leadership training. While Salvation Army groups welcome children of all religious backgrounds and beliefs, Scouting forms an integral part of the Salvation Army's Christian Education program. In addition to subscribing to the appropriate Scout Promise and Law, Salvation Army Group members must also subscribe to the Salvation Army pledge, "to abstain from the use of intoxicating drink, drugs, tobacco, gambling and all other injurious habits."

Two Salvation Army youth publications ("The Edge", and the "Young Soldier") often contain Scouting articles. Top performers in Salvation Army groups receive "The General's Award." Those adults who demonstrated "exceptional Christian service to youth through Scouting receive the "Scouter's Award." The Army promotes the Religion in Life Award within its groups, too. (Contact Salvation Army offices for details.

Methodist Roots
The worldwide Salvation Army is a church with Methodist heritage and doctrines. In Canada, its administrative territory covers both Canada and Bermuda (though Scouting in Bermuda comes under the UK Scout Association). The Army has 16 divisional headquarters (DHQ), each operating under a divisional commander (DC).

Each divisional commander also has a divisional youth secretary (DYS) who provides support and contact for Scout groups within the division. Nationally, a Territorial Scout Director (Captain Dirk Van Duinen) maintains contact. He is based in Toronto. (Captain Van Duinen recently received the Scouter's Award.)

Not a Sponsor
The Salvation Army isn't a "sponsor" in generally accepted Scouting terms, but a separate association affiliated with Scouts Canada. As part of the affiliation agreement, the Salvation Army retains its distinct identity, with authority over its leaders, and its own policies concerning finances, appointments, and spiritual emphasis. In addition to accepting Scouts Canada's policies ( as outlined in Bylaw, Policies and Procedures), the Salvation Army groups are also guided by a similar, but complementary document, "Orders and Regulations for the Salvation Army Scouts."

New Salvation Army groups register initially through their respective Salvation Army divisional headquarters, though subsequent registration, using Salvation Army forms, is handled in the normal manner through local Scout offices.

Salvation Army Scouting has had a long and close association with Scouts Canada. This will continue as both organizations move confidently into the next millennium.



*This appeared in the June/July 1998 edition of The Leader p37. It is posted here with the kind permission of the author. (The photo of William Booth was not part of the original article and comments in parentheses are mine)