100 years of adult development

Message from Chief Scout Brendon Hausberger

I am sure you all know the story behind the Wood Badge symbol of an axe in a log as originating from the frequent use of these on the original training camps.  As is often the case other stories have grown over time to romanticise this.  My favourite is the one that speaks of the axe as the symbol of a freeman from medieval times.  These citizens, having proven their skills, service and value, were granted the right to chop wood from the trees, and not forced to gather the fallen wood as the serfs of the time were. As a symbol of having given service and acquired the skills to be a more valued and valuable member of your society, this is a very appropriate symbol.

All of our Wood Badge holders have completed the training cycle to be of the greatest service in whatever branch or branches they have chosen to serve the youth of South Africa in. To complete that training took time, energy and dedication, but hopefully it was also of more value to you than just the two little wooden beads you were granted on completion. You see, by completing the training cycle, you have acquired all of the skills necessary to help the youth we serve to create a better world. You have also improved your skills to plan, budget, train and lead others among a million other little things.

When we look at our fellow citizens, how often do we cry out for more people who can serve as leaders, who can help others to get the skills they need to function more effectively in their communities? These are all skills you have learnt and acquired.

As we look back over 100 years of Wood Badgers, from the first badges spontaneously awarded by Baden Powell, the training has changed dramatically. I am fairly sure there were no risk assessments and waaaaay less policies back in 1919! The training you undertook has had to adjust to the realities of the modern world. We need to make sure our adults are taught not only to develop the youth but also to protect them, and in the process protect themselves as volunteers.

The good news is that while you have been learning those important lessons, you have also acquired a host of the so called soft skills that are so critical and valued in the modern professional workplace. You have skills that, even though you may not recognise it, place you above your competitors in the job market. Use those and be proud of what you have achieved and what it allows you to contribute!

Chief Scout Brendon and Buhle (SiS WC) Photo by Brendan Dale

By now I am sure that you all know me well enough to know that I only see any achievement or training as the foundation for the next level of service, and this is no different. As a Wood Badge holder you are a role model, you also have the skills – and I dare say the responsibility, to share what you have learnt with others and to encourage and support them to get the training they need to build on their strengths and bolster their weaker areas. Scouting is only able to serve as well as our least trained members, and we have a responsibility to each do our part to strengthen that chain of support to our youth members.

So keep your axes sharp and your skills sharper by sharing what you have learnt with our young people and other adult members. You need only read the headlines to know how desperately our country is crying out for exactly the knowledge and skills that you are able to share.

Chief Scout

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