Paddle your own canoe

Written by Nathisvaran Govender.
Supplied by SSA Youth Influencer Zama Mazibuko

I grew up within the Movement and have always been enthralled with these individuals with green epaulettes. It always seemed that Rovering was for a small group of individuals who you would rarely see. Ever since joining Rovers however, I have done my best to show that Rovers is more than just a group of older Scouts. I recently completed my Leadership Bar expedition and I have had time to reflect on how far I have come in Scouting and how much Rovering has played a role in not just my Scouting career, but my life in general. And with this month being Mandela month I thought I would reflect on how important Service is to Rovers

So how did I get here? I joined Rovers in 2015. I have come a long way and my understanding of the Rover programme has developed too. Service to Self, Movement and Community, these are the three pillars of service that lay at the foundation of the Rover programme. How are we to be of Service to others if we ourselves are not sure of where we are going? How do we practice being of Service to others? And, how do we serve others? These are all questions that develop within you throughout the Rover journey. As you get to the last advancement bar – your Leadership Bar, you are expected to lead other fellow Rovers, peers your own age, sometimes even older. In March 2022 I did my Leadership Bar expedition, a beach hike in beautiful Bazley KZN. To be honest the weather could have co-operated better, but my group of Rovers from the Impeesa Rover Crew plodded along the beach happily enough, through rain and wind. We finally stopped by a rocky outcrop and had lunch. That was when I began to contemplate how far I actually have come since joining, not just Rovers but Scouting in general.

Being a Springbok Scout I expected the expedition to be a cake walk, which it was in all fairness, but deep within my busy mind I began to realise something. I am who I am, and who I am was shaped by the Scouting Movement. A few lines from BP’s book Rovering to Success (1964) comes to mind, BP writes “You have your own life to live, and if you want to be successful, if you want to be happy, it is you who have to gain it for yourself… Paddle your own canoe- looking ahead. If you let yourself be rowed by others, with backs to the danger you may get wrecked.” (BP, 1964, p19).

Recently myself and a few other Rovers got involved in performing Service to the Movement in the form of planning and running the KZN Regional Youth Forum.  The importance of giving a voice to our Young Leaders within our Movement has something I have always been passionate about, and better enables them to paddle their own canoe. As much as it is Service for me, it is imperative that other Young Leaders within our Movement voice their opinions and views in a constructive manner in line with the values we as Scouts hold so dearly. We only need head the words of our own Patron of Scouting, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, whose birthday we celebrate this month “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. I hope that our Young Leaders read this and realise that it within them to create a better world, it is my sincere hope that they use the Rover programme to help accomplish this.

Rovering will teach our young members within the Movement of the power of their actions. It will develop them, it will shape them, and it will gift them to their communities where hopefully they can row their own canoe and make good meaningful change from the ground up. To my fellow Scouters and Adult Leaders in the Movement I say, let Rovers be Rovers, let them discover their true potential, let them row their own canoe. To those young people in our Movement I say, take up the challenge of Rovering, you might be surprised with the results. And soon enough you may be looking back on a successful Rover career before attaining that special red and gold shield that bears the name of our Founder, the BP Award.