Just go for it and try your best!

Written by Zamangwe Mazibuko, SSA Youth Influencer

Meerkat Dens around the country are flourishing and children are gaining skills that will enable them to thrive in life. I spoke to Megan Allen, Den Scouter with 58th Durban Air Scouts about her Scouting journey and how she helps our youngest members Stand Tall.

“I grew up in Pinetown but moved to Durban when I started studying. Durban is where I met and married my husband Rob Allen. Together we then moved to the Transvaal but returned to KZN a year later where our son Matthew was born.  We then moved to Ugie in the Eastern Cape, after which we relocated to Eston where we had Byron, and then returned to Durban where we have been living ever since”, explains Megan. “I qualified in 1992 as a nurse and I specialized in trauma in 2006. After completing my degree in management and education in 2014, I continued and qualified as a midwife in 2019, however I enjoy being in the trauma unit more.

I became involved in Scouting when my youngest son Byron joined the 58th Durban Air Scout Group as a Cub. Once he moved up to Scouts, we got my oldest son, Matthew, involved. As parents we were so involved! I loved fundraising, going camping, and the Midmar raft races! You name it, we did everything until they left Scouts when they turned 18”, she says with a smile.

However, when a friend’s daughter was ready for Meerkats, she seized the moment and returned as an Adult Volunteer! “I got involved in Scouting again when my friend, who had a 5-year-old, was interested in Scouts. So I asked the Scout Group Leader if we could start up the Meerkat programme, and that’s where our Meerkats started. I saw the benefit that it had on Meerkats especially. When it comes to five and six-year-olds, you can still nurture them and teach them the skills they actually don’t learn in school. You know a lot of people say it’s like the Grade R curriculum but in Scouting.  I don’t agree. In school, they don’t learn half the stuff that these Meerkats can do! For example, when some of our Meerkats went to Grade R, they were the only ones in the whole grade that could swim!” she says proudly.

“When I ask myself why I stayed in Scouts, I think of the little Meerkats and how eager they are to take in knowledge. They get so attached to you and you almost become like a confidant for them. You’re creating a bit of a safe space. A safe space that allows them to grow and be comfortable in a way that school might not be able to provide for them. The practical and structured space of Scouting provides such a good environment for growth for our little Meerkats. I started in Meerkats with Lacey-Mae, so it’s important to me to do the whole journey with her.  In June she’s going to get a Gold Star and I really want to take her to the end. What has impacted me the most is that whole sense of family in Scouts! It is amazing. I think we feel it more in the Meerkats because the parents are very involved.”

So, what has Megan gained personally from being a Den Scouter? “I wouldn’t say I was like OCD before but everything had to be done in a certain way. But then you get a 5-year-old and it just teaches you that it’s ok if things go wrong and it’s ok if you don’t get it right. Just like the motto says,  ‘as long as you’re trying your best, that’s all that matters’. I think also in my career, you always strive to do well in your studies. And you know what, it’s ok if you don’t make it, as long as you’ve tried your best and someone said ‘Well done’. What more do you need?

Its ok if you colour out of the lines. You’re going to cut it out anyways!

Meerkats has also taught me that life is all about trying your best. If you have tried your best, its ok if you colour out of the lines. You’re going to cut it out anyways! Those little happy mistakes actually show character. And the kids are creative. They teach me things I never could have thought of. When I started, I had a structured programme from 4 to 5 and I had to stick to it. Now, it’s like, let’s wing it! That’s where its impacted me, it’s ok not to be so structured.

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking of starting a Den or joining Scouts is simply: do it, don’t hesitate! If you think about it too much you won’t do it. You definitely won’t be sorry. You’ve just got to commit and go with the flow, that’s what I’ve learned. Just go with the flow, don’t stress too much about everything being perfect. Just go for it!”