The Scout Movement reached Libya in 1954, making it one of the oldest organizations in the country. The movement survived even the 42-year-long dictatorship of Colonel Gaddafi (himself briefly a Scout in his youth). At a time when it was almost impossible to form any organization that might be seen as a nucleus for opposition, the Scouts persisted by keeping a very low profile and a non-political stance. Many parents saw the movement as a more attractive alternative to the youth wings of Gaddafi’s revolutionary committees. Quietly, the organization flourished, and today there are more than 14,000 Scouts and Guides in Libya.
During the revolution, the Scouts played an important role in cities at the center of the conflict, such as Misrata and Benghazi. They acted as traffic police at damaged intersections, volunteered in field hospitals, cleaned streets, assisted in the distribution of food and medicine, gave blood, helped find homes for refugees, cleared shrapnel from airport runways, and even washed the bodies of the dead. With the police force disbanded, and the rebel army in chaos, the Scouts remained arguably the only disciplined, uniformed force left in liberated eastern Libya.