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Through the years

First suggested by Scouts Heritage Service
Travel back in time to explore how Scouts have supported refugees and how their empathy to those in need has made a difference.

You will need

  • A4 paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Printed copies or access to digital copies of the ‘Refugees and Scout heritage’ sheet
  • Printed copies or access to digital copies of the ‘Images from the Scouts heritage collection’ sheet
  • Printed copies or access to digital copies of the ‘Empathy umbrella’ sheet (optional)
Refugees and Scout heritage
PDF – 583.0KB
Images from the Scouts heritage collection
PDF – 1.2MB
Empathy umbrella
PDF – 80.3KB

This activity was originally part of the ‘Moving Connections’ heritage project. Find out more in the Scouts’ Refugee response resource.

Before you begin

  • You might like to read about how Scouts have supported refugees through the years in the ‘Refugees and Scout heritage’ sheet.
  • Print out the images from the ‘Images from the Scouts heritage collection’ sheet. You might want some extra copies of Image A if you have a larger group so that everyone will be able to see it. If you don’t have access to a printer, you could use a device to view the pictures on.
  • If you want to use the ‘Empathy umbrella’ sheet, you'll need enough for one each or one per small group, depending on how you want to organise the activity. You might want to make some spares copies too.   
  • You could do this activity as part of World Refugee Day or Refugee Week, which take place in June.

A message from Baden-Powell

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that Scouts has a proud history of supporting people in crisis and responding to global disasters, including helping refugees and displaced children.
  1. Everyone should start by looking at Baden-Powell’s thank you card (image A). The person leading the activity should explain that Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement, designed this thank you card for Scouts who welcomed refugees during the Second World War.
  2. Together, everyone should figure out is happening in the picture. What do people think umbrella the Scout is holding symbolises?
  3. Everyone should talk about the Scout promise and how that might encourage us to help people in need. Why do you think the Scouts felt they had to help refugees and displaced people? What values do we share as Scouts?

Take a trip back in time

  1. The person leading the activity should introduce the photographs from the Heritage Collection, which are images B to G from the sheet.
  1. Everyone should get into small groups and copies of the Scouts heritage collection images should be divided between the groups.
  2. Groups should discuss what is shown in each image. Who are the people in the photo? How do you think they might be feeling? What would you do to help them?
  3. Everyone should write down some words that describe how the people in your picture might be feeling.
  1. Everyone should gather back together and share the words they came up with. Are there any words in common?

What about now?

  1. Now, everyone should think about any current international crises and how people are having to leave their homes or countries. Do you think these words apply to modern refugees and displaced people?


This activity explored the history of Scouts’ support for refugees and displaced people. What impact has this activity had on everyone? How did this activity encourage everyone to develop empathy? 

You may want to explore what empathy means. How is it different to sympathy?

Sympathy is a shared feeling, usually of sorrow, pity or compassion for another person.

Empathy is stronger than sympathy. It is the ability to put yourself in the place of another and understand someone else's feelings by identifying with them.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

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