Bandalag íslenskra skáta
Bandalag íslenskra skáta (BIS, Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association) is the national Scouting and Guiding organization of Iceland. Scouting was founded in Iceland in 1912 and was among the earlier members of WOSM in 1924. Guiding in Iceland was founded in 1922 and among the founding members of WAGGGS.
The organization serves 1,493 Scouts (as of 1999) and 2,002 Guides (as of 2003) in 35 troops.
Scouting was introduced in Iceland as early as 1911, when Ingvar Ólafsson, who had entered the Scout Movement in Denmark, formed the first Boy Scout patrol. At that time Iceland was a part of the Danish Crown, enjoying Home Rule only since 1904. A growing feeling of nationalism striving for independence for this country lead many societies and movements to look for guidance and motives in other countries than Denmark. This is true for the Scout Movement as in 1912 the leaders of Icelandic Scouting turned to the English original and Scouting for Boys as their model for Icelandic Scouting.
The first council, Skátafelag Reykjavíkur (Literally the The Scout Society of Reykjavík) was established on November 2, 1912, and many of the members of the first Scout patrol became founding members of this new council, which operated in Reykjavík. A new Scout group was formed on April 23, 1913 with members from the Reykjavík YMCA. In 1916 a group was formed in Stykkishólmur, 1917 in Akureyri to be followed with groups in the principal towns of Hafnarfjörður, Eyrarbakki Akranes and Ísafjörður.
Guiding commenced on July 7, 1922 as the YWCA established a group of Girl Guides.
A National Association was formed in 1925. The first Chief Scout was Mr. Axel W. Tulinius, (1925-1938) followed by Dr. Helgi Tómasson (1938-1958), Jónas B. Jónsson (1958-1971), Páll Gíslason (1971-1981), Ágúst Þorsteinsson (1981-1988), Gunnar H. Eyjólfsson (1988-1993) and Ólafur Ásgeirsson (1993-). In 1981, Mr. Gislason was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting. In 2005, Margrét Tómasdóttir became the first female Chief Scout.
As Iceland became an independent kingdom in personal union with Denmark in 1918, it was possible for Icelanders and Icelandic associations to join international organizations. One of the first associations of the new kingdom to do this, was the Boy Scout Association, which joined the World Movement in 1924. The Icelandic Girl Guides joined the WAGGGS in 1928. Icelandic Scouts have been present at all International Jamborees since Ermelunden in 1924.
Scouting had a firm start in Iceland and grew fast during the thirties as in 1940 the number of Scouts and Guides was around 3,000, out of population of 130,000. In 1938 the Icelandic Scouts and Guides made history as the first joint councils of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were formed in Keflavík and Vestmannaeyjar.
In 1939 the Girl Guide Association was formed with Jakobína Magnúsdóttir as Chief Commissioner and HRH The Crown Princess Ingirid as patron. And again the Icelandic Scouts and Guides made scout history when they formed the first joint association of Scouts and Guides in the world in 1944. A good example to the Scouts and Guides in the world.
The Icelandic Scout and Guide Association is an active movement in Iceland tending to their own training and program needs. The first Scout handbook appeared in Icelandic in 1919 and easily adapting Baden-Powell's ideas to the possibilities of this country. Scout Magazines have been published since 1919, the one run by the National Association, Skátablaðið, has been published since 1935 and has been on and off since then. The last publication was 2018.
In 1942 the association leased the farm Úlfljótsvatn near Reykjavík, which has since then been the center of training and camping activities. Another scout center at Hamrar near Akureyri in the northern part of Iceland is owned and ran by the scout den and their scout group called Klakkur and its in alot of scouts hearts the best scout campsite in Iceland.
Icelandic Scouts have been very active in international Scouting, working together with the Nordic countries, effective in the preparation of the Nordjamb 1975 (World Scout Jamboree in Norway), and participating in annual program prepared by the Nordic Scout Council. However they arent very active participating in international projects for example: Messenger of Peace, Earth Tribe etc. Since the International Advisors at the organization believe that they should rather focus on other things.
National Jamborees have been an integral part of Icelandic Scouting starting in 1925. Ever since, the National Jamboree has been an event, at first every fourth year and now a triennial event.
- Family Scouts- ages 3-99
- Beavers-ages 7 to 8
- Cubs-ages 9 to 10
- Scouts-ages 11 to 14
- Venture Scouts-14 to 18
- Rescue Teams-ages 17 and up
The Scout Motto is Ávallt viðbúinn, Always Prepared.
International Scouting units in Iceland
- In addition, there used to be an American Boy Scout troop in Keflavík, linked to the Direct Service branch of the Boy Scouts of America, which still supports units around the world.