Vietnamese Scouting’s History and Structure

At our Family Scouting Webinar last month we had a very special guest from LĐ Gia Định Scouting Group of Annandale, VA – Chairman Huy Vu! Huy shared some great information about the history of Family Scouting in the Vietnamese community, and our viewers wanted to know more. Now that Family Scouting is in full nationwide rollout, enjoy this bit of history that shows one community where it has already been successful:

Liên Đoàn (Vietnamese for a Scout Group) is a local organizational structure that consists of multiple Scout units working together to serve youth of all ages and genders in a community. The term “Scout Group” was used for an organizational structure as early as 1914 by a competing Scout organization to The Boy Scouts Association in the United Kingdom. Many countries have also adopted such structures.

The Scout Group has its roots with The Boy Scouts Association when it adopted the term in 1928 for units consisting of Boy Scout Troops, Wolf Cub Packs and/or Rover Crews that were linked together under a Group Scoutmaster. Vietnamese Scouting’s structure of Liên Đoàn is nearly identical to the original structure but the demographic served is much broader. A Vietnamese Scout Group may consist of two or more of the following units:

Age Boys Hướng Đạo Nam Girls Hướng Nạo Nữ Gender
5-10 Cub Scout Sói con Girl Scout Chim Non Single Gender
11-18 Boy Scout Thiếu sinh Girl Scout Thiếu sinh Single Gender
14-18 Venture Scout Kha Sinh Venture Scout Kha Sinh Co-ed
>18 Rover Scout Tráng sinh Rover Scout Tráng sinh Co-ed
‘Seniors’ Senior Scouts Trưởng Niên Senior Scouts Trưởng Niên Co-ed

Although the age range may have varied in the past, and may still vary slightly around the world depending on local requirements, today the general structure is nearly universally consistent for Vietnamese Scouting around the world. One thing to note is that the Vietnamese Girl Scout program was not part of the Liên Đoàn structure until 1983. Today, this structure covers every possible Scouting age group and gender. A unique feature of Vietnamese Scouting!

This structure has its roots with the Vietnam Scouts Association (In Vietnamese: Hội Hướng Đạo Việt Nam (HĐVN)) that was active in Vietnam from 1930-1975 and was recognized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1957.  Because of the political situation and war in Vietnam, Scouting was banned by the Communist regime following the Fall of Saigon. 1975 marked a pause in Vietnamese Scouting within Vietnam, but also marked the beginning of International Vietnamese Scouting.

When refugees left Vietnam in 1975, Vietnamese scouting troops were formed at refugee camps in places like Guam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The Vietnamese Scouting movement flourished and spread to nearly  every continent where the Vietnamese people have settled since the Vietnam War. Scouting presently exists in exile and is reforming within Vietnam itself. There are reports of clandestine Scouting activities in Vietnam dating from 1994 and 2002. Vietnam is the largest nation in population to have Scouting that is not recognized by WOSM.

Today, Vietnamese Scouts overseas are affiliated with Scout associations in their resident countries and are also part of larger Vietnam Scouts Associations. However, most of these Liên Đoàn are part of the International Central Committee of Vietnamese Scouting (ICCVS). The ICCVS has registered Liên Đoàn in countries including Germany, France, Canada, the United States, and Australia. ICCVS coordinates and directs the activities between overseas Vietnamese Scouting units, such as the International Vietnamese Scouting Jamborees (Thẳng Tiến) every four years, and providing Scout leader training to new and old leaders.

In 2018 the Thẳng Tiến will be hosted at Camp William B. Snyder, giving NCAC Scouts an opportunity to see the world of Vietnamese Scouting for themselves!

To be continued in Part 2: The Journey to the US