Scouting allows people to be part of something meaningful

Written by Mfundo Jiyane, SSA Youth Influencer

The Scout programme aims to empower young people within our communities to become well-rounded, confident and skilled citizens and leaders who are guided by solid values and a thorough understanding of what it means to work together to better the world we live in.

One such young person is Springbok Scout Gareth Barberton from the 10th Arcadia Scout Group in Tshwane North East Gareth was born in Cape Town and grew up in Pretoria. Here he shares his Springbok experience with us and the impact Scouting has had in shaping the young man he is today.

“My family and I often went camping, hiking and cycling. One of my first memories was hiking and swimming in rock pools in the Magaliesberg. Doing all these activities really gave me an appreciation for nature and the outdoors. I joined Scouts in January 2011, as a Cub when I was 7 years old”, explains Gareth.

“I loved the countless adventures and experiences that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to take part in. For example, I really enjoyed doing the big Scouting events such as Kontiki, Field Day and BP Weekend, seeing all the planning come together, being able to work as a team, building large pioneering projects and meeting people from all over the province.

I have held almost every role in the Troop from Patrol member to Troop leader. The role I enjoyed most was being Troop Leader, since it has always been a dream of mine to wear three stripes. Being a TL enabled me to do my Springbok more efficiently as I was able to train up the Patrol Leaders in my Troop and have a bigger team of people to work with. Right now, I am an Assistant Troop Scouter at my Group and I enjoy every moment of it” he says with a smile.

“In my community Scouting is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can come and be part of something meaningful and learn countless skills”, he continues.

“Scouting has influenced me in that I now have management, leadership skills, and numerous other skills that I can use in my day-to-day life. I have learnt to be a team player and now know how much work is put into running and planning events. Completing my Springbok Award and school at the same time was definitely a massive challenge which required a lot of planning ahead so that sport events and Scout competitions didn’t get in the way.

My Springbok went relatively smoothly mainly due to my Troop Scouters telling me to plan ahead and prioritizing my Springbok activities. My difficulties came in when I offered to build playground equipment for The School for Cerebral Palsied Learners, I had to do a lot of research and talk to a couple of the Occupational Therapists at the school on what I could build. It also took a lot of time to get the final permission from the school. Other challenges included finding Scouts who could join me on my hike and camp and getting sponsorships for my community service project.

I have done several community services projects, for example: clearing invasive plants on Magalieskruin, sorted, cleaned and repaired tents from the District equipment store, and building outdoor gym equipment for The School for Cerebral Palsied Learners”, he adds.

For my Springbok community service,  we built outdoor gym equipment for The School for Cerebral Palsied Learners in Prinshof, Pretoria. The challenge was that it had to be for learners with different levels of physical disabilities including learners in wheelchairs. To raise funds for the project, Chamberlains Hardware made a contribution and I ran a Fun Day at my Scout hall where we sold boerewors rolls, had a water slide and an obstacle course. The Scouts from my Troop helped me to dig holes and put up the equipment at the school.

I would like to continue being involved in Scouts to help out where I can. For the next couple of years, I want to focus on my canoeing career and hopefully get to the Olympics. I would like to pass on life skills and give others a purpose in life, to give them the opportunities and adventures that I was privileged to have.”