As I reflect back on the year 2016 I am filled with mixed emotions. Personally I have lost loved ones and gained new friends. I have stayed focused and overcome challenges that have crossed my path and can look back with pride on what I was able achieve by staying true to myself, my values and my goals.
As many of you know I am proud to be your Chief Scout, but also proud to be a father. As parents, we all want our children to grow up to be responsible citizens and good people. We want them to learn to feel, think and act with respect for themselves and for other people. We want them to develop strong character and the ability to pursue their own well-being, while also being considerate of the needs and feelings of others. Over the years I have seen how the South African Scouting Movement does just this.
This year, as we celebrated the centenary of Cubbing, we were able to help many Early Childhood Development Centers offer better services to children in dire need, we were able to embrace Cubbing and the effects of learning skills at a young age, we spoke to 100 Cubs and alumni about their experiences and it was very clear how important their adult leaders are to them. The Cub Workbook was published and Cubs all over the country are enjoying their new programme. Not only the Cubs but also the Scouts have been venturing outdoors to explore their surroundings and learn new skills. The new Scout Programme was piloted and next year we will be rolling it out nationwide. We have also made huge strides with regards to our support to adult volunteers and Rovers. The new Rover Handbook and Rover Trail were published and the “This is Scouting for Adults” booklet was introduced. We developed new materials for groups to use to recruit new adult members and an adult recruitment strategy for the organisation was established.
As we face uncertain times in our country, the importance of the Scouting values and principles cannot be underestimated. Our country needs people of strong character and with solid morals and values. Just as children must be taught to jump, tie their shoe laces, count, read and write, so must they be guided in developing the qualities of character that are valued by their families and by the communities in which they live. It is only through guidance and modeling by peers and adults that children learn to be respectful, honest and thoughtful, to stand up for their principles, to act responsibly and to make sound moral choices. In Scouting this guidance is given by thousands of adult volunteers who give their time, expertise and heart to equip our children and youth with leadership skills, while at the same time nurturing them to become responsible citizens who are of service to others. The most important thing we can do for our children is to help them acquire values and skills that they can rely on throughout their lives.
To quote the Dalai Lama “it is important that children are able to flourish within the family in the truest sense, that they develop their basic human qualities in its fold, that their behaviour is noble, that they have the strength of mind to help others, feel concerned about the environment and serve as an example to others. Later on, such children will be good at their work and capable of training the next generation. Even if they become aged professors with thick spectacles, they will still retain some of the good qualities they developed in their childhood.” Not only has the effects of Scouting been proved through a recent UK study, but I have learnt that any type of physical adventure or activity undertaken has the amazing ability to instill a number of attributes, and very important character traits to an individual. Adventure teaches you that for you to succeed in anything, you have got to work hard, be determined, work with people, never give up and keep on trying because you don’t succeed overnight. Adventure, combined with the inculcation of values is what I believe Scouting is about, it’s learning by doing!
I pride myself in serving you and want to encourage all of you to take all the opportunities that the Scout Movement is giving you and make them count! I’ve been wondering how to thank you for all your hard work. Words just can’t describe how much you are appreciated. Having you all on our team makes all the difference. Thanks for all you do and may you now enjoy a blessed and well-earned break with your loved-ones. I look forward to meeting you in the new year!
Yours in Scouting,
Chief Scout of South Africa