Message from Chief Scout Brendon Hausberger
Dear Scout members, friends and family,
Fear is a terrible thing, and I am sure there are not many of us who are not afraid or at least concerned either about the spread of COVID-19 or the response of the general public to it. As SCOUTS South Africa, we have shared some educational material and have advised caution.
Now, with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in South Africa, and in line with the directives of our government, SCOUTS South Africa has taken the decision to suspend Scouting activities in Scout Africa for the duration while schools are closed.
This means the cancellation of all Scout Group meetings and activities over all four Branches, District and Regional meetings and activities, Scout events, and workshops – including training. Where possible, activities and events should be postponed to a later date, while meetings and workshops can be replaced with teleconferencing, Skype or teams meetings where practical.
In the case where small meetings and/or small group activities (i.e. Springbok Projects) have to take place and cannot be postponed, prior approval from the local DC, RC and/or RTC will be required. The following guidelines need to be followed in such an event:
- Consultation with the relevant RTC ,RC or DC,
- Correct and relevant precautionary hygiene measures in place,
- Observation of social distancing.
We do urge a serious consideration of the risk before proceeding with any event. When humanely possible, a postponement or cancellation should take preference.
We appreciate that this suspension of activities will have a direct impact on our young people who are attempting to complete their Leaping Wolf or Springbok requirements. We therefore commit to generously consider extensions for the affected young people, wherever the suspension impacts their ability to complete the requirements within the time frames of the programme. If you are affected by this, please engage with the RTC as soon as possible.
As a youth Movement we care about the physical as well as the emotional well-being of our members. Therefore we want to stress that we are encouraging social distancing and not social isolation. More information about social distancing can be found here.
We further recognise that many parents will now be at home with their children and might be looking for things to do. I have directed our National Programme Chairs for Meerkats, Cubs and Scouts to be on the lookout for useful material to share with our members. Materials should include information relating to interest and advancement badges that parents can do with their young people during this enforced time away from school and work. Please feel free to share this material with your neighbours and friends who are looking for activities too. These productive and positive materials will also give families the chance to have fun quality time together, whilst keeping themselves and their loved-ones safe. Scouting has never only been about what happens in meetings and camps. It is a lifestyle, and can therefore continue at home while we all whether this storm. If you need help on how to do some of the activities, contact your Scouter or have a look on our SCOUTS SA resource WIKI here.
We are aware that these are extraordinary times, and that the cancellation of events and Scout gatherings is very disappointing. However, keeping young people, volunteers, staff and our communities safe will always be our priority, and as an individual and as an Movement. As your Chief Scout, I would rather be judged as foolish for having overreacted than to be judged for failing to prevent the transmission of the disease to a family member or a loved one that lead to harm to that person.
The information on this virus and its effects is incomplete and there is a lot of misinformation. However research has proven that with any viral infection, the greatest positive impact of social distancing is achieved when the infection rates are low, which is where we are now as a country. We are fortunate that we have had the gift of time to prepare and to act proactively to minimise the impact of this pandemic. If we can have a meaningful impact by this suspension, then we must not waste this chance.
These are unusual times, calling for extraordinary measures and nothing is certain. I trust that we will have your support as decisions are made according to how circumstances unfold. We will remain in communication with you through our communication platforms.
My thoughts and prayers are with you one and all, be safe.
Yours in Scouting,
#SCOUTSSA #ScoutsSouthAfrica #COVID-19 #CoronaVirus #SafetyFirst #Scouts #Scouting #Volunteers
More information about COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.scouts.org.za/members/covid-19-info-for-members/