Who are the Armenian Scouts?
The Scout Movement was founded in England in 1907. Today, there are 28 million Scouts in nearly 150 countries around the world, and some of them are Armenian Scouts living in Armenia and abroad.
Building towers and bridges, camping, going on field trips and going through different trials and tribulations-all this is only a part of the life of Armenian Scouts. The AGBU Scout group was created in June 2008 by only 20 people and now has 2 branches and more than 260 members. The AGBU has Scout groups in several countries around the world and, as head of AGBU Yerevan Scouts Saro Tadios says, the idea of creating a Scout group in Yerevan was to have Armenian Scouts from all countries gather in Armenia to participate in the annual summer camping event. “We have Armenian Scouts from Uruguay, Argentina, the United States, Egypt, Iraq, different cities of Syria, as well as Lebanon, Georgia and Iran.” Saro says Armenian youth who have returned to Armenia were mainly the ones joining the AGBU Yerevan Scouts, but now there are many local Armenians as well. “We also have members whose parents have also been Scouts abroad, and now their children are Scouts.” Boys and girls who are 13 years old or order can become a Scout or arenush (girl Scout). There are also the so-called “gylik” and “artsvik” groups for children in the 1st-6th grades, and the group for children in kindergarten is called “mrjnikner”. The AGBU accepts all youth, but as Saro mentioned, the youth must attend the Scout meetings starting from an early age in order to become a full-fledged Scout or arenush. “It’s much better for children to join us at an early age so that they can pass all the stages, master the knowledge and be able to become full-fledged Scouts.” Saro says the main idea of Scouting is to prepare good and full-fledged citizens and leaders who will be able to have a more modest lifestyle, will be able to make their contributions to the reinforcement and prosperity of the homeland and will be able to be worthy people and citizens for their homeland. According to the group leader, every young person who wants to become a Scout or arenush must pass a probation period of one month in order to be convinced that he or she is truly ready to be a Scout. “The young person must attend our meetings held on every Sunday. He or she has to master the rules of Scouts, have the knowledge and participate in the Scouting camps, after which he will give an oath and will be considered a full-fledged member of the group.” The camping events for the Scouts are mainly held outdoors. As Saro says, during several camping events, the Scouts reinforce the knowledge that they have gained throughout the year. “They learn and apply their knowledge of how to light a bonfire, what plants they can use and many more things. We learn how to live in nature by the laws of nature, without harming nature.” During the camping events, there are maximal conditions for the Scouts to get closer to the wilderness. For instance, Saro mentions that the Scouts are not allowed to bring phones and music players with them. “The purpose of that is to have the Scouts learn how to live without those devices and live like everyone and independently, without being dependent on something.” Saro is an experienced Scout. He joined a Scout group when he was 3 years old in Syria and then joined a group in Armenia. “First of all, being a Scout helped me gain self-confidence in life. For instance, I can stand in front of a 100 people and deliver a lecture without getting nervous.” Saro is a builder by profession and says Scouting helped him become more interested in his profession. “During the camping events, we do a lot of hand labor like building a tower, a bridge or other things, and we do all that without the help of special tools.” David Vardanyan, who has been a Scout for almost a year, says being a Scout helped make him feel more responsible. “During the camping events, Scouts find themselves in conditions where your behavior determines not only your condition, but also the group’s condition, and that is very binding.” David believes this experience will help him a lot in the army later. “A Scout becomes more resistant. For instance, we work out and learn how to resist thirst and hunger during long excursions.” David says Scouting isn’t only limited to a month, camping events or excursions. According to him, Scouting is a lifestyle. “When you give an oath as a Scout, you carry that title with you everywhere, and the knowledge that you gain can help you in different life situations.” In addition to becoming physically fit, as David says, the Scouts also become spiritually educated. “We learn several patriotic songs and participate in lectures on environmental protection, culture, psychology and other topics. We also learn how to dance Armenian folk dances and often touch upon the significant pages in the history of the Armenian people.” Parandzem Vardanyan