Written by Madita Bünnecke
Every year we welcome two volunteers from Germany to the Mpumalanga Regional Office. Lisa Schermuly arrived a few weeks ago and has since then participated in a regional wood badge course as well as enjoyed the local color run with fellow volunteers Thomas Blum and Jurian Thomas.
SSA: Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
Lisa: I recently completed secondary school and got my matric. In my free time I enjoy Scouting, sports and music. I play the oboe and sing in a choir, I do athletics and spend time with family and friends.
SSA: When and why did you join the Scouting Movement?
Lisa: I started Scouting at the age of 8. I wanted to enter a strong community and as I am also interested in environmental education, Scouting was perfect for me. After we moved house, my parents wanted my sister and I to adapt in the new district. Many Scouts and Scouting leaders live in my neighborhood, so I heard about Scouting from them.
SSA: Why is Scouting so special to you?
Lisa: All over the world Scouting stands for such important values, e.g. sense of community, justice, fairness, tolerance, good will, belief in God and making the world a bit better.
SSA: What makes Scouting different to all the other activities for teens?
Lisa: Scouting is for everybody. In contrast to other free time activities Scouting does not depend on wealth, fitness and musicality. Scouting also gives you the opportunity to make friends all over the world. It helps you to become a more responsible person and to be more self-confident!
SSA: You must have many awesome memories, which ones stand out for you?
Lisa: There are so many stories to tell. Scouting is always an adventure! With over 300 Scouts from our “DSPG district” we had a special Scout camp in Croatia. It was a wonderful experience to get to know so many people!
SSA: What has been your toughest Scouting challenge?
Lisa: The toughest challenge for me was a night hike in Austria. We were out hiking and got lost in a big Austrian mountain forest. We didn’t plan to stay overnight but Scouting helped us to get through it together. With united forces, we found the way back to our campsite. In such a large group, we had no fear.
SSA: Why did you decide to volunteer for a year with Scouts in Mpumalanga in South Africa.
Lisa: It is very important for me to really immerse into a culture and to build close friendships. It also takes some time to train a volunteer. Spending less than a year here would not be worth the effort. I am very interested in the diverse culture of this rainbow nation, which has been heavily influenced by its history and societal challenges. I am really looking forward to learn something about as many people as possible!
SSA: Since your arrival, you have experienced the wood badge course. What stood out for you?
Lisa: Unfortunately, we could not join the participants for the whole course, but I was fascinated by how fast they could build a wooden tower. That was teamwork in perfection! At the last event, I was really touched by the official part where speeches were given and certificates received. They also created and performed wonderful songs. We closed the course with a prayer and I really loved the atmosphere!
SSA: In addition to volunteering at the regional office, are you planning to explore SA a bit?
Lisa: I would like to learn more about township life, and would like to explore the wonderful nature of South Africa, for example the Kruger National Park, Drakensberg and the Blyde River Canyon. I would also enjoy visiting the Hokisa foundation in Cape Town.
SSA: Our Chief Scout says that adventure teaches you how to be a great leader. Would you agree with this?
Lisa: When having to deal with new and unknown situations, you gain a lot of experience which could be useful for leading a Scout Troop. You can inspire children to explore the unseen. If you like the adventure-you are relaxed, you support the children by finding their own way.