Learning life skills through scouting

UNLIKE the past, scouting is no longer a boy-led and boy-run activity. There are now girls joining the movement.

BREATHER: Scouts taking a break at their campsite.

BREATHER: Scouts taking a break at their campsite.

All scouts are trained to be leaders. Adult scouts provide an ideal learning experience and have something valuable to offer youths.

On a typical weekend campout, young scouts may learn camping skills and orienteering, go on a five-mile hike and also learn cleaning and cooking fresh food from senior scouts.

Scout leaders teach their charges to be better citizens and more tolerant of others. Adult scout leaders provide the direction, coaching and training that empower today’s youths with the skills they will need to lead.

Scouting is fun and challenging and gives young scouts a good environment for social training. There are more than 28 million scouts, young and adult, male and female, in 216 countries worldwide.

Scouting began with 20 boys and an experimental camp held during the first nine days of August in 1907 at Brownsea Island, near Poole in Dorset, England.

The camp was a great success and proved to its organiser, Robert Baden-Powell, that his training and methods appealed to young people and really worked.

Baden-Powell was born on  February 22, 1857. He was 50 when the Brownsea camp took place. His many experiences as a boy and later as a soldier played a part in the formulation of these training methods.

In 1876, he went to India as a young army officer and specialised in scouting, map-making and reporting. He soon started training other soldiers for the same work.

B-P’s methods were unorthodox for those days — small units or patrols working together under one leader, with special recognition for those who did well.

For proficiency, B-P awarded his trainees badges resembling the traditional design of the north compass point. Today’s universal Scout badge is very similar.

Between the two world wars, scouting continued to flourish in all parts of the world except in totalitarian countries where it was banned.

Scouting is essentially democratic and voluntary. In the 1990s, scouting was revived in every country where it existed prior to World War II throughout the newly-independent countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Since 1993, 35 countries have joined, or rejoined, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement.

Camping is an outdoor recreational activity. The participants, known as campers, leave their home region and enjoy Nature while spending one or several nights, usually at a campsite.

Recently, the 5th Kuching Scout Group organised a Training Camp for five days and four nights at Batu Kawa in Kuching.

The theme this year was “Back to Nature.” Participants had to do without modern conveniences, especially handphones.

The early outdoors camping is actually a survival test.  Members must follow the 10 scout laws and camp rules, display cooperation and friendship as far as possible, observe the environment anytime and anywhere, analyse the conditions and make judgment to obtain the facts and the truth.

Although building a camp involve many steps, they are an important link in training that teaches a scout things like how to tie a knot and cope with the outdoors. Knotting is a practical life skill.

There are two ways to cook during camping — modern (using gas and stove) and traditional (using fire wood, bamboo and matches).

The outdoor activities include rope-climbing, monkey crawl, monkey bar, deadman’s crawl, commando, tree climbing, over the wall, first aid, marching and the like.

The campfire is a much-anticipated activity. After four days of activities during the training camp at Batu Kawa, the campers gathered round the campfire to enjoy themselves as well as foster camaraderie.

The scout’s goal, beside expression of respect and friendship, is promoting team spirit and honour from heart. It is a kind of tacit understanding between scouts — it does not divide nationalities, language and race but will strengthen friendship.

As the scout slogan goes: Work with concerted efforts, unite as one, our group honor, first forever.

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