Scouts-in-Exile, also referred to as Scouts-in-Exteris, are Scouting and Guiding groups formed outside of their native country as a result of war and changes in governments. This concept is not to be confused with overseas branches of Scouting associations for Scouts whose parents are stationed in countries due to military or business assignment, such as the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
From time to time throughout its existence, Scouting has been suppressed by a change in government, usually when a totalitarian regime comes into power, as is the modern-day case with Cuba, Laos, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China.
After World War I, Scouting was banned by the Soviets in Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Just prior to World War II, both Mussolini and Hitler disbanded Scouting. In most of these instances, Scouting was revived in the individual community in diaspora.
During the later days of World War II and until about 1947, Scouting flourished in the Displaced Persons Camps (DP Camps). These Scout groups often provided postal delivery and other basic services in Displaced Persons Camps.
At the end of World War II, the Soviets absorbed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and immediately banned Scouting. The establishment of communist regimes in Eastern Europe resulted in the end of the original Scouting movements within Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Yugoslavia.
With the end of the colonial period, other countries came under totalitarian control and banned Scouting. Such was the case in Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Mainland China, Cuba, Laos, Malawi, Myanmar, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
During and immediately after the establishment of each totalitarian government, there was an exodus of people that were not in sympathy with the new regime. Those immigrants brought Scouting with them, as Scouts-In-Exile, groups of Scouts dedicated to the principles and ideals of their original associations, but located outside their country of origin. The notable exception to this is Bosnia, where refugees fleeing the war in the 1990s made their way to Ireland, where they were assisted in the creation of their own Scouting movement by local volunteer Irish Scouters.
Many of these exile Scout groups were members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. However, in the mid 1940s, they were denied further membership, with the exception of the Haï Ari Association of Armenian Scouts, whose membership was retained at the explicit wish of Baden-Powell.
All the formerly communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Soviet Union have developed or are developing Scouting in the wake of the renaissance in the region. These include most of the successor states to the Soviet Union. In many cases, the exile Scout association was absorbed into the new nation's association, in others the association remained separate and provided aid to the fledgling homegrown Scout groups.
A number of exile Scout groups have their own national and multinational organizations, hold regional and world jamborees, issue training materials, and furnish leadership. Other groups were eventually absorbed into local communities or lost their unique Scouting completely, as seems to have been the case with Belarus.
In a number of countries, the Scouts in exile cooperated with the national Scout organizations in joint activities, including joint activities between Estonian Scouting in Exile Eesti Skautide Malev and Sweden; Latvian Scouting in Exile and Australia, Polish Scouting in Exile and Argentina, Ukrainian Scouting in Exile and Canada, and other Scout groups. In many countries, such as the United States, exile units function as troops within their host nation's organization. There are Estonian exile troops in New York and Armenian exile troops in California, as units of local councils within the Boy Scouts of America.
For the Scouts-in-exile groups, serving the community outside their homelands, there is sometimes resentment that they were not recognized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement during their nations' totalitarian periods. Due to this, such groups are openly courted for membership in the World Federation of Independent Scouts (WFIS).
- Victor M. Alexieff (September 1982). "The Other Ones - Scouts in Exile". SOSSI Journal XXXVII (9). http://www.sossi.org/exile/scouts.htm.
- The Undaunted (English): Piet J. Kroonenberg book about Scouts in Central and Eastern Europe who kept the Scouting spirit alive despite oppression and persecution, over many decades, and revived the Scout Movement at the earliest opportunity. 200 emblems and badges, 420 pages.
- The Undaunted II (English): Piet J. Kroonenberg-the continuation of Kroonenberg's first work, dealing with Albania, Estonia, Lithuania and Vietnam, 94 pages.