Belgium is somewhat different than many European countries. Scouting has been the most important youth group, but much of the movement is divided along ethnic and religious lines. And there are important non-Scouthing youth groups. The major Belgian youth groups have been the Scouts, but tghere are a variety of nationalist groups, some of which have religious foundation. The VNJ is a particularly important nationlist group. The most important is Chiro which has a Catholic character. Some of the youth groups have begun to reassess their religious foundation. This proably reflects the essentially de Christinization of Europe, a process that became pronounced in the late 19th century. And membership in youth groups have been falling in recent years.
Scouting from its inception has been the major youth movement in Belgium. We have no information on early Belgian Scouting, but assume groups began to form at about the same time as in France. And we do not yet know how Belgian Scouting fared during World War I (1914-18). The Germans occupied almost all of the country for most of the War. We believe the Scouts were the most popular boys' youth group during the inter-war years and that there were several different associations organized. We have have little information at this time. There is no single unified national Scouting movement. Belgium as a country is a combination of Dutch-speaking Flemish and French-speaking Waloons. Their association since modern Belgium was created after the Napoleonic Wars has been unseasy. The younth organzations in Belgium have often followed the linguistic divide. Like many European countries, Belgium has several different Scout associations, often reflecting the linuistic devide and outlook on religion. The existence of these different associations greatly complicate the task of assessing the Scouting movement in Belgium.
There have been uniformed youth groups sponsored by political
parties. This has been especially true of right-wing parties and
Flemish nationalist groups. Belgium is in many ways really two
countries, composed of one group Germanic in origin and the other
French. The politics of Belgium has evolved around this difference as
has been reflected in the formation of youth groups.
Chiro is a difficult group to categorize. It has a program similar to Scouting. It might be considered a nationalist group because it is largely a Belgian youth orgnization. And its Catholic character might categorize it as more of a religious group.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Uniform Web Site:
[Return to the Main Belgian youth group page]
[Return to the Main European youth group page]
[Return to the Main Youth group country page]
[Activities] [Biographies] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Essays] [Garments] [Organizations] [Religion] [Other]
[Introduction] [Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Questions] [Unknown images]
[Boys' Uniform Home]