I’ve become a scout in Portugal when I was 10 years old, and I’ve been one over the following 15 years of my life. As a mirror of that personal experience, the Portuguese scouts are the main subject of these photographs showing young territories dominated by the educational spectrum of fantasy.
Portugal’s first scout group was created in 1912 and the country has nowadays more than 80.000 scouts in two major scout associations: CNE (Corpo Nacional de Escutas) and AEP (Associação dos Escoteiros de Portugal). The main difference between each other is that CNE has been founded and supported by the Portuguese Catholic Church, and therefore it only accepts catholic members. Meanwhile AEP is fully independent and welcomes people of any religious belief, even though more than 90% of its members are also known to be catholic.
But in spite of their local differences in uniform and some practises, the basic educational and ideological core of the Portuguese associations is very similar to what scouts do and advocate in the rest of the world.
Counting as many as 40 million members worldwide in all sorts of religious and cultural backgrounds, scouts represent nowadays the largest youth organization in the world. They are meant to serve the constructive ideal of peace and brotherhood among humankind. They teach that through strong educational principles and methods to be applied while in contact with nature. It is that idea of an adventure full of games in the wilderness that usually makes it attractive to many young boys and girls.
By providing that scouts become a playground for life, founded within the structures of fantasy and imagination as means of reaching greater goals. At the same time scout patrols are playing, camping, singing, discussing, swimming, hiking or cooking, they are not only learning and putting in practise basic structures of our competitive group societies as they’re also developing individual skills.
The world of scouts is also embbed in rituals, symbols and codes whose root often come from tribes with whom the movement’s founder Baden Powell has contacted throughout his life. (read more about it here)
You can see those influences in the uniforms as well as in the imaginary and sometimes bizarre environments and buildings created by the scouts while they’re living their activities, games and ceremonies. In these photographs you’ll see scouts of all ages and they’re part of a long-therm photography project made over the past 6 years in the Portuguese mainland territory.