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So, let’s come back to the fresh times of our youth, just for our anniversary. Not to take refuge in them but to check whether the commitments taken on All Saints’ Day 1956 have borne fruit and if we are still their heirs.


European Scouting places itself in the perspective of the declaration about Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis of the Second Vatican Council. We must “give due consideration to the difference of sex and the proper ends Divine Providence assigns to each sex in the family and in society”[1]. The FSE considers that “a differentiated education for girls and boys, within different units, constitutes an essential point of its pedagogy”.[2]

The presence of girls in the movement has been certified since its beginning. I can testify that there were companies at the Jamborette[3] of Saint-Loup de Naud in 1960. They were in real minority but they had their own subcamp.

Italian guides in camp outfit in the calendar 2000

How did they arrive in our scouting, which was very masculine? I have always heard that a few sisters and fiancées attended the meeting of Cologne on All Saints’ Day 1956. They estimated that European Scouting could concern them. Fortunately, they did not want to be merged into a single section. On the contrary, they intended to live their scouting between girls. The boys, who were rather young[4], were not opposed to that, as long as girls could make their own way. The first FSE company, or one of the first ones, started in Wuppertal, Germany. That company set the pace to the guides of Lizig GÉRAUD-KERAOD who took part in the Jamborette of 1964 in Marburg am Lahn.

In the early 60ies, my own group in the 13th ‘arrondissement’ of Paris was “twinned” with the 3rd Paris FSE[5], a female group in charge of our pack of wolf cubs. Girls were wearing a beige shirt like boys and a navy-blue skirt. They followed the patrol system and applied the boys’ scout ceremonial.

In 1965, the first general assembly took place; it was organised by the new French team that had taken in hands the destiny of the movement in France in 1963. At that time, there were about twenty male groups and ten female groups. But because of the presence of female leaders for wolf cubs, boys and girls were roughly the same number.

During the meeting of assessment after the assembly, the discussion was mostly about the older branches because they did not exist yet and there was a real need of male leaders and above all female leaders to lead the younger branches and the girl guide branch which were in full expansion. The national team, then led by Marie-Claire GOUSSEAU, pointed out several aspects: first of all, there were female leaders in sky-blue shirts[6] and others in beige shirts. There was no justification to this kaleidoscope because all were rangers in service in the green and yellow branches.

Furthermore, the guide team did not accept the steps offered to the boys in the magazine Scout d’Europe[7] published just before. It mentioned esquires and knights. The drawing illustrating the step of “esquire” was a copy of a drawing of Raider-Scout according to Michel MENU, representing an old scout on a motorbike, with a younger scout behind him. For the guide team, it was in contradiction with all that had been said until that moment about raiders, as ancestors of pioneers, and it was contrary to the 5th article of the Charter of Scouting, advocating the use of simple means accessible to all.

The guide national team had not been consulted and it rightly thought that its opinion about the boys’ style was important because it had to be compatible with the girls’ style. This gave birth to a new process of reflection between all the national teams about the model that we intended to offer to our young boys AND girls.

That corresponded to Pierre GÉRAUD-KERAOD’s preoccupation. For him, the Rover branch had to set the pace to the green branch, not the reverse. So, parallelly to the program of systematic training that we were starting for the yellow and green branches, it was necessary to make boy scouts and girl guides participate in the construction of the older branches.

Claude PINAY, general commissioner at that time, observed that the « Raider myth » still had an impact on the spirit of many of our young troop leaders and that we had to fight against that fact and present to our young people a style compatible with our time. That style could no longer be the knight of old times, although it was cherished by Baden-Powell, first because our scouting was accepting girls, and also because the values of chivalry had been shattered by our two world wars. It could not be the raider, whose image was no longer Christian, and that our pacifistic German leaders hated.

They finally agreed on a very simple idea. If we wanted to have rovers and rangers in a few years, boy scouts and girl guides had to be immediately put on the road. The road was the privileged place where boys and girls could build themselves up, with common habits and a common style. The pilgrimage had also a huge advantage. That activity was universal and comprehensible by all the other associations of the FSE.

It was decided that the units of the green branches would start their scout year systematically with a pilgrimage to a sanctuary of their region and that we would take advantage of the commemorations of the millennium of the foundation of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey in Normandy to launch the style of these pilgrimages[8].

At the end 1966, Marie-Claire GOUSSEAU was allowed to gather all the female leaders (including the wolf cub leaders) and the rangers for a road that we called “the Road of Norman Abbeys” on the model of the Road to Le Puy-en-Velay that she had attended in 1942 with Father Paul DONCOEUR. The theme chosen was the one of Mont-Saint-Michel “City of God, city of men”. At that moment, what we now call “the guide section” was created. A visible sign for all was the change of colour of the shirt, which became sky blue. The stripes “Guides of Europe” and “Scouts of Europe” were created and worn on the shirt and on the jumper, not to indicate the sex of everyone but to let the wolf cub leaders affirm their belonging to the ranger branch, serving in the scout section with the stripe “Guides of Europe”[9].

Contrarily to the Baussant that was immediately adopted by the young chiefs as their flag unit – which was surprising for the national team-, the blue-sky shirt was long to be accepted. The female patrol leaders were resisting. They were proud of their beige shirt, they wanted to do like the boys. Five years later, there were still beige shirts in Brittany. Then these shirts became camp outfits and finally disappeared.

As a conclusion, our present rovers would be quite astonished to learn that the style of the red branches, visible especially in Vézelay or in Paray, owes a lot to the feminine intuitions of the middle of the 60ies.

Maurice Ollier

Photo library of the French national Center

[1] On this subject, read Gwenaël LHUISSIER’s article in Contact nr. 4 of December 2016.

[2]  FSE Religious Directory, art. 3.

[3] In 1984, we started giving the name of “eurojam” to this type of camp gathering several thousands of participants.

[4] What is characteristic of that time is the extreme youth of those who founded the movement.

[5] Only a few years later, in France, female groups were given even numbers and scout groups were given odd numbers.

[6] The female leaders of wolf cubs

[7] Magazine Scout d’Europe nr. 9 1st term 1965.

[8] Contact nr. 7 September 2017. Read Maurice OLLIER’s article « 60 years, it is quite old for a youth movement” about the pilgrimage to Mont-Saint-Michel in 1966.

[9] At that time, wolf cub male leaders, who were quite rare, wore their rover uniform. Only a few years later, by ignorance, these French leaders began to wear the same shirt as their wolf cubs. At the beginning of the movement, this would have been considered as a weakening of the meaning of the uniform, because for the Tender Foot Akela represents what the wolf cub considers as the aim of his scout life: “to become a good explorer and a good rover later on”.

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