The largest Italian Boy Scout association, AGESCI Associazione Guide E Scout Cattolici Italiani, Italian Catholic Boy Scout and Girl Scout association) was founded in 1974. It results from the fusion of AGI (the old male-only Boy Scout association) and ASCI (the old Girl Scout association).
AGESCI currently has close to 200.000 members. It is indeed fairly catholic, although it admits free thinking and doubtful members.
Italy also has CN-GEI, another Boy/Girl Scout association that is non-denominational: the problem is that CN-GEI is much smaller than AGESCI, which means that in many places, particularly smaller cities and villages, AGESCI is the only option.
AGESCI is different from, for example, the BSA, because everybody is a volunteer, with the exception of some ten people that do clerical work on the members' database.
Everybody else, meaning scoutmasters and camp managers is strictly volunteer. This allows AGESCI to remain fairly independent (and liberal minded, for a Catholic association) in its policies.
AGESCI is organized along these lines:
- Lupetti/Coccinelle(Wolf Cubs/Ladybugs) : from 6 to 11, organized in Branchi/Cerchi (Packs/Circles)
- Scout/Guide (Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts) : from 11 to 16, organized in Reparti (Troops)
- Rover/Scolte (Rovers / Sentinels) : from 16 to 22, organized in Clan/Fuochi (Clan/Fires)
After which, if you really feel like it, you go to two national training camps, and become a Scoutmaster.
In the Lupetti Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is used to provide a fantastic environment; all the scoutmasters take on names from the Book (I was the Grey Wolf); the Coccinelle use a slightly bizarre Italian book, called Il libro del Bosco (the Book of the Wood), where the animals are distinctly more European: there are squirrels, ants and, of course, a whole flight of ladybugs.
Another important point is that the Rover/Scolte do social service in various contexts, like old people's homes, hospitals and -at times- with younger Scouts, but only in logistic roles (read: gruntwork, cooking, lugging things).
On the whole, I would say that AGESCI puts a lot of emphasis on pedagogy and social activity, more than on woodcraft and technique.
And of course, they wear shorts and a neckerchief.