It’s all about the Volunteer!

Message from Chief Commissioner Gary Pienaar

Scouting has been very much part of my life, ever since joining the Movement as a Cub at nine years of age. Looking back, I can see how my personal values have been shaped, and my skills and leadership competencies developed, through this wonderful association. Many of these lessons I still use in my professional career today. Likewise, I have been privileged to witness the growth and development of my three sons as they have embarked on their respective journeys along the Scout trail.

As I start out in this new role, there are a few thoughts that I would like to share with you. We all know that Scouting is a unique offering and has the potential to play a huge role in the personal development of young people. Our country’s leaders talk constantly of the need for moral rejuvenation amongst the youth, the need for positive role models and nation building through our communities. Scouting has a special part to play in creating a future that we all wish to see.

In my experience, I firmly believe that there is no shortage of young people who would like to have the opportunity to live the Scouting experience. This is particularly true in our rural and township communities where there is both a need and desire for access to sports and other recreational pastimes. Therefore, our only limiting factor is really the number of suitable, involved and committed adult leaders to make Scouting happen and the resources required to train, maintain and up-skill those leaders. So, to achieve our growth aspirations and live up to our mantra as the premier ‘youth movement’ in South Africa we need to consider three things:

  • A Quality Programme – ensuring that we provide an active programme of meetings, activities and events which engage our youth members and keep them interested and involved. It’s about making special memories – providing opportunities for young people to stretch beyond their perceived limitations and experience things they will never forget. Effective Scout Groups are key to delivering this quality programme and making Scouting accessible to the youth.
  • The Adult Volunteer – attracting, recruiting and retaining more adult volunteers, in a variety of different roles are the key to effective and sustainable Scout Groups. For those of us in either District, Regional and National leadership positions, it is all about the personal experience of our volunteers. Do our interactions throughout the ‘organised structures’ of Scouting act as multipliers of effort, energy and motivation, which allow us all to achieve our higher purpose?
  • Finally, the Supporting Infrastructure – making it easier to volunteer and provide quality Scouting for the youth. How can we empower adults and make the volunteer’s experience as simple and seamless as possible, without compromising on our governance standards or the key skills and training prerequisites? How do we simplify administration to focus on the really important issues?

Perhaps we should start our engagements by asking a few simple questions – “Is this good for the youth, is this good for our adult leaders, and by default is this good for Scouting?” My focus and message for the 2020 year can thus be summarised as follows – ‘It’s All about the Volunteer and ‘Simplify, Simplify, Simplify’!

I am sure that there will be no shortage of great ideas, opinions and perhaps some heated debates as to what should be done. The famous Greek author Aesop reminds us “After all is said and done, more is said than done!” We all have a good idea of what needs to be done in our particular areas of responsibility. Positive action is rewarded with results. So, let’s get out there and make quality Scouting happen!

Good Scouting to you all.

Chief Commissioner