The beauty of diversity in the Scout Movement

Personal reflection by SSA Youth Influencer Nandi Tshabalala #WorldDayforCulturalDiversity 

“It wasn’t until I turned 20 this year, when I realised the beauty of the diversity in the Scout Movement. It has been perfectly set up so that people from all different walks of life can come together. 

When I joined Scouts in primary school, I felt like it was an entirely different world from school. At Scouts I could just be myself because everyone else did exactly that, everyone was unapologetically themselves. We were all so different that I couldn’t imagine how people so different from me could end up becoming my second family. I have made life long unlikely friendships and built exceptional relationships. 

You know how in cliché High School movies, the friend groups all have the same archetype of people? All the sporty kids are in one group, all the bookworms are in one group, all the band kids are in one group, there are also “floaters” who don’t fit in anywhere and have no friends. Well in Scouts, a friend group can look like two sporty kids, a bookworm and a theatre kid all together in a beautiful mix, there are no floaters. There’s a place for everyone.

Whether you are home schooled, neurodivergent, or a minority in your community, you are always welcome into Scouts. Inclusivity is in the nature of Scouts. It’s easy to make friends because we all share the same values like for example taking care of the Earth, learning life skills, having fun outdoors and growing into good people. 

Even through our Advancement Programme, learning more about other cultures and lifestyles is encouraged. I learned a lot about the Islam religion for my Springbok badge where I  interviewed someone of a different faith and had lunch with them. There is also a Diversity Awareness Badge where Scouts have to do research on important topics such as the LGBTQI community, social pressures on minority groups, cultural differences and stereotypes, feminism and gender equality, refugees and foreigners living in South Africa, and more. This is an amazing badge because it allows the youth to see how other people experience life, be more educated on minority groups and make other people feel safe in our community.

Diversity in the Scout Movement allowed me to feel immersed in true South African culture so now I can integrate well into society, with the confidence to be able to work with different personalities at university and in the working world. 

Even though I may not be very “book smart”, I can confidently say that I am “people smart” which is a skill that can not easily be taught. I feel like I am who I am today because I have been a part of Scouts. It has allowed me to feel immense empathy for other people and become a good human being. After all, “ A Scout is a friend to all and a brother and sister to every other Scout.”