From the 1st of June Wayne du Plessis will take over the helm as incoming CEO of SCOUTS South Africa. For over a decade he has managed various development and social impact programmes through World Vision, the Peninsula School Feeding Association, Food Forward SA, and more recently as the Energy and Climate Justice Manager at SAFCEI.
We sat down with Wayne to discuss his objectives for the Scout Movement, and we found a man with a deep-rooted understanding of the values we live by, a love for the outdoors and the conservation thereof, and a passion for empowering young people to embrace the opportunities that come their way.
“I am a trained social worker specializing in community development and social transformation. However, my career path has led me further down the social policy and management dimension,” he explains.
“Even though I have not been a Scout myself, some of my friends were Scouts and I often marveled at how ‘prepared’ they were for life events, how they took on challenges and how confident they seemed. Scouting really provides a good moral grounding for young people to become good citizens, well rounded individuals and able to contribute positively to society and assist with nation building. Scouting also brings together young men and women from different cultures and backgrounds and shows them the benefit of working together. This programme is a physical demonstration of what we want South Africa to be!”
When asked why youth development is so important to him, he smiles and replies “At the risk of quoting cheesy song titles – children really are what matters to our future. The grounding that young people have, determines what kind of future we are building; what kind of society we are going to see in years to come. In Scouting, children learn by doing. It is so important. It’s not only by doing things that we learn – we learn by struggle, we learn by pressure, we learn by at times being uncomfortable. And all those things happen when we move out of our normal boundaries. The importance of failing also cannot be underestimated. Learning by doing is key to gaining confidence and once again building a good moral grounding which from which will sprout informed citizens and leaders!”
In Scouting we use the outdoors as a tool to build skills and teach young people to respect and conserve the world we live in. “I consider myself a student of the natural world – a naturalist. I hold nature in reverence and often marvel at the beauty that is surrounding us. It’s truly inspiring. Transferring respect, knowledge, and the care of our Earth, to young people is very important as we all know we do not have a plan (et) B and we need to respect the Earth that we are blessed with,” he continues. “By making sure that young people respect the living Earth around us, including the animals that we share the space with, we will be ensuring that young people understand the importance of conservation and taking care of our planet.”
Even though Wayne now regards himself as an outdoor person, that was not always the case. “I am a Capetonian by birth. I’ve lived all my life in this beautiful city – travelled extensively but always found my way back to South Africa. As a young person raised firmly in the city, being outdoors was somewhat foreign. A memory I have of having to become accustomed to being outside was while working on a summer camp in the United States – having to once a week lead an overnight hike with a group of 8 young boys into the wilderness not only forced me to be comfortable with nature but also taught me a healthy respect and reverence for its beauty.”
Wayne is now preparing to step into this new journey and as CEO will be overseeing the administration and sustainability of the Scout Movement in SA. “My primary goal for SCOUTS South Africa is to grow it financially, by numbers of volunteers and by young people going through the programme. Stability is key to this growth. While I have many personal goals with regard to my time at Scouts – I want to just highlight three of them. Firstly, whilst upholding the utmost respect for community Scouting, I will endeavor to access funding to be able to run Scout programmes in schools, especially schools which do not have the resources to run these programmes. I also would like to bridge the gap between our Regions and the National Office by providing regular feedback to them. I also want to promote the Scout brand and get it further into the public eye. Scouts is a strong, amazing, and well-known brand and should be at the forefront of the kind of programme that we use to work with young people,” he states confidently.
So how can we help him achieve these goals? “Just do what you do! Your work is amazing, and I know that if you continue to do such amazing work then what can be achieved is limitless!
I’m most looking forward to building relationships – with individuals, Regions. leadership, colleagues, Scout Groups, and our membership. That for me is the exciting part. That being said- I am truly looking forward to being part of an organisation with tradition and importance.
As I prepare to serve the Scout Movement, I want to start by thanking our adult volunteers. Thank you for what you do –the difference you make is immeasurable. While we might at times have different starting points, our end goal is the same. Growing SCOUTS SA and affecting more and more young people positively.
I also want to thank our youth for being part of what we do! I urge you to hold on – it’s going to be an exciting and rewarding ride!”
Wayne has been married to his wife Megan for 14 years and they have a young daughter, Madison who is 10 years old. He has a real passion for vintage vehicles and used to collect them in the past with his father. When asked about something personal his new Scouting family should know. he quips, “I’m a long-suffering South African Cricket team fan (don’t mention World Cups please), and I have a particular passion for Olympic weightlifting – so if you can’t find me at the National Scout Office, I’ll be at the CrossFit box lifting weights!”