The section was started in 1918, following the successful growth of the Scout Movement, and was intended to provide a Scouting programme for young men who had grown up beyond the age range of the core Scout section. It was quickly adopted by the national Scouting organisations around the world.
Since Rover Scouting began, it has undergone many changes. Some national Scouting organisations no longer include a Rovering programme, but have replaced it with other programmes. In many of these countries, there are alternative Scouting organisations who maintain the original programme. Despite the differences in programmes, all organisations continue to provide a programme for young men and, sometimes, women into their early or mid 20s.
Rovering provides enjoyable activities that combine personal development with meaningful service. A Rover Crew governs itself, but often has an older adult as a 'Crew Advisor' or 'Rover Scout Leader.' The founder of Rovering, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, described it as a “brotherhood of open air and service.”
The objectives of Rovering are to:
- Provide service to the Scout Movement
- Provide service to the community
- Develop as individuals by expanding one's range of skills
- Enjoy fellowship, social, outdoor, and cultural activities
Rovering provides an experience that leads to a life enriched in the following ways:
- Character and Intelligence
- Handicraft and Skill
- Health and Strength
- Service for Others
Each of these elements, from character through service, finds expression in the Crew's activities.
From the section's inception in 1918, Baden-Powell intended Rovering to have no upper age limit; however, after his death in 1941, the typical age shifted to 18 - 25. Traditional Scouting Organisations such as World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS), Baden-Powell Scouts (BPSA), Rover Explorer Scouts Association (RESA), Pathfinder Scouts Association (PSA), and the United States Rovers continue to honour the founder's intent by having no upper age limit.
- "Rover Scouting is a preparation for life, and also a pursuit for life."
- - Baden-Powell, 1928.
Rovers in Australia
Rovers (Australia) includes men and women aged 17 to 25. It may be a small section of Scouts Australia, but it provides a great source of leader support for the association. The section resisted attempts to abolish it after recommendations in the 1970 "Design for Tomorrow" Report (unlike Rovering in Britain, which was disbanded after that country's "Advance Party" Report in 1966), but did modernise in the next decade. It admitted women in 1974.
The next great step, self-government, came about in the late 1970s with the Georges River experiment (named after a Scouting district in New South Wales). Rovers proved that they could govern themselves, as their leaders stepped back to become Rover Advisers. Rovers took up the challenge and the section has grown for the better. It is also around this time that the section came to be known as the 'Rovers' (dropping the word 'Scouts').
Australian Rovers provide active service to the Venturer section (14- to 17-year-olds), as well as the Joey Scouts, Cub Scout and Scout sections. Service in the community is also valued, with many Branch Rover Councils (the governing bodies for Rovers in each State and Territory) presenting annual awards to Crews who provide exemplary service to the community and/or Scouting.
Another notable feature of Rovering in Australia is the existence of "Lones" Rover Crews in several states, which draw their membership from across rural areas, or from Rovers who due to shiftwork, military service, or other reasons, cannot be members of traditional Rover Crews. Meetings are essentially held by correspondence, in the form of regular newsletters or online, with at least one annual Crew camp or other activity. Lone Rovers are also encouraged to get involved with any local Scouting activities and to link up with regular Crews' activities wherever possible.
National Rover Moots are held every three years in Australia with the most recent, the 17th Australian Moot or AussieMoot, being held at Cataract Scout Park near Sydney in the 2007-08 summer. The 18th Australian Moot or "OzMoot" will be held at Woodhouse near Adelaide in January 2011.
In 2008, Australian Rovers marked the 90th birthday of the section, together with the 100th anniversary of Scouting in Australia.
Rovers in Canada
Rovers (men and women ages 18-26) is part of the Scouts Canada program. The Rover program is the final stage in Canadian Scouting after the Venturer (ages 14-17) program. Rovers, like all of Scouts Canada programs, are open to both males and females.
The outdoors is an essential part of the Rover program. Rovers often participate in adventurous activities like mountain climbing, white water rafting, or para-sailing. Rovers also help their local communities by running service activities such as food drives, park clean-ups, and tree plantings. Rovers meet in a group called a crew. Rovers develop and manage their own program under the mentor ship of a respected advisor. Rovers adhere to a promise and motto.
Rovers in Philippines
Rovering started in the Philippines when the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) separated from the Boy Scouts of America on October 31,1936. However, following the Chief Scout's Advance Party Report in 1966, the section was discontinued in the Philippines, and was replaced by a different programme.
The Advanced Party Report caused some disquiet amongst some leaders who believed that Scouting was progressing away from its traditional roots, and the Philippines was no different to other organisations affected by the programme changes in the late 1960s. As with countries like the United Kingdom, this led to the creation of independent Scouting organisations which continues the traditional Rover Scout programme.
In 1991, the BSP resumed a Rovering programme for boys of 16 to 24 years in age, although there are considerable differences to the original programme. There is also a Rover Peers section for those over the age of 25.
On December 12, 2004, a number of Rover Scouts and Leaders grouped together and formed the Philippine Liahona Rover Crew as an affiliate of the Rover Scout Association. The crew became affiliated with the Baden-Powell Movement Of Australia (BPSA-Australia) on August 14, 2005 and started to promote traditional Scouting programme to the younger sections.
In 2006, another independent group of Rover Scouts became part of the Rover Explorer Scout Association, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom. This group was started as one crew only on April 21, 2006, but membership grew so that, within a year, the group gained recognition as a Region within the Association. The Rover Explorer Scouts Association-Philippine Regional Council was formed and recognised in January, 2007. The Region has also adopted a local group from the Pathfinder Scouts Association.
Rovers in the United Kingdom
Rover Scouts is no longer an active part of The Scout Association, having been replaced by the Venture Scout programme, which in turn has been replaced by Explorer Scouts and Scout Network. There are other Scouting organizations (mainly the Baden-Powell Scouts Association and Rover Explorering Scout Association) which are not affiliated to the World Organization of the Scout Movements who do continue the original Rovering programme.
Rovering began in 1918 in the UK, ten years after the start of the Scouting program. After an initially rough start, due in large part to the effects of the First World War, the Rover Scout program began to grow.
By 1931, Rovering had established itself internationally to the extent that it saw the organisation of the first World Rover Moot in 1931 at Kandersteg, Switzerland.
Initially, there was no upper age limit. In 1956 it was fixed at 24. The Scout Association discontinued the Rover Scout programme between 1967 and 1970 following the Chief Scout's All Parties Review, and Venture Scouts, with an age range of 16 - 21, were introduced. In 2003, the Venture Scouts were also discontinued, being replaced by the Scout Network, covering the age range 18 to 25, and the Explorer Scouts, covering the age of 14 to 18.
Original Programme and Badges
In the 1920s, the progress badges of Rover Scouts (then known as "special proficiency badges") were not too different from the Scout section - Rover Scouts wore a First Class badge and the King's Scout badge that had a red brim, together with their proficiency badges. In addition, they were qualified to win and wear the Rambler's Badge (metal version) on the left epaluette and the Rover Instructor badge.
In the 1930s, the number of badges were greatly reduced - no more First Class badge, King's Scout badge or proficiency badges. A Rover was only entitled to wear only two badges - the Rambler and the Rover Instructor. After World War II, even the Rover Instructor was not issued for a brief period. The situation improved after 1948 when the "Plan for Rover Scouts" introduced the "Progress Badge", initially a lanyard worn on the right shirt pocket, but later changed to a cloth emblem to be worn on the right epaluette.
In a bid to rescue the flagging Rovering section, the Scout Association introduced a new organisation and training scheme in 1956, where new badges were launched to attract new members. Queen's Scouts were entitled to wear a miniature replica on their left sleeves (or the Airman's badge/Seaman's badge or Bushman's Thong under the right epaulette, but not together with the Queen's Scout badge replica) before they qualified for the highest award in the Rover section - the B-P's Award (a special epaulette worn on the left shoulder). To qualify for the B-P's Award, a Rover must gain the Rambler (cloth version), Project (renamed from Progress badge), Scoutcraft Star, Service Training Star and the Rover Instructor. Rovers are also entitled to wear Interpreter emblems of the specialised language.
All of the badges are now historic, with the exception of the Queen's Scout Award, following the discontinuation of the Rover Scout programme.
Rovers in the United States
In the United States, glimmerings of Rovering emerged as local councils, Scout leaders, and Scouts worked together to deal with the "older boy" problem--that is, to find some way for Scouting to continue into young adulthood. As early as 1928 there were known to be Crews in Seattle, Detroit, Toledo and elsewhere. The program particularly flourished in New England around 1929, through the efforts of Robert Hale, who produced an early Rover Scout booklet. By 1932, there were 36 official experimental Crews, with 27 of them in 15 New England councils. Finally, in May of 1933 the National Executive Board approved the program, and starting plans for development of literature and helps to leaders (Brown, 2002). A bimonthly newsletter, the Rover Record, was inaugurated in 1935 as a means of communicating with directly with Rover Scouts and Leaders. A number of regional Rover Moots also were implemented during this period.
To further support the start of Rovering in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the first Wood Badge course held in the United States was a Rover Scout Wood Badge course, directed by English Scouter John Skinner Wilson.
Rovering, as it was conceived, was to serve as the oldest section in the program -- the final stage of Scout training that started with Cub Scouts, continued with Boy Scouts and was brought to fruition through Rovering.
The program was never very widespread in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The national office didn't promote it much, preferring to push other senior programs like Sea Scouts and Explorer Scouts. Literature of the time, if it mentioned Rovers at all, gave them only a few paragraphs or a page or two. As the First World War had slowed the start of Rovering in the UK, the Second caused the same difficulties for Rovering in the USA, as many young men of Rovering age fought for their country overseas. The economic upheavals of the Great Depression also hampered the development of Rovering.
By the time of the 1949 reconceptualization of senior Scouting, the BSA only recognised 1,329 Rover Scouts. In 1952, BSA decided to stop chartering new Crews. In 1953, only 691 Scouts were officially recognised as Rovers; after that year, they were counted together with Explorers. In 1965, when several other changes occurred in the Senior programs, National stopped renewing the registrations of Rover crews. Those crews that continued to exist were apparently re-registered as Exploring posts (later Venturing crews), but continued to use the Rover program.
Among the most widely known of these Crews was the influential B-P Rover Crew of Glasgow, KY, which delivered the Rover Scout program from the 1950s until 2000. The B-P Crew was instrumental in starting other Crews such as the Kudu Crew of Bardstown, KY and the Diamond Willow Crew of Chicago, IL. The B-P Crew also hosted the internationally well-regarded Rover Wee Moot from 1953 until 1999.
Now, Rovering in the USA is being rekindled in the form of the United States Rovers. Not associated with the BSA, this group of American Scouters is dedicated to perpetuating the history and traditions of Rover Scouting. The United States Rovers was incorporated in Kentucky on 31 July 2008 with 77 members across the US and overseas. Home office is in Corinth, Kentucky.
Rovering in Other Countries
Rovering spread to many other countries following its inception in Britain in 1918, although it no longer exists in Britain. Today, the Rover section remains an important part of Scouting in many European countries, in most member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations (eg. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Singapore and Hong Kong), across Central and South America, the Middle East and in many other countries such as Ireland, Japan, Taiwan,Thailand and Korea. New Zealand Rovers, in particular, hold a National Moot every year over Easter Weekend where international participants are always openly welcomed.
Rover Scouting continued among the troops during the Second World War, even in Prisoner of War (POW) camps. Some artifacts of the Rover crew at Changi (Singapore), including the crew flag, have been preserved; they are now held by the Scout Heritage Centre (Scouts Australia, Scouting in Victoria).
While the Scout section has the World Scout Jamboree, Rovers initially had the World Rover Moot. The first one took place at Kandersteg in 1931 and these events were held every four or so years, up until the 7th World Rover Moot, in the summer of 1961/62 in Melbourne, Australia.
Following lobbying efforts headed by Australian Rovers in the 1980s, the World Scout Bureau reintroduced the events, renaming them World Scout Moot, as the term Rover was no longer used in some countries. The 8th World Scout Moot was held in Melbourne, Australia in the summer of 1990/91, followed by the 9th World Scout Moot at Kandersteg, Switzerland in mid-1992. Following this, the events reverted to a four year cycle, with Sweden, then Mexico, then Taiwan as host countries. The 13th World Scout Moot was originally scheduled for Mozambique in 2008, however will now be held in Kenya in 2010.
- Rover Scout Departure :
- World Scout Moot
- Boy Scouts of America
- Wood Badge
- Venture Scout
- Scouting Ireland Venture Scouts
- Explorer Belt
- Riaumont Rovers Scout Catholic Scouts in France.
- New Zealand Rovers
- History of Rovers in UK
- Scouting Milestones describes Rover Crews in POW camps during World War II