From leading contingents to World Scout Jamborees, to developing Rover programmes and rolling out the Scout Entsha programme, Gerard Evans brings a wealth of experience to his new role as Chair: National Scout Programme. He is also the current Chair: International Committee.
We reminisced with Gerard about the journey Scouting has taken him on since joining the Scout Movement as a Cub with 6th Benoni. “Being a Scouting member has been a very enjoyable time of my life. When I joined the 6th Benoni Troop as a Scout I was very shy and introverted. But once I started finding my feet, moving up the advancement programme, I started gaining confidence in myself”, he said with a smile. “When I became a Patrol Leader (PL) I was sent to PLTU (2nd Gilten), after which I can actually say I started to be an effective Scout and PL. The culmination of all this was being presented my Springbok and Chief Scout Awards.”
Throughout the many moments there are still several memories that stand out. “The first experience that stands out was attending PLTU, the second were the two Witzenberg Senior Scout Adventures, and the third was when I had to do the Stalking badge as part of my advancement. At that time the badge levels included Standard Grade and Master Grade. In order to complete my Master Grade I needed the assistance of my Patrol. So in a moment of inspiration I asked the badge examiner if my Patrol could do their Standard Grade badge and thus get something out of the experience too. The following Troop meeting, when the badges were presented, my whole Patrol stepped forward to receive their badges. The sense of Patrol pride on their faces is something I will not forget. It was a moment I am proud of.”
Under the right leadership, our youth have the opportunity to improve their lives and that of those around them.
“When reflecting on the Scout Programme the old saying “Give me a fish, I will eat for a day. Teach me how to fish, I will eat for a lifetime” comes to mind”, he adds. “The Scout programme is much more than just learning Scouting skills. They are important, but it is the underlying life-skills such as leadership, time management, public speaking, planning, inter-personal abilities that a Scout can use in life. When I was running a Troop I found the best way forward was to train the PL’s, and then to give them the challenges where they could implement what they have learnt. As a result, we had a formal Troop dinner 5m up in the trees and two of my PL’s organized a cycle trip from Benoni to Umlazi (KZN). In my mind this is how Scouts grow, by allowing them (safely) to do such activities.
This is especially true in this day and age where Scouting can be a compass in the lives of youth. It is very unfortunate that some of our communities have no positive role-models or programmes to follow. Under the right leadership, our youth have the opportunity to improve their lives and that of those around them. I have seen the impact Scouting has had in Limpopo with the work done by Louise Batty, Elizabeth Mabuza and the Limpopo Regional Team. A similar positive effect can been around the country”, he says pensively.
After his years as a Scout Gerard became a Rover. “Having played an integral part in the development of the current Rover programme I do feel this is a crucial step within the overall Scouting programme. At this stage of a young adult’s life (18+), their world is changing significantly. They enter tertiary education, acquire a trade or enter the employment market. They get a driver’s license, move out of home, etc. The Rover programme compliments these changes and the Personal Bar encourages the young adult to do and consider things that they might not have thought of. Simultaneously, they receive support and experience the camaraderie within the Crew. From experience I have learnt that this is where you can develop life-long friendships. Also, the way the Crew operates is different to that of a Troop. The Rovers have a lot more autonomy regarding the path and activities they undertake. I highly recommend Rovering to anyone. Personally Rovering changed my life as through Rovering I met my wife Tanya, with whom I have two daughters Megan and Sarah who are also in the Scout Movement.”
Gerard is a self-employed geologist consultant to the mining industry with years of national and international experience. He specialises in resource geology. “Being a Scout also influenced my choice of career. I cannot say when it started exactly, but when out camping I started to take notice of the rocks around our camp and how some rock units were displaced and others folded. I wanted to know more and that is how I decided to study Geology as a career. Moreover, when I worked in managerial positions, I have to admit I surreptitiously ran my departments as a Patrol using the skills I gained from years of doing PLTU training. Not the falling in and saluting part, but more the leadership styles, conflict resolution and inter-personal relationships”, he adds. “Through Scouting I gained public speaking experience which assisted me when doing presentations or speaking to high management. That is one life skill Scouting has given me that I am appreciative of. I always use the saying: “Everyone has butterflies when speaking in public. The trick is to make those butterflies fly in formation”.”
So as a professional and a family man, how does he find the time to volunteer? “Everything is about finding the right balance. The Evans’ are a Scouting family and both my girls went through Scouts, achieved their Springbok Scout Awards and are now Rovers. So finding the time to do Scouting and spending time with the family was often dove-tailed. It is also very rewarding to volunteer as an adult leader. Over the years I have seen Scouts complete Kontiki events, PLTU courses, return from World Scout Jamborees, attend Senior Scout Cederberg Adventures, etc. If I did not believe the values that Scouting can and has given our youth, I would have left a long time ago.
As the National Chair Scout Programme my objectives are clear,” he continues. “The Scout Programme is still relatively new, so now is a time for consolidation and ironing out any ‘wrinkles’ encountered since its launch in January 2019. We are also reviewing the Scout Craft and Interest badges to ensure they are current or relevant to Scouts in the 21st century. I also envisage completing the Troop Scouters working file in the near future. We have a great RTC Scout Programme team around the country and together we will ensure that the objectives laid out in OR are given to the Scouts so that they can get the full benefit of Scouting. We are here to assist any adult leader who needs support to overcome a ‘hurdle in the road’. As adult leaders the onus is on us to ensure that every Scout has the best Scouting experience and are empowered to become good upstanding members of society who will make a difference in our society in the years to come.”
When we asked Gerard if there is one thing that people still don’t really know about him, he smiled and said “Not many people know that I do leather carving as a hobby, and that my Scouting name is Snoopy. When my wife was an ATS at 1st Horison all the Scouters had cat names. When I was asked to assist in an activity the Scouts wanted me to have a Scout name. My first response was Snoopy, making me the only dog amongst the cats”, he quips.
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