Did you know that there exists a fully English-speaking scout troop, located in Espoo?
Wild Eagles are the only scout troop in Finland that operates exclusively in English.
The troop’s journey has been an interesting one, and it has required a lot of work
but it has all paid off.

The original Olarin Eräkotkat was founded in 1961 as a typical Finnish-speaking scout troop. The troop has been very active ever since, and they even published the OEK-songbook many scouts know, love, and still use today. The story of how the Wild Eagles became what they are today is not ordinary but all the more inspiring.

Despite the attempts to keep the troop thriving, in 2013 the number of members had shrunk significantly. The leaders started to ponder what they could do in order to boost the activity of the troop and to find more members to join.

After gathering ideas for some time, they had the thought to join forces with the Espoo International School in Suurpelto. For a year, they observed the development and tested the use of English alongside Finnish. After seeing how well things were working out, the troop was officially made bilingual. The scout troop gained a whole new boost to their operation and many new English-speaking members to their rows.

Timo "Mudi" Muttonen
Timo ”Mudi” Muttonen

English-speaking Through and Through

Last summer the troop shifted to using only English as their operational language. As the majority of members speak English, it is easier to operate in one common tongue. Handling everything from the management to weekly activity is very challenging and time consuming with two languages. Hence, the change has made many things easier. All of the communication from the troop to the guardians and members is done in English, which has been a very welcome change.

The troop leader, Timo ”Mudi” Muttonen, says that a lot of time was used to make sure that everyone was on board with the upcoming changes and knew their roles. The changes have required much hard work and thorough thinking. There were many stakeholders involved with the project, and everything was done carefully with a mindful approach.

Changing a scout troop’s language is not an easy trick. The change does not happen overnight but continues to develop with the troop itself. Wild Eagles have members The scout troop has gained a whole new boost to their operation and many new English-speaking members. The main focus is on environmental education and sustainable development. from 28 different countries, and it is important to ensure that everyone feels heard and understood.

Along with many cultures come also many traditions and habits. As an example, the troop does not really celebrate Christmas but instead throws an endof-the-season party to remember the achievements of the past term.

”We thought a lot about the kind of troop we want to be because we knew that we were not, by any means, going to be a traditional Finnish scout troop”, says Mudi.

Kuva Wild Eaglesin viikkotoiminnasta.

Global Is the Way to Go

The Wild Eagles also wanted to reflect on what sort of activities they offer as a scout troop.

”We have members from all around the world, so we have to take a global point of view”, Mudi states.

The focus is not necessarily on traditional huddling in the woods or on the other things many people would assume scouting typically to be. The scouts do enjoy attending camps. However, the main focus is on environmental education and sustainable development. Learning to take responsibility for one’s surrounding environment is among the most important things in the scouting program of the Wild Eagles.

A large part of the troop’s principles is executing the Finnish scouting program with Finnish educational goals but in English. The Wild Eagles do not consider themselves as a multicultural troop even though their members are from different cultures.

”Here we build our very own and unique Wild Eagles’ culture. We are a diverse troop with our own ways of acting”, Mudi says.

Building a new culture for the troop is all about the members and creating new traditions. The scout education in the Wild Eagles centers around learning new things as in any other group.

We build our very own and unique Wild Eagles’ culture

Timo ”Mudi” Muttonen

New Directions Come with Challenges

A change this big is not possible to face without any challenges. For example, learning scouting terms in English is not an easy thing to master. Participating in big summer camps is also quite hard because during July many of the scouts are visiting their home countries for the holidays. These kinds of small difficulties do not stop the troop from developing further and expanding the use of the English language.

In their scout program they utilize the international material of WAGGGS and WOSM as well as the material of Suomen Partiolaiset (SP) translated into English.

”We have received much support from PäPa and SP”, Mudi tells us.

The Wild Eagles has developed from a traditional Finnish speaking boy scout troop to a modern English-speaking troop with members from all around the world. The evolution of the troop has been one of a kind. As the newest development the troop has just established a bilingual cub scout group with their neighboring troop Leppäpirkot.

One can only guess what the future holds for the Wild Eagles but for sure more amazing, fresh ideas will continue to emerge.