Being authentic and finding your power through Scouting

Written by Nandi Tshabalala, SSA Youth Influencer

Earlier this year we welcomed a few new youth influencers to the National Team.  Nandi Tshabalala joined our KZN team. Here she shares her Scouting story with us!

“See you tonight!” said one of my friends to the other. Every Friday after school two of my Scout friends would talk about how they would see each other later that night, while I would go home, watch TV, and just wonder what they were up to. Finally, I asked them about Scouts and how to join. They both said, “Just show up” and that’s exactly what I did.

That night the Troop welcomed me like I was just any other Scout, little did I know they were the people I would know as my second family. The months passed by and I never missed one Friday night. I joined the bandwagon of, “see you tonight” kids and had the best years of my life ahead of me. During school holidays we went on adventures where we hiked up mountains, slept in caves, and swam through marble baths. In the Scout Movement, I learned about Scouting morals, leadership, true friendship, and saving the environment. It was under the stars during extravagant campfires next to my friends where I felt truly like I belonged.

I was extremely shy and soft-spoken before I joined Scouting. As the years passed, and I was given responsibilities like leading my own Patrol, I was able to step into my power and became a confident, outspoken leader which gave me the skills I needed to become the Interact Club Vice-President and School Prefect in high school. I also learned important life skills like first aid, lifesaving, cooking, and fire control so that I could always be prepared if there was ever an emergency.

In life you have to make things work no matter how sandy they get

My Troop Scouter Janet was like my second mother who cared for us dearly while teaching us important life lessons. I remember the night I was invested in the Troop. We were making pizzas over the fire and my pizza fell face flat onto the grass. When she saw me get teary-eyed she picked it up, dusted it off and said, “hey, sand is just Scout spice” with a smile as she put it back onto the braai stand. This taught me to see the bright side of things and that in life you just have to make things work no matter how sandy they get. She has since passed away but I will never forget her impact in my life.

I am who I am because of Scouting. It has molded me into a caring, compassionate, and optimistic young leader and has allowed me to have a beautiful childhood. I have made amazing memories and unlikely friendships for life that I still see in my Rover Crew. We grew up together from primary school to first-year university in a space where we felt like we could be our authentic selves. When I look at them I see adventurers, helpers of the Earth, and good Samaritans who care and give back to the community.

I have seen the Scouting community welcome a plethora of different people who all share the same Scout spirit and thirst for adventure. My wish is for every child in Africa to share my experiences and join the Scout Movement. I can only imagine how much the world would change for the better. I know that I will carry these Scout values with me for the rest of my life and change the world with them because once a Scout, always a Scout.