Written by Silvia Ludwig
The sun is setting and I’m rushing to have dinner ready before 7pm. I race to my computer, give my hair a quick brush and put on my 1st Bryanston Group scarf. I diligently activate the Zoom link and wait for the rest of the participants to login in too. I’m excited to hear what will be shared and discussed on the advertised subject. My family thinks I am a little mad, as the video feed is switched off (so as not to bog down the data feed), but I feel more complete in my scarf and I ignore their concerned looks.
Every day, I am reminded of how incredible it is to be part of an age-old youth movement. Despite the fact that Scouting is 113 years old this year, it is more relevant and essential in today’s trying times, than ever before. At present there is a worldwide crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and my country – South Africa – is in lockdown. I am confined to my home (i.e. box).
Scouting has always been promoted as an OUTdoor activity and now we are faced with a dilemma that we cannot go past the boundaries of our homes. We cannot interact with people and all our physical Scouting meetings, events and training courses have been cancelled or postponed. As an adult leader, I am constantly challenged to think differently, be creative and engage with our youth from as young as 5 years old to as old as 17. Without missing a beat, the “IN” in “Scouting” is activated, along with a super effective partnership with technology, and we are connected countrywide with other adult leaders with the launch of the “Virtual Campfire Chats”. Using the Zoom video conferencing platform, interesting and important topics are discussed and key information is shared.
My eyes are opened to the fact that I am really fortunate to be where I am in Gauteng, which has a very active Scouting programme, bountiful resources and I hardly need to travel to attend important activities. I also realise, that there are other enthusiastic and committed adult leaders in the quieter regions of South Africa, who are willing to do whatever it takes to grow Scouting where they are. I am inspired and eager – I wish I could board the next plane and spend time with these Groups. I also come to the conclusion that there is so much more that I could do, just by reaching out and chatting to other leaders and brainstorm ideas and solutions with them.
Former US White House Chief of Staff – Rahm Emmanuel – once said “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” SCOUTS South Africa grasped the opportunity to connect its Scouters across the country and keep the interest of Scouting current, even if it had to be confined to indoors. Listening to the unbelievable experiences, stories and interesting aspects of the Movement, during these informative chats, I can foresee that fantastic things will come from it. I have loved every minute of these chats, and I hope one day to meet all the individuals in person, whom I have grown accustomed to listen to over the past two weeks.
The Zoom session has ended, and I reluctantly disconnect. My mind is racing with ideas and my heart-rate has increased.
Thank you to Joy Hutchinson and Paula Groenewald, as well as all the Scouters who took the time to lead each session – your efforts are commendable and greatly appreciated. Thank you too, to all the other adult leaders who connected and shared! We can proudly say that with the Scouting “edge”, we can achieve anything – both OUTdoors and INdoors!
To join or find out more about the virtual campfire chats click here.
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