The smallest things we say can change a young person’s life

Wood Badge holder Clayton Warren grew up in Scouting and lives in Germiston in Gauteng. He has a small carpentry business and loves the work he does.  Clayton joined the  1st Germiston Scout Group when he was 11 years old and is currently their Troop Scouter. This is his story:

“I grew up with one incredible sister, Candice, and an incredible mom, Christine, who later married a really great step dad, Dawie. Before I joined the Scout Movement I was not the most confident or popular kid. I had 4 step siblings who all bullied me quite a lot, and my sister and I would fight all the time. One of my mom’s friends, Brenda Atkins, suggested that my mom get me involved in Scouting.

I think it was my second visit to the 1st Germiston Scout Group and we were packing up some equipment after the programme. I picked up what in my memory was a 6m pole, but in reality was probably far more likely to be 2m. Senior Scout Kenneth Marshal, who was a month away from turning 18, said something along the lines of “Check this lighty carrying a pole all on his own!” I had the affirmation I needed as a young kid, and that got me hooked on this Movement. Kenneth aged out a month later and I never saw him again, but there were other young men around me who helped me to learn and grow and become the person I am today. The relationships I gained through Scouting, from my TS Robby Kojetin, to my PL Sebastien Gruber, and all the others were some of the most influential to this day.

Funny how the smallest things we say and do can quite literally change the course of a young person’s life. This is why I’m still Scouting today. I’m the DC for Eland and TS at 1st Germiston Scout Group. My sister Candice is also a Scouting volunteer.

I thought that I had gained a lot through Scouting as a youth member, achieving my Springbok along the way. But after I became an adult member and started going on the adult training courses, I realized just how much more there was to learn from Scouting. It is an endless journey of growth and the skills I’ve gained through Warrant, Wood Badge and tutoring experiences are applicable in every area of my life.

I attended the Wood Badge course in 2015 and was officially awarded my Wood Badge at the 2017 Gilwell reunion. I remember thinking that there was still so much to learn, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and felt like I was reminded of so many good things to apply in my Group. The way that we write programmes and run the Group is so much better now. There is a very profound sense of achievement that comes from feeling like you are better equipped to give the best quality Scouting to the kids in your charge. The greatest difference is definitely in the way that we plan terms now. I pay a lot more attention to the content of my programmes and structure them in a way that manages to contain all the training necessary while still being fun. We also apply a term theme which makes being creative so much easier.

I think the Wood Badge course is absolutely imperative. Any Scouter who understands the importance of their role and wants to do their job well, will gain so much from the course. Since the inception of Scouting and the Wood Badge training the learning by doing methodology has been used. It is the most effective way to train anyone. The truth is that even attending the Wood Badge course is only the beginning. It is only when you take that theory back to your Group and apply it, that you really “learn” how to be a great Scouter. As people we should never stop learning, it is only through constant effort and desire to improve that we all move forward.”

Clayton’s life motto is:

“I wish I had an instinctive answer to this question but I’ve had to give it quite a lot of thought. I guess “Do your best” would be a good place to start. I accept that I am not the best at everything, and there are certainly a number of areas where I have weaknesses, but no matter what, whether a strength or weakness I always try my best. I am a volunteer through and through, I love helping whenever and wherever I can, sometimes to my own detriment, but I’d rather be one of those who is trying hard than one of those who leeches off of the hard workers.”

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