On Sunday the 24th of September, the ceremonial inauguration of our Chief Scout Khonzaphi Mdaka took place in front of guests and Scouting members who participated in the National Lekgotla at BP camp in KZN. In his inaugural speech he thanked our Scouting volunteers and reiterated the value and relevance of our Scout programmes in the context of our nation’s current challenges.
“As I stand here before you, honoured, and grateful, for the privilege of serving the South African Scout Movement as Chief Scout. As most of you know, I have been in this role for a few months now, yet being inaugurated in your presence is a moment I will never forget.
Thank you to the Scout Board, and to you – our Scouting volunteers – for your confidence in me. I also want to thank my predecessor Dr Brendon Hausberger, for his exemplary and dedicated service to the Scout Movement. I am grateful Brendon for your ongoing support through your new roles within Resource Mobilisation and as the chair of our transformation committee.
As I look at what is happening within our country and around the world today, I see a lot of uncertainly. I see a decline in the transference of sound moral values, a lack of self-confidence among young people, and a loss of trust in overcoming the hardships that lie in front of them. Parents or guardians are often absent due to long working hours or substance abuse; cell phones and technology are taking over the time that used to be spent communicating and learning from each other. The lack of guidance and seeming decline in opportunities is affecting generations of people.
This is where we – as the Scout Movement – can play an instrumental role in rejuvenating sound moral values and enabling young people to believe in themselves to achieve their true potential. Scouting complements the roles of school and family by filling the gaps. Through Scouting, children and youth discover the world beyond the classroom, tapping into the skills of our dedicated volunteers to learn, and pass that knowledge on.
Our Scouting values – as prescribed in the Scout Promise and Law – set us apart as they offer a guideline to being good and contributing citizens. Through our dedicated adult volunteers, young people get the opportunity to have solid role models who encourage their personal growth and wellbeing. Our programmes cater for children and youth aged 5 to 30 and encourage our members to gain real world practical life skills, whilst having fun, exploring the world they live in and making a difference within their local communities through service initiatives and our Better World Framework.
This brings me to you, our dedicated volunteers. You are often one of the few stable reference points for our young members, providing them with safe places to learn, to fail, to get up again, and to succeed. It is your drive to make a difference in the lives of young people that can change the world we live in. I have always said that this is a youth movement and must be led by them. I am happy with the strides that we have made as SCOUTS South Africa lately. We have seen an increase of youth on our Manco and in our Regional teams. Our board is also going that route. I look forward to continuing on this journey with you.
I also want to reiterate our role as Scouting members in contributing to the sustainability of our planet. I know that we all share a conviction to leave this world better than we found it. However, we find ourselves in a place where education and action are needed to mitigate the impact of what we as generations have done to our world. I therefore encourage you to participate in our national challenges, in our environmental awareness initiatives and to help us change mindsets and detrimental habits.
As Scouts we are able to do great things, If you look at some of the key figures in history who have been Scouts, this is clear, We all know the expression, “Time and tide wait for none”. Let’s use our time as Scout leaders wisely. Let’s continue to work together to give 1 million children in our country the opportunity to achieve great things by being a Scout and living the Scout experience.
When a young child joins the Scout Movement, their whole family joins Scouting. It is vital that we work towards changing the drop and go attitude and underline the importance and value of joining Scouting as a family. We need to strive to include our parents in our activities, camping, competitions, conservation projects, and more. Scouting is a holistic programme, and the impact thereof can – and should – filter through to our Scouting families and communities in which we operate.
As I leave you, allow me to say this. I am not in this position because I am better than anyone. I am taking on this role because of my willingness to serve our youth, our adult leaders, and our country. I am fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Some of which are: the lack of funding to subsidise the development of underprivileged Scouts and camping opportunities, the competition we have due to technology and new offerings that are available for our youth. My dream is to serve you with the purpose of seeing some of these being resolved in my time. I ask God to grant me the serenity and the wisdom to lead the pack in an honest and loyal manner. I ask him to ensure that I do not lose even one sheep that was put under my care.
I am not going to stand in front of you as person who holds the answers to all the Scouting challenges but as your servant. I believe that my success in making Scouting work depends upon our collective effort in contributing to the change that we all aspire Scouting to be. I am looking forward to working with each one of you in building better citizens for the world.
I would like to thank my family for allowing me the time to do what I like most. I am honoured to have my daughter Khensani here with me today. Scouting has been a big part of her life, although I am not sure if she joined Scouting by choice or not. But I am glad she is part of Scouting, The skills she has learnt make her stand out in any event that she puts her mind to. And she fully understands the ethos of doing your best. Without their support I would not be the person that I am. I thank you.”