Written by Ulrika Björkman
Which is the LARGEST YOUTH MOVEMENT IN THE WORLD?
It has been around for 108 years, it has more than 40 million members in more than 160 countries. If your answer was the scouts then you were right. It all started with a man named Robert Baden-Powell and the first ever scout camp on the British Brownsea Island in 1907.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) describes Scouting as follows "The Scout movement is a voluntary nonpolitical educational movement for young people open to all without distinction of origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose, principles and method conceived by the Founder"
The movement rests on voluntary work done by people of all ages but one of the biggest groups is young adults. Although all scouts around the world follow the same principles there may be many different reasons why one would want to be a scout. I have been a scout for over 20 years and have seen many young people grow, on a multitude of levels, during their scout career.
One vital part of scouting is “learning by doing” and learning to handle responsibility by actually being given responsibilities. A young scout might get to lead their own little patrol (group of scouts) and plan their weekly meetings. A young scout might also be given responsibilities within their local group like keeping all camping equipment in good shape or be chosen to act as treasurer. Every time there is a scout event whether it is big or small, local, national or international there are assignments and tasks that need to be taken care of for the event to actually happen. These assignments are handed out to people who want to contribute and they either have experience within the given area or want to gain experience.
When given a responsibility within a group this signifies that you are important to the group, you are trusted and appreciated. This hopefully makes you value common rules of conduct and treat your fellow scouts with the same respect and appreciation you have been shown. For me this is something that can and should be applied to all parts of society, not only the scouts.
Nowadays the web of social interaction is extremely complex. There are websites, networks, profiles and communities both in the real world and on the internet. The rules for how to conduct yourself in social situations are being constantly rewritten. For a young person this can be very confusing and stressful. Add to this the constant input of information and ideals that the young are being force-fed by the media. The result is an immense pressure being applied on young people that are still searching for themselves and trying to find out who they really are. For me scouting is a place where you can be you, you will be accepted no mater your gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. You will have the possibility to get involved and learn in a safe environment and interact with people that hopefully will have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others.
I will leave you with a small part of the heritage that Lord Baden-Powel, or as he is more affectionately known by us scouts “BP”, left us all. This is an excerpt from his final message to the scouts but I think it is relevant for all of us, scout or not.
“But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”