Today is International Youth Day. As part of an international exchange programme 18 year old German volunteer Denja Otte will be sharing her knowledge and Scouting skills with us, whilst learning by doing in the Cape. She joined the National Scout Office in August and will be here for a year.
SSA: Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m Denja Otte and my hometown in Germany is Dormagen, it’s between Dusseldorf and Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia. I have two little sisters aged 10 and 11. I have been a Scout since 2004 when I joined as a child. I’m now a leader. I finished school in 2015 and wanted to go abroad for a year but as I wasn’t 18 at the time I volunteered in Germany at the DPSG National Scout Center Westernohe. But that wasn’t enough for me, I still wanted to go abroad, and so now I’m here!
SSA: You have been in the Scouting Movement for a long time. Why is Scouting so special to you?
Scouting is special because everybody is everybody’s friend. You are one big Community throughout the whole world. Scouting plays a big part in my life and I don’t want to miss it. You learn a lot of skills for life, meet friends for life and have fun every time! I have had so many experiences with the Scouts which are now important memories. I don’t want to miss the chance to build more memories. Maybe this is the reason why I never left the Scouts and now that I have moved, will have to find a new Scout Group.
SSA: What makes Scouting different to all the other activities for teens?
I think the difference is that you are in a Group which you know really well. You feel safe and at home in this Group. There are not many other free time activities which produce the same feeling. Another thing is that you are going on camps which are not so expensive, everybody can join in. At the camps you learn a lot and you have wonderful memories when you come back. When you are in a sport club, or things like this, the focus is on the competition. In Scouting the focus is on learning by doing and having fun.
SSA: You must have many awesome memories, which one stand out for you?
The World Scout Jamboree 2011 in Sweden. This is a very awesome memory! I met people from all over the world. This was the biggest Jamboree since 1907. I can’t describe the feeling … you really have had to be there!
SSA: What has been your toughest Scouting challenge?
In December 2013 I traveled with the Scouts to Israel. We hiked in the desert for four days. It was very hot and we walked the whole day, but it is an experience I will never forget. The Israeli Scouts are very different to the German Scouts but we managed all things.
SSA: So you have now decided to volunteer for another year with a Scout Association. Why volunteer for a year in South Africa?
Scouting is my passion. I volunteered last year for a German Scout Association and I saw how grateful they were. So I decided to do another volunteer year. DPSG has nine volunteers and they decided who goes where. I was really happy that they choose South Africa for me, because this was my favorite country. My father has visited South Africa before to meet friends who lived in Stellenbosch, Since then it was my dream to visit South Africa as I heard a lot about the kindness and culture of the people here. Besides, South Africa has a wonderful landscape for me to explore!
SSA: What are you looking forward to the most?
I’m really looking forward to meeting Scouts and if possible joining your competitions and camps, I also want to travel in South Africa.
SSA: Our Chief Scout Sibusiso says that adventure teaches you how to be a great leader. Would you agree with this?
Yes! Because you never do adventures on your own. You are always in a group so you learn a lot from their behavior and your role in the group. You learn how to behave in difficult and stressful situations and to work with a group. I think all these skills are important for a good leader.
SSA: As it is Women’s month, what do you think about Scouting being open for boys and girls?
I think it is very good that Scouting is open for boys and girls! Scouting should be for everybody – it doesn’t matter if you are Jewish or Christian or you are a boy or a girl. In Scouting there is no place for discrimination.