By Prof Brian Figaji, Chairman of the Scout Board
The global Scouting community has been celebrating the centenary of their advanced adult leadership training, the Wood Badge. Given the increase in xenophobia and the high prevalence rate of abuse against women and children I find myself reflecting on the relevance and value of the Wood Badge training in our current South African society.
The Wood Badge course is the apex training programme for any adult who has committed themselves to serve the youth as a leader. Wood Badge training is as much about the journey as the destination. It strives to make Scouters better leaders by teaching them advanced leadership skills, and by strengthening their bond and commitment to the Values, Promise, Vision and Mission of Scouting. Elements which serve as the foundation for everything we do in Scouting and are enshrined in SCOUTS South Africa’s Constitution.
Scouting teaches young people to internalize values such as honesty, loyalty, courtesy, obedience, thrift, helpfulness and cleanliness. The aim is to develop persons of good character, who are good citizens and who take care of their spiritual, social and intellectual advancement. This is exactly what South Africa needs at this critical time.
As a young lad I joined this Movement that has had a very significant impact on my life. Scouting provided me with positive role models, a strong set of values and guidance to make these values part of the way I live my life. It gave me the opportunity to learn, to lead and to experience the impact that volunteers can have on the life of a young person during times of social uncertainty.
It is the Wood Badge trainers who must continue to ensure that the holders thereof develop techniques and methods to give life and meaning to the essence and principles at the heart of the Scout Movement. Adult leaders that emerge from the courses need to live and lead in line with the Scout value system and exert due diligence to ensure that these are not only presented, but are inculcated to the youth served through Scouting.
At the events I attend I can clearly see that Scouting imparts skills, provides great opportunities for leadership, intellectual and physical development and that Scout leaders create the environment for social interaction among the youth. But as a youth organisation that serves girls and boys, young women and men, it is of utmost importance that we continue to evaluate and measure the ability of our trained adult leaders and the effectiveness of the programmes. SCOUTS South Africa’s programmes are like no other in the world. They provide practical skills development with benchmarks that are achievable for the very affluent youth as well as the child in the most remote village of our nation. They teach skills to address every day challenges whilst preparing children and youth to be well rounded, responsible, ethical and productive members of society who are able to achieve their fullest potential, no matter whether they start life in poverty or wealth.
Scouting had a profound influence on my life and I hope that our current and future Wood Badge holders will give the young people in their care the same experience I had. I also urge those Wood Badge holders to use their abilities to deepen the impact of Scouting and its values within their immediate circles. Living and leading based on the Scout value system can have far reaching impact on the society we live in. It is a programme that could enhance our leaders’ competencies around managing people, communication, project management, problem solving, and personal and professional development. It’s a programme that can create a better world where youth are prepared and trained to be of service to God, Country and others.
Chairman of the Scout Board
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